This extremely large inscription has been discovered in 5 square blocks, distributed across 6 columns, in a total of 568 lines. One block is lost. Interpunctuation is abundant and the 7 different documents of the dossier are visually separated on the stone. Letter forms are regular, with several lunate forms.
This extraordinarily large inscription covering one of the walls of the theatre complex in Ephesus was composed from a total of 7 documents: A) a resolution of the Ephesian people about Salutaris and his foundation; B) the text of Salutaris’s foundation itself; C) a letter of the proconsul C. Aquillius Proculus; D) a letter of the pro-praetorian legate P. Afranius Flavianus; E) a resolution of the council about the parade of statues; F) a resolution of the council about the seats of the theatre; E) and the appendix. Our edition and commentary are only concerned with selected sections of the first three documents.
A) The assembly of citizens of Ephesus (or δῆμος/dêmos) adopted a resolution and the corresponding epigraphic record follows the format typical of Ephesian public procedures. The year is dated according to the local eponymous magistrate (or πρύτανις/prytanis), which corresponds to the Roman consulships of Sex. Attius Suburanus (II) and M. Asinius Marcellus, i.e. 104 CE. The motion was introduced by the “secretary of the people” (γραμματεὺς τοῦ δήμου/grammateus tou dêmou); an officer with ample political influence in the imperial period (see Schulte, Die Grammateis). Another prominent board of magistrates (στρατηγοί/stratêgoi) backed a proposal listing the many reasons for which the decree should be passed. From lines 8 to 14 there is a general preamble emphasising how necessary was to honour munificent (φιλότειμοι/philoteimoi) men who showed affection (στοργή/storgê) and did well for the city because this created competition (ἁμιλλᾶσθαι/amillasthai) and benefitted the cult of Artemis “from whom the most beautiful things come to all.” Subsequently, the first document shows that C. Vibius Salutaris fulfilled such honorific criteria. Like many Roman citizens in Greek cities, his career had a double nature. On the one hand, he was a member of the equestrian order probably by birth (γένει/genei) and, as such, he had been selected by the Roman emperor – described here as “our lord” (κύριος ἡμῶν/kyrios hêmôn) – for military commands and procuratorships. By virtue of many additional statue bases recording Salutaris’s equestrian path, we know that he was in charge of the harbours of Sicily, the Roman municipal grain-supply, and supervised the Asturian and Gallaecian cohort, the XII legion and the provinces of Mauritania Tingitana and Belgica (I.Eph. 28-37; Devijver, Prosopographia Militarium, p. 870-871). For some of these standard appointments, Latin fluency must be assumed. This aspect, together with C. Vibius Salutaris non-imperial names and tribe, indicate that he most likely descended from the community of Italian traders who still conducted business in Ephesus at the beginning of the 2nd century CE (Hatzfeld, Les trafiquants, p. 101-104; Kirbihler, Des Grecs et des Italiens). The distinctive group integrated and participated in the civic life of the Greek polis, and, indeed, Salutaris is also described as a citizen (πολείτης/poleitês) and member of the local council (βουλευτικὸν συνέδριον/bouleutikon synedrion). The decree praises his ancestral morals (ἤθεα/êthea) and pious generosity (εὐσεβῶν φιλοτείμως/eusebôn philoteimôs), particularly towards the goddess Artemis whom the Ephesians regarded as their founder (ἀρχηγέτις/archêtis). The provision of images specified from lines 22 to 31 is presented as an example of such beneficial actions.
Thanks to the detailed information provided in the dossier, we know that a total of 31 images were dedicated. The majority dealt with native themes such as the Ionian colonization, the Hellenistic foundation of Lysimachos, the cult of Artemis, and local political institutions (see Rogers, The Sacred Identity, p. 107-115). Only five represented Roman elements, but these were integral components of the donation: Trajan, his wife Plotina, the Senate, the equestrian order, and the Roman people. These five images were made of silver like all others in the project, except for Artemis, for which gold was used (l. 158-159). While the visual representation of emperors and gods is well attested, it is impossible to know the exact appearance of more abstract concepts. Unfortunately, none of Salutaris’s images is preserved and local coins do not provide corresponding representations of Roman motifs as they do with local entities such as the “council” and “people” (see Rogers, The Sacred Identity, p. 91-95). Despite these problems of interpretation, what remains clear is that Salutaris proposed a benefaction combining the dual nature of his vital career: both Roman and Ephesian.
B) The second document records the specific clauses of Salutaris’s proposal. His text was examined between the end of 104 and the beginning of 105 CE, and the dossier confirms that everything was approved by the spring of the same year. In this case, the motion is not introduced by any Ephesian official but by Salutaris himself. This authorship explains the hyperbolic epithets bestowed on all aspects pertaining to local themes and institutions. Artemis is referred to as “the greatest goddess” (μεγίστη θέα/megistê thea), the council as “friend of the emperors” (φιλοσέβαστος/philosebastos), and the Ephesian people also as neocorate (νεώκορος/neôkoros). The last two adjectives are particularly interesting for assessing the impact of Rome on the Ionian settlement. Ephesus became neocorate when a new temple of the Augusti was completedand Domitian granted a title that was celebrated by other cities in the region, such as Aphrodisias. Our inscription confirms that the people of Ephesus had incorporated this distinction as part of their official titulature a couple of decades later. As for the denomination philosebastos, it needs to be connected with the series of adjectives which were first used to display affection towards the Romans (philorhômaios) and then became marks of imperial loyalty under emperors referred to as Caesares or Sebastoi. While such titles were widespread in the Greek East, they are particularly frequent in Ephesus in both public entities and private individuals. This type of material therefore provides substantial evidence concerning the close relationship existing between Rome and the capital of Asia. Ephesus was seat of the provincial administration and the harbour in which the proconsular governor was obliged to arrive first (Digest 220.127.116.11). On top of that, the community of Roman citizens was significant and many of them had prominent imperial careers already in the 1st century CE. Once their services for Rome were completed, individuals such as Salutaris could return to their homelands, and this epigraphic monument illustrates some of the measures they could promote. Salutaris did not just seek to beautify Ephesus with statues, he also strove to transmit effective messages with his donation. This intention is particularly obvious regarding the treatment of Roman images. As recorded in lines 153-158, Salutaris wanted to take care of these himself, and then instructed the secretary of the people to carry on after his death so that “they were placed during the assemblies above the block reserved for the council among the golden Artemis, and the other images.” Without the fulfilment of this condition, the rest of his donation would become invalid; so a deliberate attempt to introduce Roman elements in the local political spectrum of Ephesus must be inferred.
C) It is therefore not surprising that the governor Aquilius Proculus (PIR2 A 999) commended Salutaris “for his piety (εὐσέβεια/eusebeia) toward the goddess and the Augusti, and his goodwill (εὐμένεια/eumeneia) toward the city, now clear to all in the theatre.” In this central space, the assembly of the citizens of Ephesus would gather, surrounded by images of local deities and institutions, as well as visual representations of Roman power (see Rogers, “The Assembly”). Accordingly, the provincial proconsul decided to set hefty fines (l. 360-365) in order to protect what he considered a hugely beneficial initiative for the city in which he resided and for the Roman emperors whom he represented. Furthermore, both he and the legate Afranius Flavianus had to authorise donations of this magnitude and kind, which may affect the financial viability of the region (l. 326-332, 370-473). For this very reason, the dossier of documents made explicit references to the resources from which Salutaris’s scheme was to be financed (l. 220-326). Such foundations started with a fixed capital endowment that was expected to increase every year, either through interest or additional funds usually supplied from landed property (Duncan-Jones, The economy, p. 132-138; Laum, Stiftungen). In this case, not only the preparation of images was to be covered but also the provision of lotteries (κλῆροι/klêroi) and money distributions (διανομαί/dianomai) among the different population groups of Ephesus (see Rogers, The Sacred Identity, p. 39-79). Salutaris’s foundation was not intented to become a static commemoration of native identity and imperial power, but rather a dynamic celebration involving local participation. This is confirmed by the detailed written instructions for the organisation of a parade which was to carry the images from the temple of Artemis to the theatre on the following occasions: 1) on the day when the high priest of the Asian temple in Ephesus took office, 2) during the twelve sacred and regular assembly meetings fixed by law and custom, 3) the Sebasteia games 4) the Soteria festival, 5) the penteteric Great Ephesia, 6) all gymnastic contests, 7) and other occasions fixed by the people and council. In total, this arrangement meant that the population of Ephesus ended up witnessing a parade through the streets almost every other week (Rogers, The Sacred Identity, p. 83).
C. Vibius Salutaris had a good understanding of both Ephesian politics and Roman administration. He was citizen of a Greek polis that prided itself on its Ionian ancestry, Hellenistic tradition, and, above all, the prominence of its founder. “Great is Artemis of Ephesus!” the people claimed when Paul unsuccessfully tried to deliver his message to the assembly gathered in the theatre (Acts 19:33-41). Later in the imperial period, Roman governors such as Aquillius Proculus and Fabius Persicus endorsed the greatness of a temple considered the “jewel of Asia.” Salutaris’s foundation could consequently appeal to the local population as well as reaching full official authorisation. This member of the equestrian order had benefitted from imperial prerogatives supporting his career and returned home as a distinguished benefactor with economic resources to spread his twofold ideology. On the one hand, he could be portrayed as a devoted supporter of Artemis by the local institutions. On the other hand, he was promoting Roman rule and visibility. As a result of his initiative, the Ephesians had more resources to enhance the cultic life of their city, with parades and generous pecuniary distributions attracting attention. Likewise, whenever this people decided to assemble, they were about to observe the conspicuous representation of all the constituent elements of Roman rule: the emperor and his sacred house, the people of Rome, and the Senate. Thus, the same Asian community who in the Republican age had sacrificed on the Capitol for their freedom (CIL I2 727 = I.Eph. 1394), was now capital of a Roman province and subject to the supervision of a superior power. Under Trajan, the theatre inscriptions and images provided by Salutaris confirmed this new consensual reality, for which prayers (I.Eph. 10, l. 15 -16) and graffiti (SEG 55.1204) were still displayed in the 3rd century CE.
Keywords in the original language:
- ἱππικῆς τάξις
- δῆμος Ῥωμαίων