Extract from The Earliest Diploma of Thrace, AD 114 (=RMD I 14)

by Evgeni Paunov and Margaret Roxan,

Zeitschirift fur Papyrologie und Epigrahik, Band 119, 1997 pp274-279


Legati Augusti pro paraetore Thraciae

Diploma of Thrace, AD 114, extrinsecusTwo governors of Thrace are named in the diploma from Pissaraeveo.  The governor of thrace at the time of issue of the diploma was Statilius Maximus.  His full name was T. Statilius Maximus Severus Hadrianus. He probably succeeded luventius Celsus late in 112 or early 113.23 In Fasti Potentini the second of a pair of consuls cited for 115 was originally restored as [L. Cat]ilio Severo; the pair were later identified as [L. Vips]tano Messalla and [T. Stat]ilio Severo / [Hadria]no. L. Vipstanus Messalla was ordinarius for 115 with M. Pedo Vergilianus and, in view of the strong possibility that the Fasti Potentini are incomplete for 115, it is a reasonable assumption that the suffect consul T. Statilius (Maximus) Severus Hadrianus replaced M. Pedo Vergilianus. This provides an upper limit for his post as governor of Thrace of late 114 or early 115 unless his consulship was held in absentia, as W. Eck points out.

His predecessor as governor, luventius Celsus, became a notable Jurist. His full name is preserved in the Digest as P. luventius Celsus Titus Aufidius Hoenius Severianus. He was praetor in AD 105 or 106, according to Pliny. His term as praetorian governor of Thrace must have ended at latest ca. 113 and probably began ca. 109/110. 29 He is thought to have been consul suffectus in AD 115.30 This date for his first (suffect) consulship agrees with the usual interval of 13-17 years between the consulship and the proconsulship of Asia, which Celsus held 129/130.31

The Units

Only two units were named:

Cohors II Bracaraugustanorum equitata was one of a series of cohorts raised in north-west Spain and named for the conventus Bracara Augusta. Its early history is obscure but it may have come to the Balkan area like its sister unit, the first in the series, which served in Dalmatia in the Julio-Claudian period. This diploma gives the first positive indication of the existence of the cohort in the middle of the reign of Domitian on normal calculations. It is not listed in any of the early diplomas of Moesia or Moesia inferior and may have been sent to Thrace by Claudius after the creation of the province in A.D. 46. Such a posting may be responsible for the lack of early evidence. The cohort was part-mounted as is shown through the bilingual (Greek and Latin) tombstone of an eques, Celsus Marius found at Sipka, near Kazanluk in northern Thrace, who died after 24 years of service. This stone may suggest that the cohort, or part of it, was stationed at Shipka guarding a pass in the Haemus Mountains. G. Mihailov suggested a date in the reign of Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius for the tombstone but the style of the inscription and evidence that the cohort was transferred to Moesia inferior by 145, at latest, suggests that this is too late. Two possible commanders of the cohort are attested. M. G. Jarrett made the suggestion that an equestrian from Africa, Tiberius Claudius Helvius Secundus was appointed to his first post in the equestrian militiae in charge of the cohort, which was specifically noted as equitata, through the patronage of Q. Pomponius Rufus, governor of Lower Moesia from 98/99.37 The cohort (or a homonym?) is also mentioned in a cursus honorum of M. Atinius Paternus, who was later decorated while tribune of legio X Fretensis during the Parthian campaign of Trajan.

A cohors IIII Gallorum equitata was part of the auxilia of undivided Moesia in April 7539 along with four other cohortes Gallorum and 30 years later appeared in a diploma of Moesia inferior. Meanwhile, according to K. Strobel, it had taken part in the first Dacian war. Shortly after this it is recorded building a road near Sacidava in the Dobrudja through a milestone of 103/104, while Q. Fabius Postuminus was governor of Moesia inferior. A tombstone of one of its veterans of the same period was found at Gigen (Oescus). The unit is not found in the existing diplomas of Moesia inferior after 10544 and, although several of them are only partially preserved, this absence together with the propinquity of the two provinces makes it very probable that this unit was transferred to Thrace by Trajan The date of the transfer is unknown but presumably it occurred some time between the end of the Dacian wars and Trajan's departure for the Parthian campaign in late 113, to appear in our diploma by 114. Further records are scant but later a cohort with an identical title is noted in Not. Dig. Or., XL, 45/46. Its station is given as Ulucitra(?) in the province of Rhodopa, which included the Rhodope mountains and the North Aegean coast. Several commanders of a cohors IIII Gallorum are known, but, in view of the three other cohorts of the same title (in Britannia, Raetia and Mauretania Tingitana), it is difficult to assign them to this cohort with any degree of certainty.

The Garrison of Thrace

According to Flavius Josephus Thrace was guarded by two thousand men. This remark probably refers to the Neronian period. and would imply that there were at least four quingenary cohorts in the province at that time. No legions were stationed in Thrace, although there were three legions in Moesia inferior, along the Danube at Novae, Durostorum and Troesmis, in the second century. There is evidence of the presence of other cohorts in the province later in the second century. Cohors II Lucensium is listed in Moesia, then Moesia inferior between 78, ca. 113 and 127,50 but by 136 was encamped at Cabyle where it remained until 19351. It was moved to the city of Germania (Sapareva Bania) south of Serdica in the reign of Severus and is found there in inscriptions up to the end of the reign of Severus Alexander. Its place at Cabyle was taken by cohors I Aelia Athoitorum. Cohors II Mattiacorum was in Moesia and then Moesia inferior, at least up to 145 but later possibly in Thrace, in the joint reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (unpublished diploma fragments).

The Commander of the Cohort

C(aius) Vindilicius C(ai) f(ilius) Pub(lilia tribu) Fontanus was first noted by H. Devijver in Tomus 2, V 114 bis; then in Tomus 4, Suppl. 1, V, 114 bis, following the first brief publication of the present diploma in 1978.55 In Tomus 5, Suppl. 11, V, 114 bis he referred to a suggestion of G. AlfoIdy that the gentilicium Vindilicium was Celtic and that this, taken in conjunction with the tribus Publilia, may mean that Fontanus originated from Verona, however, this remains very uncertain.

The Recipient

Diploma of Thrace, AD 114, intusThe recipient of the diploma was C. lulius C.f. Valens, Tralles, eques of cohors IIII Gallorum. His name is Roman, but his home and the find-spot of the diploma indicate the possibility of a Thracian origin (but see below). This is surprising, since Thracians in various inscriptions and diplomata of the first third centuries tend to preserve part of their original Thracian names, at least in filiations. The Tralles (Trwcaleiz, Trwall(i)oi) are mentioned by Plutarch in the biography of Agesilaus of Sparta. He wrote that in 395/4 BC, returning from Asia Minor on a road from the Hellespont to Thessaly, he passed by some places inhabited and ruled by a Thracian tribe with this name. There are various readings of Plutarch's original text -Trwcaleiz, Tralleiz, trwseiz. On the other hand Titus Livius wrote that Tralles are only an Illyrian tribe. Stephanus Byzantinus has given us the name of a town of the Tralles in Illyria: Bolouroz, poliz tvn en Illuria Trallewn. A village with similar name Bellouroz, is mentioned by Procopius as being in the area of the Rhodopes mountains. Mercenaries of Tralles participated in the eastern anabasis of Alexander the Great and they founded a town named Tralleis in Caria, in Asia Minor. The Tralles are also mentioned in a late second century AD Greek inscription on a votive stone recently found at the ancient town of Neinae, between Skaptopara and Petra, on the left bank of the middle reaches of the Strymon (Struma).

Valens would not have been the first veteran to spend his retirement in the province in which he had served rather than returning to his original home. Our veteran had a son and two daughters, all with Roman names, who would probably have been born and grown up in Thrace. He may have decided to remain and settle with his family in Moesia inferior with his family rather than return to his home in Asia Minor or southern Thrace. Unfortunately, his wife is not named so that we are deprived of any further clues her origin may have given.

If the Thracian Tralles is meant the diploma contains the latest mention of this tribal name, which is less well known than others. The tribal area has been suggested as being near the modern BulgarianGreek border on the southern slopes of the Rhodopes and Pirin mountain and between the rivers Nestus (Mesta) and Strymon (Struma). If this is so, and if the siting of cohors IIII Gallorum in the Rhodope region in Notitia Dignitatum reflects its earlier station, it is possible that the recipient was a local recruit who served near his native home, but this suggestion must remain very tentative.

C. lulius Valens, had served for 25 or more years in the auxilia. He would have been recruited during the reign of Domitian ca. 87/88 or perhaps somewhat earlier. It is possible that he participated with his cohort in the first Dacian war (see above). Cohors IIII Gallorum is not attested in inscriptions as having acquired a block grant of civium Romanorum during the Dacian campaigns so that his tria nomina should not have been acquired in this way. In any case, if such a grant had been given for valour in the Dacian wars a name such as M. Ulpius [ ----- If Valens would be expected, with the father's name showing his Thracian, or other, parentage. He should be the son of a man who already had citizenship (the father's name is given in the accepted Roman style).

After his discharge in AD 114 from the garrison of the province of Thrace he apparently settled with his family ca. 20 km from Nicopolis ad Istrum, which had been founded by Trajan in AD 106.69 This city lay within the province of Thrace until an alteration of the northern boundary between Thrace and Lower Moesia probably took place shortly before Septimius Severus came to power. The area along the rivers latrus (Jantra) and present Rossitsa were very fertile and were settled by Roman veterans before, but mainly during, the Flavian period and after the Dacian wars, these factors may have led Valens to establish himself in the area.

As noted above, the recipient had a Roman name. A number of inscriptions refer to persons of the same name both in Moesia inferior and Thrace but none are identifiable with this veteran.

The Witnesses

The names of the witnesses are clear. On present evidence they signed in the following periods:

Ti. lulius Urbanus (ca. 105-129); P. Caulius Vitalis (ca. 94-118/122?); L. Pullius Verecundus (ca. 79-129); C. Vettienus Hermes (ca. 113-134); P. Atinius Trophi[mus] (ca. 108-114); A. Cascellius Proc[ulus] (ca. 110-122/34?); L. Pullius An[thus] (ca. AD 114-129).

The diploma from Pissarevo, Central North Bulgaria (in territorium Novaensium, deinde regio Nicopolitana) is the earliest and most complete diploma for the Roman auxilia of Thrace.