Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Cédric Brélaz, Corpus des inscriptions grecques et latines de Philippes. Tome II: La colonie romaine, Partie 1: La vie publique de la colonie. Études Épigraphiques, 6. Paris: École française d'Athènes, 2014. Pp. 404; 56 p. of plates. ISBN 9782869582637. €89.00.

Reviewed by A. D. Rizakis, National Hellenic Recherch Foundation/Institute for Historical Studies, Athens (arizakis@yahoo.com)

Version at BMCR home site

Translation by Clifford Ando (cando@uchicago.edu)

The volume under review is a catalog with commentary of 225 Greek and Latin epigraphic documents (with 56 pages of plates, maps and plans), discovered either in the urban center or in the territory of the Roman colony of Philippi in eastern Macedonia. The corpus is thematic: it includes documents that mention municipal or imperial institutions. (Its abbreviation will be CIPh II.1.) It is the first fruit of a Greek-French-Swiss project that foresees the publication of three parts in total, the two others being devoted respectively to votive inscriptions (CIPh II.2) and funerary ones (CIPh II.3).1 Separate volumes are foreseen for the inscriptions of the city in the Hellenistic (CIPh I) and early Byzantine periods(CIPh III).

The documents included in this corpus are sorted into six sections: the emperors and members of the imperial family (I); members of the senatorial (II) and equestrian orders (III); soldiers of the garrison of Rome (IV); legionnaries and auxiliary troops (V); and, last, municipal magistrates and local administration (VI). The thematic classification follows the hierarchical order outlined by the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. Within each section, the author organizes the material chronologically, as appropriate, with the exception of sections II and VI, where the documents are organized in alphabetical order of the occupants of office (by nomina or cognomina). The whole is enriched by four appendices at the end of the book: 1. Inscriptions excluded from the volume. 2. Inscriptions relevant to Philippi found at Thessaloniki. 3. Latin inscriptions found in the neighborhood of Serres (following a hypothesis that it was a praefectura of the colony). 4. A prosopography of soldiers and notable Philippians. The choice of a thematic scheme represents a distinct point of difference from the topographical arrangement adopted by P. Pilhofer in his corpus of the inscriptions of Philippi,2 which rendered and still renders today important aid to historical and epigraphic research.3

The author reveals a profound mastery of the totality of epigraphic, archaeological and historical evidence for Philippi; he knows the sources well, both written and archaeological, and controls the abundant secondary literature, treating diverse questions, that has developed over more than a century. His method grants primacy to the document itself, which he subjects in each case to scrupulous and often fruitful re-examination, as can be seen in the case of well- known documents whose presentation is improved, whether in the description of the stone or research into its find spot. The attention devoted by the author to history of the stones (in continuation of the work of P. Collart), whether in their respective entries or in the chapter of the introduction devoted to the subject,4 clarifies numerous complex questions tied up with the distribution of the documents in space. The detailed attention to material aspects of the history of the documents, an aspect often neglected by epigraphers, often reveals itself (apart from other signs) useful for the dating of documents. It can equally open a space of reflection onto other matters, for example, regarding the typology and evolution of forms or cultural transfers,5 which were so numerous in an empire that recognized few internal boundaries.

In contrast to the last edition of the inscriptions of Philippi, the bibliography on each text is presented in chronological order and is accompanied by short critical remarks, which will save time for researchers who would otherwise need to consult dusty and superceded publications. Rigorous examination of the documents often corrects and clarifies earlier errors and allows for the establishing of a text that one can verify, or perhaps even improve, thanks to the rich illustrations, which themselves address a lack in earlier editions of the inscriptions of Philippi.

The more original aspect of this publication lies in the historical commentary, rather than in the thematic classification of the catalog. The commentary touches on all issues presented by the texts; the explications put forward are measured and plausible; and they rely upon a broad range and profound knowledge of the issues, ranging from Roman institutions to onomastics to social relations, as well as economic, cultic and cultural history. If the commentary on certain documents is for this reason perhaps a bit long, it is never less than useful, because the author always succeeds in giving appropriate nuance to the analysis of institutions or the functioning of Philippian society.

The author's chosen method is that of the learned tradition, now quite old, which has many times given evidence of its value and withstands well the diverse currents of so-called innovation in the historical sciences. This tradition concedes great importance to the texts themselves and to the gradual accumulation of historical knowledge, rather than to theoretical approaches that conform to more abstract concerns. The work of Cédric Brélaz thus finds its place in the grand French tradition in this field, which grants particularist attention to commentaries that aspire to comprehensiveness. In this way, minute analyses of documents clarify the structure and functioning of institutions, as well as the social organization of the Roman colony, of which no aspect is neglected. However, the great merit of Brélaz's study rests in the comparison between the administration of Philippi with the institutional practices and social realities attested in other Roman colonies in east and west.6 The contextualization of Philippian institutions in a much larger geographic and political perspective, that of the empire, aids in the understanding of certain of their aspects, as well as their evolution. In the same framework, one finds interesting observations on related domains, for example, concerning Roman onomastics in the east.7 This varied and deep approach to the texts and to institutional matters reveals, again and again, that Philippian institutions did not blindly follow a Roman model but adapted themselves in each instance to particular local conditions, even if the study as a whole often underlines their Roman character.

Careful consideration, born of the author's autopsy of the documents, when this was possible, has resulted in appropriate new readings,8 but reconsideration has naturally produced fewer results regarding stones that are now lost9 or on topics related to Thracian personal names and toponyms.10 One difficult question concern the usage of the provincial or Augustan era within the colonial territory. Recourse to the provincial era in Philippian documents would be strange. Granted that it is used outside colonies; by virtue of ius italicum, colonies were excluded from provincial soil. Thus, although its presence on the epitaph11 of a Thracian dated to 43/2 BCE is wholly justified, the date falling before the foundation of the colony, the provincial era is less easily explained on other documents coming from surrounding vici, which were very often located within the limites of the colony's territory.12 In these cases, use of the provincial or Augustan era could be explained either by the fact that certain of these vici were located outside the colonial pertica or one must simply imagine that a sort of cultural transfer from neighboring peregrine cities. A final question concerns the gens Tatinia mentioned in two inscriptions.13 The better attested member of this gens seems to be L. Tatinius Gnosus, centurion of the statores, the author of a dedication (under Domitian) to Quies Augusta.14 The same person is honored under Domitian by the vigiles.15 L. Tatinius Gnosus probably belonged to one of the older families of Philippi, because one of his ancestors, L. Tatinius Clemens, is mentioned in an unpublished dedication erected in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and "the divine Augustus," who is without doubt Augustus himself.16 The site of the discovery of this inscription (Neos Skopos, to the east of Serres) suggests either that this family of soliders was installed in the praefectura of the colony, created by that emperor in this region, or that one of its members, perhaps L. Tatinius Clemens, held there the curious office of VIIvir, which is attested for the first time in this document. 17

To conclude, the volume offers a detailed picture of the political institutions of Philippian society; it teaches us about Philippian soldiers and their careers; and it informs us about the role of diverse social groups. Beyond the incremental improvements offered to earlier editions, the new publication is enriched by a very large number of previously unpublished texts that, added to those already published by others, make of the dossier of Philippi an essential reference for the study of Roman colonial institutions.18 This study fills a gap in research and it will be in the future an indispensable tool of research, as the exceptional richness of the documentation from Philippi can serve as the basis for inquiry into the institional realities of other Roman colonies in the east where the documentation is much weaker. The volume will also do great service to specialists of Roman institutions who have, in general, good acquaintance with the evolution of municipal instituitons in the pars occidentalis, but who are less well education about the pars orientalis.


1.   The outline of the project was announced in C. Brélaz, R. Frei-Stolba, A.D. Rizakis and A.G. Zannis, "De nouveaux notables dans la colonie de Philippes," in BCH 130, 2006, 519-520; CIPh II.1, p. 23-24 et n. 4-5.
2.   P. Pilhofer, Philippi, Band II. Katalog der Inschriften von Philippi. 2., überarbeitete und ergänzte Auflage, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009. This re-publication is a corrected and augmented reprinting of the first edition, taking account of inscriptions published since 2000, being furnished with addenda and corrigenda.
3.   CIPh II.1, p. 16 n. 80.
4.   CIPh II.1, p. 40-55.
5.   A.D. Rizakis, I. Touratsoglou, "Acculturation dans le contexte colonial: choix culturels et profils identitaires sur les monuments funéraires de Philippes, colonie romaine en Macédoine," in La domination romaine sur les communautés du Nord Egéen (IIe s. av. J.-C. – IIe s. apr. J.-C.). Entre ruptures et continuités, EfA, Athens, 21 November 2014, forthcoming.
6.   96 of 225 documents published in CIPh II.1.
7.   A.D. Rizakis (ed.), Roman Onomastics in the Greek East. Social and Political Aspects. Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Roman Onomastics, Athens 7-9 September 1993, MEΛETHMATA 21, Athens 1996; O. Salomies, "Contacts between Italy, Macedonia and Asia Minor during the Principate," in A. D. Rizakis, Roman Onomastics, 124-127; S.G. Byrne, Roman citizens of Athens, Peeter, Leuvain-Dudley, MA 2003; A. Tataki, The Roman Presence in Macedonia, MEΛETHMATA 46, Athens 2006.
8.   CIPh II.1, passim.
9.   CIPh II.1, no 37.
10.   E.g. CIPh II.1, no 1, 4.
11.   E.g. CIPh II.1, no 1.
12.   CIPh II.1, p. 80 ns 3-7.
13.   CIPh II.1, 84-85.
14.   CIPh II.1, no 84.
15.   CIPh II.1, no 85.
16.   A. D. Rizakis, "Une praefectura dans le territoire colonial de Philippes: les nouvelles données," in S. Démougin, J. Scheid (éds.), Colons et colonies dans le monde romain, Actes de la XVe Rencontre franco-italienne d'épigraphie du monde romain (Paris, 4-6 octobre 2008), Rome 2012, 96-98.
17.   A. D. Rizakis, " Une praefectura," 98-104.
18.   CIPh II.1, p. 6-8.

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