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Tommaso Gnoli

The Interplay of Roman and

Iranian Titles
in the Roman East
(1st - 3rd Century A. D.)

WIEN 2007
Table of Contents

PREFACE ..........................................................................................................7
ABBREVIATIONS .................................................................................................9
BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................11
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................33
KINGS - —πατοι ..............................................................................................41
1. Aelius Septimius Abgar ......................................................................41
2. Septimius Odainath.............................................................................45
3. The origins of the ÕπατεÛα ................................................................52
4. The contents of the ÕπατεÛα ..............................................................76
KINGS - ‘KING OF KINGS’ ................................................................................81
1. Inv. III 3 ..............................................................................................82
2. Inscription from the ‘Camp of Diocletian’ .........................................88
3. PAT 0292, 0317 ..................................................................................89
APPENDIX: pšgrybʾ AT ḤATRA ........................................................................115
INDICES ......................................................................................................123
General index ........................................................................................123
Register of primary sources ..................................................................129
Register of modern authors...................................................................132
8 Preface

If the idea of the unity of the Euroasian continent is strong and deeply
rooted in Italy this is mainly due to some exceptional scientific personalities
such as Giuseppe TUCCI and Santo MAZZARINO. Both have exerted a deep in-
fluence on me in an indirect way. TUCCI through my father, who inherited
from him besides his academic responsibilities also his cultural horizons;
while MAZZARINO through my teacher from the beginning Mario MAZZA,
from whom I have learnt almost everything I know.
From them I have learnt the need to overcome cultural barriers that grow
higher the more one decides to face complex themes that are not circum-
scribable inside set scientific-disciplinary fields. The study of the relation-
ships between East and West, between the Greek-Roman world and the Ira-
nian world represents a field within ancient history needing at this point
such a large amount of specific know-how that it cannot be faced by single
scholars who are specialists in single disciplines. A multidisciplinary ap-
proach that, while tackling single problems, is able to ‘melt’ the latest data
from all the disciplines involved appears necessary. In such a framework the
agreement of scientific collaboration first between the IsIAO with its Presid-
ent, my father Prof. Gherardo GNOLI and the Director of the Institute of Iran-
ology of the Vienna Academy of Sciences Prof. Dr. Bert G. FRAGNER was
made. Also the Faculty of Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of the Uni-
versity of Bologna, Ravenna Branch, and in particular its Dean, my good
friend and colleague Prof. Antonio PANAINO, is involved in this collabora-
tion. And it is within this framework that my publication is to be situated.
8 Preface

This work represents the development of the theme of a lecture I held at

the Institute of Iranology of the Vienna Academy of Sciences on 28th
September 2005 bearing the title: “Edessa and Palmyra between Rome and
Iran.” To the Director of the Institute of Iranology Prof. Dr. Bert G. FRAGNER
and my dear friend and highly considered colleague Dr. Velizar SADOVSKI I
owe all my gratitude for that invitation and for the subsequent encourage-
ment to set down in this short monograph both the considerations I exposed
then and the consequent stimulating reflections. My gratitude also goes to all
those who were there that afternoon in Vienna and who contributed with
their interventions to the deepening of the subjects I exposed there, so first
of all to the staff of the Institute of Iranology as well as to Prof. Dr. Michael
ALRAM of the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum, with whose presence I was
much honoured.
This book is dedicated to my father and my wife.

Ravenna, 2 February 2007


Any further abbreviation is to be found in Année philologique

AION Annali dell’Istituto Orientale di Napoli, Napoli

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CIG Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum
CIL Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
CIS Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum
CMC Codex Manichaicus Coloniensis, cf. KOENEN, RÖMER 1988;
GNOLI 2003
EKG ENMANN’s Kaiser-Geschichte
EncIr Encyclopaedia Iranica, E. YARSHATER (ed.)
FHG C. MÜLLER, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, Parisiis
Gk Greek
H inscription from H(atra)
HdO Handbuch der Orientalistik
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IGLS Inscriptions Grecques et Latines de la Syrie
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IGVR L. MORETTI, Inscriptiones Graecae Vrbis Romae I-IV,
Roma 1968-1990
ILS H. DESSAU, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, Berlin 1892
10 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Inv. J. CANTINEAU, Inventaire des inscriptions de Palmyre I-IX,

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30 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

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Armenia and Tacitus’ view on the problem of Roman
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VERVAET 2003 F. J. VERVAET, «Domitius Corbulo and the rise of the
Flavian dynasty», Historia 52, 2003, 436-464
VITTINGHOFF 1953 F. VITTINGHOFF, «Portorium», R. E. XXII, 1, 1953, 346-399
VOLKMANN 1937 H. VOLKMANN, «Der Zweite nach dem König», Phil 92,
1937, 285-316
VON PREMERSTEIN 1913 A. VON PREMERSTEIN, «Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des
Kaisers Marcus III», Klio 13, 1913, 70-104
WALSER 1951 G. WALSER, Rom, das Reich und die fremden Völker in der
Geschichtsschreibung der Frühen Kaiserzeit: Studien zur
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WATSON 1999 A. WATSON, Aurelian and the third century, London – New
York 1999
WELLESLEY 1969 K. WELLESLEY, «Tacitus as a military historian», in Tacitus,
T. A. DOREY (ed.), Studies in Latin literature and its in-
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WHEELER 1997 E. L. WHEELER, «The chronology of Corbulo in Armenia»,
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WIDENGREN 1958 G. WIDENGREN, «Recherches sur le féodalisme iranien»,
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WIESEHÖFER 1986 J. WIESEHÖFER, «Iranische Ansprüche an Rom auf ehemals
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Leipzig - Berlin 1899
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32 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

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Wiesbaden 1964

In the month of Former Kanun of the year five hundred and fifty two, in the
third year | of Autokrator Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus | the Fortunate
and Victorious, and in the second year of Aelius Septimius Abgar the king |
son of Maʿnu, paṣgribā, son of Abgar the king, who was honoured with the
hypateia in Urhoy, | in Edessa, the great city, mother of all the cities of Bet
Nahrin, | this document was written in Haiklā New Town of Hunting, of
Abgar the king, | on the twenty-eighth day etc. (transl. DRIJVERS and HEALEY,
with adaptations).1
Thus starts the scriptura interior, or ‘lower text,’ of a Syriac parchment
published in 1990 by Javier TEIXIDOR.2 In a private act in Syriac pertaining to
the settlement of a debt between two private individuals and whose dating
formula bears the date of 28th December 240 A. D., various time reckoning
systems are set next to each other as expressions of different cultures meet-
ing in the Roman Near East: the Seleucid Era, the year of reign of the Ro-
man emperor and at last the year of reign of the sovereign of the royal house
of Edessa, the capital city of the reign of the Abgarids, where this document
was written. The document itself contains nothing exceptional. This jum-
bling together of different time reckonings represents a constant characterist-
ic of the documents coming from the areas of the ancient cultures of the
Near East. What makes an exceptional document out of it, and which repres-

DRIJVERS, HEALEY 1999, P2, Lower text, lines 1-7: BYRḤ KNWN QDM ŠNT ḤMŠMʾʾ
TEIXIDOR 1990. The definition interior makes reference to the way the document was
folded, cf. GNOLI 2000, 17-22.
34 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

ents one of the subjects of my reflections in this work too, are the titles of
the king of Edessa, Aelius Septimius Abgar. This king, a Roman citizen, as
the tria nomina testify and whose family had probably been granted this title
many generations before, was the son of an important figure, Maʿnu, who
had always been a crown-prince, and as king, had himself exercised the
powers attributed to the Roman consuls. Syriac did not possess any terms
suitable for translating the complex institutional situation of Aelius Septimi-
us Abgar and his family, and so we find the transliteration into Syriac of two
terms: on the one hand PṢGRYBʾ from a non-attested Parthian form pšʾgryw3
and on the other hand HPṬYʾ from the Greek ÕπατεÛα. This term is an ab-
stract form from —πατος/consul. From the 5th century onward a correspond-
ing abstract term, consularitas, was attested also in Latin.4
Most scholars, in primis the editors of these parchments (besides two
Syriac parchments seventeen documents written in Greek are part of this
batch of documents)5 have thought they were perfectly able to explain the
consularitas of Aelius Septimius Abgar inside the Roman institutional
framework. Thus the king of Edessa had been granted the ornamenta consu-
laria exactly like Herod or Agrippa in Judaea before him or many other
more or less influential people in the Roman ruling class.
I have already taken the opportunity to question broadly such an inter-
pretation in a monograph I expressly dedicated to this documents.6 For the
sake of clarity, the most significant points of my argument will be briefly
summed up in the part of this work dedicated to the ‘Kings-—πατοι.’ In-

Consularitas is attested in Notitia Dignitatum, in Codices Theodosianus and Iustini-
anus, in Cassiodorus’ Variae, and in Paulinus’ Vita Ambrosii, etc.: cf. TLL, s.v.
The publication of this batch was done in various works by Denis FEISSEL and Jean
GASCOU with the collaboration of Javier TEIXIDOR for the two Syriac documents and for
the Syriac signatures and subscriptions in the Greek documents. Complete publication
of PEuphr. 1 and synthetical presentation of all other documents: FEISSEL, GASCOU 1989;
TEIXIDOR 1989; complete publication of P1: TEIXIDOR 1990; complete publication of P2:
2000. The two Syriac documents were republished together with the contemporary Syri-
ac parchment from Dura Europos by DRIJVERS, HEALEY 1999. Particularly important for
the extensive use of these documents MILLAR 1993, specifically 553-562: ‘Appendix C.
Materials for the History of Roman Edessa and Osrhoene, AD 163-337’; ROSS 1993;
POTTER 1996; GAWLIKOWSKI 1998; LUTHER 1999; BENOIST 2000; ROSS 2001.
GNOLI 2000 and infra.
Introduction 35

stead, here I intend to show how the consularitas granted by Rome to allied
kings dates back to very ancient times, to that moment in time that is in
some way central for both Rome and the Parthian empire, i. e. the reign of
Nero. Recent works have tried in various ways to limit the importance of
Nero’s reign in the history of the relationships between Rome and Cte-
siphon, something that I consider to be incorrect. The actual importance of
the military victory by Domitius Corbulo in Armenia must have been very
different from what was flaunted by his main ‘bards,’ Cassius Dio and in a
more critical way Tacitus, but doubtlessly the settlement between the two
powers that took place in 63 (or 64) A. D. represented a turning point in the
diplomatic relations between the two empires. The direction given by the
treaty of Rhandeia - I use the term ‘treaty’ but I am aware that the very ex-
istence of an act signed in Rhandeia has been recently questioned - to the re-
lationships between Rome and Iran was destined to survive even the dynast-
ic change in Iran in 224 A. D., and indeed was to prove even more effective
during the first years of the Sassanian dynasty.
The importance of the reign of Nero in the development of the Roman
policy in the East derives not only and not so much from the immediate
political and military results the treaty brought about, with a period of non-
belligerency lasting about fifty years between the two superpowers, but also
- and above all, I would suggest - because by means of the treaty of
Rhandeia Rome inaugurated a new political behaviour in the East towards
the Parthian enemy and its more or less faithful allies. Since that time, some
local entities of substantial strategic importance were granted such a wide
political autonomy as to differentiate them significantly from all other ordin-
ary local powers in the Roman empire, i.e. Rome guaranteed all border polit-
ical entities where the Parthian political, economic and cultural influence
was stronger a much greater autonomy than it was willing to accord other
local realities that were less important from a strategic as well as military
point of view. The most evident trace of this different attention by Rome to-
wards some particular powers located on the oriental borders of the empire
is represented by the use of Parthian and Sassanian court titles in regions
subjected to the hegemony of Rome and by an abnormal utilization in these
same realities of customary terms derived from Roman institutions. Scholars
of Roman history who have tried to explain these institutional ‘singularities,’
as they were convinced they had to explain the institutions of the Roman
diplomacy only by following the schemes of Roman law, sought refuge in a
36 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

pretended intolerance by the oriental people of the too rigid tenets of that
law.7 What has often been described as some sort of confused ‘Levantine’
interpretation of the Roman public law in the East is actually nothing else
than a polymorphism of the Roman institutions in the East that was actuated
with the conscious goal of isolating the Parthian and afterwards the Sassani-
an powers from those border entities over which Rome wanted to exert an
exclusive hegemony. This is true notwithstanding the presence of large sec-
tions of the population being culturally much more homologous to the Irani-
an than to the Roman world.

Cf., e. g., MACMULLEN 1966, 224-225: “A few years later [sc. of Uranius Antoninus], in
Palmyra, under just the same pressures - invasion at the gates, relieving armies busy on
other frontiers or engaged in civil strife - and using at times the same kind of irregular
troops of ill-armed volunteers, Odenathus went to war. His family had long supplied the
ruling sheiks. They bore almost entirely Semitic names and their crack troops, the
mounted bowmen so highly valued by Roman generals, were a specialty developed for
patrol of the deserts and protection of the caravans streaming in and out of the city.
There the Archers formed a sort of public association and presided at feasts and festivals
in honor of the god Bel. Despite these native elements, the aristocracy looked to the East
or West for importations to set off their rank. They favored tunics and himations, more
often Iranian costumes such as can be seen on a relief of the 260’s showing Vorod wear-
ing a riding caftan and loose trousers, richly decorated, with a sword belt round his
waist. No less than six statues of this same man lined the colonnade down the main
street. He was ‘Procurator, ducenarius, juridicus, president of the Banquets of Bel, and
argapet’ - a characteristic mingling of half-understood Roman offices, Palmyrene hon-
ors, and Parthian words, Vorod being a Parthian name and argapet denoting the highest
military command under Sassanian kings. Like master, like man: Odenathus, too, faced
in two directions, toward Rome yet away from Rome. His family boasted senatorial
rank, he himself the right to call himself Imperator granted by the grateful emperor for
his triumphs over Persia; yet he added the title ‘King of Kings,’ bestowed it unauthor-
ized on his son, spread his hand over Syria, and transmitted to his widow, Zenobia, the
strength to expand still further into Cappadocia and Egypt. The latter war may have
been less popular with carried a direct challenge to Rome. Zenobia hoped to soften the
affront. Her son continued to be called Augustus. Such aping of Roman forms, such jug-
gling of ambitions, was possible, of course, because there was nothing of nationalism in
her movement; not only possible, it was necessary in order to provide a claim and to at-
tract a loyalty in the Roman provinces around her.” Of this very long citation I do not
share anything but the absence of nationalistic perspectives in the Palmyrene vicis-
situdes, even though the ever growing role plaid by the ethne during the 3rd- 4th century
stands out very clearly: cf., e. g., MAZZA 1973; 1992; TRAINA 2001, in partic. 74; GNOLI,
forthcoming b.
Introduction 37

The inadequacy of the conceptual categories of Roman law in accounting

for the multiform institutional reality found in the East was recognized many
years ago by a scholar of Roman law who wrote about Palmyra, in my opin-
ion, an unjustly disregarded work:
Palmyre n’est pas un cas unique, en ce sens que la situation d’autres état fait
également apparaître cette prévalence de la notion d’hégémonie. Il s’agit de
territoires relativement périphériques où la politique d’annexion ne pouvait
pas s’appliquer, et qui étaient restés peu près dans le même régime d’Au-
guste à Claude. Mais c’est pourtant avec Néron que le système va se trouver
connaître une ampleur nouvelle et présenter un intérêt particulier.8
Even though it was no monarchy and thus clearly distinguished itself
from the above-cited situations of Edessa and Armenia, during the period of
substantial transformation of the local social, political and economic struc-
tures that existed during the 3rd century A. D. also the internal regulations of
the civitas Palmyrenorum underwent a profound change. The oasis had
based its existence and prosperity as a demic and urban centre on caravan
trade and on a ‘dimorphic’ social structure, the latter being a concept adop-
ted in a completely different context by Michael B. ROWTON and recently re-
vived by Michael SOMMER.9 Its society was founded on the entrepreneurial
activities of an extended and varied aristocracy, whose structure was super-
imposed on tribal communities that were typical of the local Semitic popula-
tion.10 Exactly in the first half of the century and in almost perfect chronolo-
gical coincidence with the dynastic change in Iran, Palmyra experienced an
institutional change in an authoritarian sense. Over the Senate assembly and
the assembly of the people of the town the figure of the ‘chief (of the town)
of Tadmor,’ the rš dy tdmwr, according to the Semitic name of the town,
was superposed and acquired an increasing number of functions. This title is
attested only starting from Septimius Odainath, but it is also possible that it
had been already acquired by the father of the Palmyrene dynast.

LEMOSSE 1967, 105. The deriving problem is very important indeed: it is represented by
the relations between the Roman ius and the epichoric laws. The documentation has
been greatly improved since LEMOSSE wrote his book, particularily as far as the provin-
cialization of Arabia with the so-called Babatha archive, published by LEWIS 1989 and
COTTON, YARDENI 1997 is concerned; about the Babatha archive see, above all, WOLFF,
1980; LEWIS 2003 and many articles Hannah M. COTTON dedicated to such documents.
ROWTON 1973, 1976, 1977; SOMMER 2005.
YON, 2002, 2003; GNOLI, forthcoming b.
38 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Palmyra emerged on grand scene of world history thanks to the strong

personality of Septimius Odainath. Rome granted either him or his father an
exceptional authority over Palmyra, the same authority that elsewhere in
monarchical contexts was attributed to kings: the hypateia. As I have
demonstrated elsewhere, Odainath was very skilful in manipulating this
concept, forcing its institutional meaning at will until he now appears as a
Senator in our eyes. In the years when the empire suffered the Sassanian ini-
tiative in the East and an emperor fell into the enemy’s hands alive, Rome
failed to rectify and clearify its position towards Palmyra or to contain the
audacity of Odainath. On the domestic level the latter began to behave like a
sovereign and named his sons as successors (was the hypateia all other sov-
ereigns were granted by Rome perhaps not hereditary and intended for
life?). Moreover Gallienus himself, as he was in a very difficult situation,
entrusted him with an exceptional command over the whole East. In a work
that appeared just after my monograph on this subject, but written in the
same period, Udo HARTMANN provided an exceptionally in-depth treatment
of the crucial years of the Palmyrene ‘Teilreich.’ However I think that the
question of wether or not Odainath was loyal to Rome until his myterious
death,11 which seems central to the German scholar, is badly posed and sub-
stantially irrelevant.
The strange situation which sees titles of Latin or oriental origin,
specifically of Parthian origin, found side by side in the same political con-
ditions, is particularly evident in Edessa, as well as in Palmyra. Aelius Septi-
mius Abgar, son of a ‘paṣgribā,’ holds a ‘consulship’ in Edessa. In Palmyra
more or less simultaneously the same kind of ‘consulship’ is attributed by
Rome most probably to the father of Odainath. Later on the latter was joined
in his governing action by a person who bore the rare Parthian title of
Aelius Septimius Abgar (Chap. 1. 1) and Septimius Odainath (Chap.
1. 2) are thus the so-called ‘Kings-—πατοι,’ i. e. kings (or ‘chiefs’) exerting
their power, the hypateia they had been granted by Rome. The institutional
contents of this hypateia (Chap. 1. 4) can be clarified only by explaining the
origins of the hypateia in the Roman diplomacy in the East (Chap. 1. 3).

HARTMANN 2001; cf. the related review by YON 2002b.
Introduction 39

I am convinced, as I have explained elsewhere, that the attribution of the

title of ‘King of Kings’ by Odainath to himself had taken place in full agree-
ment with and maybe even with the encouragement of Gallienus. Such self-
attribution of the royal title is not evidence of the will of the dynast to usurp
against Rome, but it rather represents the proof of the attempt actuated by
Rome itself to destabilize the young Sassanian monarchy ‘from the inside.’12
If this interpretation is correct, the title of ‘King of Kings’ borne by
Odainath should be attributed the same value as the title of ‘King of Kings’
borne by Šābuhr (Chap. 2. 2 and 3). A famous passage in the Babylonian
Talmud shows how the Roman and Palmyrene propaganda tried to put the
two crowns on the same level and also demonstrates the failure of this initi-
ative.13 However, if this interpretation of Odainath as ‘King of Kings’ were
true, then the reading of the Palmyrene inscription Inv. III 3, attributing the
same title to the eldest son of Odainath would be inexplicable and mysteri-
ous. In Chap. 2. 1 I discuss the unreliability of the readings of this much
damaged document that have been proposed so far.
The vicissitude of Odainath of Palmyra in the 3rd century cannot be ex-
plained but by supporting the thesis of a role of the caravan city being
largely autonomous from Rome. The events in Palmyra become fully under-
standable only if the very famous sentence by Pliny attributing the town in
the desert a privata sors between the two empires can be considered true. Of
this hybrid position of Palmyra I am firmly convinced like the above men-
tioned LEMOSSE, ISAAC, SOMMER and many others. The analysis of a title that
in Palmyra qualifies the actions by a person of the highest rank, Septimius
Vorōd, second only to the great Odainath, i. e. argapetes, has allowed me, I
think, to bring further evidence in support of the thesis held by those who
maintain that the town was substantially independent of the Roman empire
(Chap. 3). An appendix is dedicated to the recurrences, in particular in
Ḥatra, of a term, pasāgrīw, I have already dealt with. It represents the com-
pletion of my previous work and a bibliographical updating of a subject I
have treated elsewhere in an extensive discussion.

GNOLI 2000, 125-153.
Cf. infra Chap. 2.

1. Aelius Septimius Abgar

In the above mentioned parchment P2, dated 28th December 240 A. D. in

Haiklā New Town of Hunting, the king Aelius Septimius Abgar is called
“king, son of Maʿnu, paṣgribā, son of Abgar the king, who was honoured
with the hypateia in Urhoy, in Edessa, the great city, mother of all the cities
of Bet Nahrin.”14 I have discussed the descent of Aelius Septimius Abgar
from a person who was titled paṣgribā elsewhere,15 but what is interesting
for us now is the Syriac expression DMYQR BHPṬYʾ BʾRHY “who was hon-
oured with the hypateia in Urhoy.” It represents a hapax in Syriac, which is
not surprising at all, seeing that the documents and non-patristic texts are
very scarce in that language. However, as I underlined elsewhere,16 in the
Greek texts taken from the same documentary dossier and published by
Denis FEISSEL and Jean GASCOU, this same term, ÕπατεÛα, is to be found in
its original language. In Greek it is obviously not a hapax: the term Õπα-
τεÛα/consularitas, an abstract noun from —πατος/consul, customarily recurs
in the consular dating formulas like ἐπÚ ÕπατεÛας τινıς, “during the con-
sulship of someone.” The context in which the term ÕπατεÛα is often attes-
ted in Greek documents, is also unique in itself, although it does not coin-
cide perfectly with the one in the Syriac text.
PEuphr. 1 is a petition, dated 28th August 245 and concerning a suit
between fellow villagers presented to Iulius Priscus, brother of the emperor

Cf. supra, n. 1.
GNOLI 2002, cf. also infra: ‘Appendix.’
GNOLI 2000, 67-88.
42 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Philip the Arab qualified as ἔπαρχος ΜεσοποταμÛας, διÔπων τὴν Õπα-

τεÛαν (PEuphr. 1, l. 1). PEuphr. 3 and 4 represent the double copy of a re-
quest addressed to Iulius Proculus, ἔπαρχος πρεπıσιτος πρετεντο˜ρης,
accepted by the διασημıτατος Pomponius Laetianus, διÔπων τὴν ÕπατεÛ-
αν. Thus in these Greek documents two Roman equites are said to exert a
‘consulship’ after a formula (διÔπων + acc.) that is typical for interim func-
tions.17 Equally typical for temporary functions is the formula διÔπων τÏ
μÔρη τῆς ἡγεμονÛας, which in PEuphr. 2 denotes the powers of a certain
[–] Marcellus, also an eques (διασημıτατος = perfectissimus), who, on the
basis of an hypothesis by the editors of the document, I have proposed to
identify with that Claudius Marcellus who was to be appointed καθολικıς
in Egypt under Philip the Arab.18
So, in one and the same documentary dossier, which is coherent in both
its chronology and provenance, three members of the Roman equestrian or-
der and a foreign king, Aelius Septimius Abgar of Edessa, exert their powers
as defined in official documents by means of the concept ÕπατεÛα/HPṬYʾ/
consularitas, with perfectly analogous structures (present/past participle +
hypateia). This structures are never attested elsewhere, either in Greek or in
Syriac, as in this case these two languages do not use verbal predicates hav-
ing the same semantic value: Greek διÔπω actually does not coincide with
Syriac yqr “I honour, I hold in esteem.”
Javier TEIXIDOR translated the Syriac expression defining the powers of
Aelius Septimius Abgar in P2 in two different ways: first with “honoré
comme consularis à Orhaï,”19 thus maintaining that the expression hinted at
the granting of ornamenta consularia, already attested elsewhere for other
eastern kings; then afterwards translating the expression with “honoré du
consulat à Orhaï.”20 The latter translation, which can hardly be explained on
the basis of Roman law, was thus commented:
Il [sc. Aelius Septimius Abgar] portait d’ailleur le titre de roi mais non celui
de «roi d’Édesse»: il fut simplement honoré du consulat. Les ornamenta con-
sularia étaient parfois conférés aux rois clients ainsi qu’à des amis de
l’empereur. Dans le cas du roi Abgar, son titre honorifique ne fait que

GNOLI 2000, 99-101.
TEIXIDOR 1989, 220
TEIXIDOR 1990, 150.
Kings - —πατοι 43

souligner son manque de pouvoir à Édesse et, bien entendu, dans la province
In TEIXIDOR’s opinion, then, the hypateia of Abgar represents something
different from the ornamenta consularia, which would make of Abgar a
consularis, but rather a true consulship, to be distinguished from the orna-
menta as being even less effective. The translations and interpretations of
this formula proposed later by other scholars do not differ much from the
one by TEIXIDOR: Sebastian BROCK translates “who was honoured with a
hypateia in Urhay,” maintaining that “hypateia normally means ‘consul-
ship,’ but clearly this cannot be the case here, where it must have a wider
sense of ‘position of high office,’”22 while for David POTTER “one explana-
tion of this curious phrase is that he was given the ornamenta consularia
rather than a position within the imperial government.”23 DRIJVERS and
HEALEY think of a “consular rank,” which I interpret as consularis following
the granting of ornamenta,24 as does Fergus MILLAR, who is actually very
conscious of the difficulty raised by such an interpretation.25 Steven ROSS on
the contrary understands the ‘consulship’ of Abgar as something unknown
to the Roman regulations we are familiar with.26 Even if I do not completely
share his conclusions on the matter, ROSS’s method, the only one that closely
relates the hypateia of Abgar with that of the Roman equites, seems to me

TEIXIDOR 1990, 161-162.
BROCK 1991, 261 and n. 11.
POTTER 1996, 283. Cf. also BENOIST 2000, 323.
DRIJVERS, HEALEY 1999, 240: “who was honoured with consular rank in Urhoy.”
MILLAR 1993, 478: “who was honoured with the HPṬYʾ (hypateia – a ‘consular’ rank)
in ʾRHY (sic).”
ROSS 2001, 78-81, in part. 80: “the ÕπατεÛα of Abgar (...) involves neither a real con-
sulship nor a grant of consular ornamenta.”
In his article published contemporaneously with my monograph Stéphane BENOIST deals
with the documents coming from the middle course of the Euphrates in the framework
of a research dedicated to the ornamenta consularia. However he does not sufficiently
take into account the fact that the famous Syriac document and the Greek ones derive
from one and the same documentary batch and that the data they contain shall be treated
as one: BENOIST 2000, 318: “Les découvertes récentes de Charax Sidou (!) sur le Moyen
Euphrate, parchemins en syriaque,” while the Greek documents are analysed at page
322. His interpretation of the ÕπατεÛα in these documents as something like an ex-
traordinary superprovincial command, some sort of imperium maius (cf. IBID. 322-323),
is based on an hypothesis by the editors of the documents (FEISSEL, GASCOU 1989,
44 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

The sharp contrast between the interpretation of the hypateia of Abgar, as

given by the editors of the Syriac documents and the one given to the hypa-
teia either directly or ad interim attributed to Iulius Priscus, [-] Marcellus
and Pomponius Laetianus in the Greek documents is actually evident. It is
undoubtedly difficult to maintain that in this case three Roman equites were
not provided with effective powers, particularly as far as Iulius Priscus is
concerned: he was the brother of an emperor who was about to grant him an
imperium maius in the East.28 The interpretation by the editors changed in
this case too. First they thought to attribute an imperium maius over the Near
East as a whole to the three people,29 then they thought that the expression
might allude to a simple interim government in the imperial consular
province of Syria Coele:
ni le cas de Laetianus ... ni la carrière de Priscus ne s’opposent à cette accep-
tion nouvelle du grec ÕπατεÛα .... Priscus ou Laetianus, n’étant pas séna-
teurs, ne pouvaient porter personellement le titre d’Õπατικıς, ce qui n’em-
pechait pas l’empereur de leur confier, comme à tant de chevaliers, l’intérim
du gouvernement provincial, avec le titre propre à la Syrie de «vice-consu-
laire», διÔπων τὴν ÕπατεÛαν.30
In my often cited essay dedicated to this subject I think I have shown
how the intuition by Steven ROSS to link together the hypateia of Aelius Sep-
timius Abgar with those of Iulius Priscus, [–] Marcellus and Pomponius
Laetianus was actually right. If we accept this assumption, as the hypateia of
Abgar is explicitly effective “in Edessa,” we should ipso facto exclude the
likelihood of its being an interim command in Syria Coele. Rather some
stimulating comparisons with Palmyra arise, where some people are quali-
fied as ‘consuls’ and whose ‘consulship’ has always puzzled scholars.31

553-554) abandoned later by the latter themselves: FEISSEL, GASCOU 1995, 81 n. 68: “en
nous fondant sur une interprétation inexacte de PEuphr. 3-4, nous proposions .... de voir
dans l’ÕπατεÛα une sorte d’imperium maius;” cf. ECK 1992 , 201 e n. 11; GNOLI 2000,
67-73. Like BENOIST, POTTER 1996, where the lists at pp. 275-277 shall be cautiously
taken into consideration because of a too extended meaning of the concept of imperium
maius; LUTHER 1999, 195 n. 53.
On the figure of Iulius Priscus PFLAUM 1960, 833-836; PIR2 J 488; GNOLI 2000, 92-99;
KÖRNER 2002, 54-64. On the imperium maius in the Orient POTTER 1996, cf. supra n. 25.
FEISSEL, GASCOU 1989, 553-554.
FEISSEL, GASCOU 1995, 81-82.
The same conclusions about the similarities existing between Edessa and Palmyra have
Kings - —πατοι 45

2. Septimius Odainath

As we know during the some twenty years in the mid 3rd century A. D.
also Septimius Odainath, the rais, rš, of Palmyra is often mentioned as
συνκλητικıς/snqlṭqʾ = lat. senator and Õπατικıς/hpṭqʾ = lat. consularis.
Furthermore some inscriptions attribute to him the rank of λαμπρıτατος/
nhyrʾ = lat. clarissimus. Such senatorial and consular titles are not limited to
one person only, but in 3rd century Palmyra were attributed also to his two
sons, Septimius Ḥairān/Herodianus and Septimius Vaballath Athenodorus.
I have already extensively treated this subject in my essay, to which I
refer the reader for the less recent bibliography. Since then a range of studies
have been published dealing with the internal vicissitudes of Palmyra during
the 3rd century A. D. It would thus seem to be of some interest to present
again my considerations on the subject in the light of more recently publ-
ished literature.32
Septimius Odainath’s family rose to the highest position in Palmyrene ar-
istocracy most probably under the reign of Septimius Severus. This very un-
certain point becomes likely on the basis of the gentilicia of the Palmyrene
élite, seemingly including among the names designating Roman citizens in
Palmyra the gentilicium of Septimius as exclusively reserved to the family
of Odainath. On the other hand, the gentilicia of Iulius Aurelius Septimius
and Iulius Aurelius pertained the former to the closest collaborators of the
family of Odainath, while after the Constitutio Antoniniana the latter eccent-
ric name of Iulius Aurelius was given to all the citizens of the town instead

been expressed by ROSS 1993, POTTER 1996, BENOIST 2000, GNOLI 2000, sceptically by
HARTMANN 2001, 444 n. 50.
Particularly important has been the publication of the vast and detailed work by Udo
HARTMANN 2001. Even though it appeared after the publication of my essay, the author
has neglected to discuss the intepretations proposed by me there and he just cites them
in the footnotes of his volume. Also Jean-Baptiste YON 2002a shows he does not know
my work, while Michael SOMMER 2005 knows it and uses it, even if not always cor-
rectly, as far as the history of Edessa is concerned, while neglecting the chapter about
Palmyra. POTTER 2004, 258-270 confirms his previous positions, without any sensible
updating, and almost completely ignoring the works by Italian scholars. The work by
GARDNER, LIEU, PARRY 2005 is a mere compilation. Non vidi CUSSINI 2005.
46 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

of Aurelius only, as in the rest of the Roman world.33

The name of Odainath’s father is not known with certainty.34 The fact
that he is often called ‘son of Naṣōr’ represents just a clue, because, as YON
has already demonstrated, Palmyrene genealogies are ‘telescopic,’ in the
sense that some generations may be left out in order to exalt one’s lineage
by virtue of one’s descent from important ancestors.35 Be that as it may, the
role of ‘Chief’ of Palmyra was explicitly assured to the (very) young
Odainath already since the 30s of the 3rd century A. D. (rš dy tdmwr/ἔξαρ-
χος Παλμυρηνῶν).36 A few years later, under the reign of Philip the Arab,
the title of Odainath changes, becoming συνκλητικıς = lat. senator.37 Af-
terwards his titles further change to ¡ λαμπρıτατος Õπατικıς. The inscrip-
tions bearing these titles date back to the year 257/258 A. D.38 but already

GNOLI 2000, 143-146. On Palmyrene onomastics PIERSIMONI 1994; PIERSIMONI 1995; YON
2000. On Palmyrene gentilicia the work by SCHLUMBERGER 1942b is still crucial. The
most complete discussion on the Palmyrene notabilate is actually in YON 2002a, who
there like elsewhere is very prudent about the difficult releationships existing among the
gentilicia in Palmyra: IBID., 124; YON 2004, 316-319. Important considerations also in
HARTMANN 2001 and SOMMER 2005. As far as the addition of the gentilicium of Iulia
Domna to the one of Caracalla is concerned, it might be explained by means of the par-
ticular devotion showed by the Palmyrene both inside and outside their hometown to-
wards Syriac princesses: cf. KETTENHOFEN 1979, 135-136. About the specific relation-
ship between Edessa and Palmyra cf. the diverging positions of SEYRIG 1959 and GATIER
Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 108-128; contra YON 2002b, 407.
YON 2002a; YON 2002b, 407: “Les généalogies palmyréniennes son souvent télescopées
... pour cette raison, la référence à son arrière-grand-père Nasôr, peut-être même à son
grand-père Wahballat, sont à prendre cum grano salis.”
PAT 2753 = CANTINEAU 1931, 138 n° 17 = MILIK 1972, 317 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1973, 78 =
INGHOLT 1976, 120 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 1. One more evidence of this title is the bi-
lingual inscription PAT 2815 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985 n° 13: [ἔξαρχον Παλμυ]ρηνῶν =
palm. RS[ʾ] DY [TDMWR].
PAT 0558 = CIS II 4202 = Inv. VIII 55 = IGRR III 1034 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985 n° 2: ¡
λαμπρıτατος συνκλη[τικÙς] = palm. snqlṭqʾ; MOUTERDE in CHÉHAB 1962, 19-20 =
SEYRIG 1963, 162 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 3: τÙν λαμπρıτατ(ον); PAT 0290 = CIS II
3944 = Inv. III 16 = IGRR III 1035 = MILIK 1972, 232, 317 = INGHOLT 1976, 130 = GAW-
LIKOWSKI 1985, n° 4: τÙν λαμπρıτατον συνκλητικıν = palm. snqlṭqʾ; PAT 2815 =
GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 13: λα[μ]πρıτατον, without any translation into Palmyrene.
SEYRIG 1963, 161 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 5: ὈδαινÌθου τοῦ λαμπροτÌτου Õπατι-
κοῦ, dated back to 257/258; SEYRIG 1963, 161 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 6: ὈδαινÌθου
τοῦ λαμπροτÌτου Õπατικοῦ; DUNANT 1971, n° 52 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 7: ΣεπτÛ-
μιον ὈδαÛναθον τÙν λαμπρıτατον ÕπατικÙν, dated in 257/258; same formula and
Kings - —πατοι 47

before that time, in addition to Odainath, also his son Ḥairan, characterized
by senatorial attributions, appears in the Palmyrene inscriptions.39 In the end
in a posthumous inscription dedicated to him by two Palmyrene high offi-
cials in August 271 Odainath is attributed the dual title of mlk mlkʾ wmtqnnʾ
dy mdnḥ klh.40 The first part of this title does not imply any particular prob-
lem: it is the Aramaic translation of MP Šāhānšāh, Gr. βασιλεˆς βασιλÔων,
he shared with his son Herodianus, maybe coinciding with Ḥairān.41 The
second part of the title provoked a long debate and elsewhere I demonstrated
why I think it should be considered as the Palmyrene Aramaic rendering of
the title corrector totius Orientis.42

date in DUNANT 1971, 66 n. 2 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 8 and in PAT 0291 = CIS II 3945
= Inv. III 17 = IGRR III 17 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 9 (April 258).
PAT 0290 = CIS II 3944 = Inv. III 16 = IGRR III 1035 = MILIK 1972, 232, 317 = IN-
GHOLT 1976, 130 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 4: ΣεπτÛμιον ΑἱρÌνην ὈδαινÌθου τÙν
λαμπρıτατον συνκλητικÙν ἔξα[ρχον Παλμυ]ρηνῶν = palm. spṭmyws ḥyrn br ʾdynt
snqlṭyqʾ nhyrʾ wrš tdmwr, dated back to October 251; SEYRIG 1963, 161 = GAWLIKOWSKI
1985, n° 5: [ΣεπτÛμιον] ΑἱρÌνην τÙν λαμπρıτατον υἱÙν ὈδαινÌθου τοῦ λαμπρο-
τÌτου Õπατικοῦ, dated back to 257/258; SEYRIG 1963, 161 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 6:
ΣεπτÛμιον ΑἱρÌνην τÙν λαμπρıτατον (υἱÙν) ὈδαινÌθου τοῦ λαμπροτÌτου Õπα-
PAT 0292 = CIS II 3946 = Inv. III 19 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 11 (posth., August 271).
Inv. III 3 = SEYRIG 1937 = SCHLUMBERGER 1942a = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, n° 10: [Β]ασιλεῖ
βασιλÔων … Σεπ]τιμÛῳ Ἡρωδι]ανῷ. But cf. infra § 2a on this inscription.
GNOLI 2000, 153: “In PAT 0292 e 0317, due testi evidentemente contemporanei, Odai-
nat è detto MTQNNʾ DY MDNḤʾ KLH (PAT 0292), mentre a Wahballat venne conferito
il titolo di ʾPNRṬTʾ DY MDNḤʾ KLH (PAT 0317), in entrambi i casi la formula è prece-
duta dalla qualifica di MLK MLKʾ. Il rapporto esistente tra MTQNNʾ e ʾPNRṬTʾ po-
trebbe essere lo stesso esistente tra restitutor e corrector, tra l’imperatore e un suo su-
bordinato.” Differently HARTMANN 2001, 149: “Die Begriffe mtqnnʾ und ʾpnrṭtʾ werden
hier offensichtlich synonym verwendet, beide Herrscher beanspruchten also dieselbe
Titulatur.” However none of the motives in support of this position by HARTMANN, and
particularly the dual rendering of the term fiscus (ʿnwšh e psqws) in Palmyrene, HART-
MANN 2001, 150, seem to be convincing. The contemporaneity of PAT 0292 and 0317
and the propagandistic use this linguistic ambiguity linked to the corrector-ship over the
East entailed in the domestic policy of Palmyra define the terms of the problem in a way
that is completely different from the simple combination of texts that are heterogeneous
as far as their datings and aims are concerned and for which no political use can be ima-
gined. The different positions of HARTMANN and me are very old, however, and they can
be realized in a similar way between CLERMONT-GANNEAU 1920 and CANTINEAU 1933,
and between POTTER 1996 and SWAIN 1993. In this case it is impossible to solve the
problem only on the basis of textual elements. The only solution is to insert these texts
in the historical framework they belong to.
48 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

If the ‘consulship’ of Odainath is not accepted as a variation of the same

‘consulship’ of Aelius Septimius Abgar, which is moreover conferred not to
Odainath, but at least on his father, most probably under the reign of Septi-
mius Severus, the reconstruction of this career appears extremely hard to
What is usually accepted is that the transformation of the internal regula-
tions of Palmyra and the consequent creation of a ‘Head of the Town,’ rš,
should be attributed to a hypothetical crisis that occurred in Palmyra’s cara-
van trade during the 30s of the century following the “montée des Sassan-
ides.” Even if such a crisis actually occurred,44 it is not clear how Odainath,
probably not yet twenty years old and thus very young, could have imposed
himself on the Palmyrene aristocracy. But an even greater difficulty is rep-
resented by the admission of the young new ‘sheikh’ to the Senate of Rome.
If the senatorial and consular titles of Odainath are to be understood as a ref-
erence to the customary Roman institutions, as they usually are, it must in-
evitably be maintained that the young Odainath, who somehow emerged as
very young at the local level was adlectus (maybe inter praetorios) in the
Roman senate by Philip the Arab. This possibility would not be inconceiv-
able in itself either: indeed it is probable that Philip might have surrounded
himself with people being close to him, at least at a ethnic and cultural level;
however we are unaware of any significant public role at all being attributed
to the very young Odainath before PAT 2753.45

A connection between the ‘consulship’ of Aelius Septimius Abgar of Edessa and
Odainath (and sons) of Palmyra has been proposed, even though in a variety of ways
and explications, by TEIXIDOR 1989; ROSS 1993; GAWLIKOWSKI 1998; POTTER 1996; 2004,
259-260; GNOLI 2000; ROSS 2001. Explicitly adverse HARTMANN 2001, 444 n. 50.
Cf. the sceptical position in YON 2002b, 409: “On connaît aussi de longues périodes (en-
viron 30 ans) sans inscriptions caravanières, en particulier juste avant et après l’arrivée
des Sassanides, ou dans les années qui précèdent les Sévères, mais la période la plus
longue est celle qui va de 86 (Inv. X, 127) à 131 (Inv. X, 81). Or il ne viendrait à l’idée
de personne de penser que le commerce a cessé pendant ces années; de toute façon, la
documentation qui a surveçu dépend du hasard et n’est pas représentative des variations
du volume commercial qui passait par Palmyre.”
We are actually not informed about any role Odainath might have played outside
Palmyra before 260. His participation in the actions in Syria during the expedition by
Šābuhr in 253 represents a modern deduction, that is useful to the explanation of his ca-
reer as a senator, as provincial governor and then as corrector totius Orientis and rex
regum. HARTMANN 2001, 75: The role played by Odainath during the second expedition
Kings - —πατοι 49

The situation becomes even worse if we take the admission to the Senate
of Rome and the different gradation of the titles συνκλητικıς and Õπατι-
κıς. For this phase of Odainath’s career two explanations have been pro-
posed: 1) after the adlectio into the Senate by Philip, the ‘chief’ of Palmyra
would have been granted ornamenta consularia,46 2) Odainath should have
been named consul suffectus in absentia in 257/258, the year in which the
majority of the inscriptions designated him with the title of Õπατικıς/con-
sularis, and as such he would hold the role of governor of the praetorial
imperial province of Syria Phoenice.47
It must also be emphasized that nothing is known about the circum-
stances leading Valerianus to appoint Odainath to the provincial command
of Syria Phoenice. Furthermore no trace has remained of that provincial
command outside Palmyra. Pace HARTMANN,48 the dedication in Tyrus, at-
tributing Odainath the simple title of λαμπρıτατος/clarissimus, without
mentioning any ‘consulship’ represents a clue that the dedication was not in-
tended for a provincial governor. The aporia represented by the qualification
of consularis attributed to a government of praetorial rank is actually sur-
mountable, as RÉMY49 has already extensively shown. It is not easy to justify
the ratio eventually leading Valerianus to appoint Odainath as governor of
the province. The ascent of Odainath is usually explained by means of the
military power this person would exert as head of the biggest local army in
the Roman East. Such military power expressed the exploit following the
capture of Valerianus, when Odainath caused extensive damage to the vic-
torious Sassanid army, even making two forays into Persian territories, the
second of which arrived as far as Ctesiphon. What remains difficult to ac-

by Šābuhr in 253 “bleibt dunkel;” IBID., 100: “für militärische Aktionen des Odaenathus
gegen die Perser in der Zeit vor 260 gibt es keine Hinweise.”
About this now quite neglected hypothesis cf. the bibliography in HARTMANN 2001,
104-105 n. 167. In IBID., 444 n. 50 the position of Odainath in Palmyra and of Aelius
Septimius Abgar in Edessa shall not be compared with each other, as the title consularis
of Odainath must be distinguished from the ornamenta consularia of Abgar. I have
already questioned and still question the idea that the hypateia of Abgar is to be under-
stood as equal to the ornamenta consularia, thus I do not understand the citation of my
work in HARTMANN, ad loc.
HARTMANN 2001, 106-108.
HARTMANN 2001, 106 and n. 174. Cf. POTTER 1990, 390: “The Tyrian inscription obvi-
ously proves nothing other than the fact that Odaenathus was an important man.”
RÉMY 1986. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 107 nn. 178-180.
50 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

count for is the fact that Valerianus, after deciding to entrust a great general
of local origin with the defence of the East, and waiving the prohibition by
Marcus Aurelius against senators of provincial origin governing the
province they came from,50 decided to attribute to Odainath neither one of
the great provincial consular provinces, nor a super-provincial power, as he
would receive only later, but on the contrary he would appoint him to the
command of the feeblest of all provinces in the Roman Near East.
Regardless of all these considerations, the problem of the ‘consulship’ of
Odainath becomes even more difficult and complicated if we think of the
powers his sons had, as revealed by their titles. Septimius Ḥairān shares with
his father the same career, as well as his death:51 like him he is rš dy tdmwr/
ἔξαρχος Παλμυρηνῶν, while when Odainath became λαμπρıτατος Õπα-
τικıς, he took the title of λαμπρıτατος, which is absolutely correct fol-
lowing the Roman institutions.52 It is harder to explain the following devel-
opment of Septimius Ḥairān’s career. What is missing is something compar-
able to the subsequent ascent of Odainath to the role of mtqnnʾ dy mdnḥ klh/
corrector totius Orientis,53 but not to that of mlk mlkʾ as attested for Odai-
nath in the same posthumous inscription, if the reading of the inscription on
the Tetrapylon and the identification of Septimius Herodianus mentioned
there with Septimius Ḥairān are correct.54 What is apparently completely il-
logical is actually the acquisition of the title —πατος/consul, many times at-

Dio LXXII, in Xiph. 265, 24 (III, 271 BOISSEVAIN); rightly HARTMANN 2001, 108 n. 181
underlines that such prohibition was not so absolute.
KAIZER 2005, with a full discussion of the several recontructions reported in the sources
maintains as the most probable tradition the one transmitted, besides many other
sources, also in the Historia Augusta, i.e. that Odainath was killed by his wife Zenobia
with the help of Ḥairān, the son of his first marriage, and corrected by the tradition con-
verging in Synkellos that the murder should have taken place in Asia Minor, in Heraclea
Pontica. I go on considering the tradition in Anon. p. Dionem, fr. 7 (MÜLLER, FHG IV
195) and Joh. Antioch. fr. 231 (412 ROBERTO) more preferable: Odainath was killed by
the legatus Cocceius Rufinus on the orders of Gallienus. Cf. GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 259;
GNOLI 2000, 147, 152; SARTRE 2001, 978; POTTER 2004, 263 and 641 n. 1.
Cf. supra n. 39.
Cf. supra n. 40.
1985, n° 10. HARTMANN 2001, 114 and n. 198. About this inscription cf. infra, § 2a.
About the eldest son Odainath had had during his first marriage cf. HARTMANN 2001,
Kings - —πατοι 51

tested as far as the other son of Odainath, the usurper Vaballath, is con-
cerned. The latter was first granted the titles of vir clarissimus, rex regum,
restitutor totius Orientis:55 Then, since the end of 270 he had borne the title
of vir clarissimus rex consul imperator dux Romanorum as attested in Latin
on a series of Syriac milestones.56 The highly accurate analysis by HART-
MANN starting from the presumption that the Palmyrene ‘consulship’ of
Odainath and his sons was a customary Roman consulship fails to explain
this fact:
Der Dynast beanspruchte gleichzeitig mit der Annahme des Titels imperator
zudem den Rang eines vir consularis. Ob er offiziell den Suffektkonsulat
bekleidete, die ornamenta consularia vom Kaiser verliehen bekam oder den
Titel gar usurpierte, kann auf Grund der Quellenlage nicht entschieden wer-
den. Das Mindestalter eines Konsuls hatte er natürlich noch nicht erreicht.
Auch stammte Vaballathus nicht aus der kaiserlichen Familie. Ein von Rom
legitimierter Konsulat ist daher sehr zweifelhaft. Die Ehrung mit den orna-
menta durch Claudius oder Aurelianus kann ebenfalls als unwahrscheinlich

Differently, HARTMANN 2001, 244 refers corrector totius Orientis to this first phase as
last element. Such idea is based on the equivalence between the terms mtqnnʾ as re-
ferred to Odainath in PAT 0292 and ʾpnrtṭʾ as referred to Vaballath in PAT 0317, which
is far from certain and contested by me: cf. GNOLI 2000, 153.
HARTMANN 2001, 248 n. 16. The explanation of the titles of Vaballath recently offered
by POTTER represents a step backwards in comparison with the previous works by the
same author: POTTER 2004, 267: “The status vir consularis was, as we have seen, con-
ferred upon Odaenathus; the title rex, or king, is simply a Latin translation of mlk, or
king; imperator in this context simply means ‘victorious general;’ and dux Romanorum
looks like yet another version of corrector totius orientis. These titles proclaim a very
simple principle: that the position of Odaenathus was like that of a king in the Semitic
world, inheritable. For a Roman the status conferred by the holding of an office might
be passed on, but not the office itself. It might, perhaps, not be too much to imagine that
the subtle distinction between the office and the status that accompanied it would be lost
at the Palmyrene court, especially in a circumstance that worked against the interests of
a regime that had been able to do what a series of Roman emperors had not: defeat the
Persians. The title taken by Odaenathus plainly meant a great deal in the Palmyrene
context, which is why Vaballathus stressed them.” Useless to say that I do not share this
position of naïvitè of the Palmyene court towards the Roman institutions. POTTER neg-
lects HARTMANN, who very seriously faces the problem of the different phases of Vabal-
lath’s titles, and he also misunderstands the article by GALLAZZI 1975, which he reveals
to be acquainted with through the mediation by LONG 1996. The latter faces the problem
of the titles of Vaballath from an almost completely numismatic point of view. Her at-
tempt to ‘save’ Vaballath from the allegation of usurpation can hardly be shared
52 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

angesehen werden. Man muß also wohl von einer Beanspruchung des konsu-
larischen Ranges durch den imperator ohne Bestätigung aus Rom ausgehen.
Auch hinter dieser Erweiterung der Titulatur steht der Versuch, die Herr-
schaft über den Orient und die neuerworbenen Provinzen zu legitimieren.57
The only way to overcome all these difficulties seems to be to maintain
that Rome gave the ‘Chief’ of Palmyra, Odainath’s father, the hypateia over
the town.58 Finally, research into the origins of the concept of hypateia will
allow us to come back to the institutional features of this power.

3. The origins of the ÕπατεÛα

Either at the end of 63 A. D. or during the summer of the following year

64 A. D.59 in Rhandeia, next to the river Arsanias,60 where during the year
before the shame of the capitulation of Caesennius Paetus was perpetrated,
negotiations were carried out in the Roman camp putting an end to the con-
flict in Armenia that had lasted for about a decade.61
The ascent to the Parthian throne by Vologeses I in 51 A. D. deeply mod-
ified the situation in Parthia and in its satellite reigns: Pacorus, the eldest
brother of the king of Parthia was installed in Media Atropatene, while
Vologeses tried to give his youngest brother, Tiridates, the kingdom of Ar-

HARTMANN 2001, 246, where also the bibliographical references on the supposed suffect
consulship of Vaballath are reported.
GNOLI, 2000, 125-153.
On the chronology of the negotiations (second half of 63 A. D.) cf. HENDERSON 1901,
273-274, and after him almost everybody who has dealt with this subject. However all
problems raised by Tacitus’ narration and Dio’s excerpt remain critical: WELLESLEY
1969, 72 and recently again WHEELER 1997, who just deals with the first phase of the
war (55-60 A. D.). HEIL 1997, 220 on the contrary supports a dating of the event that is
later exactly by one year, during the same period in 64 A. D. on the basis of the fact that
there was no time enough either for the legio XV Apollinaris mentioned in Tac. Ann.
XV 26, 2, or for the vexillationes ex Illyrico (Tac., ibid.) to come in time from Carnun-
tum. Cassius Dio seems to confirm this opinion, as Dio LXII 19, 1 (III, 57 BOISSEVAIN)
situates these events after the fire of Rome. HEIL’s arguments are not decisive either, as
the author himself admits.
Dio LXII 21, 1 (III, 60 BOISSEVAIN). On the location of Rhandeia cf. HEIL, 111.
Differently HEIL, 120-130, cf. infra.
Kings - —πατοι 53

menia.62 Here the young Radamistus, son of Pharasmanes, king of Iberia,

seized power by killing Mithridates, a dreary sovereign supported by Rome,
together with all his family in the fortress of Gornea (Garni). Rome was not
extraneous to the massacre of Gornea: according to Tacitus Radamistus sub-
orned the praefectus Caelius Pollius, who commanded the garrison in the
fortress.63 However we should not think that Pollius’ behaviour was suggest-
ive of Rome’s hostility towards Mithridates and the diplomatic journey of
the centurion Casperius - a subordinate of the prefect Pollius, but incorrupt-
ible unlike his superior - to the legate (envoy) of Syria Ummidius Quadratus
and to Pharasmanes testifies the illegality of Pollius’ action.64
Both the excerpt by Dio and the testimony by Tacitus linger over and
comment on the choice of the place of the meeting in Rhandeia in perfectly
parallel passages. We are authorized to assert that this choice was due to the
attentive direction that seems to permeate the agreement in its slightest
Accordingly, Corbulo and Tiridates held a conference at Rhandea, a place
satisfactory to both - to the king because his troops had there cut off the Ro-
mans and had sent them away under a capitulation, a visible proof of the fa-
vour that had been done them, and to Corbulo because he expected his men
to wipe out the ill repute that had attached to them there before (transl.
Tiridates demanded a place and a day for an interview. The time was to be
early; for the place, the scene of the recent investment of Paetus and the le-
gions was chosen by the barbarians in memory of their success there; and it
was not avoided by Corbulo, who wished the contrast in fortune to enhance
his fame (transl. JACKSON).

Cf. CHAUMONT 1976.
Tac. Ann. XII 45, 4.
Tac. Ann. XII 45, 4 (journey to Ummidius Quadratus); 46, 2 (journey to Pharasmanes).
Dio LXII 23, 2 (III, 61 BOISSEVAIN): συνῆλθον ο“ν ἐν αÃτῇ τῇ ῬανδεÛᾳ ὅ τε Κορβο˜-
λων καÚ ¡ ΤιριδÌτης· τοῦτο γÏρ τÙ χωρÛον ἀμφοτÔροις ἤρεσε, τῷ μÓν ὅτι ἀπολα-
βıντες ἐς αÃτÙ τοˆς ῬωμαÛους Õποσπıνδους ἀφῆκαν, πρÙς ἔνδειξαν „ν εÃηργÔ-
τηντο, τῷ δÓ ὅτι τὴν δ˜σκλειαν τὴν ἐν αÃτῷ πρıτερον συμβᾶσÌν σφισιν ἀποτρÛ-
ψεσθαι ἔμελλον.
Tac. Ann. XV 28, 2: Tiridates locum diemque conloquio poscit. Tempus propinquum,
locus, in quo nuper obsessae cum Paeto legiones erant, [cum] barbaris delectus est ob
memoriam laetioris ibi rei, Corbuloni non vitatus, ut dissimilitudo fortunae gloriam au-
54 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

According to the report by Tacitus, the meeting was held in various

stages. First, die pacta, a delegation headed by Corbulo, Tiberius (Iulius) Al-
exander, future prefect of Egypt under Vespasianus, and Vinicianus Annius,
son-in-law of Corbulo, went to the camp of Tiridates, accompanied by a
guard of sixty cavalrymen with a twofold aim, to pay their respects to the
king and reassure him about Rome’s intentions. Tiridates, who was mounted
on his horse while waiting for the Roman delegation, hastened to dismount
as soon as he saw the Roman general immediately followed by Corbulo
himself.67 Tacitus briefly reports on the talks that took place on that day.
From his narration we infer that Corbulo played a passive role in the negoti-
ations, as he limited himself to generic polite praises, while it was Tiridates
who actually proposed a solution for the crisis: he would go to Rome to hon-
our the emperor in a new way, and this notwithstanding the fact that the res-
ult of the war had not been negative for the Parthians, as the place of the
meeting itself demonstrated. Corbulo agreed with the Arsacid proposal and
decided to seal it all with a highly symbolic ceremony: Tiridates would lay
his royal insignia down in front of the image of the emperor and he would
get them back only from the hands of Nero in Rome.
A few days later the two armies were deployed in front of each other,
magna utrimque specie and between the two formations a platform (tribu-
nal) was built on which the sella curulis supporting the image of Nero was
set. Tiridates approached it, made ritual sacrifices and then, after removing
his diadem from his head, laid it down under the statue of the Roman emper-
or. After the public part of the ceremony had been ended by this simple but
highly symbolic and spectacular ritual, whose characteristics have been
properly emphasized by Tacitus,68 Corbulo invited Tiridates to a banquet in

HEIL 1997, 122-129 tends to underestimate these acts of courtesy between Corbulo and
Tiridates, considering them as a part of the literary contexts deviously created both by
Tacitus and Dio (and by Corbulo himself at last) to lead the readers to believe that on
the occasion of the meeting in Rhandeia an actual agreement was reached for the solu-
tion of the conflict, an idea the German scholar fierily contests.
This crowning procedure was later used again by Trajan, as the brief reports by
Xiphilinus and Malalas tell us on the coronation of Parthamaspates by Trajan immedi-
ately after the outbreak of the revolt in Mesopotamia: Dio LXVIII 30, 3 (III 218 BOIS-
SEVAIN): ΤραϊανÙς δÓ φοβηθεÚς μὴ καÚ οἱ Πάρθοι τι νεοχμώσωσι, βασιλέα αÃτοῖς
ἴδιον δοῦναι †θέλησε, καÚ ἐς Κτησιφῶντα ἐλθὼν συνεκάλεσεν ἐς πεδίον τι μέγα
πάντας μÓν τοˆς Ῥωμαίους πάντας δÓ τοˆς Πάρθους τοˆς ἐκεῖ τότε ƒντας, καÚ
Kings - —πατοι 55

his honour that lasted all the rest of the day and during which the ‘barbarian’
king looked a bit naïf,69 as he was surprised by everything that was around
him and asked his benevolent host about everything. Tacitus most probably
obtained the chance to recreate the atmosphere of a true encounter of cul-
tures between an uncouth barbarian king and the superior Latin culture from
the report of the event contained in Corbulo’s Commentarii and expressed it
by means of few and meaningful words:
To his glories Corbulo added courtesy and a banquet; and upon the inquiries
of the king, whenever he observed some novelty - the announcement, for in-
stance, by a centurion of the beginning of the watches; the dismissal of the
company by bugle-note ; the application of a torch to fire the altar raised in

ἐπÚ βῆμα ÕψηλÙν ἀναβάς, καÚ μεγαληγορήσας ÕπÓρ „ν καÚ κατειργάσατο, Παρ-
θαμασπάτην τοῖς Πάρθοις βασιλέα ἀπέδειξε, τÙ διάδημα αÃτῷ ἐπιθείς (“Trajan,
fearing that the Parthians, too, might begin a revolt, desired to give them a king of their
own. Accordingly, when he came to Ctesiphon, he called together in a great plain all the
Romans and likewise all the Parthians that were there at the time; then he mounted a
lofty platform, and after describing in grandiloquent language what he had accom-
plished, he appointed Parthamaspates king over the Parthians and set the diadem upon
his head [transl. CARY]).” The unreliable report about this event in Malalas considers the
coronation of Parthamaspates as the result of a fantastic court-plot: Malal. XI 6
(273-274 Bonn = 207 THURN) μαθὼν ὅτι διαφθονεῖται τῷ Σανατρουκίῳ, βασιλεῖ
Περσῶν, ¡ ἴδιος αÃτοῦ ἐξάδελφος Παρθεμασπάτης, πέμψας πρÙς αÃτÙν Õπενό-
θευσεν αÃτÙν ΤραϊανÙς βασιλεύς, ταξάμενος δοῦναι αÃτῷ τὴν βασιλείαν Περ-
σῶν, ἐÏν συμμαχήσῃ αÃτῷ. καÚ ÕπονοθευθεÚς ἦλθε πρÙς αÃτÙν νυκτός· καÚ λαβὼν
αÃτÙν εἰς τÙ ἴδιον αÃτοῦ μέρος μετÏ τοῦ πλήθους αÃτοῦ ¡ αÃτÙς θειότατος Τραϊ-
ανός, ·ρμησε κατÏ τοῦ Σανατρουκίου, βασιλέως Περσῶν· καÚ πολλῶν Περσῶν
πεσόντων συνελάβετο τÙν Σανατρούκιον, βασιλέα Περσῶν, φεύγοντα· καÚ ἐφό-
νευσεν αÃτόν. καÚ ἐποίησεν ἀντ’ αÃτοῦ βασιλέα Περσῶν τοῖς Õπολειφθεῖσι καÚ
προσπεσοῦσιν αÃτῷ Πέρσαις (“Hearing that there was a quarrel between Sanatrou-
kios, emperor of the Persians, and his cousin Parthemaspates, the emperor Trajan sent a
message to Parthemaspates and offered him a bribe, promising to give him the empire
of the Persians if he would become his ally. Parthemaspates accepted the bribe and
came over to Trajan at night. Taking him and his troops on to his own side, the most
sacred Trajan set out against Sanatroukios, emperor of the Persians. Many Persians fell
and he captured Sanatroukios, emperor of the Persians, as he fled, and put him to death.
Trajan made the man named Parthemaspates, the son of Osdroes, emperor of the Per-
sians in his place, in accordance with the agreements, and those Persians who survived
prostrated themselves before him [transl. JEFFREYS]).” Cf. the hint at the βῆμα ÕψηλÙν
in the above mentioned passage and in Dio LXII 23, 3 (III, 61 BOISSEVAIN), cited in the
following page and n. 71.
Cf. CHAUMONT 1976, 118.
56 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

front of the general’s pavilion - he so far exaggerated each point as to inspire

him with admiration for our ancient customs (transl. JACKSON).70
The following day Tiridates asked (oravit) Corbulo to be allowed to go
and take his leave of his brothers and mother, leaving behind one of his
daughters as a hostage and litteras supplices for Nero.
The report contained in the excerpt by Cassius Dio is far more concise, as
one would only expect, and coincides with the one by Tacitus in its funda-
mental elements, although it also reveals interesting differences. The fact
that Dio seems to ignore the double meeting between Corbulo and Tiridates,
merely recording just one, does not seem particularly meaningful to me, as
the fact might be attributed also to the Byzantine excerptor.
Indeed, the proceedings of the conference were not limited to mere conversa-
tions, but a lofty platform had been erected on which were set images of
Nero, and in the presence of crowds of Armenians, Parthians, and Romans
Tiridates approached and paid them reverence; then, after sacrificing to them
and calling them by laudatory names, he took off the diadem from his head
and set it upon them (transl. CARY).71
The expression οÃδÓ γÏρ ἁπλῶς λόγους τινÏς ἐποιήσαντο certainly
sums up the exchange of initial civilities, reported instead by Tacitus, albeit
very briefly. The most revealing difference is represented by the presence of
πολλῶν μÓν Ἀρμενίων πολλῶν δÓ Πάρθων καÚ Ῥωμαίων at the ceremony
of submission of Tiridates. It is understandable and almost obvious, I would
say, that many Parthians were part of Tiridates’ army and furthermore that
they represented the sinews of the army being built up by Vologeses in order
to reinstate his brother on the throne of Armenia. Nevertheless this Parthian
presence at the ceremony probably underlies the immediately following
piece of news in the excerpt by Dio:

Tac. Ann. XV 30, 1: Addidit gloriae Corbulo comitatem epulasque; et rogitante rege
causas, quotiens novum aliquid adverterat, ut initia vigiliarum per centurionem nuntia-
ri, convivium bucina dimitti et structam ante augurale aram subdita face accendi, cun-
cta in maius attollens admiratione prisci moris adfecit.
Dio LXII 23, 3 (III, 61 BOISSEVAIN): οÃδÓ γÏρ ἁπλῶς λόγους τινÏς ἐποιήσαντο, ἀλλÏ
καÚ βῆμα ÕψηλÙν †γέρθη καÚ ἐπ’ αÃτοῦ εἰκόνες τοῦ Νέρωνος ἐστάθησαν, ὅ τε
Τιριδάτης πολλῶν μÓν Ἀρμενίων πολλῶν δÓ Πάρθων καÚ Ῥωμαίων παρόντων
προσῆλθέ τε αÃταῖς καÚ προσεκύνησεν, θύσας τε καÚ ἐπευφημήσας τÙ διάδημα
ἀπό τε τῆς κεφαλῆς ἀφεῖλε καÚ παρέθηκεν αÃταῖς.
Kings - —πατοι 57

Monobazus and Vologaesus also came to Corbulo and gave him hostages. In
honour of this event Nero was saluted as imperator a number of times and
held a triumph, contrary to the precedent (transl. CARY).72
Matthäus HEIL73 had no difficulty in demonstrating the groundlessness of
Dio’s statements about the imperial salutationes and the triumph Nero ob-
tained in Rome in that circumstance, notwithstanding all attempts to find ar-
chaeological corroboration for this piece of news.74 But also the news about
the presence of the kings of Adiabene and Parthia, Monobazus and Volo-
geses, at the ceremony is to be definitely rejected. The narration by Tacitus
is by far the more preferable in this connection. After the agreement Tirid-
ates made a diplomatic journey to the other Arsacid courts before he went to
Rome to meet Nero. Tacitus would certainly not let slip the presence of the
three named kings, otherwise Corbulo would have mentioned it in his Com-
Between the two versions, the one by Tacitus, who describes Tiridates
while consulting his brothers during a diplomatic journey after meeting Cor-
bulo, and the one by Cassius Dio, who recounts that the meeting among the
Arsacid brothers had taken place in the presence of Corbulo, the former is
certainly to be considered preferable. Both sources, in any case, agree in em-
phasizing the fact that all the Arsacid family was somehow involved in the
negotiations between Tiridates and Corbulo. And this precise circumstance
is sufficient in itself to deprive HEIL’s fundamental theory of most of its
value, although his work is actually remarkable from many other respects. In
his view the only result the meeting of Rhandeia produced was a truce in the
war, thus between Corbulo and Tiridates no “Vertrag von Rhandeia” was
concluded and no “eigentliche Kriegsende” came about as a consequence of
a “völkerrechtlicher Vertrag.”76 The sources we dispose of and that are ana-
lysed above do not mention any such treaty. Tacitus and Cassius Dio, who
both follow a historiographical tradition directly or indirectly linked to the

Dio LXII 23, 4 (III, 61 BOISSEVAIN): καÚ ¡ Μονόβαζος καÚ ¡ ΟÃολόγαισος πρÙς τÙν
Κορβούλωνα ἦλθον καÚ ¡μήρους αÃτῷ ἔδωκαν. καÚ ἐπÚ τούτοις ¡ Νέρων αÃτοκρά-
τωρ τε πολλάκις ἐπεκλήθη, καÚ τÏ ἐπινίκια ἔπεμψε παρÏ τÙ νενομισμένον.
HEIL 1997, 126-128.
SPERTI 1990, about it cf. HEIL 1997, 127 n. 46.
About the report in Tacitus’ Annales and Corbulo’s Commentarii see the full discussion
in QUESTA 1967.
HEIL 1997, 120-128.
58 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

report by Corbulo himself, tried to give the impression that the meeting of
Rhandeia put an end to war, generating a lasting peace that was favourable
to Rome and whose author was Corbulo. The actual reality was indeed com-
pletely different. In Rhandeia a simple agreement was reached, based on the
the word of the two parties.
Die Übereinkunft war demnach nur eine Art gentlemen’s agreement, das auf
dem wechselseitigen Vertrauen in das gegebene Wort beruhte. Es legte fest,
mit welchen Schritten beide Seiten zu einer Beendigung des Krieges gelan-
gen wollten - weiter nichts. Ob die Absprache tatsächlich zum Frieden führte
hing also vom politischen Willen der Konfliktparteien ab. Hätte eine von
ihnen ihre Entschlüsse geändert, hätte der Krieg ohne weiteres fortgesetzt
werden können. Vom ›eigentlichen‹ Kriegsende oder gar von einem Frie-
densvertrag zu reden, wäre viel zu hoch gegriffen.77
HEIL’s analysis is a bit too subtle and is far too closely bound to a mod-
ern, even ‘contractualistic’ interpretation of interpersonal relationships, as it
were. Moreover, that the end of hostilities depended on the good will of both
parties represents an undeniable reality, that not even the signing of any doc-
ument can change. No doubt the whole ceremony was thus structured so as
to lead to a final formalization of the treaty by Nero himself, but this request
came from Tiridates and not from the Romans.78 The unjustified imposition
of Tigranes by Rome and the aggression by Caesennius Paetus were epis-
odes such as to lead the Arsacids to suspect that the agreements made by
them in loco with local governors had a limited value. This gave rise to a de-
mand for stronger guarantees, the highest ones Rome was able to offer. The
aim of Tiridates and of the Arsacid party was to reduce to the utmost the
time needed for the agreement in order to obtain the best possible guarantees
concerning the actual value of the agreement itself also for Rome and as
soon as possible. In these circumstances that gave rise to the extraordinary
ceremony ‘in the presence’ of the image of Caesar.79 The presence of the
statue of the emperor represented the highest guarantee Tiridates could re-
ceive immediately, without waiting for the solemn ratification by Nero in

HEIL 1997, 123.
Cf. supra.
Starting from different assumptions LEMOSSE 1961: 461 wrote about a ceremony that
was “bien plus conforme au droit national de la dynastie iranienne.”
Kings - —πατοι 59

Rome.80 The non-respect of the agreement by Corbulo or any other general

after him, would make him guilty of treason in front of Nero, from the time
that Tiridates’ diadem was laid in front of the imago Caesaris.
This is not in any case the decisive point for an understanding of the dip-
lomatic value of the treaty of Rhandeia. As mentioned elsewhere, Tacitus
relates that Tiridates asked Corbulo for permission to make a diplomatic
journey to all Arsacid capital cities, and that he left the Roman general his
daughter as hostage together with a pleading letter to Nero. The assignment
of hostages is also confirmed by a piece of news by Cassius Dio, even
though it may seem exaggerated and tendentious, as we have already seen.
Indeed one may legitimately doubt the contents of the letter, which must
have been unknown to Corbulo. In any case in a similar predicament Tacitus
reports in detail about the substance of what came out of this journey by
On his departure, he found Pacorus in Media and Vologeses at Ecbatana - the
latter not inattentive to his brother; for he had even requested Corbulo by
special couriers that Tiridates should be exposed to none of the outward
signs of vassalage, should not give up his sword, should not be debarred
from embracing the provincial governors or be left to stand and wait at their
doors, and in Rome should receive equal distinction with the consuls. Evid-
ently, accustomed as he was to foreign pride, he lacked all knowledge of
ourselves who prize the essentials of sovereignty and ignore its vanities
(transl. JACKSON).81
As far as I know, this passage has been neglected by modern scholars,82

Once more claimed by Tiridates, and not by Corbulo, notwithstanding the doubts raised
by the impersonal construction in Tac. Ann. XV 29, 2: tum placuit Tiridaten ponere
apud effigiem Caesaris insigne regium nec nisi manu Neronis resumere. But cf. what is
written just before, which explains in my opinion very clearly the sense of placuit: Ille
[Tiridates] de nobilitate generis multum praefatus, cetera temperanter adiungit: iturum
quippe Romam laturumque novum Caesari decus, non adversis Parthorum rebus sup-
plicem Arsaciden (Tac. Ann. XV 29, 1).
Tac. Ann. XV 31: Et digressus Pacorum apud Medos, Vologaesen Ecbatanis repperit,
non incuriosum fratris: quippe et propriis nuntiis a Corbulone petierat, ne quam ima-
ginem servitii Tiridates perferret neu ferrum traderet aut complexu provincias obtinen-
tium arceretur foribusve eorum adsisteret, tantusque ei Romae quantus consulibus hon-
or esset. scilicet externae superbiae sueto non inerat notitia nostri, apud quos vis
imperii valet, inania tramittuntur.
E. g. HEIL 1997, 130 restricts himself to citing this passage, simply defining it as a
‘Vorbereitung’ to the journey to Rome. SCHUR 1923, 30 curiously maintains that the ne-
60 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

who in this case have followed Tacitus’ judgement on the matter, something
that rarely happened for other passages of this historian. This was all a mis-
take, because it is a very interesting passage from many points of view. First
of all it represents a good example of Tacitus’ eloquence. Vologeses concern
about the imago servitii his brother could offer the world when he was
brought to Rome is completely inappropriate in a context in which the
agreements described above were reached leading to the grand ceremony of
the deposition of the crown of Armenia at the feet of Nero’s statue before
both deployed armies in a place rightly making Tiridates’ army eques com-
positus per turmas et insignibus patriis proud.83 Tacitus’ narration actually
aims at the antithetical representation of the images of the two Roman gen-
erals operating in Armenia: the idle and haughty Cesennius Paetus84 and the
non-loquacious but consistent Domitius Corbulo,85 who was more interested
in the solution of the Armenian crisis than in an arrogant behaviour that
might hurt Arsacid feelings.86 Thus why should Vologeses have feared such
a ‘politically incorrect’ behaviour by Corbulo? Vologeses’ ‘fear’ is actually
an invention by Tacitus in order to justify his fine end sentence: scilicet ex-
ternae superbiae sueto non inerat notitia nostri, apud quos vis imperii valet,
inania tramittuntur.
This sentence has much influenced later historians, confirming the idea
that Corbulo’s Armenian campaign was concluded with an agreement actu-
ally giving Rome the vis imperii in Armenia, leaving the Parthians only
minor things, inania, of use in satisfying people used to externae superbi-
ae.87 No doubt some Roman troops were quartered in Armenia as a result of

gotiations lead by Vologeses were aiming at guaranteeing all privileges for his brother
“für die Dauer seines Aufenthalts im römischen Reiche.”
Tac. Ann. XV 29, 2.
About L. Iunius Caesennius Paetus (PIR2 C 174) : GROAG 1897, 1903; PFLAUM 1954;
About Cn. Domitius Corbulo (PIR2 D 142): WOLFFGRAMM 1885; DE LA VILLE DE
1973; DELPUECH 1974; MEHL 1979; TRAINA 1996; ALLISON 1997; VERVAET 1999b, 1999a,
2000, 2002a, 2002b, 2003.
The Armenian matter as seen from inside the work by Tacitus: SYME 1958: 492-497. Cf.
in particular 494: “Tacitus (so it appears) accords undue space and importance to the
eastern realms.”
Thus above all SCHUR, 1923, 35-36; 1949, 2014.
Kings - —πατοι 61

the treaty88 and the investiture of the kings in that country was a Roman mat-
ter from then on, but it is also true that the agreement provided for the
choosing of future kings among Arsacid descendants.89 The judgement by
Marie-Louise CHAUMONT about the agreement of Rhandeia closing the Ar-
menian expedition by Corbulo is not wrong: “statut équivoque et bâtard.” In
her opinion:
cette suzeraineté restait nominale et sans efficacité contre la mainmise
parthe, entérinée par l’accord de Rhandéia. Désormais Rome ne pourrait
plus, comme par le passé, disposer à sa guise du trône arménien en faveur de
tel ou tel de ses candidats; il lui faudrait nécessairement passer par une solu-
tion arsacide et parthe. Dans ces conditions, le droit d’investiture réservé à
l’empereur risquait de se réduire le plus souvent à une simple formalité.
Actually the uncertainties relating to the terms of the treaty represented
the premises leading up to the Parthian wars of Trajan. If we still desire to
fix which party the vis imperii was owed to in Armenia in 63 A. D., whether
to the Romans as victors, or to the defeated Parthians, then the central part
of the passage by Tacitus now needs to be analysed: the sending by Volo-
geses of proprii nuntii to Corbulo to agree about the powers due to Tiridates
as client king of Rome. Vologeses requests were very clear: first of all Tirid-
ates had to be granted with the ius gladii ferendi due to the provincial
This right is thus defined in a well-known passage by Cassius Dio:
So, then, he [scil. Augustus] caused the appointed governors to be known as
propraetors and to hold office for as much longer than a year as should
please him; he made them wear the military uniform, and a sword, with
which they are permitted to execute even soldiers. For no one else, whether
proconsul, propraetor, or procurator, has been given the privilege of wearing

The legio III Gallica was settled with a garrison in Kasrik: CIL III 6741 = ILS 232;
6742, 6742a, and also further garrisons had to be quartered there and scattered in the
strategic sites of the country, but for us they are attested only in later periods.
Without any solid bases are the criticisms to this conclusion by HEIL 1997. Cf. infra.
CHAUMONT 1976: 123. Equally critical judgements about the situation coming out in the
East after the treaty of Rhandeia are to be read in e.g. ZIEGLER 1964, 75; STEP’ANYAN
1975; WOLSKI 1987; SCHOTTKY 1989: 165: “Mit der offiziellen Krönung jenes Mannes in
Rom begann 66 n. Chr. das mehrhundertjährige Regiment parthischer Nebenlinien in
dem Gebirgsland, das erst 428 n. Chr. durch das definitive Eingreifen der Sasaniden ein
Ende fand;” WOLSKI 1993, 170; HEIL 1997, 141: “der Status Armeniens wurde damit
prekär und schillernd, aber der parthische Einfluß überwog eindeutig.”
62 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

a sword without also having been accorded the right to put a soldier to death;
indeed this right has been granted, not only to the senators, but also to the
knights who are entitled to wear a sword (transl. CARY).91
To address such complex problems as the relationship between ius gladii
and imperium merum, whether the ius gladii was limited or unlimited and
furthermore whether, in a time preceding the Severian era it was either lim-
ited to the punishment of soldiers or extended also to civilians, humiliores or
even in some cases to honestiores is beyond the scope of this analysis.92
What is striking in Tacitus’ passage is that the ius gladii ferendi is meant as
one of the key elements attributed to the figure of the legatus Augusti pro
praetore of consular rank, among which Corbulo himself was included.93
Annales XV, 31 may certainly be involved in the discussion about the ius
gladii and more generically about the criminal jurisdiction of governors.
The interference by Vologeses in the agreements between Tiridates and
Corbulo aimed at obtaining particularly advantageous conditions for his
young brother and such conditions were not to compromise the dignity of
the Arsacid family. Such conditions had to be evidently different from those
other oriental kings had been granted by Rome on many occasions, other-

Dio LIII 6-7: τῇ τε ο“ν ἐπικλήσει τῇ τῶν ἀντιστρατήγων τοˆς αἱρετοˆς χρῆσθαι,
καÚ ἐπÚ πλείω καÚ ἐνιαυτοῦ χρόνον, ἐφ’ ὅσον ἂν ἑαυτῷ δόξῃ, ἄρχειν ἐποίησε, τήν
τε στρατιωτικὴν σκευὴν φοροῦντας καÚ ξίφος, οἷς γε καÚ στρατιώτας δικαιῶσαι
ἔξεστιν, ἔχοντας. ἄλλῳ γÏρ οÃδενÚ ο–τε ἀνθυπάτῳ ο–τε ἀντιστρατήγῳ ο–τε
ἐπιτρόπῳ ξιφηφορεῖν δέδοται, ᾧ μὴ καÚ στρατιώτην τινÏ ἀποκτεῖναι ἐξεῖναι
νενόμισται· οà γÏρ ὅτι τοῖς βουλευταῖς ἀλλÏ καÚ τοῖς ἱππεῦσιν, οἷς τοῦθ’
Õπάρχει, καÚ ἐκεῖνο συγκεχώρηται.
About the ius gladii MOMMSEN 1887, 268-271; MOMMSEN 1875, 967-968; MOMMSEN
1899, 242-245; JONES 1951; GARNSEY 1968; LIEBS 1981; SPAGNUOLO VIGORITA 1990;
The nature of the power exerted by Corbulo in Armenia is at the centre of a never-end-
ing debate. I just cite the latest positions: HEIL 1997, 201-207, seems to be very doubtful
about the matter and he concludes: “So enden alle Überlegungen ohne eindeutiges
Ergebnis. Daß Corbulo auch eine Provinzstatthalterschaft erhalten hatte und daß es die
von Kappadokien und Galatien war, läßt sich nicht zwingend ausschließen. Allerdings
fehlen Beweise oder klare Indizien, die die These stützen könnten. Zur Erklärung des
Befunds in den Quellen ist die Annahme einer Provinzstatthalterschaft nicht nötig, sogar
überflüssig. So halte ich es beim gegenwärtigen Kenntnisstand für das Wahrschein-
lichere, daß Corbulo ein reines Militärkommando ohne Provinzstatthalterschaft in-
nehatte.” Following VERVAET 2000 the power of Corbulo was not an imperium maius,
but rather a praetorius one, even though it was extended over various provinces (the lat-
ter assertion widely limiting the novelties coming out of his deep analysis of the matter).
Kings - —πατοι 63

wise we would not be able to understand the insistence of Vologeses (Taci-

tus) on this point.
As far as Tiridates is concerned the question was not about granting him
ornamenta consularia, as such ornamenta were customary in the interna-
tional relationships between Rome and the oriental kings, at least from
Claudius on, as a famous passage by Dio reporting the dispositions issued by
Claudius after his ascent to the throne in January 41 A. D. testifies:
Next he (Claudius) restored Commagene to Antiochus, since Gaius, though
he had himself given him the district, had taken it away again; and Mithrid-
ates the Iberian, whom Gaius had summoned and imprisoned, was sent home
again to resume the throne. To another Mithridates, a lineal descendant of
Mithridates the Great, he granted Bosporus, giving to Polemon some land in
Cilicia in place of it. He enlarged the domain of Agrippa of Palestine, who,
happening to be in Rome, had helped him to become emperor, and bestowed
on him the rank of consul; and to his brother Herod he gave the rank of
praetor and a principality. And he permitted them to enter the senate and to
express their thanks to him in Greek (transl. CARY).94
Claudius’ action was aimed at rewarding Agrippa I, who had stood out in
the role of mediator and was effective in the almost bloodless solution of the
crisis that exploded after the plot headed by Chaerea leading to the murder
of Caligula.95 As MOMMSEN had already noted, in this passage Dio mentions
to the granting of ornamenta consularia (τιμαÚ ÕπατικαÛ) and praetoria
(στρατηγικÙν ἀξÛωμα) to client kings by Claudius.96 Such honours did not
imply the full attribution of consular powers however. The ornamenta actu-
ally conferred no right either to exert the relative power or to sit in the Sen-
ate. As Fergus MILLAR wrote: “such ornamenta illustrate once again the di-

Dio LX 8, 1-3 (II, 670 BOISSEVAIN): ΚαÚ μετÏ τοῦτο τῷ τε Ἀντιıχῳ τὴν Κομμαγη-
νὴν ἀπÔδωκεν (¡ γÏρ ΓÌιος, καÛπερ αÃτıς οἱ δοˆς αÃτήν, ἀφῄρητο), καÚ τÙν Μι-
θριδÌτην τÙν ºβηρα, ὃν ¡ ΓÌιος μεταπεμψÌμενος ἐδεδÔκει, οἴκαδε πρÙς ἀνÌλη-
ψιν τῆς ἀρχῆς ἀπÔπεμψεν. ἄλλῳ τÔ τινι ΜιθριδÌτῃ, τÙ γÔνος ἀπ’ ἐκεÛνου τοῦ
πÌνυ ἔχοντι, τÙν Βıσπορον ἐχαρÛσατο, καÚ τῷ ΠολÔμωνι χ˘ραν τινÏ ἀντ’ αÃτοῦ
ΚιλικÛας ἀντÔδωκε. τῷ γÏρ ἈγρÛππᾳ τῷ ΠαλαιστÛνῳ συμπρÌξαντÛ οἱ τὴν ἡγε-
μονÛαν (ἔτυχε γÏρ ἐν τῇ Ῥ˘μῃ ‡ν) τήν τε ἀρχὴν προσεπη˜ξησε καÚ τιμÏς Õπατι-
κÏς ἔνειμε. τῷ τε ἀδελφῷ αÃτοῦ Ἡρ˘δῃ τı τε στρατηγικÙν ἀξÛωμα καÚ δυνα-
στεÛαν τινÏ ἔδωκε, καÚ ἔς τε τÙ συνÔδριον ἐσελθεῖν σφισι καÚ χÌριν οἱ ἑλληνιστÚ
γνῶναι ἐπÔτρεψεν.
Jos., Ant. XIX 236-244; B. J. II, 204-222.
MOMMSEN 1894a, 109; PANI 1972, 229; BRAUND 1984, 28-29.
64 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

vorce of honour or status and function. The divorce appears even wider in
those cases where the same ornamenta were granted to client kings, or to
writers or orators.”97 The effective powers of consuls and praetors should be
granted - at least partially - but in this case they were singularly specified
(καÚ ἔς τε τÙ συνÔδριον ἐσελθεῖν σφισι καÚ χÌριν οἱ ἑλληνιστÚ γνῶναι
ἐπÔτρεψεν) and automatically pertained to the ornamenta.98
Notwithstanding their apparent similarity, the situation in Judaea in 41
A. D. with the granting to Agrippa and his brother Herod of reigns and sen-
atorial ranks differed from the one that was to occur in Armenia twenty-five
years later. Agrippa’s vicissitudes are actually narrated in greater detail by
Josephus in a context that has been rightly accused of adopting a partisan
position against Agrippa I (and thus being indirectly encomiastic towards
the true ‘hero’ of Josephus, Agrippa II).99 However Josephus considers the
detail of the ornamenta granted by Claudius to the two brother dynasts as
Claudius speedily purged the army of all unreliable units. He then promul-
gated an edict whereby he both confirmed the rule of Agrippa, which Gaius
had presented to him, and delivered a panegyric on the king. He also added
to Agrippa’s dominions all the other lands that had been ruled by King
Herod, his grandfather, namely, Judaea and Samaria. He restored these lands
to him as a debt due to his belonging to the family of Herod. But he also ad-
ded Abila , which had been ruled by Lysanias , and all the land in the moun-

MILLAR 1977, 308.
MOMMSEN 1887, 464; cf. also 457: “Für das Bewerbungsrecht sind die ornamenta ohne
Bedeutung” ... “Dass die ornamenta das Recht im Senate zu sitzen nicht einschliessen,
ist notorisch; es bedarf kaum der Hinweisung darauf, dass dieselben in den bei weitem
meisten Fällen an solche Personen verliehen werden, die Senatoren weder sind noch
werden können oder wollen, und dass, wo das Gegentheil eintritt, das Recht im Senat zu
sitzen immer auf einem von den ornamenta unabhängigen Titel beruht.” In his complete
survey RÉMY 1976 simply limits himself to citing the granting of the ornamenta to client
VITUCCI, commentary to Josephus, La Guerra giudaica, Fondazione Valla, Milano 1974:
630 n. 4: “l’importanza avuta dalla sua (scil. of Agrippa) azione mediatrice appare ma-
nifestamente esagerata.” Contra GAHEIS 1899, 2786; SCHÜRER, VERMÈS, MILLAR 1973:
445: “He (Agrippa) was also in Rome when his patron was murdered by Chaerea on
24th January A. D. 41, and contributed not a little to secure the succession of the weak
Claudius to the imperial throne.”
Kings - —πατοι 65

tainous region of Lebanon as a gift out of his own territory, and he celebrated
a treaty with Agrippa in the middle of the Forum in the city of Rome (transl.
L. H. FELDMAN).100
Upon Agrippa he forthwith conferred the whole of his grandfather’s king-
dom, annexing to it from over the border not only the districts of Trachonitis
and Auranitis of which Augustus had made a present to Herod, but a further
principality known as the kingdom of Lysanias. This donation he announced
to the people by an edict, and ordered the magistrates to have it engraved on
brazen tablets to be deposited in the Capitol. He, moreover, presented Herod,
who was at once the brother and, by his marriage with Berenice, the son-in-
law of Agrippa, with the kingdom of Chalcis (transl. THACKERAY). 101
Let us not be deceived by the emphasis Josephus laid on the solemnities
accompanying granting Claudius’ grants: the bronze tables deposited at the
Capitolium did not spare the sovereign provided with ornamenta consularia
the humiliations undergone by C. Vibius Marsus, legatus Augusti pro-
praetore in the province of Syria.102 During the three years left to him before
he died in 44 A. D.103 he first had to abandon his project to extend and
strengthen the walls of Jerusalem after a malicious report by Vibius Marsus
to Claudius,104 and then he was to suffer a true affront again by Vibius
Marsus himself in Tiberiade: Agrippa had sent there his brother Herod of
Chalcis, and the kings Antiochus IV of Commagene, Sampsigeramos of

Jos., Ant. XIX 274-275: Κλα˜διος δÓ τοῦ στρατιωτικοῦ πᾶν ὅ τι ἦν —ποπτον ἐκ τοῦ
¿ξÔος ἀποσκευασÌμενος διÌγραμμα προÃτÛθει τήν τε ἀρχὴν ἈγρÛππα βεβαιῶν,
ἣν ¡ ΓÌιος παρÔσχε, καÚ δι’ ἐγκωμι˘ν ἄγων τÙν βασιλÔα. Προσθήκην τε αÃτῷ
ποιεῖται πᾶσαν τὴν ÕπÙ Ἡρ˘δου βασιλευθεῖσαν, ὃς ἦν πÌππος αÃτοῦ, ἸουδαÛαν
καÚ ΣαμÌρειαν. καÚ ταῦτα μÓν ›ς ¿φειλıμενα τῇ οἰκειıτητι τοῦ γÔνους
ἀπεδÛδου· êβιλαν δÓ τὴν ΛυσανÛου καÚ ¡πıσα ἐν τῷ ΛιβÌνῳ ƒρει ἐκ τῶν αÃτοῦ
προσετÛθει, ὅρκιÌ τε αÃτῷ τÔμνεται πρÙς τÙν ἈγρÛππαν ἐπÚ τῆς ἀγορᾶς μÔσης
ἐν τῇ ῬωμαÛων πıλει.
Jos., B. J. II 215-217: ΚαÚ τÙν ἈγρÛππαν εÃθÔως ἐδωρεῖτο τῇ πατρῴᾳ βασιλεÛᾳ
πÌσῃ, προστιθεÚς ἔξωθεν καÚ τÏς Õπ’ ΑÃγο˜στου δοθεÛσας Ἡρ˘δῃ Τραχωνῖτιν
καÚ ΑÃρανῖτιν, χωρÚς δÓ το˜των ἑτÔραν βασιλεÛαν τὴν ΛυσανÛου καλουμÔνην.
καÚ τῷ μÓν δήμῳ διατÌγματι τὴν δωρεÏν ἐδήλου, τοῖς ἄρχουσιν δÓ προσÔταξεν
ἐγχαρÌξαντας δÔλτοις χαλκαῖς τὴν δıσιν εἰς τÙ Καπετ˘λιον ἀναθεῖναι.
Δωρεῖται δ’ αÃτοῦ καÚ τÙν ἀδελφÙν Ἡρ˘δην, ¡ δ’ αÃτÙς καÚ γαμβρÙς ἦν ΒερνÛκῃ
συνοικῶν, βασιλεÛᾳ τῇ ΧαλκÛδι.
DA̧BROWA 1998, 44-46.
Act. Ap. 12, 19-23; Jos., Ant. XIX 343-352.
Jos., Ant. XIX 326-327; B. J. II 218-222, V 147-155.
66 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Emesa, Cotys of Armenia Minor and Polemon of Pontus. When Agrippa re-
ceived the news of the unexpected visit by Vibius Marsus, he went with all
other kings towards him to honour him. The governor was in no way con-
vinced by this; indeed he was highly suspicious of this meeting of kings as-
sembled there to honour him, so he broke up that meeting and invited all the
kings to go back to their kingdoms. In Josephus’ opinion this episode repres-
ented “the beginning of a quarrel with Marsus.”105 But Marsus survived A-
grippa, quietly preserving his functions.106 Nor did the situation improve un-
der his son Agrippa II, as the impotence of the latter testifies ad abundan-
tiam when he had to face Ventidius Cumanus,107 a simple procurator Iudae-
ae, and not a consular legatus, who forced Agrippa II to undertake a journey
to Rome to obtain the recognition of the rights of the Jews who were op-
pressed oppressed by Roman soldiers and Samaritans in various ways.108 In
this entire matter the legatus Augusti pro praetore of Syria, Ummidius
Quadratus,109 seems to act as an arbitrator in a dispute between people hav-
ing powers and ranks infinitely inferior to his.
In marked contrast with their weak powers, Agrippa I and II assumed
particularly magniloquent royal titles, as is testified in their most complete
form in a now lost inscription that had been read by William Henry WADD-
INGTON at the shrine of Sīʾa, in Ḥawrān:

ἘπÚ βασιλÔως μεγÌλου ἈγρÛππα φιλοκαÛσαρος εÃσεβοῦς καÚ φιλορω-

μα[Û]|ου, τοῦ ἐκ βασιλÔως μεγÌλου ἈγρÛππα φιλοκαÛσαρος εÃσεβοῦς
καÚ [φι]|λορωμαÛου, Ἀφαρεˆς ἀπελε˜θερος καÚ ἈγρÛππας υἱÙς ἀνÔθη-
It is most probable, given the context, that the explication of the title
βασιλεˆς μÔγας as given in this case by VON GUTSCHMID,111 i.e. that it was
due to the fact that its bearer held more than one kingdom, is the right one.

Jos., Ant. XIX 338-342. Cf. PANI 1972, 168-169.
Jos., Ant. XX 1: Τελευτήσαντος δÓ τοῦ βασιλÔως ἈγρÛππα ... πÔμπει ΜÌρσῳ
διÌδοχον Κλα˜διος Καῖσαρ ΚÌσσιος Λογγῖνος “On the death of King Agrippa ...
Claudius Caesar sent Cassius Longinus as successor to Marsus” (transl. L. H. FELDMAN).
SCHÜRER, VERMÈS, MILLAR 1973, 458-459.
Jos., Ant. XX 105-136; B. J. II 223-246; Tac., Ann. XII 54.
DA̧BROWA 1998, 49-53.
OGIS 419 = WADD. 2365; cf. SCHÜRER, VERMÈS, MILLAR 1973, 452 n. 42.
GUTSCHMID 1893, 116-119.
Kings - —πατοι 67

Things were quite different in Armenia. There the Arsacid royal lineage,
the customs of the population and particularly of most of the Armenian
feudal aristocracy were closely bound to the Parthian empire. This cultural
as well as political proximity of Armenia to Parthia, ineluctable with
whatever treaty, was clearly perceived by Rome:
That country, from the earliest period, has owned a national character and a
geographical situation of equal ambiguity, since with a wide extent of fronti-
er conterminous with our own provinces, it stretches inland right up to Me-
dia; so that the Armenians lie interposed between two vast empires, with
which, as they detest Rome and envy the Parthian, they are too frequently at
variance (transl. JACKSON).112
In addition, the Armenians - whose allegiance was a matter of doubt - were
invoking the arms of both powers; though by geographical position and af-
finity of manners they stood closer to the Parthians, were connected with
them by inter-marriage, and, in their ignorance of liberty, were more inclined
to accept servitude in that quarter (transl. JACKSON).113
In favour of his brother Tiridates Vologeses asked Corbulo for the
powers and not for the honours due to consuls. The above quoted passage by
Tacitus (Ann. XV 31, 1) containing the representation of the externae super-
biae as being more attentive to inania than to vis imperii, reflects a stereo-
typed desire for Roman superiority over simple-minded barbarian people
rather than the actual reality of the contents of the agreement of Rhandeia,114
which was something quite different: after its military victory Rome was
only able to guarantee the re-conquered country had a stable situation at the
cost of a compromise that would certainly undermine the medium-term stab-
ility in the region. The Roman-Parthian co-ownership of Armenia could not
but end in a slow and relentless ‘parthization’ of the royal house and the
Arsacid court of Armenia, precisely for the reasons stressed by Tacitus.115

Tac., Ann. II 56, 1: Ambigua gens ea antiquitus hominum ingeniis et situ terrarum, quo-
niam nostris provinciis late praetenta penitus ad Medos porrigitur; maximisque imper-
iis interiecti et saepius discordes sunt, adversus Romanos odio et in Parthum invidia.
Tac., Ann. XIII 34, 2: ad hoc Armenii ambigua fide utraque arma invitabant, situ ter-
rarum, similitudine morum Parthis propiores conubiisque permixti ac libertate ignota
illud magis [ad servitium] inclinantes.
On Tacitus and the Roman imperialism cf. WALSER 1951; SYME 1958; TRESCH 1965.
On Kondominium SCHUR 1949, 2014; ZIEGLER 1964, 76 prefers the concept of Cosuzerä-
68 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Parthian diplomacy demanded from Rome that the statute of Tiridates

should be different from those of other client kings populating the Roman
East. The difference actually resided in the fact that no simple ornamenta
consularia were requested, which by that time had evidently become useless
frills after the events in Tiberiade, which was probably the best known
among the oriental courts. In favour of his brother Vologeses was asking for
effective powers to be granted and Rome accorded them, thus opening up a
new phase in the diplomatic relationships between Rome and the Arsacids.
If Rome was able to bring itself round to take this step, it was because of the
threat represented by Ctesiphon, while somewhere else in the Roman East
the existing power relations were such as to allow Rome to go on with the
political strategy of granting vain ornamenta.

Little is actually known about the history of the Arsacid dynasty in the
years immediately following these events and this not only as far as the Ar-
menian line is concerned. The coinage only tells us about the end of the
reign of the great Vologeses I in Parthia and about the difficult succession to
the Arsacid throne after the death of his son Vologeses II in favour of his
rival Pacorus II, of whom we know almost nothing116 except that his reign
was ended by his brother Chosroes in 108/109 A. D.,117 and that it is possible
to figure out in what circumstances this happened. A famous excerpt from
the Parthika by Arrianus refers to some vague claims (ἐπικλήματα) by Pa-
corus that had to be satisfied in a certain limited period of time.118 In answer
to these claims Trajan ordered the Parthian expedition, but when he came to
Athens, he was joined by a Parthian legation that had been sent by the new
king Chosroes. The tone of the message was much more conciliatory:

An echo of the difficulties the young Pacorus II had met to ascend to the throne of
Parthia are to be found in a passage of the Thebais by Statius, following a convincing
exegesis by HOLLIS 1994, who however fails to explain the way by which the news was
Dio LXVIII 17, 2-3 (= III, 204-205 BOISSEVAIN).
Arr. Parth. fr. 32 (235 ROOS-WIRTH): ¡ δÓ ΠÌκορος ¡ ΠαρθυαÛων βασιλεˆς καÚ ἄλλα
τινÏ ἐπικλήματα ἐπÔφερεν Τραϊανῷ βασιλεῖ καÚ τÙ δοκεῖν ἐπÛκλημα ἐποιεῖτο
κατÏ ῬωμαÛων, ὅτι δıξαν ἐντÙς λ΄ ἡμερῶν μηδετÔρους παρÏ τÏ ξυγκεÛμενα
ἐπιτελεῖν, οἱ δÓ οà κατÏ τÙ θεσπισθÓν ἐπιτειχÛζουσιν.
Kings - —πατοι 69

When Trajan had set out against the Parthians and had got as far as Athens,
an embassy from Osroes met him, asking for peace and proffering gifts. For
upon learning of his advance the king had become terrified, because Trajan
was wont to make good his threats by his deeds. Accordingly, he humbled
his pride and sent to implore him not to make war upon him, and at the same
time he asked that Armenia be given to Parthamasiris, who was likewise a
son of Pacorus, and requested that the diadem be sent to him; for he had de-
posed Exedares, he said, inasmuch as he had been satisfactory neither to the
Romans nor to the Parthians. The emperor neither accepted the gifts nor re-
turned any answer, either oral or written, save the statement that friendship is
determined by deeds and not by words, and that accordingly when he should
reach Syria he would do all that was proper (transl. CARY).119
I do not think that we should credit the opinion by Cassius Dio, i.e. that
Chosroes “had become terrified (κατÔδεισε)” when he was made acquain-
ted with the coming of Trajan. It is actually preferable to maintain that the
party that was favourable to the war against Rome and headed by Pacorus
was defeated by the one led by Chosroes, who on the contrary preferred to
negotiate with Rome, thus avoiding the outbreak of war, which however was
no longer avoidable, as the answer by Trajan had already revealed.
The actual cause of the war might have been “desire to win renown
(δıξης ἐπιθυμÛα),” while the pretext (πρıφασις) used was the Armenian
question with the unilateral deposition of Axidares120 by Pacorus in favour of
Parthamasiris. The excerpt by Xiphilinus is crystal clear on this point121 and
voids the speculations by modern scholars about the real causes of the con-

Dio LXVIII 17, 2-3 (III, 204-205 BOISSEVAIN): ὅτι τοῦ Τραϊανοῦ ἐπÚ Πάρθους
στρατεύσαντος καÚ ἐς Ἀθήνας ἀφικομένου πρεσβεία αÃτῷ ἐνταῦθα παρÏ τοῦ
Ὀρρόου ἐνέτυχε, τῆς εἰρήνης δεομένη καÚ δῶρα φέρουσα. ἐπειδὴ γÏρ ἔγνω τήν τε
¡ρμὴν αÃτοῦ, καÚ ὅτι τοῖς ἔργοις τÏς ἀπειλÏς ἐτεκμηρίου, κατέδεισε, καÚ ÕφεÚς
τοῦ φρονήματος ἔπεμψεν ἱκετεύων μὴ πολεμηθῆναι, τήν τε Ἀρμενίαν
Παρθαμασίριδι Πακόρου καÚ αÃτῷ υἱεῖ ᾔτει, καÚ ἐδεῖτο τÙ διάδημα αÃτῷ
πεμφθῆναι· τÙν γÏρ Ἐξηδάρην ›ς οÃκ ἐπιτήδειον ο–τε τοῖς Ῥωμαίοις ο–τε τοῖς
Πάρθοις ƒντα πεπαυκέναι ἔλεγεν. καÚ ὃς ο–τε τÏ δῶρα ἔλαβεν, ο–τ’ ἄλλο τι
ἀπεκρίνατο ¢ καÚ ἐπέστειλε πλὴν ὅτι ἡ φιλία ἔργοις καÚ οà λόγοις κρίνεται, καÚ
διÏ τοῦτ’, ἐπειδÏν ἐς τὴν Συρίαν ἔλθῃ, πάντα τÏ προσήκοντα ποιήσει.
On the correct spelling of the name, fluctuating in the sources between ἈξιδÌρης and
ἘξηδÌρης, cf. JUSTI 1895, 12. On the person see STEIN 1909.
Dio LXVIII 17, 1 (III, 204 BOISSEVAIN): μετÏ δÓ ταῦτα ἐστράτευσεν ἐπ’ Ἀρμενίους
καÚ Πάρθους, πρόφασιν μÓν ὅτι μὴ τÙ διάδημα Õπ’ αÃτοῦ εἰλήφει, ἀλλÏ παρÏ
τοῦ Πάρθων βασιλέως, ¡ τῶν Ἀρμενίων βασιλεύς, τῇ δ’ ἀληθείᾳ δόξης ἐπιθυμίᾳ.
70 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

flict of most of their importance, as they are originated by the weakness of

the ‘true causes’ of the outbreak of war offered by Cassius Dio.122 It is evid-
ent that the Armenian question represents far too good a reason to start a
conflict, today as in the past.
The sovereigns of Armenia remain enveloped in darkness. After Tiridates
the reign of some Sanatruk - about whom we know practically nothing,
which causes lots of chronological problems - can be imagined as being fol-
lowed by the above mentioned events with Parthamasiris opposed to Axid-
ares and afterwards the brief provincialization of the reign of Armenia by
Trajan. With Hadrian the status quo ante was re-established in Armenia, as a
passage in the Historia Augusta very clearly testifies:
the Armenians were permitted to have their own king, whereas under Trajan
they had had a governor (transl. MAGIE).123
Once more and in perfect correspondence with the treaty of Rhandeia,
Rome formally invested the king of Armenia with his crown. Once more
that king, Vologeses son of Sanatruk, was a member of the Arsacid family
who would conduct an ‘iranizing’ policy, as testified by the emphasis this
sovereign (Vałarš) was given by some Armenian historians, and as we infer
from the foundation of a new capital city of the reign called Vałaršapat and
of many other towns.124 It was most probably this Vologeses/Vałarš and not
the contemporary Vologeses III of Parthia who complained to Hadrian in
around 136 about the fact that he had not collaborated in defence of the Cau-
casian passes against the Alan invasions.
The more or less contemporary deaths of both Hadrian and Vologeses/
Vałarš lead to a situation of stress at the borders of Armenia, as testified for
us by some monetary legends of Antoninus Pius125 and by a bellum Parthi-
cum that was mentioned in the Vita Antonini as a bugbear to dissuade Volo-
geses III from invading Armenia.126 Thus coins bearing the inscription REX

On the causes of the war LEPPER 1948, 158-204, with a full discussion about the previ-
ous literature.
H. A., Hadr., 21, 10: Armeniis regem habere permisit, cum sub Traiano legatum ha-
CHAUMONT 1976, 144.
BMC, 204 n° 1272-1273; RIC III, 105, n° 586.
H. A., Anton. 9, 6: Parthorum regem ab Armeniorum expugnatione solis litteris reppu-
Kings - —πατοι 71

ARMENIIS DATVS and dated to between 140 and 144 A. D.127 are evidence
of the prosecution of the formal agreements of Rhandeia even under Ant-
oninus Pius.
A fragmentary passage from the correspondence of Fronto mentions
some sovereigns, among which only one appears to be explicitly connected
to Armenia, in a context that would be inexplicable in the absence of further
heterogeneous sources:
... that he had given the kingdom of Armenia to Sohaemus rather than to
Vologaesus; or that he had deprived Pacorus of his kingdom (transl.
In an entry in the Suda, certainly taken from Cassius Dio, reference is
made to the fact that Sohaemus was re-instated (καταγαγεῖν)129 with force
in Armenia by Thucydides, one of the lieutenants of Martius Verus, legatus
of Cappadocia:
Martius Verus sent out Thucydides to reinstate Sohaemus into Armenia, and
this general, thanks to terror inspired by his arms and to the natural good
judgment that he showed in every situation, kept pressing vigorously forward
(transl. CARY, with adaptations).130
About Sohaemus we know something more thanks to a brief parenthesis
in a novel the patriarch Photius was still able to read in the 11th century.
Summing up in his Bibliotheca an erotic novel by the rhetor Iamblichus131
bearing the title of Babyloniaka and containing the fantastic history of two
lovers, Sinonis and Rhodanes, Photius writes:
The writer [Iamblichos] says that he was Babylonian too and that he had
learnt both magic and the Greek paideia, and that he was grown by So-
haemus, the Achaemenian, the Arsacid, he who was a king and a descendent

RIC III, 110 n° 619; STRACK 1937, 66-67, 262-263.
Front., Ver. 2, 18 (120 VAN DEN HOUT): vel quod Sohaemo potius quam Vologaeso
regnum Armeniae dedisset; aut quod Pacorum regno privasset.
On the meaning of the verb (= ‘zurückführen’, ‘wiedereinsetzen’, restituere in regnum)
BOISSEVAIN 1890, 338, but with deductions I do not share as far as this case is concerned.
Dio LXXI 2, 1 (III, 248 BOISSEVAIN) = Suda s. v. ΜÌρτιος: ὅτι Μάρτιος Βῆρος τÙν
Θουκυδίδην ἐκπέμπει καταγαγεῖν Σıαιμον εἰς Ἀρμενίαν· ὃς δέει τῶν ὅπλων καÚ
τῇ οἰκείᾳ περÚ πάντα τÏ προσπίπτοντα εÃβουλίᾳ τοῦ πρόσω εἴχετο ἐρρωμένως.
Suidas, s. v. Iamblichos (II, 603 ADLER); the novel is in Phot. Bibl. Cod. 94.
72 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

of a king and who became senator in Rome and consul at the same time and
then again king of Armenia Maior.

Conversely Pacorus left an epitaph in Rome in memory of his brother

Merithates who had died there in a year that cannot be fixed with absolute
To the gods of the afterlife. Aurelius Pacorus, king of Great Armenia, ac-
quired this sarcophagus for his very sweet brother Aurelius Merithates, who
lived with me 56 years and 2 months long.133
Modern scholars maintain they can explain the succession to the throne
of Armenia in the years from the ascent to the throne of Antoninus Pius until
the Parthian war of Lucius Verus as follows: After tensions that cannot be
explained in detail today, but that seem to have caused years of instability in
Armenia, Rome succeeded in imposing a king Sohaemus by threatening a
bellum Parthicum (that REX DATVS in 140/141).134 When Antoninus Pius
died (7th March 161), Vologeses IV waged war against Rome by invading
Armenia and threatening Syria.135 He installed Pacorus in Armenia, who
held this reign until his deposition by the generals of Lucius Verus, who had
decided to put Sohaemus on that throne for the second time (πÌλιν).136
The difficulties created by such a reconstruction have already been
stressed by M.-L. CHAUMONT.137 What is particularly serious is the fact that it
is actually very difficult to consider Pacorus, a king who was certainly en-
joyed Roman citizenship and who moreover had spent a considerable part of

Phot., Bibl. cod. 94 (75b BEKKER = II, 40 HENRY): Λέγει δÓ καÚ ἑαυτÙν Βαβυλώνιον
εἶναι ¡ συγγραφεύς, καÚ μαθεῖν τὴν μαγικήν, μαθεῖν δÓ καÚ τὴν Ἑλληνικὴν
παιδείαν, καÚ ἀκμάζειν ἐπÚ Σοαίμου τοῦ Ἀχαιμενίδου τοῦ Ἀρσακίδου, ὃς βασι-
λεˆς ἦν ἐκ πατέρων βασιλέων, γέγονε δÓ ὅμως καÚ τῆς συγκλήτου βουλῆς τῆς ἐν
Ῥώμῃ, καÚ —πατος δέ, εἶτα καÚ βασιλεˆς πάλιν τῆς μεγάλης Ἀρμενίας. ἘπÚ τού-
του γοῦν ἀκμάσαι φησÚν ἑαυτόν.
CIG III, 6559 = IG XIV, 1472 Θ(εοῖς) κ(αταχθονÛοις) | ΑÃρήλιος | ΠÌκορος,
βασι|λεˆς μεγÌλης Ἀρ||μενÛας, †γıρακα σαρ|κοφÌγο(ν) ΑÃρ(ηλÛῳ) ΜεριθÌ|τι
ἀδελφῷ γλυκυ|τÌτῳ ζήσαντι | σˆν ἐμοÚ ἔτη || νςʹʹ, μῆ(νας) βʹ.
Sceptical about the inthronization of Sohaemus in 140-144 A. D. SCHEHL 1930, 189; ZIE-
GLER 1964, 110 n. 101.
H. A. Marc. Ant. 8, 6; Fronton. Princip. Hist. 17 (199 VAN DEN HOUT); Lucianus, Hist.
Conscr. 21, 25; Lucianus, Alex. 27; Dio LXXI 2, 1 (III, 246 BOISSEVAIN).
GUTSCHMID 1888, 147; BOISSEVAIN 1890, 337-338; ASDOURIAN 1911, 111; DEBEVOISE
1938, 249.
CHAUMONT 1969, 16; 1976, 148-150.
Kings - —πατοι 73

his life in Rome, as a pro-Parthian and anti-Roman figure installed on the

throne of Armenia just after the Parthian invasion. This idea derives from
the theory that maintains that behind every invasion there has to be a clear-
cut change of government: indeed this position prevents us from adopting
the simplest and most economic solution to the problem.
Antoninus Pius reacted to the intermingling policy by the Arsacid Volo-
geses III on the throne of Armenia by removing the homonymous Volo-
geses/Vałarš and putting on the throne of Armenia a sovereign he liked
(REX ARMENIIS DATVS, between 140 and 144). Then, as his name, Pacor-
us, testifies, he took a person of sure Iranian origin, perhaps even a member
of the Arsacid family, who was held in Rome as a hostage as we can infer
from the place where his brother died on an unspecified day.138 This person
had all the requisites to be appreciated by Antoninus and his new Armenian
subjects since he was of Iranian origin. When Vologeses IV attacked, Aure-
lius Pacorus most probably offered no fierce resistance: His almost twenty-
year-long stay on the throne of Artaxata should have reconciled him with his
Iranian origin, and the probable presence at the court of a pro-Parthian party
would certainly have exerted some influence on the behaviour of the sover-
eign. Thus Vologeses did not substitute Aurelius Pacorus, who remained on
his throne.
Rome’s reaction sounds strangely familiar to our ears: it acted resolutely
at the military level and obtained a rapid and complete success. However,
the Romans had no clear idea about the political arrangement that would fol-
low the military victory, as the above cited passage from the correspondence
of Fronto testifies.139 The solution chosen by Lucius Verus, i.e. the enthrone-
ment of Sohaemus, turned out to be the worst possible - it has never been
easy for a western person to find his way around middle eastern politics!

That the REX ARMENIIS DATVS in 140-144 A. D. was Pacorus and not Sohaemus is an
hypothesis already proposed by HÜTTL 1936, 237; but MAGIE 1950, 1528 n. 2, distin-
guishes the Pacorus in Fronto from the Aurelius Pacorus of the inscription in Rome.
Cf. the interesting conclusions derived from this passage by CHAUMONT 1976, 149: “il
résulte de ces propos: 1°, que Pacorus n’était pas consideré comme un ennemi déclaré
de Rome et que, somme toute, la défait parthe ne rendait pas impossible son maintien
sur le trône; 2°, qu’un autre prétendant arsacide, Vologèse, peut-être un fils du
précédent roi Vologèse, ne paraissait pas moins qualifié que Sohaemus pour devenir roi
74 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Aurelius Pacorus was evidently able to maintain a wisely balanced beha-

viour in the very difficult circumstances characterizing his reign: he had
been imposed by Rome, then he had been left on his throne by the Parthians
and he was not immediately removed after Rome had again taken control
over the situation but his deposition came just after a complicated discus-
sion. His successor possessed all the qualities needed to become a mere tool
in the hands of Rome, as he was lacking in any political personality and was
not accepted by the Parthian neighbours and even less by the Armenian
Sohaemus was certainly closely connected with the royal house of
Emesa.140 The royal family had a previous experience of government in that
area that was now quite remote, when some other Sohaemus was temporar-
ily entrusted by Nero with the government of the nearby Sophene.141 How-
ever it is evident that neither of the Sohaemi we are acquainted with had any
probable or even possible link with the Arsacid royal family.142 The bom-
bastic use of adjectives that follows the name of Sohaemus in the above
cited passage by Photius τοῦ Ἀχαιμενίδου τοῦ Ἀρσακίδου, ὃς βασιλεˆς
ἦν ἐκ πατέρων βασιλέων, certainly contains the echo of the pro-Roman
propaganda that was desperately trying to make that king tolerable to the Ar-
menians. The loss of the text by Iamblichus prevents us from reconstructing
the original literary context of this annotation, but given the form it has
reached us in, it is certainly impossible to disregard a trace of irony by Iamb-

SULLIVAN 1977, cf. the genealogical tree from which the obvious difficulty to link this
person to the Emesean dynasts of the Julio-Claudian time clearly stands out. PIR III S
546; STEIN 1927.
Following Tac., Ann. XIII 7 Nero installed a certain Sohaemus cum insignibus regiis in
Sophene in 54 A. D., exactly in the very year in which C. Iulius Sohaemus became king
in Emesa honora|t[o ornam(entis)] consulari|b[us (cf. IGLS VI 2760 = ILS 8958)
BRAUND 1984, 29. Modern scholarship is split on this: because of the long distance ex-
isting between the two reigns of Emesa and Sophene, the idea that the two kings shared
the same name, but were distinct people has persisted for a long time (STEIN 1927;
STEVENSON 1939, 47; MAGIE 1950, 1412, n. 41; PANI 1972, 224-226; CHAUMONT 1976,
224-226), but more recently the opinion has prevailed that the king of Emesa and the
figure about to would receive from Nero the privilege of governing Sophene during a
short period coincide (FRANKFORT, 1963; SCHÜRER, VERMÈS, MILLAR 1973, 570 n. 52;
BARRETT 1977; SULLIVAN 1977, 216-218; BARRETT 1979; SARTRE 2001, 505).
CHAUMONT 1976, 150: “de telles origines (franchement sémitiques) sont bien peu com-
patibles avec une extraction arsacide, ne serait-ce que du côté maternel.”
Kings - —πατοι 75

lichus in his report on the description Sohaemus gave of himself. The vacu-
ity of the dynastic claims by Sohaemus must have sounded offensive to the
Armenians. One further passage by Cassius Dio describes a rebellion by a
certain Tiridates that was appeased by Martius Verus ending in the exile of
the former to Britannia:
Yet in general the emperor was always accustomed to treat even his most
stubborn foes humanely; thus, when Tiridates, a satrap, stirred up trouble in
Armenia and slew the kin of the Heniochi, and then thrust his sword in
Verus’ face when the latter rebuked him for it, he did not put him to death,
but merely sent him to Britain (transl. CARY).143
No doubt the solution proposed by CHAUMONT, i.e to see in the vanishing
figure of the ‘satrap’ Tiridates the true Arsacid anti-Roman representative as
opposed to the clearly false Arsacid Sohaemus just after his installation by
Lucius Verus, is by far the most probable in order to explain all the vicis-
situdes of Sohaemus. The latter, being forcibly installed by Rome in 164,144
stirred up a prompt opposition that aggregated around this Tiridates we
know only as a ‘satrap.’ This qualification represents a difficulty but it is
also possible to maintain that it simply represents some sort of deliberate in-
stitutional weakening of this figure who could certainly very easily pass
himself off as an Arsacid, which maybe he actually was. Sohaemus was thus
compelled by Tiridates to leave Armenia. Only the military intervention by
the legatus of Cappadocia Martius Verus allowed the re-installation of this
hated bugbear of Rome on the throne of Armenia. The command of Martius
Verus can be dated back to after the consulship he held in 166, probably
172.145 We do not know how long Sohaemus ‘the Achemaenian, the Arsa-
cid,’ remained on the throne, but he would certainly not have been able to
resist without the presence of Roman troops as is testified exactly in those
years in the Armenian capital city.146 It was during the second period of the

Dio LXXI 14, 2 (III, 259 BOISSEVAIN): καίτοι τά τε ἄλλα ἀεί ποτε φιλανθρώπως καÚ
τοῖς πολεμιωτάτοις χρώμενος, καÚ Τιριδάτην σατράπην τά τε ἐν τῇ Ἀρμενίᾳ τα-
ράξαντα καÚ τÙν τῶν Ἡνιόχων βασιλέα ἀποσφάξαντα, τῷ τε ΟÃήρῳ ἐπιτιμῶντί
οἱ περÚ τούτων τÙ ξίφος ἐπανατεινάμενον, μὴ κτείνας ἀλλ’ ἐς Βρεττανίαν πέμ-
He should be the REX ARMENIIS DATVS on the coins of Lucius Verus RIC, III 255, n°
511-513; 322 n° 1370-1375; GÖBL 1961, 74-76.
RITTERLING 1904, 193-194; VON PREMERSTEIN 1913, 87-88, who reports this excerpt with
H. A. Marc. Aur. 22, 1; KROLL 1930, 2025; STEIN 1927.
ILS 9117; CIG III 6559 about which MORETTI 1955, 45. CIL III 6052 = ILS 394 is later.
76 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

reign (πÌλιν) of Sohaemus on the throne of Armenia that Iamblichus fre-

quented his court.
The testimony by Photius leads to the inclusion of Sohaemus in the list of
the senators at the time of Antonines written by Géza ALFÖLDY.147 As
ALFÖLDY was not able to ascribe to him any ordinary consulship, he attrib-
uted to Sohaemus a suffectus consulship on an unspecified date, without
however expressing himself about his previous career. Sohaemus was actu-
ally conferred the same hypateia as Tiridates was granted by Nero, and the
same one as Abgar would receive from Gordianus III. It is certainly not a
mistake made by ALFÖLDY. The testimony by Iamblichus/Photius on this
matter is unequivocal altough quite misleading: [ΣοαÛμος] ... γέγονε δÓ
ὅμως καÚ τῆς συγκλήτου βουλῆς τῆς ἐν Ῥώμῃ, καÚ —πατος δέ. While it
is possible to grasp the vacuity concerning the Parthian royal descent of this
figure it is undoubtedly more difficult to perceive the flattery in the latter
sentence. It is merely thanks to the Edessean parchment, the papyri of the
Euphrates and the new institutional contexts deriving from them that it is
possible to attribute the true meaning of Iamblichus/Photius’ words. What
remains to be explained, were this not just a vain hope, is if the specification
τῆς ἐν Ῥώμῃ was either a part of the boorish propaganda by Sohaemus like
his Achaemenian descent or if it represents a suggestive allusion by Iamb-
lichus to the arrogant nature of that person.

4. The contents of the ÕπατεÛα.

As David BRAUND emphasized in a monograph dedicated to the recon-

struction of the figure of the typical ‘friendly King:’
Under the Principate, from Gaius on, kings had gifts explicitly linked to the
curule office evoked by the gifts of the Republic: ornamenta praetoria and

ALFÖLDY 1977, 195, 320. Sohaemus is included in the list of the “nicht näher datierte
Konsuln zwischen 161 und 168,” but in the text it is said that he might have been made
consul “möglicherweise schon vor 161.” IBID., 320 his Syriac descent is rightly taken for
granted, but the only descents explicitly cited are the Achaemenian and Parthian ones.
Kings - —πατοι 77

ornamenta consularia. The first king known to have received either is Ag-
rippa I, who held ornamenta praetoria in the reign of Gaius. At the beginn-
ing of the next reign, Claudius awarded the same king ornaments consularia
and additions to his kingdom. At the same time, Agrippa’s brother received
ornamenta praetoria. A dedication from Heliopolis describes Sohaemus of
Emesa as honoratus ornamentis consularibus: when he received them is un-
certain. The last king known to have received the honour is Agrippa II of
Judaea who was given ornamenta praetoria by Vespasian when he came to
Borne in AD 75.148
The situation of the kings of Armenia, Edessa and of Odainath of
Palmyra and his family is very different from the one of the ‘friendly King’
outlined by BRAUND, i.e. of Agrippa I and II of Judaea, the alpine Cottius and
of the Thracian Cotys. In the east, on the borders with the Parthian reign
formal acts having a merely ornamental value were of no significance. The
protracted conflict against Armenia entailed the creation of a new typology
of international relations inside Rome’s imperium. These relations might be
defined in many ways: by resorting to the Greek concept of hegemonia,149
‘protectorate’ or, as recently proposed, to the one of ‘Teilreich.’
Unter “Teilreich” verstehe ich ein Herrschaftsgebiet eines formal legitimier-
ten Machthabers, der unter Anerkennung der Superiorität des Augustus in
Rom kaiserliche Aufgaben in einem Reichsteil als Kaiserstellvertreter im In-
teresse der Sicherheit des Gebiets übernimmt. Der Regent spaltet sein
Machtgebiet nicht vom Reich ab, sondern regiert formal im Auftrag des
I substantially agree with this formulation by Udo HARTMANN. My inter-
pretation of this phenomenon differs from his, as the German scholar main-
tains that the Palmyrene ‘Teilreich’ started precisely during the Soldaten-
kaiserzeit, while in my opinion Armenia had represented a ‘Teilreich’ ever
since Nero’s time, as I have shown above, while Palmyra always had a
privata sors between the two empires.151 What changed during the 3rd cen-

BRAUND 1984, 29.
LEMOSSE 1967, cf. supra.
HARTMANN 2001, 10.
Argumentations about this are widely expressed in GNOLI 2000. I am less confident than
HARTMANN in the evaluation of loyalty in the relations between ‘Teilreich’ and imperi-
um: power balances existing in various actual single situations must have produced very
different results.
78 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

tury was the emergence of the family of Odainath and the disintegration of
the Roman state in the East.
The situation was the following: the relationships between Rome and the
autonomous local powers in the Near East were the result of an extremely
inconstant alchemy, as always happens when it is a question of relations
between non equals not guaranteed by stable rules under external control.
The autonomy of the local powers depended on the good will of Rome to re-
spect treaties on the one hand and on the capability of the Parthian neigh-
bours to compel Rome to respect the agreements on the other hand. The
stronger the Parthians the more Rome was compelled to grant autonomy to
buffer states at the borders between the two empires, thus any derogation
from the formal autonomy granted by Rome to these countries was liable to
provoke an outbreak of conflicts between the two empires. On the contrary
when the Parthians were in trouble either because of dynastic matters or be-
cause of the eastern regions of their empire, then Rome almost always be-
came more aggressive against the small eastern local powers, whose
autonomy was thus restricted both formally and substantially.
Rome possessed limited conceptual devices to approach the problem of
the ‘client kings,’ and so it could only equate them with the highest Roman
authorities from a formal point of view, and this had been the case since re-
publican times. BRAUND has shown how the relationship between consular
insignia and those of the kings were very close and dated back to the dawn
of the Republic.152 Thus from a formal point of view kings who were friends
and allies of Rome were granted the insignia due to praetors and in the most
important cases even those due to consuls. Vologeses was in a position to
demand that his brother were given no meaningless ornamenta but the true
substance of consulship, its effective powers, i.e. the hypateia. His brother
Tiridates was thus at the same level as the legati Augusti pro praetore next
to him, i.e. he was attributed a hypateia just like theirs.
As for Rome, it recognized this hypateia, but the emperor always pre-
served the right to consider the kings of Armenia, Edessa and even the
people and senate of Palmyra and its chief like any other ‘friendly king’ and
thus to limit or even revoke at will their powers and functions. It is no coin-

BRAUND 1984. The bibliography on this theme is endless, let me recall two works that
should have appeared in BRAUND’s bibliography: DE FRANCISCI 1947; DE MARTINO 1972.
Kings - —πατοι 79

cidence that during the Severian era, when the Parthian empire started to
break up under the attacks by the legions of Septimius Severus and of the
Sassanian rebels the princedom of Edessa was progressively absorbed by
Rome and its autonomy was only periodically guaranteed.153
As far as we know, Rome never fully codified the hypateia it was ready
to grant to the local powers in the Roman Near East, altough this may be the
result merely of our lack of documentation. It is actually possible to main-
tain that some degree of formalization of the concept actually did exist: in an
official document written in Greek a hypateia is mentioned, the hypateia of
Edessa, which had been attributed to three equestrian officials.154 More or
less simultaneously in the Near East a strange compound appears which des-
ignates sites of particular relevance from an administrative point of view:
μητροκωλονεÛα, μητροκωμÛα, where next to Greek-Roman administrative
terms the first element of the compounds, μητρο-, can perhaps be traced
back to an ancient Semitic use.155 It is possible that in Severian times the
great law school of Berytus attempted to set a rule governing these aspects
of interstatal relationships. This way a transition was achieved from a first
phase, in which the ornamenta consularia in themselves were sufficient to
define to some extent the granting of autonomy to client kings, to a second
phase, in which the effective contents of those autonomies were hypostas-
ized into a concept, that of hypateia, which became an ontologically and
conceptually defined function to be granted to kings.156

LUTHER 1999; GNOLI 2000; ROSS 2001.
I am talking about PEuphr. about which cf. GNOLI 2000, passim.
Cf. also, e. g., P2 cited supra, p. 1. On the Roman colonies in the Near East: MILLAR
1990. On the metrokomiai SARTRE 1999; SARTRE 2001, 739, 776-779. On the Semitic
origin of the concept of metrocolony cf. NEHMÉ, VILLENEUVE 1999, 36.
On the assumption of the royal title by Odainath and his sons, cf. infra.
Kings – ‘King of Kings’

The royal titles of ‘King of Kings’ and of ‘Great King’ derive from the
Iranian Achaemenian, or Parthian, or Sassanian worlds, but their origin can
actually be dated back to the Assyrian and Median worlds, as among many
others Henri FRANKFORT and Gwyn GRIFFITHS157 were able to demonstrate in
their classical works. Nevertheless it is certain that during Roman imperial
times the ideological meaning of these titles was ultemately clearly differen-
tiated on the basis of a long process that had taken place particularly in Hel-
lenistic times, the investigation of whose mechanism is beyond our present
scope.158 While a good number of oriental dynasts were titled Great Kings
starting from the sovereigns of Pontus and Armenia and ranging to those of
Commagene or Judaea, none of them ever took the title of ‘King of Kings’
in Roman imperial times, as the latter title was considered to be exclusively
due first to the Arsacid birthright and then to the Sassanian one. The inex-
haustible universal aspirations of Ctesiphon, which were shared by the Arsa-
cid dynasty as much as by the Sassanian royal house,159 found their more dir-
ect and clear expression in this title, which is also unequivocally testified at
the beginning of ŠKZ:
I am the Mazdā-worshipping divine160 Šābuhr, King of Kings of Aryans and

FRANKFORT 1948; GRIFFITHS 1953. A full discussion of this subject in SCHÄFER 1974. Cf.
HARTMANN 2001, 181-183.
MUCCIOLI 2001, 2004.
WOLSKI 1982; KETTENHOFEN 1984; GNOLI 1991; KETTENHOFEN 2002; GNOLI forth. a.
About the term bay in the Sassanian and Graeco-Roman titles and political ideology cf.
PANAINO 2003, 281: “In short, the Sassanian ideological propaganda was partly simpli-
fied and deliberately translated and adapted according to the Roman and Hellenistic
political language of royal power, although the process did not proceed without incon-
sistencies. Indeed it is well known that the use of bay (as referred to living kings) did
82 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

non-Aryans, of the race of the gods, son of the Mazdā-worshipping divine

Ardašīr, King of Kings of the Aryans, of the race of the gods, grandson of
the King Papak, I am the Lord of the Aryan nation (transl. LIEU).161
This title, clearly considered of Iranian origin and thus perceived also by
Rome, in a certain moment in time was usurped by the Palmyrene dynasts,
who were obviously not entitled to claim to any link either with the new
Sassanian sovereigns or with the recently dethroned Arsacids.
Available evidence in support of such usurpation is extremely scarce, but
significant. The texts are well known and raise a number of problems, that
are fiercely debated by scholars and which involve important aspects for the
interpretation of the Palmyrene vicissitudes.

1. Inv. III 3162

Palmyra, honorary inscription from a niche in the Tetrapylon.

[Β]ασιλεῖ βασιλÔων πρÙς [Ὀρ]ıντῃ [... βα]σιλεÛας τὴν κατÏ | [Π]ε[ρ]-
σῶν νεῖκην ἀναδησαμÔνῳ Σεπ[τιμÛῳ Ἡρωδι]ανῷ, Ἰο˜λιος ΑÃρήλιος |
[ΣεπτÛ]μιος Ο[Ã]ο[ρ]˘δης [καÚ Ἰο˜λιος ΑÃρήλιος (?) .... ἐπÛτροπος τῆς
δ]εσ(π)|οÛνης κεντηνÌ[ριος] ἀμφıτεροι στρα[τηγοÚ τῆς λαμ]προτÌτης |
(This statue is dedicated) to the King of Kings, [having received?] the roy-
alty near the Orontes, crowned for victory over the Persians, Septimius Hero-

not correspond to that of divus among the Romans (as referred to deceased kings), but
the continuity of the Hellenistic tradition made possible the (different and asymmetric)
use of θεıς for divus, so that θεıς became the best ‘political’ translation of bay. We
can simply state that θεıς comes midway between bay and divus, but does not precisely
correspond to either;” PANAINO 2004, in partic. 557-559; About the actual Sassanian roy-
al titles cf. now HUYSE 2006.
DODGEON, LIEU 1991, 34. ŠKZ l. 1 of the Parthian Greek versions, the Middle Persian
text, almost completely faded away, has been reconstructed on the other two versions:
cf. HUYSE 1999, 22: Az, mazdēsn baɣ Šābuhr, šāhān šāh Ērān ud Anērān, kē čihr až
yazdān, puhr mazdēsn baɣ Ardašīr, šāhān šāh Ērān, kē čihr až yazdān, puhrēpuhr baɣ
Pābag šāh, Ērānšahr xwadāy ahēm. ἐγὼ μασδασασνης θεÙς Σαπ˘ρης, βασιλεˆς
βασιλÔων Ἀριανῶν καÚ Ἀναριανῶν, ἐκ γÔνους θεῶν, Õιıς μασδασασνου θεοῦ
ἈρταξÌρου βασιλÔως βεσιλÔων Ἀριανῶν ἐκ γÔνους θεῶν, ἔγγονος θεοῦ ΠαπÌκου
βασιλÔως τοῦ Ἀριανῶν ἔθνου[ς κ˜ριıς εἰμ]ι.
IGRR III 1032; SEYRIG 1937; SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 38; GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 255 n° 10;
HARTMANN 2001, 114 n. 198, 468; YOUNG 2001, 236.
Kings - ‘King of Kings’ 83

dianus, by Julius Aurelius Septimius Vorodes and [Julius Aurelius .... pro-
curator] of the Queen, centenarius, both strategoi of the illustrious colony
(transl. LIEU).163
It is useful to emphasize from the outset that Inv. III 3 is a text of very di-
fficult and (equally uncertain) reading and so much more than customary
caution must be exercised. The above cited version of the Greek text is the
most complete in existence and is the reading cautiously advanced by Daniel
In accordance with such a reading, the inscription possibly represents
evidence of the assumption of the Iranian title of ‘King of Kings’ by a cer-
tain Septimius Herodianus, who can certainly be identified with both Septi-
mius Ḥairān, the eldest son of Odainath, who is known from some Palmy-
rene inscriptions,164 and with the Herodes attested in the Historia Augusta.165
According to SCHLUMBERGER this inscription should have been posed after
Odainath’s death, certainly in 267/268, as the reconstruction of the title of
ἐπÛτροπος τῆς δεσποÛνης κεντηνÌριος in lines 3-4 of the inscription and
borne by the second and unknown dedicating person demonstrates. It is dif-
ficult to maintain that Zenobia possibly had officials acting in her name
when Odainath was still alive.166 This inscription, as it has been reconstruc-
ted, contains the memory of a victory over the Persians at the Orontes cer-
tainly in 261/262 A. D., following the second ἀγωγή by Šābuhr in Syria.
These lay at the origin of the assumption of the royal title and were suppor-
ted by the Historia Augusta.167 Ultimately, one of the two dedicators of the
inscription was probably Iulius Aurelius Septimius Vorōd , a very popular

DODGEON, LIEU 1991, 77, based on the translation by GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 255 n° 10.
PAT 0290 = CIS II 3944 = Inv. III 16; SEYRIG 1963, 161-162 fig. 1 = GAWLIKOWSKI 1985,
254 n° 5 = HARTMANN 2001, 103 n. 162, 467; SEYRIG 1963, 161-162 fig. 2 = GAWLIKOW-
SKI 1985, 254 n° 6 = HARTMANN 2001, 103 n. 163, 468.
H. A., Gall. 13, 1; tyr. tr., 15,2-16. The identification Ḥairān/Herodianos/Herodes is fin-
ally strongly supported by HARTMANN 2001, in particular 109-116, with a number of fitt-
ing argumentations, and shall be considered as certain.
Actually with reference to the narration in H. A., tyr. tr., 15, there was some confusion
between the victory over the Persians and the one by Odainath at Emesa on the Orontes
in 261 over the usurpers Quietus and Ballista: SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 42. The question re-
mains open: why should he adopt an Iranian title after this event?
84 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

person belonging to the highest ranks of the Palmyrene aristocracy, who I

shall treat at length in a later chapter dedicated to him.168
This reading of the inscription and the underlying interpretation of the
Palmyrene vicissitudes cannot be sustained in toto and as far as I know no
scholar has fully done so. The problem of the dating of the text, which is in-
compatible with the certain data of Vorōd’s career, is particularly serious.
Far from being an inscription posed after Odainath’s death, the text should
be chronologically located in the vicinity of 262/264 A. D., during which
Vorōd was a duumvir.169 Since Odainath was alive and well, or indeed at the
height of his power at that time, the reading of lines 3-4 is questionable. In
particular the reading “the father of the queen”170 has been proposed, but
also this interpretation appears unsatisfactory, as it would imply that Antio-
chus, father of Zenobia, was (procurator) centenarius, which does not ap-
pear to be the case.
I cannot say whether the mention of the δÔσποινα in ll. 3-4 will be
kept,171 I certainly think I can affirm that such a reading is not compatible
with the preceding mention of Vorōd. Not only, also the integration of the
name of this person is anything but certain and it is only tentatively pro-

Cf. infra, Chap. 3.
SEYRIG 1937: 261/264; INGHOLT 1976, 135: 262; GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 256 n° 10: 260/262;
MILLAR 1990, 45: 265/267; POTTER 1990, 385: 262; WILL 1992, 177: 261; WILL 1996,
112-113: 260/261; EQUINI SCHNEIDER 1993, 32: 262; KOTULA 1997, 102; 262; WATSON
1999, 230 n. 31: 262; HARTMANN 2001, 178: 263/264; YON 2002, 148: 260/262. We are
always talking about dates that are more or less explicitly calculated on Septimius
Vorōd’s career.
INGHOLT 1976, 135: Ζηνıβιος πατὴρ τῆς δ]εσ(π)|οÛνης; KOTULA 1997, 105 on the con-
trary substitutes the name Zenobios with the one of the true father of Zenobia, Anti-
ochos, whose complete name would thus be Aurelius Septimius Antiochus, but he is
named simply Antiochus in PAT 0317, cf. infra, p. 90.
YON 2002, 143 n. 74 gives it as a fact. On the contrary SCHLUMBERGER restores the term
only on the basis of the last two letters, the only ones he was able to read! SCHLUMBER-
GER 1942, 38: “la termination HC ne peut être alors que celle d’un génitif féminin. Le
seul que j’aie su trouver est celui du mot δÔσποινα, compatible non seulement avec les
vestiges visibles au début de la ligne 4, mais aussi avec deux sommets de lettres ar-
rondis, qui n’avaient pas été remarqués, à la fin de la ligne 3, et où nous aurions les
restes d’un epsilon et d’un sigma. Entre le sigma supposé et le bord de l’inscription, le-
quel est formé par la saillie d’une console il rest, à vrai dire, très peu de place pour un
pi. Mais peut-être admettra-t-on que cette lettre finale a pu être gravée plus petite, ou
Kings - ‘King of Kings’ 85

posed by SCHLUMBERGER172 and before him by Charles CLERMONT-

GANNEAU.173 In my opinion Vorōd has been dragged in this text for the cer-
tain reading of κεντηνÌ[ριος in l. 4, a term surely referring to an ἐπÛτρο-
πος. Attention should be paid, however, as also in SCHLUMBERGER’s recon-
struction it is not Vorōd who is ἐπÛτροπος, as he is actually known only as
δουκηνÌριος, but the other anonymous dedicator, whose presence is sure
because of ἀμφıτεροι at l. 4, the latter also being a certain reading.
But this is not sufficient, the uncertain reading of l. 1, very cautiously ad-
vanced by SCHLUMBERGER, πρıς Ὀρıντῃ,174 has become a fixed and incon-
trovertible point in any reconstruction of the history of Palmyra and of the
assumption of the royal title by Odainath and his son. However this reading
too appears uncertain und frought with difficulty.
Michal GAWLIKOWSKI, in his translation “Au roi des rois, [ayant reçu] près
de [l’Or]onte la royauté, couronné pour la victoire sur les Perses,”175 follows
SCHLUMBERGER’s counsel to insert a participle with the genitive in the la-
cuna.176 If this proposed integration has not been accepted by everyone, it is
due to the great difficulty of imagining such a disordered and badly con-
structed sentence could exist: thus the three appositions of the honoured per-
son were: 1) βασιλεῖ βασιλÔων; 2) πρÙς Ὀρıντῃ †ξιωμÔνῳ βασιλεÛας;
3) τὴν κατÏ Περσῶν νεÛκην ἀναδησαμÔνῳ.177

SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 36: “dans la lacune qui précède l’oméga, je distingue la trace
d’une lettre ronde, où j’incline à voir le reste de l’omicron de ΟÃορ˘δης plutôt que ce-
lui de la pause du my de Συμ˘νης, car entre la dite trace et l’oméga il y a place suffis-
ante pour loger une lettre. Après l’oméga je crois avoire aperçu, à la faveur d’un éclar-
age frisant, les vestiges des trois lettres: ΔΗC.”
CLERMONT-GANNEAU 1900, 194-201. The proposal by CLERMONT-GANNEAU was rejected
by Jean CANTINEAU (in Inv. III 3) and before him by SEYRIG 1937.
SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 35: “il est tentant de lire πρÙς [Ὀρ]ıντῃ. Les lectures πρıς et
οντη avaient été proposées par M. Seyrig.” The reading by SEYRIG is also very difficult:
SEYRIG 1937, 1 n. 2: “après βασιλÔων, tout semble indiquer que l’on doit lire προσ;
puis vient une lacune de deux lettres, puis un omicron ou un oméga, puis sans doute
GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 255 n° 10.
SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 35: “Il est donc vraisemblable que le passage perdu ... et que ter-
mine le mot [βα]σιλεÛας est aussi une apposition dans laquelle ne pouvait guère man-
quer de se trouver un participe au datif gouvernant βασιλεÛας, comme ἀναδησαμÔνῳ
gouverne τὴν νεÛκην .... Je me borne à observer que des termes tels que τετειμημÔνῳ
ou †ξιωμÔνῳ s’accorderaient à la lacune.”
Particularly unsuitable is the ‘dancing’ position of the two participles and the unexpec-
86 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Under these conditions some have preferred to intepret the geographical

determination as referring to the title βασιλεˆς βασιλε˘ν (“to the King of
Kings who is on [or at] the Orontes”).178 This very strange combination
between a declared universalistic title with an extremely narrow geographic-
al limitation has usually been explained on the basis of the fact that it was at
the Orontes that Herodianus won his victory over the Persians, which origin-
ated the assumption of this royal title.179 But is it possible that such a concept
could be summed up by means of such an unfair and frankly quite unde-
cipherable expression? ΣεπτÛμιος ἩρωδιανÙς βασιλεˆς βασιλÔων πρÙς
Ὀρıντῃ is much similar to some L. Septimius Severus imperator Augustus
apud Carnuntum!
One further difficulty: if the idea that Herodianus/Ḥairān took the title of
‘King of Kings’ after a victory he had won over the Persians is correct, then
the fact that in Palmyra two ‘Kings of Kings’ existed contemporaneously
would have to be admitted, i.e. Odainath and his son Ḥairān.180 SCHLUMBER-
GER was quite aware of this difficulty:

Logiquement, dans un même royaume, ce titre n’aurait dû être porté que par
un seul roi à la fois. Mais à défaut de monuments qui permettent de s’assurer
de l’usage de toutes ces monarchies, les monnaies des dynasties parthes et
saces de l’Inde montrent que ce nom, dès le premier siècle avant notre ère,
s’était avili, et pouvait ne rien désigner de plus que le simple titre royal.
C’est ainsi qu’Azès I et son futur successeur Azilisès s’intitulent l’un et
l’autre roi des rois, sur la même monnaie; et il en est de même pour Azilisès

ted meaning that ἀναδÔω + acc. = ‘I crown myself for something’ would acquire. Even
worse would be obviously the solution to render πρÙς Ὀρıντῃ as being directly
depending on the participle ἀναδησαμÔνῳ, without any insertion of any further parti-
ciple into the lacuna (“who assumed at the Orontes ..... the kingship after his victory
over the Persians”), as the construction would be practically incomprehensible.
POTTER 1990, 393; WILL 1992, 177; WATSON 1999, 32: in their opinion Ḥairān had re-
ceived the title next (or at) Antiochia.
So, e. g., SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 42, referring the event to the only known episode of the
war, the battle of Emesa. Emesa lays far from the Orontes, anyway. Obviously πρÙς
Ὀρıντῃ cannot be referred to the geographical range on which the βασÛλεια of Hero-
dianos was extended, as Palmyra is very far from the river flowing through Antiochia.
It is not possible to admit that Herodianus/Ḥairān took the title after his father’s death
because of a twofold reason: 1) the H. A. affirms that Odainath was killed together with
his son Herodes; 2) a title like the one Herodianus assumed could not hint at anything
else but a designated succession of Herodianus/Ḥairān to his father Odainath. Only the
contemporary death of the former can explain his failed succession to his father.
Kings - ‘King of Kings’ 87

et son futur successeur Azès II. Dans la monarchie sassanide, d’autre part, à
l’époque même dont nous nous occupons, le gouverneur du Khorassan, fils
et héritier présomptif du roi des rois, porte le titre de «grand roi des roi, des
Kouchans». Il ne serait donc pas prudent d’affirmer qu’à Palmyre un père et
un fils n’aient pu être appelés simultanément roi des rois.181
It is easy to envisage the difference existing between a title like ‘King of
Kings of the Kushans’ (which was actually attested in periods later than
those to which this inscription is attributed) and ‘King of Kings at the
Orontes.’ Moreover a source that is external to the Palmyrene vicissitudes
and certainly to be preferred in respect to this uncertain inscription explains
beyond all doubt the character of the title ‘King of Kings’ attributed to
Odainath:182 the assumption of the Iranian royal title had the purely anti-Per-
sian aim of claiming a right of succession to the throne of the by then almost
extinguished Arsacid dynasty. It is evident that, given the ideological back-
ground of this usurpation of the royal Sassanian title by Odainath, it is im-
possible to hypothesize an eccentric, diminished or peripheral use of the title
of the heir to the throne of the Palmyrene dynast.
Herodianus/Ḥairān/Herodes actually took the royal title together with his
father Odainath, as the Historia Augusta affirms. This is unequivocally testi-
fied by a lead token from Antiochia183 as well as by the inscriptions cited
above at n. 164. In all these documents Herodianus/Ḥairān is always called
βασιλε˜ς, but never βασιλεˆς βασιλÔων.184
We are actually uncertain even about the name of the dedicator of the in-
scription. The integration Σεπ[τιμÛῳ Ἡρωδι]ανῷ is exclusively based on
the first reading by BERTONE, a cultivated traveller who supplied the materi-
als from which the works by Charles CLERMONT-GANNEAU, Jean-Baptiste
CHABOT and René CAGNAT originated, and which states ΣεπτιμÛῳ Ἡρω-
δ[ια]νῷ. Nevertheless, when in 1942 SCHLUMBERGER read the inscription
again, he had to admit that “la pierre a souffert depuis lors.”185 The accuracy
of BERTONE’s reading on this point has never been questioned, altough

Cf. infra, pp. 92-93.
SEYRIG 1937, 3 pl. VI; cf. HARTMANN 2001, 114 n. 199.
HARTMANN 2001, 177 n. 54: “Einen einfachen Königstitel führt Herodianus auf einer un-
datierten Bleibulle aus Antiochia” is misleading.
SCHLUMBERGER 1942, 35 n. 4.
88 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

SCHLUMBERGER was able to see an alpha of Herodianos which was concealed

from BERTONE.186
To conclude, we cannot affirm that in Inv. III 3 Ḥairān, Vorōd, or the
δÔσποινα Zenobia are mentioned, either together or separately. We are cer-
tain about the mention of a King of Kings, which should lead us to think of
either Odainath or his son Vaballath.

2. Inscription from the ‘Camp of Diocletian’187

Reused stone in the ‘Camp of Diocletian’ originally the drum of a
…|[…τ]ῆς πıλεω[ς … τοῦ] | [… …]θου βασιλÔως βασιλÔων | [… …]Ùν
πÌρινον ἩλÛου πατρῴου | [θεοῦ …να]Ùν τῶν Σεβαστῶν καÚ καθιερ˘|-
[σαντα … …]ιανου καÚ αÃτοκρÌτορος | [… … τειμ]ῆς καÚ μεγαλοφρο-
σ˜νης ἔνεκεν.
[... ...] of the city [... ... of NP]188 the king of kings [... ... ...] of marble of He-
lios the ancestral [god ... ... ... the tem]ple of the Augusti189 and he dedi[cated
... ... ... of ...]ianos and of the emperor [... ... ...190 in his hon]our and because
of his greatness of mind [transl. KAIZER].

Note that the reading by BERTONE of l. 3 has been completely changed by SCHLUMBER-
GER. BERTONE was just able to read: [.....]λιος C[..]ω[- - -.
MICHALOWSKI 1960, 208 n° 2; GAWLIKOWSKI 1973, 100; HARTMANN 2001, 176 n. 53; KAI-
ZER 2002, 149.
The termination of the name fits equally well both Odainath and Vaballath, nevertheless
the theta is not so clear and it has been omitted by KAIZER 2002, 149. The proposal by
MILIK 1972, 316 to read Herodianus, is certainly to be rejected, also without the support
of theta, cf. supra. HARTMANN 2001, 176 n. 53 is much more inclined towards Odainath.
The integration ναÙν τῶν Σεβαστῶν, already proposed by the discoverer MICHALOWSKI,
has been accepted by MILIK, BOWERSOCK 1976, 353, KAIZER, doubtfully by HARTMANN,
but rejected by GAWLIKOWSKI. About the imperial cult in Palmyra cf. KAIZER 2002, par-
tic. 148-151.
The proposal of integration by MILIK: καÚ καθιερ˘[σαντα τÏς ἀνδριÌντας ΚαισÌρου
ΑÃρηλ]ιανοῦ καÚ αÃτοκρÌτορος [ΟÃαβαλλÌθου Ἀθηνοδ˘ρου] is not to be suppor-
ted, as the qualifications of ‘Aurelianus Caesar’ and ‘Vaballathus imperator’ are not at-
tested anywhere. The singular αÃτοκρÌτωρ compells to search for some other title for
[-]ιανοῦ. Furthermore this reading is uncertain, since GAWLIKOWSKI only reports [-]νου.
An integration such as καÚ καθιερ˘[σαντα τÏς ἀνδριÌντας Σεβαστοῦ ΑÃρηλ]ιανοῦ
καÚ αÃτοκρÌτορος [ΟÃαβαλλÌθου Ἀθηνοδ˘ρου] is equally not satisfying and not at-
tested elsewhere. However the reading [-]ιανοῦ, if it is confirmed, prevents us from any
integration transforming that word in a genitive matching with the following καÚ αÃτο-
Kings - ‘King of Kings’ 89

Given the condition of the inscription, it is not possible to tell if the

‘King of Kings’ mentioned there is either Odainath or Vaballath, nor it is
possible to tell if this inscription was posed before or after the mysterious
death of Odainath. My preference for Odainath is due to the fact that in the
inscription something belonging to the ‘God Helios’ (it might be either a
statue, or a column, or a temple) is mentioned. The Thirteenth Sibylline Or-
acle, as is well known, runs thus:191
another will come, a well-horned hungry stag in the mountains desiring to
feed his stomach with the venom-spitting beasts; then will come the sun-sent,
dreadful, fearful lion, breathing much fire. With great and reckless courage
he will destroy the well-horned swift stag and the great, venom-spitting, fear-
some beast discharging many shafts and the bow-footed goat; fame will at-
tend him; perfect, unblemished, and awesome, he will rule the Romans and
the Persians will be feeble [transl. POTTER].192
The juxtapposition of the ἡλιıπεμπτος δεινıς τε φοβερıς τε λÔων
πνεÛων φλıγα πολλήν Odainath and the offering to the god Sun/Šamāš in
this inscription seems very stimulating to me.193

3. PAT 0292, 0317

PAT 0292:194 Palmyra, consolle in the Great Colonnade:

ṣlm spṭmyws ʾdy[nt] mlk mlkʾ | wtmqnnʾ dy mdnḥʾ klh spṭmyʾ | zbdʾ rb ḥylʾ rbʾ
wzby rb ḥylʾ | dy tdmwr qrṭsṭʾ ʾqym lmrhwn | byrḥ ʾb dy šnt 5.100 + 80 + 2.
Statue of Septimius Odainat, King of Kings and restitutor totius Orientis,
and Septimius Zabdā, chief commander and Zabbai, commander of Tadmor,
viri egregii, have erected for their lord in the month Ab in the year 582 [Sel.
= August 271 A. D.].

POTTER 1990, particularly 341-346.
Or. Sib. XIII 164-171 (210, GEFFCKEN): τότ’ ἐλεύσεται ἡλιόπεμπτος | δεινός τε
φοβερός τε λέων πνείων φλόγα πολλήν. | δὴ τόθ’ ὅ γ’ α“τ’ ¿λέσει πολλῇ καÚ
ἀναιδέι τόλμῃ | εÃκεράωτ’ ἔλαφόν τε θοÙν καÚ θῆρα μέγιστον | ἰοβόλον φοβερÙν
συρίγματα πόλλ’ ἀφιέντα | λοξοβάτην τε τράγον, ἐπÚ δ’ αÃτῷ κῦδος ¿πηδεῖ· |
αÃτÙς δὴ ¡λόκληρος ἀλώβητος καÚ ἄπλητος | ἄρξει Ῥωμαίων, Πέρσαι δ’ ἔσσοντ’
On the solar cult in Palmyra cf. KAIZER 2002, 154-157.
CIS II 3946 = Inv. III 19; cf. GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 256 n° 11; HARTMANN 2001, 146 n. 78;
YOUNG 2001, 236, defective translation.
90 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

PAT 0317:195 milepost from the suburbs of Palmyra:

… … …] | […. κ]α[Ú ÕπÓρ σω]|τηρÛας ΣεπτιμÛας Ζηνο|βÛας τῆς
λαμπροτÌτης ‖ βασιλÛσσης μητρÙς τοῦ | βασιλÔως, […]υ[…]
ʿl ḥ[ywh] wz[kwth dy] spṭymyws | whlbt ʾtndr[ws nhy]rʾ mlk mlkʾ | wʾpnrtṭʾ
dy mdnḥʾ klh br | spṭ[ymy]ws [ʾdynt mlk] mlkʾ wʿl || ḥyh dy spṭymyʾ btzby
nhyrtʾ | mlktʾ ʾmh dy mlk mlkʾ | bt ʾnṭywkws m<yl> 10 + 4
... and for the safety of Septimia Zenobia, clarissima queen mother of the
King ....
For the safety and victory of Septimius Vaballathus Athenodorus, claris-
simus King of Kings and corrector totius Orientis, son of Septimius [Odain-
at, King] of Kings, and for the life of Septimia Bat-Zabbai, clarissima
Queen, mother of the King of Kings, daughter of Antiochos, miles 14.
In these two texts, both written after the death of Odainath, the latter and
his son are both qualified with the Sassanian royal title of mlk mlkʾ: ‘King of
Kings.’ Besides this title in PAT 0292 Odainath is called tmqnnʾ dy mdnḥʾ
klh, while in PAT 0317 Vaballath is called ʾpnrtṭʾ dy mdnḥʾ klh. I have
already expressed elsewhere my opinion about the different titles assumed
by father and son on the two documents (mind you, both posed under the
reign of the son and almost contemporaneously).196 In my opinion it is meth-
odologically necessary to acknowledge a difference in meaning between the
substantive in the derived emphatic state as derived from the addition of the
ending ān to the participle pael of the verb tqn, which exists both in Aramaic
and in Hebrew, with the substantial meaning of “to put in order, to straighten
out” and the term ʾpnrṭṭʾ, a simple transliteration of the Greek ἐπανορθω-
τής. The difference between the two terms is the same as that which exists
in Latin between restitutor and corrector, between the action of an emperor
and the function of one of his subordinates.197 In the refined political ideo-

CIS II 3971 = WADD. 2628 = IGRR III 1028 = OGIS 649; YOUNG 2001, 178, only
GNOLI 2000, 153.
Cf. CANTINEAU 1931, SWAIN 1993; contra CLERMONT-GANNEAU 1920; POTTER 1996; HART-
MANN 2001, 149: “Die Titel der beiden Dynasten stehen in den palmyrenischen Inschrif-
ten an der gleichen Stelle nach dem Königstitel .... Die Begriffe mtqnnʾ und ʾpnrtṭʾ
werden hier offensichtlich synonym verwendet, beide Herrscher beanspruchten also
dieselbe Titulatur.” However, as I have already affirmed, GNOLI 2000, 153 n. 88, the
very perfect identity of titles in both official and contemporary documents makes the di-
fference between the two terms employed there particularly significant, which is sign of
the graduality of power in the sense I have explained ad loc.
Kings - ‘King of Kings’ 91

logy of Zenobia/Vaballath, the continuity of action by the son towards his

father was meant to ensure the benevolence of the new emperor, Aurelianus.
Both the father and the son are called ‘King of Kings.’ Odainath assumed
the royal title at the same time as his victory over the Persians. This fact, of
great importance for all the Palmyrene vicissitudes, is actually not attested in
a direct and unequivocal way in any source contemporary with the life of
Odainath, and so it is always possible to maintain that the royal title had not
been taken by the Palmyrene dynast but rather by his son, the usurper Vabal-
lath, who ‘dated it back’ to his father. The oft-cited inscription found on a
crater discovered in the sanctuary of Abgal in Ḫirbat Samrīn, in the
‘Palmyrène du nord-ouest,’ which actually qualifies Odainath by means of
the title mlk, cannot solve the highly controversial point of the dating, as it is
Only the Historia Augusta unequivocally affirms that Odainath assumed
the royal title even though it is contradictory between the title either of King
of Palmyra or of Roman emperor, and furthermore it is doubtful whether the
assumption of the kingship took place before, during or after the expedition
by Odainath against Šābuhr in 261/62.199 I am among those who maintain
that Odainath took the royal title and did so in agreement with the Roman
authorities. Pursuing a longthy policy of growing autonomy during which he
had slowly usurped the senatorial titles over the period of at least one decade
and following a clever interpretation of the ÕπατεÛα, by the assumption of
the royal title, which from the outside was configured as the assumption of
titles due to the Arsacid and Sassanian kings, he completed the process.200 I

PAT 1684 = SCHLUMBERGER 1951, 60 n° 36, 151 n° 21. The possible datings matching
with the lacuna are 573 (= 261/62), 578 (= 266/67) and 583 (= 271/72). Cf. HARTMANN
2001, 177 n. 55, who tends to support 266/67, but without any decisive arguments.
H. A. tyr. tr., 15, 2: adsumpto nomine primum regali cum uxore Zenobia et filio maiore,
cui erat nomen Herodes, minoribus Herenniano et [a] Timolao collecto exercitu contra
Persas profectus est; 15, 5: Herode, qui et ipse post reditum de Perside cum patre im-
perator est appellatus; H. A., Gall., 3, 3: totius prope Orientis factus est Odenatus im-
perator; 10, 1: Gallieno et Saturninus conss. Odaenatus rex Palmyrenorum optinuit to-
tius orientis imperium; 12, 1: Odenatum participato imperio Augustum vocavit; 13, 1:
Herode, quem et ipsum imperatorem appellaverat, etc. The tradition attested in the epi-
tomators (EKG ?) ignores the assumption of the royal title by Odainath. Full discussion
in HARTMANN 2001, passim.
A most extensive description of this process of growing autonomy of Odainath in GNOLI
92 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

think that the logic underlying the events should lead us to situate the as-
sumption of the Sassanian royal title after the victory over the Persians, thus
far away from the Orontes, and indeed well inside the enemy’s territory.201
The assumption of the title of ‘King of Kings’ by Odainath should be
considered as an extreme action organized by Gallienus in an attempt to stop
the breakup of the oriental provinces after the devastating Persian attacks.
The project by the emperor aimed at establishing command over the whole
East and at the same time claiming the Arsacid throne in the face of the
Sasanian usurpation.
The dynastic claim hidden beneath the title of ‘King of Kings’ assumed
by Odainath is supported with certainty in a passage of the Babylonian
Talmud (Seder Nashim, Ketuboth 51b):
Rabbi Judah affirmed: kidnapped women are allowed to their husbands.
“But” the Rabbi told the Rabbi Judah, “They bring them some bread, do they
not?” – They do it for fear. “They take them arrows, do they not?” – They do
it for fear. However it is certain that they are forbidden (to their husbands) if
the kidnappers free them and they go to them of their own free wills.
Our Rabbi thought: The prisoners of the king have got the status of ordinary
prisoners, but those who are kidnapped by highwaymen are not considered as
ordinary prisoners. Did we not think of the contrary? – There is no contradic-
tion between the rules regarding the prisoners of the King as the first rules
make reference to reigns such as that of Ahasuer, while the second ones
make reference to the reign of one man like Ben Neẓer. Neither there is any
contradiction between the two regulations regarding the prisoners of the ban-
dits, because the first ones make reference to a bandit like Ben Neẓer, while
the other ones make reference to an ordinary bandit.
As far as Ben Neẓer is concerned, might he be called ‘king’ here and ‘bandit’
there? – Yes he might; as compared with Ahasuerus he was a bandit, but as
compared with an ordinary thief, he was a king.202

HARTMANN 2001, 176 agrees with me when he maintains that Odainath and his son
“nahmen nach Abschluß des Zuges im Jahr 263 den persischen Titel ‘König der
Könige’ an.” But unlike him I actually think it is neither possible nor important to de-
termine if the assumption took place “jedoch in Syrien” or once more in Persian territ-
ory during that campaign. What is sure is that the titles Odainath bore were well known
and discussed in Mesopotamia, pace HARTMANN. Cf. infra.
ESPTEIN 1936 II, 299.
Kings - ‘King of Kings’ 93

The identification of Ben Neẓer with Odainath son of Ḥairan Vaballath

son of Naṣōr on the one hand and of Ahasuerus with Šābuhr on the other is
usually accepted as valid by Talmud scholars.203 This passage is meaningful
also as evidence of the social cohesion existing in the Sassanian empire
some decades after the elimination of the Arsacids, thus as highly significant
in as much as it regards a religious minority that in Sassanian times was in-
creasingly emarginated and thus most probably more permeable to centrifu-
gal pressures.
Moreover this passage contradicts the hypothesis by Udo HARTMANN that
the assumption of the Iranian title of ‘King of Kings’ by Odainath and
Vaballath took place only in Palmyra, as these dynasts simply preferred to
bear the royal title elsewhere.204 Logically the title of ‘King of Kings’ actu-
ally had a strongly subversive value precisely outside Palmyra and particu-
larly in Mesopotamian territory. If we just accept the general outline of the
setting by HARTMANN, which I have already done in my monograph preced-
ing his work, i. e. if we mean that Odainath did not betray Rome by usurping
the imperial power, but that he had taken the Persian royal title in full agree-
ment or better still at Gallienus’ instigation, and that he was a martyr to the
‘Realpolitik’ of the Roman emperor who was trying to re-establish non-con-
flictual relationships with his Persian neighbour, in this precise case it is
evident how the assumption of the Sassanian royal title of ‘King of Kings,’
which had as its cultural and propagandistic point of reference the Sassanian
empire and not the Roman one, must have been used also outside Palmyra.
The above cited dialogue between the two rabbies refers to this specific
point: which of the two kings, Šābuhr or Odainath, was the true king. Both

Cfr., e.g., AVI-YONAH 1962, 126: “Die enttäuschten Juden begannen ‘Ben Neẓer’ (oder
‘den Sohn des Sprößlings’, d. h. Odenat) mit dem kleinen Horn in Daniel 7, 8 zu ver-
gleichen;” NEUSNER 1966, 49-50. The rare objections against this identification of
Odainath are mainly linked to the difficulties to fix the dating of the destruction of the
Mesopotamian town of Nehardea by Ben Neẓer (570 Sel. = 258/259 A. D.). Out of it
derives the unnecessary explanation identifying Ben Neẓer with an undefined ‘relative’
of Odainath. Decisive is the objection by DE BLOIS 1975, 13: “no other man with the
genealogy-name of Odaenathus’ family could be called ‘king’ but Odaenathus himself.”
HARTMANN 2001, 183. The fact that outside Palmyra both Odainath and Herodianus are
always called just ‘King’ is very dangerous as any argumentum e silentio. Moreover, as
already exposed above, the documents testifying the assumption of the royal title are
really very rare.
94 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

could present themselves in the same way to their subjects: both were
‘Kings of Kings.’

The title ἀργαπÔτης recurs just twice in the territories ‘beyond the Eu-
phrates’ in Roman times. We find it for the first time on a papyrus document
from Dura Europos and dateding back to 121 A. D.,205 i.e. to a period during
which the Hellenistic town, a centre of defence of the Parapotamic stretch of
the ‘King’s Highway,’ was firmly in Parthian hands.206 Then the term recurs
for the second time in a group of Palmyrene inscriptions all referring to the
same figure, Iulius Aurelius Septimius Vorōd,207 and dating back to the 60s
of the 3rd century.
This figure was one of the closest collaborators of Odainath, the most im-
portant person in Palmyra after the members of the family of the rš dy
tdmwr, the Palmyrene man we know about from most inscriptions, neglect-
ing the usurper Vaballath. We are thus not surprised that his figure should
have attracted the attention of those interested in the Palmyrene vicissitudes.
What is actually astonishing on the contrary is the fact that scholars inter-
ested in Palmyra have reflected very little on the function being discussed
here and attested in three out of the nine inscriptions where Vorōd is
A good example of the approach followed by scholars dealing with
Palmyra is offered by Udo HARTMANN. He has extensively and deeply ana-
lysed the career of this figure,208 although with regard to the title of ἀργαπÔ-
της he limits himself to affirming irrefutably:

PDura 20, l. 4.
MILLAR 1998a.
PIR S 350; PLRE I 981. The same person is called also Septimius Vorōd or Iulius Septi-
mius Vorōd; hereafter just Vorōd.
HARTMANN 2001, 203-211 in particular, but also elsewhere in his work.
96 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Der parthische Titel “Argapet” kann den Kommandanten oder Gouverneur

einer Festung bzw. Stadt bezeichnen. Odaenathus übergab damit dem
Vorodes die gesamte militärische und zivile Verantwortung in Palmyra.209
The evaluation of Vorōd’s career has been usually made regardless of
any global evaluation of this Iranian title, thus invariably ignoring those
works that have been dedicated to this first Parthian and then Sassanian aulic
term. The ways followed by scholars in Iranology on the one hand and
scholars in ancient near-eastern Roman history on the other have become
more and more divergent and autonomous.
The history of the interpretation of the Iranian term hargbed started in the
70s of the 19th century when Theodor NÖLDEKE tried to explain the title ar-
gabedh, which occurred in the Histories by Ṭabarī,210 as referred to the eu-
nuch Tīrē, argabedh of Dārābgird, fortress in Fārs, where the very young
Ardašīr stayed after his father Pābag had placed him in the care of Gōzihr,
king of Istaxr. NÖLDEKE translated the term “Castellherr.” This time the re-
currences of this word were a few and almost all were restricted to transla-
tions of the word into Semitic languages, particularly in the Jerusalem
Talmud (ʾrqptʾ), in the Babylonian Talmud (ʾlqpṭʾ) and into Syriac (ʾlqptʾ),211
obviously besides its translation into Palmyrene ʾrgbṭʾ/Gk ἀργαπÔτης or
into Greek using various and more or less correct forms, but all this in late
sources dating back to periods after the 5th century A. D.
Also MOMMSEN uses the words by NÖLDEKE and LEVY:
Die zahlreichen Inschriften des Septimius Vorodes gesetzt ... 262-267 be-
zeichnen ihn sämmtlich als kaiserlichen Procurator zweiter Klasse, daneben
aber theils mit dem Titel ἀργαπÔτης, welches persische, aber auch bei den
Juden gangbare Wort ‘Burgherr,’ ‘Vicekönig’ bedeutet, theils als δικαιοδı-
της τῆς μητροκολωνÛας, was ohne Zweifel wenn nicht sprachlich so doch
sachlich dasselbe Amt ist.212

HARTMANN 2001, 208. The corresponding n. 163 explains the problem even better: the
only work by an iranist he cites to explain the origin and the function of an Iranian title
is the brief note by Richard FRYE to the edition of PDura 20, about which cf. infra.
NÖLDEKE 1870; 1879, 5 n. 1.
About the occurrences of the term in the various semitic languages cf. LEVY 1864, 90;
TELEGDI 1935, 228, 15; GREENFIELD 1987, 258b; SHAKED 1987, 260; CIANCAGLINI forth-
coming, s. v., ʾlqptʾ.
MOMMSEN 1894b, 434 n. 1.
̓ΑργαπÔτης 97

The translation by NÖLDEKE very soon prevailed and more or less con-
temporaneously Christian BARTHOLOMAE and Ferdinand JUSTI adopted and re-
fined his etymology.213 In their opinion the term represented a compound
composed of a non-attested OIr. *arka (‘citadel, fortress’) that later gener-
ated arka + pati- (‘sir, lord’). According to JUSTI OIr. *arka was probably a
late term that penetrated the lexicon of the Iranian courts as a loan-word
from Lat. arx. At the same time Wilhelm DITTENBERGER, commenting the
term ἀργαπÔτην in OGIS 645, 4 (PAT 0289 = CIS II 3943 = Inv. III 6 =
IGRR III 1043), wrote:
In exemplo lingua indigenarum composito argabeṭâ legitur, media b pro
tenui p substituta secundum illam proprietatem linguarum Iranicarum de qua
dixi [...] Nam Persicam origine esse vocem cum iam complures homines
docti suspicati essent, luculentissime demonstravit Th. Nöldeke [...]; com-
posita est ex arg (arx) et pati (dominus).
Two main difficulties existed in the interpretations of the term offered by
NÖLDEKE and JUSTI: first it was most improbable that the Latin term arx
would reach the ears of the Parthian and then Sassanian courts so early: a
Roman frontier fortress would be called castellum, not arx;214 second, ex-
amples for an early use of NP arg (or ark) were lacking. This term is un-
known to Book Pahlavi and also to Manichaean Middle Persian, notwith-
standing BARTHOLOMAE’s claim.215 Here the term ʾrk, which recurs many
times in the Maḥrnāmag, will actually not be translated with ‘Burg,’ as the
first editor of the text did,216 but simply refers to a toponym.217
The etymology from NP arg might have been acceptable, with some cau-
tion, when JUSTI and BARTHOLOMAE were writing their works to explain the
etymology of the term as a loan-word not deriving from Latin arx, but from
Gk ἄκρα, with the metathesis usual in r-groups, as SZEMERÉNYI has rightly

BARTHOLOMAE 1904, 191 s. v. *arka-dray-. The year after a very long review by JUSTI
1905, 107 to the masterpiece by BARTHOLOMAE appeared. In it a different translation of
the word was suggested. The proposal by JUSTI was accepted by BARTHOLOMAE 1906,
In ŠKZ, dizpat is actually translated with καστελλοφ˜λαξ, cf. HARNACK 1970, 540-544,
particularly 542 and n. 20.
BARTHOLOMAE 1916, 16; TELEGDI 1935, 228; WIDENGREN 1956, 158; CHAUMONT 1962, 12;
HARNACK 1970, 542. Cf. on this problem SZEMERÉNYI 1975, 368-369.
MÜLLER 1913.
HENNING 1938, 565-566; SZEMERÉNYI 1975, 369. Cf. now also DURKIN-MEISTERERNST
2004, s. v.
98 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

emphasized.218 It was possible by then to maintain that it might represent a

late loan-word that had slowly caught on at the Sassanian court in late an-
tiquity, but the following edition of the inscription of Paikuli and the discov-
ery of the papyrus of Dura Europos compelled scholars to date the introduc-
tion of the term to the court of Ctesiphon at the height of the Parthian era,
even at the beginning of the 2nd century A. D. It is highly improbable that
JUSTI and BARTHOLOMAE would have maintained their etymology, if they had
known these new recurrences of the term, which unequivocally showed that
the original Iranian form was represented by the compound harg (and not
arg) + pati.219 However this incorrect etymology had a wide circulation
among scholars of ancient history because of a rash explanation offered by
Richard Nelson FRYE in the publication of the parchments of Dura.
Then in 1924 the great royal inscription of Narseh in Paikuli220 was first
published and in it the title MP ḥrgwpt Parth. ḥrkpty occupies a position of
absolute pre-eminence among Sassanian court titles, coming right after the
members of the royal family thus ousting the bidaxš of the ŠKZ (which at
that time had still not been discovered) from that position. The great novelty
brought about by this occurrence in the Paikuli-inscription is represented by
the fact that for the first time the name is attested in an Iranian language and
presents an initial aspiration that admits no graphic ambiguities. The etymo-
logy by NÖLDEKE, JUSTI and BARTHOLOMAE from NP ark seemed to be definit-
ively defeated, and so HERZFELD first expressed his sceptical position concer-
ning the translation of the title as ‘lord of the castle,’ then proposing the
explanation that arka- might be ‘the tribute owed by the vassal,’ and that
arkapat could consequently mean ‘chief collector of taxes.’221 This explana-
tion of the term was not taken up in the following publication of this inscrip-

SZEMERÉNYI 1975, 374.
Aware of such (ineliminable) difficulty is CHAUMONT 1962, who tries to explain the
alternation harg / arg in this compound in favour of the traditional etymology, but in a
completely unconvincing way: cf. IBID., 11: “Interprétation (that by JUSTI) d’autant plus
vraisemblable que nulle autre étymologie satisfaisante ne peut lui être valablement
HERZFELD 1924; cf. and already HERZFELD 1914. The surveys in Paikuli by HERZFELD
took place in 1911 and 1914. Nowadays an Italian mission of the IsIAO headed by
Carlo CERETI is operating in that area.
Respectively HERZFELD 1924, 193A; HERZFELD 1947, 128.
̓ΑργαπÔτης 99

tion by HUMBACH and SKJÆRVØ, who refused the etymology from NP arg too,
without any further discussion.222
The discovery in 1929 of PDura 20, an antichretic loan dating back to
121 A. D., where in l. 4 the title ἀρκαπÌτης recurs, had the unexpected res-
ult of extinguishing the discussion that had been produced until then.
In the reign of the king of kings Arsaces, benefactor, just, manifest god, and
friend of Greeks, in the year 368 as the king of kings reckons, but 432 of the
former era, on the 26th day of the month Daesius, in the village of Paliga of
the subdistrict about Iardas, in the presence of Maetolbaessas, son of Men–
and grandson of Menarnaeus, garrison commander and member of the order
of first and chiefly-honoured friends and bodyguards, and of the witnesses
who sign themselves below. A loan has been made by Phraates the eunuch,
arkapates, one of the people of Manesus son of Phraates, member of the or-
der of the batesa and of the Freemen, tax collector and governor of Mesopot-
amia and Parapotamia and ruler of the Arabs, to Barlaas, son of Thathaeus
and grandson of Ablaeus [etc.]223
In 1931 Mikhail I. ROSTOFTZEFF and C. BRADFORD WELLES presented the
new document to the learned public in a brilliant and long essay, thus com-
menting the term we are talking about:
The meaning of the title arkapates we know very well indeed. In the times of
the Arsacids an arkapat, argapet, or hargupat was a hereditary holder of a
city, a kind of feudal lord. Later in the times of the Sassanians, arkapat was
the holder of the highest rank in the Empire. We know many arkapatai of the
first type; i. e., of the Parthian period. One is Septimius Vorodes, the ruler of
Palmyra in the troubled times of the third century. Note that he was both a
Roman procurator and an Iranian arkapates. The other is the ancestor (by ad-
option) of the Sassanian dynasty [....]
It is more difficult to decide whether the title ἀρκαπÌτης, as given to
Phraates, implies a real office, corresponding more or less to the office of a

SKJÆRVØ 1983, 95: ‘an official.’
PDura 20, 1-5: Βασιλε˜οντος βασιλỘς βασιλÔων ἈρσÌκου εÃεργÔτου, δικαÛου,
ἐπιφανοῦς καÚ φιλÔλληνος, ἔτους ηξτʹ ›ς ¡ βασιλεˆς βασι[Ôων] | ἄγει, ›ς δÓ
πρıτερ [υʹ], ηνÙς ΔαισÛου ἕκτηι ἐπ’ εἰκÌδι, ἐν ΠαλÛγαι κ˘μηι τῆς περÚ
ἸÌρδαν ÕπαρχεÛας, ἐπÚ ΜητολβαÛσσα Μην. [.] | ΤΟΣΔ . Ο Υ τοῦ ΜηναρναÛου,
φ[ουρÌ]χου καÚ τῶν πρῶτων καÚ προτιμωμÔνων φÛλων καÚ τῶν σωματοφυλÌ-
κων, καÚ [ῶν] | Õπογ[γρ]μμÔνω [ρτ˜ρ]ων. ἐ̣[δÌν]ισεν ΦραÌτης εÃνοῦχος,
ἀρκαπÌτης, τῶν παρÏ Μανήσου τοῦ ΦραÌτου τῶν βÌτησα καÚ [ῶν] ‖ ἐλευθỘ[.
.]ρων, πα[λ]ή̣ καÚ στρατηγοῦ ΜεσοποταμÛας καÚ ΠαραποταμÛας καÚ
ἈραβÌρχου, ΒαρλÌαι ΘαθαÛου τοῦ ἈβλαÛου ....
100 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

phrurarch, or a sort of fief — a hereditary hold on a certain district handed

over to the man by the king, or by his minor feudal lord. I am inclined to as-
sume the latter in the case of Phraates. His fief he probably received from his
patron, Manesus. As feudal lord of Paliga, he was probably a rich and influ-
ential man, and it was a trifle for him to buy over 400 drachmas the services
of Barlaas.224
Many years went by before the parchments of Dura Europos were integ-
rally published in a definitive edition. On that occasion the editors asked
Richard FRYE for an opinion about the term and he affirmed:
We may tentatively conclude that the title ἀρκαπÌτης originally meant the
military commander of a (frontier?) fortress in Parthian times. With the rise
in importance of the fortress in states such as Palmyra, Hatra etc., the title
grew in importance. Under Ardašir and Shapur, the title had not reached the
Sassanian court. After the capture of Valerian and close contact with Pal-
myra and other states in Shapur’s westwards campaigns, the title came to be
known at the court, and by the time of Narseh it had become an important
title of the Sassanian court.225
In order to consider FRYE’s explanation as acceptable it was necessary to
think of the aspirated form occurring in the Paikuli-inscription as a spurious
variant, maybe deriving from an hypercorrectness and thus to prefer the
form without initial aspiration. That is exactly what both Marie-Louise
CHAUMONT and David HARNACK226 did, the latter even more explicitly.
Meanwhile, already since long before the definitive publication of PDura
20 Iranian philology had distanced itself from the etymology and the mean-
ing the word had been attributed by NÖLDEKE and BARTHOLOMAE. Ernst
HERZFELD traced back the compound arka- to Akkadian ilku which design-
ated the obligation contracted with a feudal lord in the Assyrian feudal sys-
tem.227 In many passages Walter Bruno HENNING asserted the derivation of

R. N. FRYE in BRADFORD WELLES, FINK, GILLIAM 1959, 111-112, n. 15. Cf. also additions
and corrections in FRYE 1962, 193-194, e 279 n. 56.
CHAUMONT 1962; 1986, much more prudent: cf. 400: “The etymology of the word is un-
certain. Two possible meanings have been suggested, fortress commander (cf. New Per-
sian arg) and chief tax collector or taxation manager; the former seems much more
likely;” HARNACK 1970, 540-544, in partic. 543: “Dem muß entgegengehalten werden
einmal, daß im angenommenen Falle *ἁρκαπÌτης und nicht ἀρκαπÌτης zu erwarten
wäre, ebenso bei Ṭabarī *ḫrʾǧ (*ḫarāǧ), wofür jeder Hinweis fehlt; sodann zeigen die
sicher überlieferten Formen des Titels keinen h-Anlaut.”
HERZFELD 1947, 128.
̓ΑργαπÔτης 101

arkapates from MP hark/harg = MP harāγ ‘Steuer, Fron.’228 This same ety-

mology and meaning of the term have been accepted by Philippe GIGNOUX,229
Oswald SZEMERÉNYI,230 Rüdiger SCHMITT,231 Edward KHURSHUDIAN,232 Philip
HUYSE233 and Claudia CIANCAGLINI.234
After defending his interpretation of the term in a short article, FRYE him-
self radically changed his mind:
There were many officials under the satrap, especially accountants to care for
the revenues, ’hmrkr, the hamarkār. The chief collector of taxes was an im-
portant official called ḥrkpty, or rkpty and ḥrgwpt in Parthian, an office
formerly mistakenly interpreted as argbad or ‘fortress commander.’ For the
Parthian period we have no information about the position of the chief tax
collector in the hierarchy, but presumably it was not high and only under the
Sassanians does the office gain in importance.
In vain. In the very recent Dictionary of the North-West Semitic Inscrip-
tions the Iranian derivation of the term is actually recognized, but the debate
we have set out above is completely ignored. On the basis of a questionable
bibliographical selection the meaning of “governor of a city” is taken for
On the basis of the meaning being most closely bound to the paretymo-
logy which would give as a result NP arg, Vorōd was by most scholars at-
tributed a command over Palmyra also involving extensive military power,
while some other scholars, influenced by the above mentioned (philologic-
ally groundless) intuition by MOMMSEN, opted for mere civil power for
Vorōd which practically coincided with the title of δικεοδıτης τῆς
μητροκολωνεÛας that the inscription ascribe to him. The latter position ows
much to an important work by Daniel SCHLUMBERGER:

HENNING 1935; 1938, 565-566; 1958, 41 and n. 4.
SZEMERÉNYI 1975, 354-375.
HUYSE 1999; 2002, 209-210: “die wahrscheinlichste Deutung wohl die als ‘Chef des
Steuerwesens’ ist.”
CIANCAGLINI forthcoming, s. v. ʾrgpṭʾ. She actually translates “chief of the army,
FRYE 1984, 223. TAFAZZOLI 1990, 303, in his analysis of the Sasanian title arzbed, con-
tinues to maintain that the meaning ‘citadel commander’ is preferabale: “Until more
conclusive evidence comes to light.”
HOFTIJZER, JONGELING 1995, I, 103, s. v. argapet.
102 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Or, comme l’a bien montré Marquardt, le mot δικαιοδıτης signifie simple-
ment gouverneur. Et l’on sait d’autre part que le terme d’argapet désigne,
chez les Parthes, le seigneur d’une ville. La pénétration de Mommsen avait
déjà reconnu l’équivalence des deux termes. Maintenant que la place de
notre inscription dans la carrière de Worôd est fixée il n’est plus possible de
douter que le grand historien n’ait vu juste.237
Although Vorōd was attributed by scholars either a military or a civil
command, all recent researches concerning Palmyra have taken the erro-
neous meaning of the term ἀργαπÔτης for granted like e.g. Jean STARCKY
and Michal GAWLIKOWSKI,238 Michael DODGEON and Samuel LIEU,239 Fergus
MILLAR,240 Eugenia EQUINI SCHNEIDER,241 Delbert HILLERS and Eleonora
CUSSINI,242 Maurice SARTRE,243 Udo HARTMANN,244 Ted KAIZER,245 Jean-Bap-
tiste YON,246 Ernst WILL,247 Michael SOMMER248 among the most recent and
important monographies and articles.
Thus it is necessary to reject any imaginary and alleged military com-
mand of Vorōd and to reconstruct this figure’s career once more by starting
from sure data to be inferred from his titles. Hereafter all known inscriptions
where Vorōd is certainly mentioned are listed in chronological order, while
any details in the discussions about difficult and controversial specific pas-

STARCKY, GAWLIKOWSKI 1985, 60: “gouverneur de la ville.”
DODGEON, LIEU 1991, 78: “Gk. argapetes = Pers. hargbed, commander of a fort” totally
inadeguately making reference to the comment to fr. 14 by Petrus Patricius (FHG IV, p.
MILLAR 1993, 170; 1998, 477: “garrison-commander.”
EQUINI SCHNEIDER 1993, 17: “governatore della città.”
HILLERS, CUSSINI 1995, 344, s. v. ʾrgbṭ: “governor (< Pers. commander of a city Chabot
ad CIS II 3940).”
SARTRE 1996, 395: “gouverneur.”
HARTMANN 2001, 208.
KAIZER 2002, 49 and n. 69: “commander of a fortress.”
YON 2002a, 39: “gouverneur de la ville.”
WILL 1992, 180: “C’est là un mot iranien bien attesté que l’on traduit par “commandant
de la forteresse.” WILL 1996, 114.
SOMMER 2005, 168, n. 99: “Stadtvorstehers,” 174, n. 131: “Argapet war der Titel der
Gouverneure der unter direkter Herrschaft stehenden parthischen Provinzen und
̓ΑργαπÔτης 103

sages of the texts analysed in this work are reported in the footnotes.249 The
translations offered hereafter are always the results of crasis between the
Greek and the Palmyrene versions of the inscriptions, and they are usually
quite precise translations. Sometimes in one of the two versions some terms
are missing, these cases are reported in the footnotes. An exception is rep-
resented by the inscription n. 3 where the Greek and the Palmyrene texts
show very different syntaxes: in this case two separate translations have
been preferred.
1. Base of statue in the tetraporticus of the Great Colonnade.250
ΣεπτÛμιον ΑἱρÌνην | τÙν λαμπρıτατον (υἱÙν) | ὈδαινÌθου τοῦ
λαμ|προτÌτου Õπατικοῦ, | ΟÃορ˘δης βουλευ|[τὴς ....
To Septimius Ḥairān, clarissimus son of Odainath clarissimus consu-
laris, Vorōd bouleutes.
2. Honorary inscription from the Great Colonnade, engraved on a
column situated next to the theatre and dated back to 258 A. D.252
ΑÃρήλιον ΟÃορ˘δην | ἱππικÙν καÚ βουλευτὴν | ΠαλμυρηνÙν
ΒηλÌ|καβος Ἀρσᾶ τÙν φÛ‖[λον τ]ειμῆς χÌριν | ἔτους οφʹ
lʾ wrlys [w]rwd hpqʾ ̻| wbylwṭʾ ʿbd | blʿqb br ḥršʾ lyqrh | šnt
To Aurelius Vorōdes, member of the equestrian order and Palmyrene
bouleutes, friend Belakabos son of Ḥaršā (posed this text) to honour
him. Year 570 (Sel. = 258 A. D.)
3. Honorary inscription from the Great Colonnade, engraved on a
column situated next to the theatre and dated back to April 262
A. D.253

Inv. III 3, about which cf. supra Chap. 2. 1, is not taken into consideration. This inscrip-
tion, being not dated either, actually adds nothing to Vorōd’s career.
SEYRIG 1963, 161-162 and fig. 2. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 103 n. 163, 204 n. 152, 468.
This inscription is not dated, but the titles of Septimius Ḥairān and Odainath are identic-
al in a dedication dated in 257/258 and posed by the collegium of the leather artisans on
a console in the Great Colonnade: cf. SEYRIG 1963, 161-162 and fig. 1 = GAWLIKOWSKI
1985, 254 n° 5; HARTMANN 2001, 103 n. 162.
PAT 0283 = CIS II 3937 = Inv. III 12 = IGRR III 1036 = OGIS 644. Cf. HARTMANN
2001, 204 n. 152.
PAT 0284 = CIS II 3938 = Inv. III 11 = IGRR III 1041. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 204 n. 153.
104 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

Ἡ βουλὴ καÚ ¡ δῆμος ΣεπτÛμιον | ΟÃορ˘δην τÙν κρÌτιστον

ἐπÛ|τροπον [Σεβ]αστο[ῦ τοῦ κυρÛου] | δου[κηνÌριον ..... τειμῆς] ‖
χÌριν [ἔτους γοφʹ μηνεÚ] | [Ξ]αν[δικῷ].
ṣlmʾ dnh dy spṭmyws | wrwd ʾpṭrpʾ dwqnrʾ dy | qsr mrn dy ʾqym lh |
bwlʾ wdmws lyqrh | byrḥ nysn dy šnt 5.100+60+10+3.
The Senate and the people to Septimius Vorōdes, vir egregius procur-
ator ducenarius domini Augusti, (posed) to honour him, [in the year
573, in the month] Xandikos.
This is the statue254 of Septimiōs Vorōd, epitropos doukenarios of
Caesar lord,255 that for him (have posed) the boule and the demos, to
honour him, in Nisān in the year 573 (Sel. = April 262 A. D.)
4. Honorary inscription from the Great Colonnade, engraved on a
column situated next to the theatre and dated back to December 262
A. D.256
ΣεπτÛ[μιον ΟÃορ˘δην τÙν κρÌτιστ]ον | ἐπÛτρο[πον Σεβαστοῦ
δ]ουκηνÌριον | Ἰο˜λιος ΑÃρή[λιος Νεβο˜ζ]αβα[δ]ος ΣοÌ|δου τοῦ
Αἱρῆ [στρατ]ηγÙς [τῆς] λαμπροτÌ‖της κολωνεÛας [τ]Ùν ἑαυτοῦ
φÛλον | τειμῆς ἕνεκεν ἔτους δοφʹ μηνεÚ | ἈπελλαÛῳ.
spṭmys wrwd qrṭsṭ̻s ʾpṭrpʾ | dwqnrʾ dy ʾqym lyqrh | ywlyws ʾw<r>lys
nbw[z]bd br šʿdw ḥyrʾ | ʾsṭr<ṭ>gʾ dy qlnyʾ rḥmh | šnt 5.100+60+10+
4 byrḥ kslwl.
To Septimius Vorōd egregius procurator Augusti ducenarius, Iulius
Aurelius Nebouzabad, son of Šoadō, son of Ḥairān,257 strategos258 of

The specification of the dedicated object (ṣlmʾ = statue) is quite rare in Palmyra: cf. YON
2000, 11.
Palm. mrn ‘lord’ is grammatically referred to qsr ‘Caesar.’ As Odainath does not seem
to have ever assumed the title of Caesar, it is impossible to derive that in this inscription
qsr mrn might correspond to the rš of Palmyra, as on the contrary FÉVRIER 1932, 91 and
ALTHEIM 1965, 255 maintain. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 204 n. 153.
PAT 0285 = CIS II 3939 = Inv. III 10 = IGRR III 1040. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 204 n. 153.
On this figure YON 2002b, 33, 244.
The text of the inscription is very clear as far as its structure, which is identical both in
Greek and in Palmyrene: a friend, a strategos, dedicates the inscription to Vorōd, pro-
curator and argapetes. Jean-Baptiste CHABOT read the inscription in a wrong way in CIS
II 3939, and he thought he could refer the title of strategos to Vorōd. He was followed
by INGHOLT 1976, 135; WILL 1996, 113 and SARTRE 1996, 393-394. Notwithstanding the
lacuna in l. 4 of the Greek text, the rendering of the text is certain (the reading of the
desinence at the nominative and not at the accusative has never be contexted by any-
body) and it is confirmed also in the Aramaic version, where, if ever the transliteration
of the term strategos at the beginning of l. 4 would have been understood as an apposi-
̓ΑργαπÔτης 105

the splendidissima259 colonia, to his friend to honour him in the year

574 in Apellaios = Kaslūl (Sel. = December 262 A. D.)
5. Honorary inscription from the portico of the theatre in the Great
ΣεπτÛμιον ΟÃορ˘δην | τÙν κρÌτ[ιστον ἐπÛτρο]|πον Σεβα[στοῦ
δουκ]η|νÌριον καÚ ἀ[ργαπ]Ôτην | Ἰο˜λιος ΑÃρήλιος Σε‖π[τÛμι]ος
ΜÌλχος Μαλω|χᾶ Νασσο˜μου ¡ κρÌτι|στος τÙν φÛλον καÚ προ|-
στÌτην τειμῆς ἕνεκεν ‖ ἔτους Ϛοφʹ, μηνεÚ Ξανδικῷ.
spṭ[myws wrw]d qr[ṭsṭ]ws | ʾ[p]ṭ[rpʾ dqnrʾ wʾrg]bṭʾ | [ʾqym ywlys
ʾwrlys spṭmy]ws | mlk[w br mlwkʾ nšwm qrṭsṭs lyqr] || rḥm[h wqywmh
byrḥ ny]sn | [šnt 5.100+60+10+5+1].
To Septimius Vorōd, egregius procurator Augusti ducenarius and ar-
gapetes, Iulius Aurelius Septimius Malchos, son of Malōkā, son of
Naššūm,261 vir egregius, to his friend and patron, to honour him, in
Xandikos (Nīsān) in the year 576 (Sel. = April 264 A. D.)
6. From the portico of the theatre, in the Great Colonnade.262
ΣεπτÛμιο[ν] ΟÃορ˘δην | τÙν κρÌτιστον ἐπÛτρο|πον Σεβαστοῦ
δουκη|νÌριον καÚ ἀργαπÔτην ‖ Ἰο˜λιος ΑÃρήλιος | ΣεπτÛμιος
Ἰαδῆς ἱπ|πικıς ΣεπτιμÛου Ἀλε|[ξÌ]νδρου τοῦ Ἡρ˘δου | ἀπÙ
στρατιῶν τÙν φÛ‖λον καÚ προστÌτην | τειμῆς ἕνεκεν ἔτους |
ηοφʹ, μηνεÚ Ξανδικῷ (578 Sel. = April 267 A. D.)
spṭmyws wrwd qrṭsṭws ʾpṭrpʾ | dqnrʾ wʾrgbṭʾ ʾqym ywlys | ʾwrlys
s[p]ṭmyws ydʾ hpqws | br ʾlks[nd]rws ḥyrn srykw lyqr || rḥmh wqy-
wmh byrḥ sywn dy | šnt 5.100+60+10+5 (Sīwān 575 Sel. = June 264
A. D.)

tion not of the dedicating person but rather of the dedicatee, it had to be necessarily pre-
ceeded by w, the necessary conjuction to link this title to the others that are listed be-
fore: vir egregius and procurator ducenarius. This point is a little delicate because it is
right starting from this wrong reading of the inscription that WILL proposed the identity
between the titles of ἀργαπÔτης and στρατηγıς, as if in this inscription Vorōd were
called both procurator and strategos, while in the inscriptions n° 5 and 6 he is called
procurator and argapetes, without any apparent rise in rank. But actually the inscription
n° 4 cannot be adopted to prove any identity between the titles of ἀργαπÔτης and
στρατηγıς at all. Cf. also HARTMANN 2001, 204 n. 153: “Dies ist m. E. kaum
Missing in Palm.
PAT 0287 = CIS II 3941 = Inv. III 8 = IGRR III 1042. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 205 n. 156.
On this person cf. PIR̻⁲ I 194; YON 2002b, 49.
PAT 0286 = CIS II 3940 = Inv. III 9 = IGRR III 1044. Cf. HARTMANN 2001, 205 n. 156.
106 The Interplay of Roman and Iranian Titles

To Septimius Vorōd egregius procurator Augusti ducenarius and ar-

gapetes, Iulius Aurelius Septimius Iadē, member of the equestrian or-