Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 939 (Mt Eryx, Sicily, 20 CE)

Apronius, the board of seven in charge of public feasts, gives and dedicates this to Venus of Eryx.
When this man sent by his father, the proconsul, fought successfully in Libya, the Moorish enemy fell before him.
The man who has dedicated to you this sword and the image
Of his father Apronius,
was both son of a leader in war and a leader himself,
And he was victor also in a just war.
Because he laid down his praetexta and took it up again at the same time,
As a boy and as a member of the board of seven,
a praetexta that his father had duly requested
And Caesar had granted, he leaves this robe behind for you, sacred goddess.
Apronius' son, greater in his deeds than in his reputation
Because he personally put the Gaetulian tribes to flight,
Has dedicated a statue of his dear father, as due reward to you,
Goddess, Nurturing mother of the race of Aeneas,
and the arms that he bore: what great courage is revealed
By his shield, broken by blows! His sword is red with the enemy's blood,
Blunted by slaughter, and his spear completes the trophy,
Stabbed by which the wild-eyed barbarian fell.
Son and father have dedicated to you this image,
More venerable than any in the eyes of them both.
The matched efforts of them both have set up this statue of Caesar:
They vied in their devotion, but it was absolute in both of them .

Under the supervision of L. Apronius, son of Lucius ...

Trans: T. Parkin and A. Pomeroy, Roman Social History: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2007).



***Below some questions links are provided to outside sources that helped in answering the question



This document revolves around the theme of fame and Roman warfare. More specifically, this document reveals why the Romans constantly wage war and how it connects to fame.

First of all, according to Roman theory, it was the Roman's job to become "Mediterranean Policemen": this they called defensive imperialism. Apronius, the author of the document, portrays this theory by calling his military campaign in North Africa the "Just War." The fact that Tacfarinas was both a deserter of the Roman army and led several attacks on the Romans in Northern Africa suggests how it was in fact the Roman's duty to suppress the insurgence and restore order. Apronius even calls Tacfarinas a "wild-eyed barbarian," and in doing so, Apronius contrasts the barbaric nature of Tacfarinas insurgency with the civilized nature of Rome. The result of this comparison is to once again justify Rome's military involvement with the goal of maintaining civilization. Furthermore, in mentioning the "image of his father Apronius," the author alludes to his father's success in Germany 14 A.D. in which he later received triumphant honors. The idea that Apronius's father was awarded for stopping a revolt of Roman soldiers bolster's the Roman theory of defensive imperialism.

A second reason to why Romans constantly wage war is because of economic motivation. As a result of Tacfarinas' raids on North Africa, the Roman province began to suffer economically. Additionally, Wikipedia links this economic trouble with civil disorder in Rome. Apparently, Tacfarinas's raids on North Africa resulted in an increase in grain prices in 19 C.E. Again, with the notion of a "Just War" in mind, it was the Roman's duty to defeat Tacfarinas and his army in order to restore the province's economy, restore grain prices, and stop rioting in Rome.

Through his constant dedications to Venus, Apronius seems to connect military success with paying homage to Roman gods and goddesses. For example, according to the document, “a praetexta that his father duly requested/ And Caesar had granted, he leaves this robe behind for you, sacred goddess.” The fact that the praetexta, which is a symbol of Apronius’s political influence through the Board of Seven, was awarded as a result of his father’s military success increases its value as a gift to Venus. In dedicating his valuable praetexta to the "nurturing mother of the race of Aeneas," Apronius reveals his upmost respect for both the legend of Rome's foundation and the Goddess responsible for it. This portrays the importance of using military success as a way to pay homage to the Gods for the foundation of Rome and its prosperity. Furthermore, using the praetexta as an symbol of political authority seems to connect it with the Gods. It is important to note that, because of deification, emperorship is linked with the Gods, and I therefore believe that, as a citizen ascends the Roman political ladder, he becomes more connected with the Gods. As a result, it appears as if paying homage through military success to the Gods is an essential way in gaining the opportunity to hold positions such as praetor, consul, and emperor, and upon obtaining the Gods’ respect, a Roman citizen will find it easier to hold a political position, thereby establishing social influence and preserving personal safety.

Lastly, presumably the main reason Apronius wrote this document was for personal fame. A large part of social and political fame in Rome resulted from military success, and Apronius makes it clear through his victory in the "Just War" and with his position in the Board of Seven that he was a successful Roman citizen. In order to portray his success, Apronius uses his broken shield and bloody sword as symbols of victory as well as his praetexta as a symbol of political influence. Nonetheless, a majority of the document is not only devoted to his fame but his father's as well. For example, Apronius writes "the matched efforts of them both have set up this statue of Caesar." Apronius does not seem to be referring to an actual statue and instead uses the "statue" as a symbol of power and prosperity (since it is Caesar's). Therefore, the idea that the "matched effort'" of Apronius and his father helped to create this image reveals how Apronius directly relates his family's success to Rome's prosperity, thus suggesting that familial glory was important amongst Roman society. Apronius follows up the image of the statue with the line "they vied in their devotion, but it was absolute in both of them." In comparing his military success with his father's, Apronius bolsters the importance of familial glory, which is further emphasized upon ending his speech with its image. The fact that Apronius combines his symbols of success with his father's suggests that, in order to sustain fame within Roman society, a citizen must continue the tradition of familial glory through military success. In other words, it is important for Apronius to sustain the fame that his father had bestowed upon the family through his victories in Germany and North Africa.

In the end, based on Apronius's document, it appears as if Romans waged war for both personal and societal safety. Through their military success, the Romans were able to pay homage to the Gods as a way to obtain political power. Furthermore, the need to practice defensive imperialism reveals how the Romans were constantly concerned with their status as a superior military and economic force. As a result, any Roman citizen directly connected with sustaining the empire's welfare through military success, like Apronius and his father, were rewarded with fame amongst the Roman society, which Romans sought as a way to preserve personal safety. Nonetheless, Apronius relates the importance of familial glory, and therefore suggests that Roman families who sustain legacies of military success and political power ultimately obtain considerable influence within Roman society.



Veteran's rights
  • The Veteran's rights document is a very good comparison to Apronius's document in that they both touch on the topics of military, legacy, religion, and economy. First of all, as the Veteran's rights document analysis points out, a bit of the document is once again devoted to self-praise. This simply bolsters the idea that Roman's held their military successes very dear to themselves. Furthermore, the analysis reveals how Domitian attempts to attribute himself to military glory through his father's fame and through his marriage into a successful military family. This idea supports the claim that Romans were concerned with their family's legacy and social status.
  • The analysis indicates how Domitian, like Apronius, creates a connection with Roman Gods as a way to associate himself with military honor.
  • This document analysis points out how the Romans remained an economic power house even 74 years after Apronius's document. This seems to indicate how the Roman's economic motivation to wage war worked as a way to sustain its economic prowess.
  • As the analysis points out, military success was an opportunity for social mobility. As can be seen through Apronius's document, military glory resulted in fame, political, and social influence. Consequently, this document merely bolsters the idea of how military success can allow families to assume more power and influence in Roman society

Officer's Memorial
  • I believe the Officer's Memorial document is a key document to compare with my own. First of all, in reading this document, we see how Tiberius Claudius Maximus demonstrates military self-praise through his action of undertaking the construction of his monument. Combining this idea with Apronius's document suggests that self-praise may have been a common thing for successful soldiers or veterans. Furthermore, the fact that this document is not written by Tiberius himself reveals that others, presumably the Roman society and army, were appreciative of his military successes. In other words, why else would it be important to describe his endeavors on his memorial? In the end, the point is that Apronius's self-praise may not be complete arrogance but instead a reflection of how other Romans perceive their successful military leaders.

Soldiers' families
  • As I stated in my document analysis, it seems important for soldiers to have children in order for them to sustain the family's fame and success. In reading the Soldiers' families documents, I found it very interesting how the Roman government banned marriage for active troops. My guess is that the Roman government, or Augustus, wanted the most successful military/political legacies to be of pure Roman descent (i.e. Apronius). This once again portrays how the Romans strove to maintain their image as the economic, military, and political leader of the world.



***These questions below are all part of my initial research questions that I felt were unanswered or still unclear after my research
  1. What EXACTLY is the board of seven, and why was it necessary to include that both Apronius's father had to request it and Caesar had to grant it?
  2. What do the last two lines mean? Did they in some way pave the rode for Caesar to sustain power? Were their military successes important to Rome?
  3. Did Apronius have any sons or daughters who were also successful military leaders and politicians?



I like the way you link the story of Apronius' family to wider issues of Roman military ideology. I'm not sure if it came across clearly enough that Venus is crucial partly because the emperors traced their descent ultimately to her (through her son Aeneas). Good work though. - James Kierstead