The Lycian people honour the emperor Claudius as a saviour for delivering them of internal strife and insecurity after the new province was established
Typology (Honorific / Funerary / etc.):
Patara, in the area of the early Byzantine walls
Actual Location (Collection/Museum):
Museum of Antalya (Turkey)
The large monument dedicated to Claudius would have been composed of 59 different blocks, some of which have not been discovered. The pillar was inscribed on the different faces and probably topped by a mounted statue of Claudius. The text was cut by two different stonemasons
The monument would measure between 5 and 7 metres high in total. Each of the blocks is between 50 (top) and 69 (centimetres) high. The width in the face A of the monument is between 156 (top) and 162 centimetres (bottom). In the face B, between 232 (top) and 238 (bottom). In face C: 232 (top) and 238 (bottow). Letters are on average 5 centimetres tall
Şahin, Adak, Stadiasmus Patarensis, p. 29 [SEG 51.1832+57.1670; Jones, “The Claudian Monument,” p. 163]
Cassius Dio (Roman History LX.17.3) reports that Claudius “reduced the Lycians to servitude and incorporated them to the prefecture of Pamphylia because they had revolted and slain some Romans” (see Lavan, “Florus and Dio,” p. 133). By contrast, Suetonius (Claudius 25.9.3) says that the Lycians had been deprived of their freedom by the emperor “because of deadly intestine feuds.” Our inscription shows that the narrative of the latter imperial biographer was also that epigraphically displayed by the native population of this south-Anatolian region when it became a Roman province.
Following his names and titulature dating the document to 46 CE, Claudius is honoured by the Lycians as a “saviour” (σωτήρ/sôtêr) of their people (ἔθνος/ethnos). The divine providence (προνοία/pronoia) of the emperor is said to have delivered them from “sedition and lawlessness and bandits” (l. 16-20). Thanks to this, concord (ὁμόνοια/homonoia), application of justice (δικαιοδοσία/dikaiodosia), and the ancestral laws (πάτριοι νόμοι/patrioi nomoi) could be restored. There should therefore be no doubt that before Claudius’s intervention the region had suffered episodes of internal strife and insecurity. Such circumstances contrast heavily with Strabo’s (Geography 14.3.3) description of Lycia at the beginning of the imperial age in which the political organisation of their cities joint in a common league (or κοινόν/koinon) was praised. Indeed, the geographer claims that their stability had enabled them to remain free; something exceptional when the remaining parts of western Asia Minor had been provincialized for a long time. We also know that the Lycians had previously been particularly favourable to Roman hegemony in the Hellenistic world. They were among the first to establish a cult for the goddess Rome (Mellor, ΘΕΑ ῬΩΜΗ, p. 37-38), which was kept throughout the entire imperial period (e.g. TAM II.223; IGR 3.474, 490), and involved the organisation of a fair with games called Rhômaia in her honour (I.Arykanda 43; F. Xanthos VII no. 18-19). A bilingual inscription found in the Capitolium also informs us that they performed sacrifices for Jupiter celebrating their freedom (CIL I2 725), so this ethnic group had been accepted to the official status of “friend” by the Roman people as also confirmed by an exceptional treaty dating to 46 BCE (SEG 55.1452, see Mitchell, The Treaty).
Such actions and language of loyalty are also very present in our inscription when the Lycians refer to themselves as “lovers-of-the-Romans” (φιλορώμαιοι/philorhômaioi), “lovers-of-the-Caesars” (φιλοκαίσαρες/philokaisares), and “faithful allies” in lines 14-16. All these resounding titles need to be understood in the context reported by Cassius Dio, who denounced that Romans had been murdered in the course of this internal revolt. With this honorific monument, the Lycians would therefore be seeking to re-iterate and accept their subjection to the superior power of Rome. They were also trying to show that such episodes had been exceptional and would not be repeated once the ancestral regime had been put in place again. Accordingly, the main reason causing the temporary sedition is given and points towards the “reckless populace” (ἄκριτος πλῆθος/akritos plêthos) as scapegoats. Government (πολιτεία/politeia) needed to be returned to the councillors “selected among the best” (l. 25-31). These last lines are fundamental for clarifying the nature of the problems that culminated with the transformation of Lycia into a Roman province. When Strabo, as mentioned above, praised the “civilised and decent way” in which Lycians lived, he also described that their league was made of 23 cities which sent representatives to a general assembly in which all regional matters were discussed and solved. In other words, the Lycian koinon was an eminently aristocratic system of government. Less privileged segments of the population most likely revolted against this traditional status quo in the reign of Claudius, prominent families were even forced to flee (e.g. Junia Theodora from Corinth was honoured in this period for hosting Lycian refugees: SEG 18.143), and the emperor decided to intervene. Rome’s favouritism for oligarchic regimes assuring relative social control and tribute revenues is well known; the case of Lycia provides us with an example of how far the implementation of this policy could go (Levick, Claudius, p. 150-151).
The last lines of the inscription are not fully preserved but it is clear that they contain an honorific message for the man selected by Claudius for the transformation of Lycia into a province: Quintus Veranius. Prior to his appointment as legatus pro praetore (πρεσβευτής καὶ αντιστράτηγος/presbeutês kai antistratêgos), he had an impressive civil and military career (IGRR III.703; PIR1 V.266), and became consul in 49 CE. Claudius was therefore sending one of his faithful and experienced companions to perform the task. Furthermore, Veranius probably had experience with such processes because his father had been in charge of the provincialisation of Cappadocia when he accompanied Germanicus in the East (Tacitus, Annals II.56.4-5; Cassius Dio, Roman History 57.17; F. Xanthos VII no. 38). Local testimonies from southern Anatolia certainly confirm that Claudius’s appointee completed his mission successfully. For example, in the city of Myra one inscription records a decree of the governor concerning the falsification of documents and the improvement of administration (SEG 33.1177). In Cibyra, he is praised for supervising the works “in conformity with Claudius’s instructions” (IGR 4.902); and honours for him can also be found at the Letoon, the Apollonian sanctuary next to Xanthos which was central to the Lycian league (F. Xanthos VII no. 37). It is therefore not coincidental that Veranius later became one of the first governors of Britain after Claudius celebrated the conquest of the island (Birley, The Roman Government, p. 37-41), or that the consul could claim to have contributed to the peace in a marble slab found in Rome (CIL VI.41075; see Gordon, Quintus Veranius).
Turning a region into a new Roman province was not an easy enterprise. In the case of Lycia, this involved the reorganisation of the political system with the restitution of control to the aristocratic league or koinon, as mentioned above. Construction activities and administrative reforms also featured among Veranius’s duties. Even if it is not included in our collection, the remaining parts of the inscribed monument for Claudius in Patara confirm that surveying, maintaining, and even building local roads played a prominent role too. In the face B of the pillar, it is claimed that Claudius “made roads throughout all Lydia by the agency of Veranius.” The face C continues with one of the most detailed and comprehensive catalogue of regional routes available in the Roman world. The so-called Stadiasmus Patarensis includes not only the names of the settlements in the road network, but also exact distances (see Grasshoff, Untersuchen zum Stadiasmos). This preoccupation for the routes of the new province is also confirmed in another contemporary inscription found near Limyra, in which the Lycians again called themselves “lovers-of-the-Romans” and “lovers-of-the-Caesars” and thanked Claudius for the peace and the preparation of roads (SEG 52.1438).
All these local testimonies illustrate the profound impact that the emperor’s decision had on the population of the new province. The monument of Patara is the most conspicuous attestation of this transformation. Standing at more than 5 metres high and probably topped with an equestrian statue of the emperor, both the inhabitants of this important city and many other Lycians could be reminded that their former freedom had vanished and were now subject to Roman administration; allegedly due to their own faults. In contrast to internal strife and lawlessness, Claudius represented peace, justice and the return to ancestral laws that made him a saviour not only in Patara but also other nearby settlements such as Arneae (TAM II.760). Through his provincial agent, Veranius Maximus, the emperor also achieved to implement a series of reforms and key infrastructures that assured the grip of Roman control for the centuries to come (Brandt, Lycia). This governor likewise sponsored the Roman citizenship of selected locals as confirmed by the appearance of his names in the province thereafter (e.g. IGRR 4.914, 915; TAM II.42, 198, 288, 323). Nonetheless, he did not manage to teach enough Latin to the one ambassador who, according to the famous passage of Cassius Dio (Roman History LX.17.3), was unable to answer in Rome the questions of the emperor concerning his Anatolian homeland.
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