AD 212-215 )

( Johnson, Coleman-Norton & Bourne, Ancient Roman Statutes, Austin, 1961, pp. 225-226, n. 277


   This document, particularly its first part, has been the object of intensive study since its publication in 1910, from a papyrus reported in 1902 ; but because of its fragmentary condition it still presents many unsolved problems. There is now little doubt that it contains a version of Caracalla's edict extending the Roman citizenship : this edict was already known, and the papyrus fails to reveal fully the motive of the grant, its exact application, or its date. Some scholars hold that the grant of citizenship ( translated under I ) and the decree of amnesty ( printed as II ) were issued as a single constitution ; if this view be correct, the date at the end of II applies to I as well. Although this view is possible, it is not accepted here, mainly because of the reference in I to a "victory" of Caracalla. The papyrus text concludes with two extracts ( numbered III and IV ) from an order for the expulsion of Egyptian peasants from Alexandria. It is not known why these disparate documents were copied on one sheet of papyrus, and it is unlikely that all were issued at the same time.
The translation of the first edict is based on the text printed by Riccobono. The remainder of the document is translated from the text of the original publication, supplemented by some of Heichelheim's suggestions in JEA 26 ( 1941 ) 10-22. About one third of each line of the Antoninian Constitution ( as I is called from Caracalla's agnomen ), including many crucial phrases, is wholly missing. Many restorations are reasonably certain and generally are accepted ; others are much disputed.
   Although the emperor seems to regard his grant of citizenship as of great importance, he gives no indication of it in his coinage. Furthermore, if I and II were actually a single constitution, promulgated at Rome on 11 July 212 A.D., the emperor certainly took no steps to speed its dispatch to Egypt. The grain ships left Ostia usually about July 20, when the westerly winds began, and a quick voyage to Egypt was possible. The document, however, was not recorded at Alexandria until January 29 and was posted publicly on February 10.
   It is probable that Roman citizenship already had been extended widely in most provinces. The number of Aurelii found in Egypt after the edict would indicate, perhaps, that here the grant was more effective than elsewhere in adding new citizens. Cassius Dio, a source hostile to the emperor, implies that the motivation of the grant was a desire to increase the revenue from the inheritance tax imposed on Roman citizens and on the manumission of slaves. However, the gain from this source was not likely to compensate for the loss of revenue from the poll tax, which hitherto had been imposed on provincials as a token of their being subject people. This tax virtually disappears from Egyptian records after the edict, although one or two later receipts seem to be authentic. It is not impossible that Caracalla, an ardent admirer of Alexander the Great and one who had dreams of uniting the empires of Persia and Rome, took this step of uniting all his subjects in a common bond of Roman citizenship in preparation for the proposed union. However, this step was merely the culmination of a trend that long had been developing in the western provinces and was a natural evolution of the Stoic philosophy of the Antonines, whose heir Caracalla conceived himself to be.

I.   I.
Imperator  Caesar  Marcus  Aurelius  Seuerus  Antoninus  Augustus  dicit :
Nunc  uero . . . . potius oportet querellis et libellis sublatis quaerere quomodo diis immortalibus gratias agam, quod ista uictoria . . . . me seruauerunt. Itaque existimo sic magnifice et religiose maiestati eorum satisfacere me posse, si peregrinos, quotiens cumque in meorum hominum numerum ingressi sint, in religiones (?) deorum inducam. Do igitur omnibus peregrinis, qui in orbe terrarum sunt, ciuitatem Romanorum, manente omni genere ciuitatum, exceptis dediticiis. Oportet enim multitudinem non solum omnia . . . . sed etiam uictoria circumcingi. Praeterea hoc edictum augebit (?) maiestatem populi Romanorum cum facta sit eadem aliorum (?) ( peregrinorum ? ) dignitas.  . . . . . .
Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus proclaims :
It is most fitting that, as I ascribe the causes and the reasons of events to divine origin, I should attempt to render thanks to the immortal gods for their preservation of me in so grant a danger. I believe, therefore, that most magnificently and reverently I can perform a service not unworthy of their majesty, if I make my offerings to the gods in company with the foreigners who at any time have entered the number of my subjects, as well as with my own people. I grant, therefore, to all foreigners throughout the Empire the Roman citizenship, though . . . . are preserved except the dediticii. For it is proper that the populace not only should . . . . everything, but also should share in the victory. This edict will enhance [?] the majesty of the Roman people [?] . . . . . .
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. . . To those exiles of senatorial rank who have been reinstated I order the return of their property. Also to exiles of equestrian rank who have been deprived of their public horse I restore their former status and their property . . . to hold municipal office . . . Hereafter the stigma of dishonor will not be cast upon those persons who are barred temporarily from their former status or from their right to act as advocates after the period of debarment has elapsed. Whether or not it is clear how all-embracing is the grace that I have extended, nevertheless, lest anyone may wrongly interpret it too strictly, I repeat from the wording of my earlier edict, in which I proclaimed "Everyone shall return to his own land." I think that it must be made clear to all these exiles that I have granted unrestricted return to every province and to my own city of Rome, that they may have no excuse for timidity and that malicious foes may have no ground for insulting treatment of the returned exiles.
Published in Rome on july 11, in the year of the consulship of the two Aspri and in the 20th year of my reign on Epiph 16 ; in Alexandria on Mechir 16 in my 21st year by the procurator of the imperial estates. Entered in the official records on Mechir 4, when the most illustrious Baebius juncinus was prefect.
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All Egyptians in Alexandria, especially rural peasants, who have fled hither from other parts of Egypt and are easily recognizable, in every possible way must be driven from the City. However, dealers in swine, river boatmen, and those persons who bring down reeds for heating the baths are exempt. Expel the others who by mere numbers keep disturbing the peace to no good purpose. I understand that Egyptians are in the habit of bringing down sacrificial bulls and other livestock at the festival of Serapis, on certain other festival days, and also at other times. For such visits they must not be prevented. Those persons who leave their homes to avoid work in the fields must be prevented from entering the city, but not those who come down from a desire to see the most famous city of Alexandria or for the sake of a more cultured life or for incidental business obligations.
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A further extract : For genuine Egyptians can be recognized easily among the linen weavers by their different dialect, appearance, and dress. Moreover, their way of living and their customs reveal them as country peasants.