OF ARISTIUS ON TAXATION
( March 16, AD 297 )
( Johnson, Coleman-Norton & Bourne, Ancient Roman Statutes, Austin, 1961, p. 235, n. 298 ).
This edict marks the beginning of Diocletian's reform in the system of taxation and the inauguration of the indiction cycle, which became so important as a medium of dating for his taxconscious subjects. It is probable that his administrative reforms were put into effect at the same time.
The papyrus containing this edict was found before 1924, but was published in 1933.
Aristius Optatus, most eminent prefect of Egypt, proclaims :
Our most provident Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, Augusti, and Constantius and Maximian, most noble Caesars, have learned how . . . it has come about that the levies of the public taxes take place in such a way that some persons are being relieved, while other persons are being overburdened, and they have determined to eradicate this most evil and pernicious practice in their provincials' interest and to give a salutary standard to which the taxes shall conform.
Therefore, it is possible for all persons to know the amount levied on each aroura with respect to the quality of the soil, the amount levied on each head of the rural population, and the minimum and the maximum ages of liability from the published godlike edict and the schedule attached thereto, to which I have prefixed copies of this my edict for public display.
It behooves all to . . . ; accordingly, the provincials, seeing that in this also they have received the greatest benefits, shall provide to make their payments with all speed in accordance with the godlike regulations and not . . . wait for the constraint of compulsion by the collector of taxes, since it is fitting for each person to fulfill all his obligation of loyalty with the greatest zeal. If anyone is detected doing otherwise after such beneficence as this, he will risk punishment.
The magistrates and the presidents of the councils of each city are instructed to dispatch to each village or place the copy of the godlike edict with the schedule and a copy of this my edict besides, that the munificence of our emperors and Caesars may come speedily to the knowledge of all persons.
The collectors of every kind of tax also shall be reminded to be on their guard to the best of their ability, for, if anyone is detected in transgression, he will risk capital punishment.
Years 13 and 12 and 6 of our Lords Diocletian and Maximian, Augusti, and Constantius and Maximian, most noble Caesars, Phamenoth 20.