The inscription is known only from a manuscript copy of its text that was made in 1511 by an Italian scholar, de Rambertus. It appears to have been inserted, along with several others, into the wall of a tower that was, even in the sixteenth century, already partially destroyed (see CIL entry for further details).
This inscription, the text of which survives to us only from a manuscript copy, was set up in the municipium of Malaca to honour its ‘patron’ (patronus), Lucius Valerius Proculus; he likely originated in Malaca and went on to hold an impressive series of equestrian magistracies, serving under the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. As well as recording the excellent achievements of Valerius Proculus in the service of the empire, the inscription also offers a subtle insight into the long-term effects of the Bar Kokhba War in Judea, and its implications on the Roman army and imperial administration.
The inscription provides the cursus honorum of L. Valerius Proculus; it begins with his military roles, in the command of the fourth Thracian cohort of Syria and as military tribune of the Legio VII Claudia Pia Fidelis. Following this he moved into the administrative position of prefect of the fleet at Alexandria (praefectus classis Alexandrinae) and of the potamophylacia – a kind of policing role that protected shipping on the Nile (see Saddington, “Classes,” p. 215). Next followed a number of procuratorships, in Alpes Maritimae, Hispania – in Baetica in particular –, Cappadocia, Asia, and finally of the Tres Galliae (three Gauls), after which he held the office of the imperial financial secretary (procurator a rationibus) and was then responsible for the supply of grain as a praefectus annonae, which can be dated to 144 CE based on epigraphic evidence from the city of Rome (CIL VI, 1002). The last role attested in the inscription was as prefect of the imperial estates in Egypt, which can be dated by the evidence of papyri to 144 to 147 CE (P.Mich. 3 174).
Based on the dates given by these later magistracies, it has been possible to reconstruct the earlier part of his career to show that the procuratorships of Alpes Maritimae and Baetica, at least, took place under the reign of Hadrian. The position held between these two procuratorships, however, raises an interesting question. Werner Eck interprets the description dilector Augusti in line 8 of the inscription as evidence for L. Valerius Proculus holding a dilectus – forced conscription to the Roman army – whilst in command of the province of the Alpes Maritimae. As the Alpine region was not one of the usual areas for the recruitment of soldiers, and the fact that it appears to have occurred under Hadrian, Eck suggested that such unusual conscription was necessitated by the huge losses suffered by Rome during the Bar Kokhba revolt (Eck, “The Bar Kokhba revolt,” p. 80; for conscription in the Roman army, see Brunt, “Conscription and Volunteering,” p. 90-115). His supposition was supported by further evidence from Italy, which appeared to show two young senators, Voconius Saxa and Caesernius Statius, also recruiting soldiers along the Via Valeria Tiburtina and in the Transpadana in the first few years of the conflict (CIL VIII, 7063; IGR III.763; Eck, “The Bar Kokhba revolt,” p. 80, n. 24 for further examples). Conscription by the state had grown increasingly uncommon during the early principate and High Empire, thus the evidence presented by Werner Eck appears to demonstrate the state of emergency that Bar Kokhba generated; the Legio XXII Deiotariana disappeared entirely from the epigraphic record following the revolt, suggesting that it had been wiped out by the fighting, and there was a change to the organisation of the auxiliary forces in Judea once the conflict was suppressed, suggesting a dramatic enough loss of manpower that whole units had to be replaced (Eck, “The Bar Kokhba revolt,” p. 80-81). When considered alongside Cassius Dio’s statement that 580,000 were killed as a result of the war (Roman History, LXIX.14.3), the recruitment of soldiers in Italy and the Alps under Hadrian certainly appears to fit Eck’s argument that Rome was forced to take unusual – and unpopular – measures in order to protect the integrity of her army.
However, Hans-Georg Pflaum’s assessment of L. Valerius Proculus’s career noted that there were several possibilities of time and place for when he held the position of dilector, suggesting that the dilectus itself was actually held later, during his procuratorship of Baetica, and was therefore not in direct response to the losses suffered by the legions in Judea (Les carrières procuratoriennes équestres sous le Haut-Empire Romain, p. 274-279). Alister Filippini and Gian Luca Gregori also attributed the dilectus to Baetica, but believe it to have taken place c. 129 CE, thereby negating any connection with Bar Kokhba altogether (Filippini and Gregori, “Procuratores Augusti et praepositi uexillationibus ab Imperatore missi,” p. 107-108, n. 54). Indeed, contrary to Eck’s argument presented above, Menahem Mor has proposed that the period in which Rome suffered the heaviest losses in the East can be directly dated to 128 CE, in Hadrian’s speech to the soldiers of the Legio IIIAugusta, then camped in Lambaesis, in which he praised them for sending reinforcements to join the Legio III Cyrenaica (ILS 2487; Mor, “Geographical Scope,” p. 118). The problem of acquiring soldiers in the east had arisen from the paucity of Roman citizens in the new province of Arabia, from which it had not been possible to mobilise an entire legionary force (Kennedy, “Legio VI Ferrata”, p. 305; for an opposing view, see Applebaum, Prolegomena, p. 18-19).
Although it is not possible to state with certainty that the Bar Kokhba war necessitated forced conscription to the Roman army in regions from which troops were not usually recruited, the fact remains that Rome’s military suffered so severely during the course of the conflict that it is possible to interpret the text of this inscription in such a way. The state of emergency and military crisis that emerged as a result of the war should not be understated. Rome’s army was seriously depleted during the course of the conflict and the military achievements of the Jewish rebels were so successful that Hadrian was forced to move one of his best generals and his legion from Britain – the very edge of the empire – to Judea in order to bring the fighting to an end. Whether or not soldiers were conscripted to replace those lost in the conflict whilst the war was on-going is less significant a factor than the fact that Rome’s military strength had been so severely challenged by the Jews.
Mor, Menahem, The Geographical Scope of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, in The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism (ed. P. Schäfer; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 107-131
Conscription for the Roman army in the provinces (CIL II, 1970) Author(s) of this publication: Caroline Barron Publishing date: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 18:10 URL: https://www.judaism-and-rome.org/conscription-roman-army-provinces-cil-ii-1970 Visited: Thu, 11/30/2023 - 08:56