Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

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

Letters of Vespasian and Domitian on Physicians and Instructors (74 CE / 93-94 CE) Pergamon - Mysia and the Troad

Pergamon (Mysia and the Troad, Asia Minor — Pleiades map), 74 CE / 93-94 CE
Rudolf Herzog, "Urkunden zur Hochschulpolitik der römischen Kaiser," Sitzungsberichte der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 32 (1935) 965–1019 = McCrum and Woodhead, no. 458 (Greek and Latin) = GCRE 38 (Oliver; Greek with Eng. trans.) / AE (1936), no. 128 (Latin) = AGRW ID# 24691


Slab of marble found in 1934 at Pergamon. On Vespasian's letter (with another English translation), see also Oliver GCRE 38 (with bibliography). On Domitian's letter (with another English translation), see also Clarence A. Forbes, "Supplementary Paper: The Education and Training of Slaves in Antiquity," TAPhA 86 (1955) 343–60. For other, earlier privileges for physicians and instructors granted by Roman authorities, see IEph 4101 on this site. See also the documents collected in the Digest, also translated on this site.

(Vespasian’s letter, in Greek)

(Lost opening with titles of Vespasian) . . . of physicians (iatroi) and medical assistants (iatraliptai), if . . . the care (?) . . .  of our bodies has been . . . assigned solely to the Asclepiads (Asklepiadai) (?) . . . as they were proclaimed holy and equivalent to gods, I command that they neither be required to supply lodging (for soldiers), nor in any way be asked to contribute taxes.

. . . If anyone under (?) . . . my rule . . . dares (?) . . . to mistreat, to seize as security, . . . or to carry away any (?) . . . of the physicians, instructors (paideutai), or medical assistants, let those who have mistreated them pay a fine of . . . 10,000 denarii (?) . . . to Zeus Capitolinus.  Whoever does not have that amount, let his property be sold and the fine–whatever arrangement the prefect has imposed regarding these matters–be . . . dedicated (?) . . . to the . . . god (?) . . . immediately.  Likewise if they . . . discover him escaping (?) . . ., let them bring him wherever they choose and let them not be hindered by anyone.  Furthermore, let it be permitted for them . . . to gather (?) . . . for meetings (synodoi) in the sanctuaries (temenes), holy places (hiera), and . . . temples (naoi) (?) . . .–wherever they may choose–and be considered safe from violence.  Now whoever . . . forces them out (?) . . . will be liable to the Roman People . . . on a charge of impiety (?) . . . towards the household of the Augusti.

I, . . . emperor Caesar (?) . . .Vespasian, have signed this and commanded . . . that it be displayed (?) . . . on a whitened notice-board.  It was displayed in the sixth year in the month of . . . Loos on the Capitol (?) . . . on the 27th of December.


(Domitian’s letter, in Latin)

Emperor Caesar Domitian, holding the tribunician power for the thirteenth time, . . . proclaimed emperor for the twenty-second time, perpetual censor, father of the fatherland, (?) . . . to Aulus Licinius Mucianus and Gavius Priscus.

I have decided . . . to impose the most strict control (?) . . . on the greed of the physicians (medici) and the instructors (praeceptores), whose art, which should be transmitted to certain freeborn youths, is sold in the worst way to many household slaves instructed and sent out, not for the benefit of humanity but for profit.  . . . Therefore, whoever takes (?). . . profit . . . from the instruction of slaves is to be deprived of that exemption granted by my deified father, (?). . . just as . . . if that person were exercising his art in a foreign city (?) . . .

Translation by: Harland

Aὐτοκράτωρ Καῖσαρ Οὐεσπασιανός Σεβαστὸς] | [ἀρχιερεὺς μέγιστος δημαρχικῆς ἐξουσίας τὸ ς'] | [αὐτοκράτἀρ τὸ Ι ΔI' πατὴρ πατρίδος ὕπατος τὸ Ε'] | [ἀποδεδειγμένος τὸ ς' τιμητὴς λέγει·] || [Ἐπειδὴ τὰ τοῖς ἐλευθέροις πρέποντα ἐπιτηδεύματα] | [ταῖς τε πόλεσι κοινῆι καὶ ἰδίαι χρήσιμα καὶ τῶν θεῶν] | [ἱερὰ νομίζεται, τὸ μὲν τῶν γραμμαaτικῶν καὶ ῥητόρων,] | [οἵ τὰς τῶν νέων ψυχὰς πρὸς ἡμερότητα καὶ πολιτικὴν] | [ἀρετὴν παιδεύοσιν, ῾Ερμοῦ καὶ Μουσῶν, ᾿Απόλλωνος] | [δὲ καὶ ᾿Ασκληπιοῦ τὸ τῶν ἰατ]ρῶν καὶ ἰατραλιπτῶν, εἴ|[περ ἄρα τοῖς ᾿Ασκληπιάδα]ις μόνοις ἡ τῶν σωμάτων ἐ|[πιμέλεια ἀπονενέμ]ηται τοῦ τούτους ἱεροὺς καὶ ἰσοθέ|[ους προσαγορευθ]ῆναι, κελεύω μήτε ἐπισταθμεύεσθαι | [αὐτοὺς μήτε εἰσ]φορὰς ἀπαιτεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ τρόπωι. | [εἰ δὲ τινες τῶν ὑπ’] ἐμὴν ἡγεμονίαν ὑβρίζειν ἢ κατεγγυ|[ᾶν ἢ ἄγειν τινὰ τῶ]ν ἰατρῶν ἢ παιδευτῶν η ἰατραλει|[πτῶν τολμήσουσιν,] ἀποτισάτωσαν οἱ ὑβρίσαντες Διὶ Κα|[πετωλίωι AM ὃ]ς δ' ἂν μὴ ἔχηι, πιπρασκέσθω, καὶ τῶι || [θεῶι καθιερούσ]θω ἀνυπερθέτως τὸ ἐπιτίμιον ὃ ἄν | [τάξηι ὁ ἐπὶ ταῦτα κ]ατασταθεὶς ἔπαρχος: ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ἐ|[ὰν λαθόντα ἀνεύρ]ωσιν, ἀγέτωσαν αὐτὸν ὅπου ἂν αἱρῶν|[ται, καὶ μὴ κωλυέσ]θωσαν ὑπὸ μηδενὸς ἐξὸν δὲ αὐτοῖς | [ἔστω καὶ συνόδου]ς ἐν τοῖς τεμένεσι καὶ ἱεροῖς καὶ || [ναοῖς συνάγειν ὃ]που ἄν αἱρῶνται ὡς ἀσύλοις ὃς δ’ ἄν | [αὐτοὺς ἐκβιάζητα]ι, ὑπόδιλος ἔστω δήμωι ῾Ρωμαίων | [ἀσεβείας τῆς εἰς τ]όν οἶκον τῶν Σεβαστῶν. Aὐτοκρά|[τωρ Καῖσαρ Οὐεσπα]σιανός ὑπέγραψα καὶ ἐκέλευσα | [προτεθῆναι ἐν λε]υκώματι. Προετέθη ἔτους στ’ μηνί || [Λώωι Χ, ἐν Καπετωλί]ωι πρὸ ἓξ κα(λανδῶν) ᾿Ιανουαρίων.

(Latin beginning at line 21)

[Imp. Caesar Domitia]nus tribuniciae potestatis XIII | [imp. XXII. cens. perp. p. p]. A. Licinio Muciano et Gavio Prisco: | [Avaritiam medicorum atque] praeceptorum quorum ars, | [tradenda ingenuis adulesc]entibus quibusdam, multis || [in disciplinam cubiculariis] servis missis inprobissime | [venditur non humanitatis, sed aug]endae mercedis gratia, | [severissime coercendam] iudicavi. | [Quisquis ergo ex servorum disciplin]a mercedem [capiet,] | [ei immunitas a divo patre meo indulta], proinde ac [si] || [in aliena civitate artem exerceat, adim]enda [est.]

Item added: March 4, 2017
Item modified: March 17, 2017
ID number: 24691
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