J.G.W. Henderson, A Roman Life: Rutilius Gallicus On Paper & In Stone. Exeter Studies in History. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998. Pp. xii + 155, incl. 8 Figures. ISBN 0-85989-565-3. UK£12.99.
Department of Classics, University of the Witwatersrand
It is always tempting to take a name from a pedestal or a tombstone and to try to turn it into a person on the basis of the c.v. (or cursus honorum) provided. Most information we have about Rutilius Gallicus comes from a statue-base in Ephesus which was set up in his honour by an equestrian officer, Aemilius Pius, who had served in the same command as he under the great Neronian general, Domitius Corbulo. The inscription ends with mentioning Gallicus' coming (first) consulship. He appears in other epigraphical attestation. An inscription at Deutsch Altenburg (Carnuntum in Pannonia), not mentioned by Henderson,[] merely confirms his legateship or command of the legion there already known from the Ephesian cursus. Inscriptions in Africa record a decision of his on the boundary between two cities in his capacity as a specially appointed imperial legate entrusted with duties in connection with the census conducted in the province under Vespasian. Then a military diploma records him as governor of Germania Inferior a few years later. Two stones from Turin (Augusta Taurinorum) are especially valuable: they record his second consulship and his wife's name, but more importantly, confirm that Turin was his origo (his wife has the name of a prominent gens in North Italy; he had married into his own social milieu.)
In the face of this evidence the ancient historian is able to reconstruct a normal career for a Transpadane (on this, see further below) up to the disruptive Year of the Four Emperors. His (first) consulship so soon thereafter and the uncommon special commission in Africa show that he had chosen the right emperor; in fact, many of those associated with Domitius Corbulo supported Vespasian early. He continued to prosper under the Flavians, receiving the distinction of a second consulship under Domitian. Filling out of detail by prosopographical analogy could now proceed.
But, as Henderson has so valuably seen, there is the literary contribution of Statius (Silvae 1.4) to be pressed into service as well (or were the inscriptions interpreting the poet?). Statius supplies three items not in the epigraphical record, that Gallicus was the captor of Veleda (see further below) in Germany, that he was governor of Asia (as such reaching the pinnacle of a prominent senator's career) and finally prefect of the city of Rome, another position of trust and distinction, and a rare one, for a senator. (The Statian contribution to the reconstruction of the 'person' Gallicus will be noted below.) The passages in the lost books of Tacitus' Histories where he would have featured have been unexpectedly filled in.
Henderson has three explications of the career of Gallicus. In the first he provides a photograph and a line-drawing of the Ephesian inscription, together with a formalised English translation cleverly set out in such a way as to match the Latin conventions (p. 6). This is set in the context of a discussion of the 'epigraphic habit' of the Romans and a useful categorization of the genre of the epigraphical elogium. (He could perhaps have adverted to the fact that the inscription is unusual in that it was not inscribed on a tomb or in a family or civic honorary context, but is an example of the much rarer group of inscriptions, those commissioned by a junior colleague.) His career is then briefly explained. Secondly, he extracts the 'verbal-conceptual notions' (p. 16) of the career which appear in the poetry of Statius. Thirdly, Gallicus' 'Roman Life on Paper', that is, as poeticized by Statius, is analysed. The known stages of his career are examined in different contexts, with increasing complexity, and speculation, as the investigation proceeds.
The method does not differ much from that applied in the articles collected in Fighting for Caesar.[] Many of the etymologies are of the pre-19th century philological type used by the Romans themselves.[] Others are free-ranging, as in the assimilation of the putsch of L. Antonius Saturninus, governor in Germany in 88/89, against Domitian to the Battle of Actium (p. 34). Saturninus was a 'new man' brought into the senate by Vespasian. His nomen Antonius points to descent from a soldier or a provincial (as does the 'Julius' of Gallicus' full name -- see below).[] Yet Saturninus becomes a second Mark Antony, repulsed by Caesar's son at Actium more than a century before.[] One remains sceptical about the value of an association based solely on the coincidence of name. It is true in this that Henderson is following Martial (p. 11), but presumably Martial's epigram worked precisely because of the unexpectedness of the conceit. Saturninus was in no sense as dangerous as Antony.
The etymologizing of the names of Gallicus' putative natural and adoptive fathers seems inopportune (p. 16f.). In the case of Rutilius Secundus, surely the Secundus is that of Latin onomastics, meaning basically 'second born' (as with Tertius, etc.) rather than 'follower', 'second-best'? Gallicus' full name was Q. (What to do with 'Quintus' etymologically?) Julius Cordinus C. Rutilius Gallicus. Surely, too, Romans would have associated the cognomen Cordinus which he had from his adoptive father with the agricultural adjective cordus ('late in the season', 'late-born') rather than with cor, 'heart', even if, as Henderson emphasizes, Domitian was cordi 'dear' (line 4) to the gods: Statius does not refer to the Cordinus element in Gallicus' name. And the nomen 'Julius' derives from Roman citizenship given to a provincial ancestor by Caesar or Augustus (as in the case of Tacitus' father-in-law, Cn. Julius Agricola from Narbonensis): it is not a recall of 'Caesar' (p. 17). It may be noted that although Cordinus/Cordus points to Lusitania, a Cordius is recorded on an inscripton at Turin.[] He could usefully have been compared with Gallicus. Probably contemporary: he was the priest of the deified Vespasian, and so a local equivalent of the sodalis Augustalis which Gallicus was in Rome: similarly, as Gallicus was a pontifex in Rome, so was he in Turin. Like Gallicus' antecedents, he belonged to the equestrian order and served in Rome once, as iudex selectus (as did Horace).[] Of special epigraphical interest is that he was commemorated by an equestrian statue on a site assigned by a vote of the city councillors of Turin.
Finally, on etymologies, Henderson uses Domitian's newly won agnomen of Germanicus and Rutilius' cognomen to suggest 'German' ('deutschisch') and 'Gaulish' ('Français') associations (cf., e.g., p. 17). This, too, appears forced. Germanicus is firmly 'conqueror of the Germans' (as admitted on p. 42) and Gallicus is not Gallus. It is in fact a rare name. By analogy it suggests victor over Gauls, but is not so found in this sense. Perhaps rather a topographical reference to the formerly Celtic area of Italy in which Turin is located: cf. the Ager Gallicus in Umbria, land confiscated from the Gallic Senones. However, to be perverse, some attention might have been given to the spelling Aemilius Pius chose for the area where Gallicus was legate. He wrote not the usual Galatiae but provinciae Galaticae. This is not normal Latin, but recalls the Greek form *GALATIKH/, suitable for 'Greek' Ephesus. Pius was hardly a 'minor lackey' (p. 10). He was a member of the respected equestrian militia, and had already held two commands in it. (Note that the Bosp. and the Hisp. in the phrases Coh. I Bosp. and Coh. I Hisp. in the inscription should be expanded to Bosporanorum and Hispanorum, not Bosporiana and Hispaniensis, as on p. 6.) It seems likely that Aemilius Pius was a citizen of Ephesus, perhaps of Italian immigrant stock, setting up a monument there to his former chief who was on the point of entering his first consulship: Ephesus was the first post of call for a governor of Asia (and possibly a legate going further inland) and Vespasian called in there on his way from Judaea to assume the Principate in Rome (implied by Jos. BJ 7.22). A good place to hang on to the coat-tails of a prominent Flavian supporter.
As regards Gallicus' ancestry, Henderson accepts the suggestion that lines 72-74 refer to his grandfather. He was probably a primus pilus or leading centurion who reached equestrian status. This might have been developed. We have the sequence: grandfather - centurion; son - equestrian (if = Rutilius Secundus) or senator (if luce sequenti 'subsequent glory' [line 69] can be pressed); grandson - senator (of great distinction), and so a parallel to the rise of the Octavii Sagittae (discussed in the review above of Fighting for Caesar).[]
The more patently military periods of Gallicus' career (p. 6) need to be put in perspective. As Henderson himself admits, even senators with distinguished military records were more 'statesmen- cum-civil servants' than professional generals. Gallicus can hardly be claimed as a vir militaris, either in the modern or the Tacitean sense.[] It is true that Statius defines his legateship in Galatia (lines 76f.) and his governorship of Germania Inferior (lines 89f.) in military terms and even alludes to a triumph (but a triumph media de pace, line 84) and to avenging defeats by Hannibal (lines 83f., but note Africa referred to by the [poetic] Greek name of Libya) for his good work in connection with the census in Africa. But traditionally the supreme item in a Roman's praise was military uirtus and, in Republican times, a triumph (which, as noted, Statius gets in). All knew the rhetoric. And it is misleading to refer to Gallicus as a 'soldier' (or 'once a legionary, always a legionary', p. 11). Even in his first post as military tribune he was at the opposite end of the social scale from the milites caligati of the legions. Nor a veteran; only a tribune of equestrian status, not a Gallicus, would head a group of legionary veterans going to found a colony.
Henderson says (p. 11) it is 'for us to estimate' how attached 'his' legions were to Gallicus. The second certainly would have remembered him as its one time commander. Hardly the first. Not all military tribunes took their duties seriously: in any case they were young and their tour of duty short. Rather, who was Rutilius Gallicus' commander or legate? Two legates of Legio XIII Gemina in the Claudian period are known.[] One is the otherwise unknown Rutilius Lupus:[] but the nomen clicks. The other is the well-known Fabius Fabullus.[]
Other inscriptions might have been noticed. We happen to know the name of Domitian's doctor (to add to the vital 'health' theme of the poem) -- L. Arruntius Sempronianus (ILS 1842), unfortunately probably not connected with the Transpadane (Aquileian) Arruntii who sported the L. Arruntius Stella to whom Statius dedicated the first book of the Silvae (p. 101); rather perhaps a descendant of the famous Augustan doctor Arruntius (Pliny HN 39.7f.). Unfortunately, too, one probably has to answer 'no' to the question (p. 24) whether Gallicus was one of the doctors of Turin who worshipped Asclepius and Health there: the dedicant was probably of the freedman class. As noted above, Gallicus 'captured' (line 90, to be taken literally, of military engagement?) the German prophetess Veleda. Notorious for her power and mystique, she yet ends up in Italy, close to Rome. Here is room for much irony in discussing 'her stone', which is not in Latin but in Greek.[] It addresses the emperor: Veleda seems to have ended up as a sort of temple servant. (Presumably one should not mention the 'deutschisch' trade name Weleda for pharmaceutical products.)
Trying to reconstruct Gallicus' personality from the poem of Statius, the ancient historian would be able to deduce that Gallicus enhanced the reputation of a new family. Like most other governors recorded epigraphically in the East, he received praise for the justice of his administration, tempering it with mercy. His shoulders were broad. He was conscientious and, in a crisis, willed himself back to health. He was popular with the upper classes. Domitian cared for him. Like many another Roman noble, he dabbled in literature. Hardly material for a 'biography'.
Two further historical points. Gallicus was hardly a candidate for Domitian's position (p.27). He did not have the Republican antecedents of Nerva, nor the military credentials of Trajan, or Vespasian. More should have been made of Gallicus' Transpadane milieu and of his standing within the senatorial hierarchy. But, such points aside, it is the value of Henderson to have shown us much more than the historical substratum. He has teased out the possible ambiguities of Gallicus' relations with Domitian when praefectus urbi. In particular, he has shown the reader how the Graeco-Latin literary traditions of the times were used to contain a great man's life- threatening crisis, and the terms in which his equals and his inferiors might react.
Henderson's analysis of the poem is excellent. There are the perceptive linguistic, stylistic and poetic analyses one associates with his work. In addition, there is an in-depth study of the mechanisms of the mythology of the piece, with illuminating comments on the concept of prayer in the work. We are warned that he might be writing 'skittishly' (p. 16): this is a danger for the unwary and the pedestrian. But for the attentive reader the book sparkles with Donne-like or metaphysical conceits, helping to pin Statius' verbal dexterity down. And comparisons drawn from other poets, such as Horace on Maecenas, support what is deduced about Gallicus' relationship with Domitian.
One hopes that Henderson will continue his studies into the illumination of the historical, and the epigraphical, by the literary, and vice versa. The inscriptions naming Tacitus or Agricola are disappointingly brief, but those for Pliny the Younger -- another Transpandane -- are fuller. He certainly would benefit from Henderson's type of searching and thought-provoking analysis.
[] CIL III 4591.
[] J.G.W. Henderson, Fighting for Rome: Poets and Caesars, History and Civil War (Cambridge 1998). Electronic review in Scholia ns 8 (1999) 24.
[] These are usefully collected in R. Maltby's Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies (Leeds 1991).
[] Cf. M. Antonius Primus (p. 7) of Tolosa (Toulouse) in Gallia Narbonensis in the Year of the Four Emperors, also in Martial, but treated respectfully.
[] It may be noted that the nomen of the Lappius Maximus who repressed him was not Bucinus (pp. 35, 155), but Buccius.
[] CIL V 7021.
[] Above [].
[] Above [].
[] See D.B.Saddington, 'Tacitus and the Roman Army', ANRW II 33.5 (Berlin 1991) 3492, 3545.
[] On the cognomen of Gemina (p. 17), cf. E. Birley, 'A Note on the Title Gemina', JRS XVIII (1928) 56.
[] ILS 3865, dedicating to the Nymphae Salutares, useful for the 'health' theme of the poem perhaps.
[] ILS 996 - also dedicating to the nymphs of a spa, perhaps the homonym in Tac. Hist. 3.14, cf. above [] 3512.
[] Année Épigraphique 1953, 25.