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Caligula and the Client Kings*

  • D. Wardle (a1)

What happened in the aftermath of Caligula's assassination in January A.d. 41 in relation to the client kings of the period has been the subject of a stimulating note by A. A. Barrett. He has argued that a rescission of Caligula's acta invalidated the legal position of the client kings appointed by Caligula, and that Claudius’ regularising of their position has been misunderstood by the ancient literary sources and has given rise to several apparent inconsistencies in their accounts.

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1 ‘Claudius, Gaius and the Client Kings’, CQ 40 (1990), 284–6. Cf. Barrett A. A., Caligula:he Corruption of Power (London, 1989), p. 308 n. 34 (henceforth, Barrett 1989).

2 Cal. 60.

3 Cl. 11.3. Mottershead J., Suetonius, Claudius (Bristol, 1986) offers no comment on the question.

4 60.4.1.

5 Römisches Staatsrecht II 3 (Berlin, 1877), p. 1130 n. 5 (henceforth, Mommsen). Followed by Smilda H., C. Suetonii Tranquilli: Vita Divi Claudii (Dissertation: Groningen, 1896), p. 53 and Vittinghoff F., Der Staatsfeind in der römischen Kaiserzeit: Untersuchungen zur damnatio memoriae (Berlin, 1936), pp. 91f. (henceforth, Vittinghoff), 98 n. 443.

6 McGinn T. A. J., ‘The Taxation of Roman Prostitutes’, Helios 16 (1989), 79110, esp. n. 5, rejects Dio's testimony that Caligula's unpopular taxes were repealed by Claudius, since ‘there is no evidence for the interruption or resumption of the tax on prostitutes’. Given the extreme paucity of our evidence, this confidence is unwarranted: what we do know is that a prostitute tax at Palmyra, with the same tariff rate as that introduced by Caligula, was regulated by C. Licinius Mucianus during his governorship of Syria, around A.d. 68–9, and therefore that a tax had been levied before A.d. 68; a prostitute tax was being collected by Roman troops at Chersonnesus on the far coast of the Black Sea in A.d. 185–6 (CIL 3.13750); and the Historia Augusta (Alex. Sev. 24.3) records that Alexander Severus felt scruples over the proceeds of ‘lenonum vectigal et meretricum et exsoletorum’ entering the ‘sacrum aerarium’. Dio's words, particularly τ⋯ τε τ⋯λη τ⋯ ⋯π⋯ το⋯ Γαῒον ⋯σαχθ⋯ντα, suggest that all of Caligula's taxes were realed. For this tax one might suggest that the repeal affected only Rome and Italy, where it was novel (many Greek cities and Egypt had imposed prostitution taxes). Alternatively, we follow Dio and assume that some emperor reintroduced a tax on prostitutes after A.d. 41: Nero or Vespasian might be suitable candidates.

If the legal distinction between acta and leges set out on p. 2 is correct, then Caligula's taxation measures were not covered by the scope of any rescissio actorum; Suetonius (Cal. 41.1) specifies a lex, cf. Dio's (Xiphilinus) διανομοθετ⋯σας (59.28.11). Caligulan leges would have, been repealed by Claudian leges introduced when time permitted.

7 Cf. Sherwin-White A. N., JRS 63 (1973), 86f.; Barrett, p. 297 n. 24. In 28 B.c. Dio (53.2.5) records in connection with his acta of the Triumviral period that Octavian π⋯ντα αὐτ⋯ δι' ⋯ν⋯ς προγρ⋯μματος κατ⋯λνσεν. E. W. Gray was probably correct to understand by this that Octavian made the acta challengeable in the law courts up to 31 December 28 B.c.

8 Mommsen's conception of the actorum rescissio as a milder form of damnatio memoriae (ii.1129f.) and connected with the refusal of consecration is too rigid, see Vittinghoff, pp. 91f.

9 Cf. Vittinghoff, p. 102; Jucker H., ‘Die Bildnisstrafen gegen den toten Caligula’, Praestant interna (Festschrift für U. Hausmann (Munich, 1982), pp. 110–18 and plates 1416; Barrett A. A., Caligula: the Corruption of Power (London, 1989), pp. 177f. In a letter Miss Levick has questioned the generally accepted idea that the senate attempted to declare the dead Caligula hostis on the grounds that a hostis had to be outside Rome (cf. her Claudius [London, 1990], p. 35). Germanicus' sons Nero and Drusus were also declared hostes in 29 and 30 whilst in Rome (cf. Suetonius, Tib. 54.2, Cal. 7). However ludicrous in reality the notion that Caligula had in effect declared war on the Roman people (cf. Dig. 49.15.24), the declaration may have some sense legitimised Caligula's assassination or at least the senate's failure to take action against his murderers. Whether the question of Caligula being declared hostis was involved depends on the translation of Dio's ⋯τιμ⋯σαι (60.4.5). Most naturally that renders the Latin infamia, perhaps that attached to the declared hostis (cf. Mommsen ii.l 134 n. 4), although other uses are also attested and deprivation of Roman citizenship is not essential (cf. Levick B. M., ‘The senatus consultum from Larinum’, JRS 73 [1983], 108 n. 27). If, however, Caligula was not declared hostis, what dishonour was intended for him?

10 Mommsen ii. 1130f.; Vittinghoff, pp. 96f. The Institutes of both Gaius and Justinian appear to exclude mandata from imperial constitutiones, although modern legal writers include them, e.g. Thomas J. A. C., The Institutes of Justinian (Cape Town, 1975), p. 10.

11 See examples quoted by Vittinghoff, p. 98 n. 449.

12 286.

13 Dio 59.12.1. In general, see Braund D. C., Rome and the Friendly King (Beckenham, 1984), pp. 26f.

14 Despite the appearance of ψηϕισαμ⋯νης in Dio 59.12.2, Talbert R. J. A., The Senate of Imperial Rome (Princeton, 1984), p. 440, omits this as a senatus consultum. By contrast, ⋯ψηϕ⋯σαντο (Dio 58.18.3) establishes the measure to have the Praetorians paid from the Aerarium as a senatus consultum.

15 Ann. 4.26.

16 Thrace: Ann. 2.64f., 3.38.3f.; Palestine: Josephus, A.J. 18.108.

17 Josephus, A.J. 18.237.

18 Josephus, A.J. 18.236f.

19 In Flaccum 40.

20 Dio 59.8.2. Suetonius, Cal. 16.3.

21 60.8.3. Herod was given Chalcis (B.J. 2.217, A.J. 19.277, Dio 60.8.3).

22 A.J. 19.275; cf. Madden F. W., Coins of the Jews (London, 1881), pp. 136–7; Hill G. F., Catalogue of Greek Coins: Palestine (London, 1914), xcvii–viii; Schürer E., The History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ, i (revised by G. Vermes, F. G. B. Millar et al.) (Edinburgh, 1973), p. 445 n. 19 (henceforth, Schürer). Despite the reading of the reverse legend offered in Meshorer Y., Ancient Jewish Coinage (New York, 1982), ii.55ff., the appearance of κλητ⋯ν, i.e. σ⋯γκηλητον, confirms the appearance of the Senate.

23 Dio 63.3.4f.; cf. Suetonius, Nero 13. The theatrical performance κατ⋯ ψ⋯ϕισμα (Dio 63.6.1) was probably decreed by Nero.

24 18.237, 252; 19.274–5.

25 2.181, 215–17.

26 For Vespasian's attitude to Claudius, see Suetonius, Claud. 46.1. Cf. Schϋrer, pp. 445 n. 19, 568 n. 40.

27 Above p. 440.

28 60.8.1.

29 285.

30 For ancient index, see Dio's Roman History, vii, translated by Cary E. (London, 1924), p. 260. 59.25.1.

31 19.276.

32 It is interesting that not even Caligula's stoutest defender Hugo Willrich attempts a justification of Antiochus' removal: ‘lange dauerte dies Glück aber nicht, denn in der letzten Zeit seiner Regierung hat Gaius aus uns verborgenen Grϋnden Antiochus abgesetzt’, in ‘Caligula’, Klio 3 (1903), 302. Balsdon J. P. V. D., The Emperor Gaius (Caligula) (Oxford, 1934), p. 201, was content to plead ignorance.

33 Cal. 14.3; cf. Dio 59.27.2f. Whether the negotiations leading to this act of submission belong under Tiberius' reign, as Josephus records (A.J. 18.101f.) or are rightly located by Suetonius under Caligula is unimportant for this question. See Ziegler K.-H., Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und dem Partherreich (Wiesbaden, 1964), esp. pp. 62f. (henceforth, Ziegler).

34 See, for example, Dabrowa E., La politique de l' état Parthe á l' égard de Rome d' Artaban II á Vologèse I et les facteurs qui le conditionnaient. (Cracow, 1983), pp. 110f.; Cambridge History of Iran, iii (1) (Cambridge, 1983), p. 75; with references to the ancient sources: A.d. 38 is the earliest date; at face value the charge made against Herod Antipas that he was plotting with Artabanus against Caligula (Josephus, A.J. 18.250) suggests Artabanus was alive in A.d. 39 (pace Kahrstedt U., Artabanus III und seine Erben (Bern, 1950), p. 26 n. 15).

35 Tacitus, Ann. 6.32ff., 11.8.1; Dio 60.8.1.

36 11.12.

37 301f.

38 200. Magie D., Roman Rule in Asia Minor (Princeton, 1950), pp. 514f., offers the oracular ‘there may have been cause’ for Caligula's leaving the Armenian throne unoccupied.

39 1989,64.

40 E.g. Ziegler, p. 64: ‘das umstrittene Armenien dem Zugriff der Parther geradezu dargeboten’; M. L. Chaumont, L.'Arménie entre Rome et Iran – de l'avènement d'Auguste à l'avènement de Dioclétien', ANRW ii.9.1, 91.

41 Josephus, A.J. 20.68. For this Nisibis, see RE xvii, 727f.

42 Kahrstedt, pp. 62f.

43 Josephus, A.J. 1980–83; cf. Philo , Leg. 250, 338.

44 Ann. 2.3.1f.

45 See for example, Debevoise N. C., A Political History of Parthia (Chicago, 1938), pp. 166f.; Dabrowa, p. 118.

46 Ann. 11.9.1.

47 Ann. 12.44f.

* Thanks to Miss B. M. Levick, Mrs M. T. Griffin and Professor J. E. Atkinson for their help and comments.

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