Freedom and citizenship in the Roman Empire: legal and epigraphic approaches to status identification
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date29/11/2020
Morbidoni, Pier Luigi
This thesis constitutes a novel attempt to identify different civic statuses in the Roman Empire in key legal and epigraphic sources – especially the so-called Junian Latins, dediticii, Latin citizens and first-generation Roman citizens. The goal of the thesis is to offer a new tool for (and a different perspective on) status identification in our sources, to advance our understanding of Roman society in the early Roman Empire. Identification of the different categories listed above has always been complex and challenging, given the typical lack of a clear status identifier in our sources for individuals of one or other these statuses, thus creating a mass of so-called incerti in our evidence. To tackle this problem, this thesis adopts in the first instance a theoretical framework based on detailed analysis of juridical texts, statutes and other relevant legal evidence, which delineates the complex limitations of Junian Latins, dediticii, peregrines and Latin citizens in imperial times. This legal framework is then expanded by a thorough discussion of the epigraphic evidence, which allows us to appreciate how ‘real’ individuals interacted, in Roman society, with men and women of similar or different legal condition, and how they chose to represent themselves and their status. Moreover, by adopting a content-sensitive approach to the study of legal texts and inscriptions, the thesis explores the hypothesis that men and women who enjoyed certain legal statuses lacked the linguistic ‘markers’ to fully convey their condition through the epigraphic medium. As a consequence, this thesis seeks to call into question the idea that the Latin epigraphic production in imperial times was a medium mostly embraced by individuals of servile extraction, by adopting a different perspective on the study of the (modern) category of incerti, and by re-evaluating the criteria of enrolment of Roman citizens in the urban tribes, especially the Palatina. Ultimately, this study aspires to put forward new approaches and parameters that might be used to ascertain the condition of some of the men and women who currently appear (to us) in the rich inscriptional evidence as incerti, thus also gaining a more precise comprehension of who engaged with Latin epigraphy. In its totality, this thesis makes a contribution to the study of Roman law, Latin epigraphy and Roman imperial society more broadly.
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