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Representations of EmpireRome and the Mediterranean World$
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Alan K. Bowman, Hannah M. Cotton, Martin Goodman, and Simon Price

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262764

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262764.001.0001

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Imperial Administration and Epigraphy: In Defence of Prosopography

Imperial Administration and Epigraphy: In Defence of Prosopography

(p.131) 7 Imperial Administration and Epigraphy: In Defence of Prosopography
Representations of Empire


British Academy

Administration produces documents. In that respect Roman administration does not differ from its modem counterparts. An identifying mark of Roman administration is the libellous, submitted to the emperor or to an official by a petitioner-even when the petitioner presents himself in person before the emperor, as so many embassies and legates of cities did. All appointments to senatorial and equestrian offices were made in written form, by codicilli, letters of appointment, although we can be sure that governors of the great military commands, if setting out from Rome (or from the emperor's place of residence at the time) received their commission personally and orally from the emperor. However, all this material, with some unique exceptions outside Egypt (and a few other localities in the Roman Near East), has vanished completely. To reconstruct the working of Roman administration from what has survived is difficult and only in part possible; if we persist against the odds in trying to do so, we are bound to stumble continuously against the limits of the available evidence and of our knowledge alike. This chapter discusses the administrators and prosopographical material; and the contested existence of rules governing patterns of promotion.

Keywords:   Roman administration, documents, administrators, prosopography, epigraphy, promotion, codicilli, senatorial office, equestrian office, military command

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