4 February 2007

Roman names

Not only do they have too many names, Gabriele, but they're also confusing, especially if they're important to the plot :)

I've been writing my essay about the Batavian revolt this weekend, and while writing something about Civilis' motives for revolting I stumbled upon a problem. His name.

"Two of the most important and influential Batavians were Julius Civilis and his brother Claudius Paulus, who were of royal descent. "

I typed it, and then suddenly noticed something which I had given very little thought to earlier. Why is Civilis' nomen "Julius", while his brother's is "Claudius"? Shouldn't they have the same nomen?

And just to make it even more confusing... In older history books, Civilis' name is given as Claudius Civilis. In newer history books he's called Julius. Apparently the Claudius-bit is due to a mistake in the earliest known manuscript of Tacitus' The Histories (the codex Laurentianus 68.2, which dates from the 11th century). In my copy of The Histories (Penguin Classics, translated by Kenneth Wellesley, last revision 1995) he is called Julius Civilis. Paulus, on the other hand, is still called Claudius Paulus. However, in the book De opstand der 'Batavieren', by Hans Teitler (published in 1998), they are called Julius Civilis and Julius Paulus.

I'm not too familiar with Roman names and Roman citizenship, so please correct me if I make any mistakes.

Non-Romans could gain Roman citizenship by serving 25 years in the auxiliaries. Tacitus writes (Histories 4.32) that Civilis is complaining about "the dangers he had endured for five and twenty years in Roman camps". If I remember correctly auxiliaries served longer than legionaries (they served 20 years, right?). But this statement by Civilis saying that he served in the auxiliaries (instead of the legions like Roman citizens) could also have been made up by Tacitus (wouldn't be the first time, lol).

Anyway. With the citizenship they also got a Roman name, and would take the nomen of the emperor. The nomen Julius would show that they (or their ancestors) were granted the citizenship by Augustus or Caligula. The nomen Claudius would mean that Tiberius, Claudius or Nero was emperor when they became Roman citizens.

If Civilis was Julius Civilis and Paulus was Claudius Paulus, they must've gotten the citizenship *themselves*, rather than inherited it from their father (they would inherit the same nomen, wouldn't they? Well, assuming they were both born into a legal marriage anyway.)

If Civilis had earned the Julius-nomen by serving in the auxiliaries for 25 years, and we assume that he finished his service during the last year of Caligula's rule (41 AD), he would've joined the auxiliaries in 16 AD. This would make him rather old during the Batavian revolt (in his late sixties). Seeing as he's swimming rivers and falling off horses and fighting and whatnot, this seems a bit unlikely. The Dutch Wikipedia site says that Civilis was born in 25 AD, though I haven't got a clue what their sources are. It seems reasonable though, he'd be in his forties during the revolt.

But, if Civilis was indeed born in 25 AD, he'd be 16 when Caligula (the last "Julius-emperor") was murdered. He couldn't have served 25 years in the auxiliaries during his reign at least. Could he have gained Roman citizenship during Caligula's reign in any other way (some sort of heroic feat, perhaps) while Paulus had to serve 25 years in the auxiliaries before becoming a Roman citizen? Paulus would then finish his service during the reign of Claudius and Nero, and thus end up being called Claudius Paulus.

Another possibility is that Civilis was born into a legal marriage and that his father was a Julius-Batavian, while Paulus was born outside of marriage. Civilis would then inherit his father's citizenship (along with the name Julius), while his brother (or rather, half-brother) Paulus had to serve 25 years in the auxiliaries (again, he'd finish during the reign of Claudius or Nero, and be called Claudius Paulus).

Of course they could both be called Julius, and the Claudius Paulus part in my copy of The Histories could be a mistake which they haven't found yet. It's possible, because Paulus is only mentioned once.

But then... if Civilis is called Claudius Civilis in the codex Laurentianus 68.2, how did they figure out that he was actually called Julius? All the articles and books I've read about the subject start with saying that Julius Civilis is sometimes wrongly called Claudius Civilis, but none of them say *how* they know that this is wrong. Perhaps they were really both called Claudius...

In the beginning of this post I wrote that their names were important to the plot, and I'm finally getting there now :)

During the Batavian revolt, the most important Batavians were Roman citizens. The ones who got the citizenship first got the nomen Julius, the ones who gained it later got the nomen Claudius. You could say there was an "old elite" and a "new elite", the Julius-Batavians and the Claudius-Batavians. This article here, by Jona Lendering, contains an interesting theory about the names (page 2 of the article). One of the reasons that Civilis revolted might be that the Claudius-Batavians were becoming too powerful, and that he wished to restore power to the old elite (including himself). There is some evidence to back this theory up: One of Civilis' personal enemies was a Batavian called Claudius Labeo, while Civilis' Treviran and Lingon allies all had the nomen Julius.

Again, I know little of Roman names and citizenship, so I'm really just guessing.

And now it's back to the social studies project, lol.


Gabriele C. said...

That is confusing, Celede.

Though I'm not sure all tribal leaders who got the Roman citizenship had to serve 25 years in the auxiliary. It surely doesn't hold true for Arminius, who was a Roman citizen and member of the equestrian order, but only age 25 at the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest. There's no way he could have served his 25 years, lol. We can't even say for sure whether he came to Rome as hostage during Drusus' campaigns (and thus as child) or, what I think more probable, as result of the treaty Tiberius made with Arminius father after the revolt in 4 AD. Arminius did fight in the Pannonian wars but only for a few years. He then was allowed to return to Germania, probably because of his father's illness. His brother, known by the name of Flavius, remained in the Roman army and never returned to Germania.
We don't know the complete Roman name of Arminius - since he got his citizenship under Augustus, he would have been Julius Arminius.
I don't know whether Arminius' father was a citizen (I think rather not) but his father-in-law and rival Segestes was Roman citizen without ever having fought in the auxiliary.

Maybe Civilis got his citizenship earlier because of his status as tribal leader? Or he did indeed inherit it from his father. Had he ever been to Rome? It looks like those tribal leaders who had been in Rome and invited to the Imperial palace, be it as guests or hostages, stood a better chance of getting the citizenship.

Or some fuzzyhead has confused Julius with Claduius re. Paulus, after all, you say there were more with those names around.

Btw, just for fun - but I think Civilis looks more like in his sixties than his forties in this painting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bataafseeed.jpg

Celedë Anthaas said...

Naah... he looks at least seventy in that picture, lol.

I don't know if Civilis ever went to Rome. I can't remember reading anything about it in The Histories, and I don't think there are any other books about him. There should've been some sort of law saying that everyone who wanted to revolt and kill Romans should write a detailed autobiography first, in case someone wants to write a book about the revolt almost 2000 years later :P

Tacitus does say that Civilis spent 25 years in the army, and that he knew Vespasian (they "were called friends", Histories 5.26). That'd be in Britain, right?

He could've gotten the citizenship early since he's of royal descent, I guess. But... at the time of the revolt the Batavians had been living under Roman influence for about 100 years. Wouldn't his father (who'd also be an important guy) have gained the citizenship during that time (whether because he was of royal descent or by serving in the auxiliaries)? But then, if Civilis inherited it from his father we're still stuck with the whole Julius-Claudius mess again.

I think I'll send an e-mail to the museum that keeps the manuscript, or maybe the university in Amsterdam. Perhaps they can help me find out who the fuzzyhead is :)