Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

An expanding collection of inscriptions, papyri, and other sources in translation (run by Philip A. Harland)

Imperial Privileges for Philosophers, Physicians, Teachers, and Athletes from the Digest (117-211 CE) Rome - Latium

Rome (Latium, Italy), 117-211 CE
Digest = AGRW ID# 24725


Herennius Modestinus, who is here cited in the Digest, likely wrote the book on Grounds for Exemptions around 250 CE. He also cites documents from the jurists Ulpianus (ca. 170-223 CE) and Paulus (also active in the second and third centuries). The main imperial decisions cited or discussed are by Hadrian (117-138 CE), Antoninus Pius (138-161 CE), Commodus (161-192 CE), Septimius Severus (193-211 CE). For further examples of imperial priveleges for educated professionals including physicians, philosophers, and teachers, see also IEph 4101 (from Ephesos) and GCRE 38 (from Pergamon).

From Modestinus’ second book of Grounds for Exemptions:

If anyone who already has two guardianships has two others simultaneously imposed upon him, the third will assist him in obtaining a release from the fourth.  This is so even though the emperor himself may have entrusted the fourth or the third guardianship, if, before he was aware of the order of the emperor, he had been put forward for the other guardianship. However, if no order was observed but the two appointments were made by different letters on the same day, the one who made the appointment and not the person appointed shall choose which guardianship.

(1) Grammarians (grammatikoi), sophists (sophistai), rhetoricians (rhetores), and physicians (iatroi) who are called “travellers” (periodeutai) have an exemption from guardianship and curatorship, just as with other civic services (leitourgiai).

(2) Furthermore, in each city there are a certain number of rhetoricians–the selection of which is determined by law–who have freedom from civic services.  This appears in a letter of Antoninus Pius written to the League of Asia, but this is also applicable to the entire world and the contents are as follows:

“Small cities are able to have five physicians with immunity, three sophists, and the same number of grammarians.  Larger cities are able to have seven who practice healing (therapeuontes), and four of both types of teachers. The largest cities are able to have ten physicians, five rhetoricians, and the same number of grammarians.  However, the largest city cannot grant a greater number of exemptions.”

It is reasonable that the civic capitals of nations be considered among the number of the largest cities.  Those which have a judicial hearing (on the assize circuit) belong with the second category, and the rest in the third category.

(3) It is not lawful for this number of exemptions to be exceeded either by a decree of the Senate, or for any other reason.  However, it is lawful for the number to be lessened, since it is evident that this stipulation exists for the sake of civic services.

(4) Moreover, noone else is to enjoy the benefits of this freedom from civic service, unless they are included in the number of those who are allowed by decree of the Senate and are not neglectful of the work.

(5) Paulus states that philosophers (philosophoi) are also exempted from guardianships:  Philosophers, orators, grammarians, and those who publicly instruct youths are excused from being a guardian.

(6) Ulpianus also makes a similar statement in the fourth book of The Office of Proconsul:  Our emperor and his father stated in a rescript addressed to Laelius Bassus that a physician could be rejected by a civic community even though he had already been approved.

(7) Concerning philosophers, the same decision of Pius states:

“The number of philosophers is not determined because engaging in philosophy is rare.  I think that those who are wealthy will willingly contribute from their resources to their homelands.  If they are picky about their possessions, obviously they are not truly engaged in philosophy.”

(8) Among the decisions taken by emperor Commodus is a section from a letter of Antoninus Pius, in which it is apparent that philosophers have freedom from service with respect to guardianship.  It states the following:

“Immediately when my most divine father (i.e. Hadrian) came to power he confirmed existing honors and immunities through an edict, writing that philosophers, rhetoricians, grammarians, and physicians were exempt from serving as head of the gymnasium, from being superintendents of the market, from priesthoods, from providing lodging to soldiers, and from the role of purchasing grain or oil.  Furthermore, they are not to serve on juries or embassies, nor are they to be enlisted for military service if they are not willing to do so, nor are they to be forced into any other duty, whether provincial or otherwise.”

(9) Furthermore, it should be recognized that only a person teaching or practicing healing in his homeland has this freedom from service.  Severus and Antoninus established that if a man from Komana was a sophist or a healer or a teacher at Neocaesarea, he did not have freedom from service at Komana.

(10) Indeed, Paulus writes that the divine Antoninus Pius had ordered that persons possessing knowledge are to have freedom from services even if they exceed the number and live in another homeland.

(11) The deified Severus and Antoninus established that a man who is a sophist at Rome with or without a civic salary has an exemption just as if he were teaching in his own homeland.  One may add as the reason for this that since the imperial city is and is considered a common homeland, a man will enjoy freedom from service just as if he had made himself useful in his own homeland.

(12) In fact, teachers (didaskaloi) teaching in a province do not have an exemption, but those teaching in Rome are exempted.

(13) In his book on the Duties of the Praetor Regarding Guardianship, Ulpianus writes the following: “Athletes have an exemption from guardianship, but only those crowned in the sacred games.”

Translation by: Harland

Modestinus libro secundo excusationum. Ἐὰν δύο ἔχοντι ἐπιτροπὰς ἄλλαι δύο ὁμοῦ ἐπαχθῶσιν, ἡ τῇ τάξει τρίτη βοηθήσει αὐτῷ εἰς τὴν ἄφεσιν τῆς τετάρτης, κἂν αὐτοκράτωρ ᾖ ὁ τὴν τετάρτην ἐγχειρίσας, ἢ τὴν τρίτην, πρὶν μέντοι γνῶναι τὰ τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος φθάσῃ προβληθεὶς εἰς ἄλλην. ἐὰν δὲ ἡ τάξις μὴ φαίνηται, ἀλλὰ ἐν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ αἱ δύο χειροτονίαι προτεθῶσιν ἐν διαφόροις χάρταις, οὐχ ὁ χειροτονηθείς, ἀλλὰ ὁ χειροτονήσας ἐπιλέξεται, ὁποίαν δεῖ αὐτὸν ὑποδέξασθαι.

(1) Γραμματικοί, σοφισταὶ ῥήτορες, ἰατροὶ οἱ περιοδευταὶ καλούμενοι ὥσπερ τῶν λοιπῶν λειτουργιῶν οὑτωσὶ δὲ καὶ ἀπὸ ἐπιτροπῆς καὶ κουρατορίας ἀνάπαυσιν ἔχουσιν.

(2) Ἔστιν δὲ καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς ῥητόρων ἐν ἑκάστῃ πόλει τῶν τὴν ἀλειτουργησίαν ἐχόντων, καὶ αἱρέσεις τινὲς προσκείμεναι τῷ νόμῳ, ὅπερ δηλοῦται ἐξ ἐπιστολῆς Ἀντωνίνου τοῦ Εὐσεβοῦς γραφείσης μὲν τῷ κοινῷ τῆς Ἀσίας, παντὶ δὲ τῷ κόσμῳ διαφερούσης, ἧς ἐστὶν τὸ κεφάλαιον τοῦτο ὑποτεταγμένον· 'Αἱ μὲν ἐλάττους πόλεις δύνανται πέντε ἰατροὺς ἀτελεῖς ἔχειν καὶ τρεῖς σοφιστὰς καὶ γραμματικοὺς τοὺς ἴσουσ· αἱ δὲ μείζους πόλεις ἑπτὰ τοὺς θεραπεύοντας, τέσσαρας τοὺς παιδεύοντας ἑκατέραν παιδείαν· αἱ δὲ μέγισται πόλεις δέκα ἰατροὺς καὶ ῥήτορας πέντε καὶ γραμματικοὺς τοὺς ἴσους. ὑπὲρ δὲ τοῦτον τὸν ἀριθμὸν οὐδὲ ἡ μεγίστη πόλις τὴν ἀτέλειαν παρέχει'. εἰκὸς δὲ τῷ μὲν μεγίστῳ ἀριθμῷ χρήσασθαι τὰς μητροπόλεις τῶν ἐθνῶν, τῷ δὲ δευτέρῳ τὰς ἐχούσας ἀγορὰς δικῶν, τῷ δὲ τρίτῳ τὰς λοιπάς.

(3) Τοῦτον τὸν ἀριθμὸν ὑπερβαίνειν μὲν οὐκ ἔξεστιν οὔτε ψηφίσματι βουλῆς οὔτε ἄλλῃ τινὶ παρευρέσει, ἐλαττοῦν δὲ ἔξεστιν, ἐπειδήπερ ὑπὲρ τῶν πολιτικῶν λειτουργιῶν φαίνεται τὸ τοιοῦτο γινόμενον.

(4) Καὶ μέντοι οὐκ ἄλλως τὴν ἀλειτουργησίαν ταύτην καρπώσονται, ἐὰν μὴ δόγματι βουλῆς ἐνκαταλεγῶσιν τῷ ἀριθμῷ τῷ συγκεχωρημένῳ καὶ περὶ τὸ ἔργον ὀλιγώρως μὴ ἔχωσιν.

(5) Καὶ φιλοσόφους δὲ ἀπολύεσθαι ἐπιτροπῶν Παῦλος γράφει οὕτωσ· Philosophi oratores grammatici, qui publice iuuenibus prosunt, excusantur a tutelis.

(6) Nam et Ulpianus libro quarto de officio proconsulis ita scribit: Sed et reprobari medicum posse a republica, quamuis semel probatus sit, imperator noster cum patre Laelio Basso rescripsit.

(7) Περὶ δὲ τῶν φιλοσόφων ἡ αὐτὴ διάταξις τοῦ Πίου οὕτω λέγει· 'Φιλοσόφων δὲ οὐκ ἐτάχθη ἀριθμὸς διὰ τὸ σπανίους εἶναι τοὺς φιλοσοφοῦντασ· οἶμαι δὲ ὅτι οἱ πλούτῳ ὑπερβάλλοντες ἐθελονταὶ παρέξουσιν τὰς ἀπὸ τῶν χρημάτων ὠφελείας ταῖς πατρίσιν· εἰ δὲ ἀκριβολογοῖντο περὶ τὰς οὐσίας, ἀυτόθεν ἤδη φανεροὶ γενήσονται μὴ φιλοσοφοῦντεσ'.

(8) Ἔστιν δὲ καὶ ἐν ταῖς τοῦ βασιλέως Κομμόδου διατάξεσιν ἐνγεγραμμένον κεφάλαιον ἐξ ἐπιστολῆς Ἀντωνίνου τοῦ Εὐσεβοῦς, ἐν ᾧ δηλοῦται καὶ φιλοσόφους ἀλειτουργησίαν ἔχειν ἀπὸ ἐπιτροπῶν. ἔστιν δὲ τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα· 'Ὁμοίως δὲ τούτοις ἅπασιν ὁ θειότατος πατήρ μου παρελθὼν εὐθὺς ἐπὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διατάγματι τὰς ὑπαρχούσας τιμὰς καὶ ἀτελείας ἐβεβαίωσεν, γράψας φιλοσόφους ῥήτορας γραμματικοὺς ἰατροὺς ἀτελεῖς εἶναι γυμνασιαρχιῶν ἀγορανομιῶν ἱερωσυνῶν ἐπισταθμιῶν σιτωνίας ἐλαιωνίας καὶ μήτε κρίνειν μήτε πρεσβεύειν μήτε εἰς στρατείαν καταλέγεσθαι ἄκοντας μήτε εἰς ἄλλην αὐτοὺς ὑπηρεσίαν ἐθνικὴν ἤ τινα ἄλλην ἀναγκάζεσθαι'.

(9) Ἔτι κἀκεῖνο εἰδέναι χρή, ὅτι ὁ ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι διδάσκων ἢ θεραπεύων τὴν ἀλειτουργησίαν ταύτην ἔχει· ἐὰν γὰρ Κομανεὺς ὢν ἐν Νεοκαισαρείᾳ σοφιστεύῃ ἢ θεραπεύῃ ἢ διδάσκῃ, παρὰ Κομανεῦσιν ἀλειτουργησίαν οὐκ ἔχει. καὶ τοῦτο οὕτω νενομοθέτηται ὑπὸ τῶν θειοτάτων Σεβήρου καὶ Ἀντωνίνου.

(10) Τοὺς μέντοι ἄγαν ἐπιστήμονας καὶ ὑπὲρ τὸν ἀριθμὸν καὶ ἐν ἀλλοτρίᾳ πατρίδι τὰς διατριβὰς ποιουμένους εἶναι ἀλειτουργήτους Παῦλος γράφει, λέγων τὸν θειότατον Ἀντωνῖνον τὸν Εὐσεβῆ οὕτω κεκελευκέναι.

(11) Τὸν ἐν Ῥώμῃ σοφιστεύοντα ἢ σαλαρίῳ ἢ καὶ χωρὶς σαλαρίου ἄφεσιν ἔχειν νενομοθέτηται ὑπὸ τῶν θειοτάτων Σεβήρου καὶ Ἀντωνίνου, οὕτως ὡς ἂν εἰ ἔτυχεν ἐν ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι διδάσκων. αἷς νομοθεσίαις δύναταί τις ἐκεῖνον προσαγαγεῖν τὸν λόγον, ὅτι κοινῆς οὔσης τε καὶ νομιζομένης πατρίδος τῆς βασιλευούσης εἰκότως ἂν ὡς ἐν ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι χρήσιμον ἑαυτὸν παρασχὼν ἀλειτουργησίαν καρπώσεται.

(12) Νόμων δὲ διδάσκαλοι ἐν ἐπαρχίᾳ διδάσκοντες ἄφεσιν οὐκ ἕξουσιν, ἐν Ῥώμῃ δὲ διδάσκοντες ἀφίενται.

(13) Ulpianus libro singulari de officio praetoris tutelaris ita scribit: Athletae habent a tutela excusationem, sed qui sacris certaminibus coronati sunt.

Item added: March 17, 2017
Item modified: March 17, 2017
ID number: 24725
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