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Some Flavian Connections

  • Gavin Townend

Before the accession of Vespasian it is rare to find anyone outside the imperial family holding the consulate more than once. From A.D. 70 onwards the pattern is established whereby prominent lieutenants of the emperor are distinguished in this way. Mucianus, of course, is outstanding: consul first c. 64, he appears in the Fasti again in 70 and 72, as a fitting honour for the architect of Flavian supremacy. The great general Plautius Silvanus, consul as long before as 45, is consul again in 74, on his return from governing Tarraconensis, a province which Vespasian evidently wished to render secure beyond doubt. In the inscription of Silvanus' career (ILS 986), Vespasian states his reasons, apparently based simply on a recognition of merit long unrewarded, rather than for services to the Flavian cause. A more obvious supporter is Q. Petillius Cerealis, consul in 70, probably after his departure to the Rhine, and again in 74, after settling the Batavian revolt and governing Britain: he had taken an active part in hostilities against the Vitellians, and was also connected to Vespasian by a propinqua affinitas (Tac., Hist. 111, 59). Eprius Marcellus, a less clearly military figure, but active on behalf of the Flavians, in opposition to the intransigent Helvidius Priscus, likewise goes straight to an important province, Asia (CIL X, 3853; XIV, 2612; P-W VI, 263–4; PIR E, 84), and returns to a second consulate in 74.

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1 The Flavian practice was anticipated by Claudius in the years 43–50, when the Fasti reveal five second consulates and L. Vitellius' third (Degrassi 12–14).

2 Perhaps equalled by A. Fabricius Veiento (PIR2 III, F91), whose second consulate falls in 80, while his third can be dated by Statius, in his fragment of the de Bello Germanico, to 83, the dramatic date of the poem. The argument is inconclusive, since dramatic and real date need not be clearly distinguished, and Statius, writing some years later, may have used the opportunity to celebrate honours acquired in the interval.

3 On the age for the consulate, see especially Syme, Tacitus 653–656.

4 Although he and Arulenus Sabinus, the jurist, were suffects from some time in April 69 till the end of June (Act. Arv.), following the pairs Galba/Vinius, Otho/Titianus, Verginius Rufus/Pompeius Vopiscus, they had probably been designated by Nero as ordinarii (cf. Tac., Hist. 1, 77; Plut., Otho 1, 2). In ILS 9059, a military diploma of the year 94, their names are used to indicate 69 as a whole. Even if the two Emperors and their colleagues were struck from the Fasti on their deaths, one would expect to find Verginius (cos. III ord. three years after this diploma) and Vopiscus given in their place. The two Sabini appear to have been retrospectively reinstated as ordinarii, thanks presumably to Flavius' imperial connections. See further in a forthcoming number of AJPh.

5 cf. my discussion in Hermes LXXXIX (1961), 239–246.

6 A man born before A.D. 20 could still conceivably have married a sister of Sabinus 4, born in the fifties; but Suetonius' description of Sabinus 4 as ‘alterum e patruelibus’ (Dom. 10, 5) makes the existence of a sister very improbable. For the same reason, this Sabina can hardly be the wife of the younger Paetus (cos. 79), although he does drop the name Junius and appear simply as Caesennius Paetus, both as consul (CIL VI, 597) and as proconsul of Asia under Domitian (BM Cat. Ionia 111–2). There is no question of Sabinus 2 having a sister who might have married an earlier Paetus (Suet., Vesp. I, 3; 5, 2). The identification of the husband in ILS 995 with the consul of 61 is accepted by Dessau ad loc. and by Syme, Tacitus 594–5, and makes the facts of his career easier to understand and the Flavian stemma considerably more straightforward.

7 It may also be significant of a complex connection between the two equestrian families that Vespasian's beloved grandmother (Suet., Vesp. 2, 1) bore the same cognomen, Tertulla, as the Arrecina who married Titus. But it is a common enough name, attested in a dozen or more gentes, as names transmitted on the female side tend to be.

8 Kubitschek (Imp. Rom. Trib. Distr. 105–122) is probably right in attributing no towns in regions X and XI of Italy to the tribe Quirina, to which the Flavii belonged and which is unquestionably the tribe of Reate (ibid. 55–60). It is still conceivable that Petro changed his tribe when he settled there, and that his son's name commemorates his registration as a Sabine. But the connection with Pisaurum may in any case be explained by the fact that it would be a good base for collecting labourers from such Umbrian towns as Sarsina and Urbinum for transport down the Via Flaminia.

9 One M. Arrecinus Clemens is commemorated at Rudiae, in the extreme heel of Italy, by his wife Cornelia Ocell(in)a (Eph. Ep. VII, 17). This suggests banishment, and may well refer to the consul of 73 and 85. Suetonius (Dom. 11, 1) implies that he was executed; but so he does of Cassius Longinus (Nero 37, 1), who was in fact only banished to Sardinia. Alternatively the widow, herself exiled, may have commemorated him in absentia.

10 Marcia Furnilla was daughter of Q. Barea Sura and Antonia Furnilla (CIL VI, 31766) and presumably niece of Barea Soranus (cos. 52), who was driven to suicide in 66, together with his daughter Servilia, wife of one of the unfortunate Annii (Tac., Ann. XVI, 23, 30, etc.). After their fall, Titus was too ambitious to hold on to the connection; and to leave the child with Furnilla was to lose her as an instrument in his career. For a father retaining the child after a divorce, cf. Dio XLVIII, 44, 4–5, where Livia's baby, Drusus, is returned by Octavian to his father, although the future lay entirely with the former. Similarly Claudius took charge of his daughter by Urgulanilla after divorcing the mother, although he exposed the baby after a short time (Suet., Claud. 27, 1).

11 Domitian and Julia were brought up by the same nurse (Suet., Dom. 17, 3), who remained loyal to the former to the end.

12 P. Ox. XXII, 2349, 26, shows L. Peducaeus Colonus apparently as prefect of Egypt in 69–70 (Stein, Präfekten von Agypt., 39, corrected by Pflaum, in Latomus X (1951), 471 ff; Syme in JRS XLIV (1954), 116). He may rather be archidicastes, acting directly for the prefect in his absence, being a surprisingly obscure personage to take over the claustra imperii in the first year of the new reign.

13 There is perhaps a close parallel in the case of Claudius' eldest daughter Antonia, born a Claudia, but brought up (we can only suppose) by her grandmother Antonia when her mother Aelia Paetina was divorced. It is unlikely that she would have been given the second nomen simply to commemorate her great-grandfather M. Antonius, unless the suggestion came from Caligula in his cult of the Triumvir in 39 (Dio LIX, 20, 2; 21, 6).

14 Posthumous adoption by some wealthy Julius cannot be completely ruled out, with the condition of a change of name (cf. the cases of Tiberius and Galba in Suet., Tib. 6, 3; Gal. 4, 1). But such changes seem not to have been permanent, and Julia is so styled even after her death. There are no freedmen's tituli to attest her official nomen (as there are for Antonia in ILS 4992, 7466, proving that she was properly a Claudia).

15 Domitilla 3 is regularly referred to as Flavia Domitilla, like her mother and grandmother (e.g. Dio LXVII, 14, 1; ILS 1839). In inscriptions she is described as divi Vespasiani neptis, with no reference to her father (ILS 1839; CIL VI, 948, perhaps 949). Thus she can hardly be a daughter of Titus by Arrecina, as suggested tentatively by Stein in P-W VI, 2732–5, although this would certainly explain her name. There is some confusion over her relationships in Eusebius, HE 111, 18, 4, where she is described as ἐξ ἀδελφῆς γεγονυῖαν of Clemens: the source must have described her either as niece of Domitian and wife of Clemens, or as ἐξαδελφή of Clemens, which would be correct (PIR 2 111, F418). It is just possible that Domitilla 2 married some unknown Flavius: more probably the child was born a Petillia but was adopted in some way into the imperial family, either on her mother's death (before 69, as Suet., Vesp. 3), when her father left Italy for several years in Gaul and Britain, or on Petillius' death, some time after 74. It is still odd that literary sources and inscriptions alike make no reference to him as Domitilla's father, and this adds weight to the possibility that his end was discreditable.

16 Petillius' link with the Flavii may have been formed, or strengthened, during the British revolt of 60–61. Titus, born in 39, served as military tribune first in Germany about 59, then in Britain (Suet., Tit. 4, 1). The biographer says nothing of active service, but Dio relates how Titus saved his father's life in battle in Britain during the forties, when he would be about seven (LX, 30, 1). If this means anything, it suggests that he served under Petillius, and that some panegyrist has attempted to add a heroic touch to the inglorious massacre of the Ninth legion (Ann. XIV, 32, 6), when Petillius certainly came near to losing his life. On the other hand, Mucianus, in his speech in Hist. 11, 77, refers to Titus' distinction ‘primis militiae annis apud Germanicos quoque exercitus’, with no word of Britain where it would seem most appropriate. Either Suetonius is entirely wrong about Titus' service in Britain (despite the documentary evidence he refers to as proof of his successes there) and Dio's anecdote contains no trace of truth; or the events in which he took part in that province were so inglorious that he preferred to have nothing said about them, and only one over-zealous panegyrist has embroidered the truth in such a way as to lead Dio into a sad confusion over both the date and the identity of the older relative concerned (this sort of confusion suggests Cluvius Rufus, as I have argued in Hermes LXXXVIII (1960), 98–120).

17 Dio's phrase κατ᾿ ἐπιγαμίαν τινά might be taken of a second marriage, with adequate parallel in classical Greek and particularly in Plut., Cat. mai. 24, 5; Them. 32, 2; but the word τινα suggests rather that the word corresponds to affinitas, as it does, e.g. in Jos., BJ I, 240. Nor is there a Latin word for ‘second marriage’ which would account for Dio's use in this sense.

18 Perhaps after a brief tenure by T. Aurelius Fulvus, attested there by three tabulae defixionum (AE 1952, no. 122). Tarraconensis had no governor in residence at the beginning of 70 (Tac., Hist. IV, 39), and Silvanus was still in Rome in June (ibid. 53). See Syme in JRS XLVIII (1958), 78

19 In an official letter while governor of Moesia (Suppl. Ep. Gr. I (1923)), Silvanus uses very warm language concerning Sabinus, his predecessor: it is impossible to judge whether this goes beyond ordinary formality. Another point to be noted concerning Silvanus is that he alone of the men honoured by Vespasian with a second consulate is from a consular family (except for Sabinus 3).

20 That Paetus died before 79 is suggested by his son's nomenclature as consul in that year as L. Junius Caesennius Paetus. Probably some Junius adopted him after his father's death, when he was already in his thirties. More significantly, Josephus, describing the events of 72–3 (BJ VII, 220 sq.), discusses Paetus' motives for attacking Antiochus and leaves the matter open: οὐ σφόδρα γὰρ τὸ σαφὲς ἠλέγχθη. As Josephus wrote these words within a year or two of the events, and certainly while Vespasian was still alive, he must mean that Paetus was no longer available to reveal the truth, even if he chose to do so. In general, the treatment of Paetus' behaviour by Josephus, as also in Tacitus' source for the Armenian campaigns (I assume that Corbulo's memoirs were not used directly for the Annals) hardly accords with the consideration due to a consular allied to the imperial house and still living. Nero may have been wise (or Tacitus may have credited him with foresight which he did not possess) when he greeted Paetus on his earlier return from the East with the remark: ‘ignoscere statim, ne tam promptus in pavorem longiore sollicitudine aegresceret’ (Ann. XV, 25, 7). It looks as if Paetus, after his aggressive attempt to make up for his former disgrace, and the resulting rebuke from Vespasian (Jos., BJ VII, 243), did precisely what Nero had feared, and died of it.

21 In Britain, Vettius Bolanus was allowed to remain for a further year, until relieved by Petillius: he was certainly no threat to the regime, and was adequately honoured with the proconsulate of Asia about 75 (Stat., Silv. V, 2, 56 sq.; BM Cat. Ionia 272, no. 294, etc.; Sattmann in P-W VIII, A, 1857–8). The non-senatorial commands were in safe hands, Arrecinus Clemens being praetorian prefect, Julius Lupus prefect of Egypt (see n. 12).

22 cf. Syme in Rev. Ét. Anc. LVIII (1956), 236 ff. Pliny (NH IX, 26) tells the story of the dolphin at Hippo during Tampius' proconsulate as ‘intra hos annos’. Both Tampius and Vibius Crispus have to be fitted into the first four years of the reign, after the death of L. Piso early in 70. Vibius was curator aquarum 68–71 (Frontinus, Aq. 102), Tampius 73–4. Syme toys with the idea that Vibius combined both posts in 70/71 (although his health was poor in 69, as in Dio LXV, 2, 3); but it is a very awkward hypothesis that would also require Tampius to double his offices in 73. Clearly Tampius is in Africa 70–71, Vibius 71–2, perhaps longer.

23 Barini, , Triumphalia (1952) 94–5, draws attention to the fact that there is no space in the account of Tampius' ornamenta for an emperor's name, as is found in the titulus of Silvanus Aelianus (ILS 986, ‘senatus honoravit auctore imp … Vespasiano’), with parallels from various Trajanic inscriptions (though Nerva in ILS 273 omits Nero's name). This suggests that Tampius won his victory in the first half of 69, over a body of tribesmen crossing the Danube on the news of the incipient civil war (which has crowded it out of Tacitus' narrative), and was honoured by Vitellius, perhaps disproportionately, in an attempt to win the support of the Danube legions. In an inscription erected some years later, Vitellius' name would be omitted. It is possible, however, that the ornamenta were awarded early in 70, and that Vespasian simply was not present in the Senate at the time (cf. Hist. IV, 4, for Mucianus' ornamenta on a motion by Valerius Asiaticus). That Tacitus was unsympathetic towards Tampius appears particularly from his description of him as an affinis of Vitellius: the Vitellian stemma shows that the connection cannot have been close enough to influence Tampius' actions, as Tacitus implies.

24 Sabinus must have had some claims to be considered a vir militaris, if only as legatus legionis, to be given an active commission by Otho (Hist. 11, 36), when so many distinguished soldiers were available on the staff.

25 We do not know enough of the careers of the other counsellors, Fabricius Veiento, Valerius Catullus Messallinus and Nerva, to conjecture to what extent their honours included provincial commands (cf. Syme, Tacitus pp. 1 and 594).

26 Among these younger men should surely have figured C. Calpetanus Valerius Festus (Groag in P-W III, 1363), governor of Numidia in 69/70, when he brought about the death of L. Piso (cos. 57) as proconsul of Africa. Tacitus doubted Calpetanus' motives, on the grounds that he was an affinis of Vitellius (Hist. IV, 49), and Pliny (Epp. II, 7, 12) regarded Piso's death as a ‘summum facinus’; but Vespasian was evidently satisfied, for he made him suffect consul in 71, curator of the Tiber for the next year or two, legate of Pannonia in 73 (CIL III, 11194–7), as well as giving him various military honours, apparently for his suppression of Piso (ILS 989), although they suggest something more like a genuine campaign. Calpetanus is last heard of as legate of Tarraconensis (CIL II, 2477, etc.); and Martial 1, 78, records his suicide in illness, still as ‘Caesaris amicus'. Since Martial's first book evidently contains epigrams composed during a number of years before publication c. 86, Calpetanus may have died soon after his return from Spain, and so missed the second consulate. Possibly the truth of events in 70 emerged to rob him of the honour. His affinity to Vitellius, to which Tacitus attributes some part of his duplicity, consisted probably in his marriage to the orphaned daughter whom Vespasian himself ‘splendidissime maritavit’ (Suet., Vesp. 14)—too late, in fact, to influence his conduct in Africa. The historian either derived the suspicion from some subsidiary (post-Flavian?) source (cf. Syme, Tacitus 190, n. 6) or was led by the knowledge that Vitellia (more or less his own contemporary) had been married to Calpetanus to suppose that this caused his treachery.

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