Children as Office Holders and Benefactors in the Eastern Part of the Roman Empire
IdentifiersPermanent link (URI): http://hdl.handle.net/10017/5701
Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. Servicio de Publicaciones
Polis : revista de ideas y formas políticas de la antigüedad clásica, 2006, n.18, p. 163-186. ISSN 1130-0728
One of the most curious aspects of euergetism in the Roman imperial period was the participation of children and women in public life. During the Classic and the Hellenistic periods it would have been unthinkable that a child could have been elected as state official. Nevertheless, the Greek cities, soon after their enforced unification by the Macedonian monarchy, started to loose their political autonomy and to face severe financial strains. Thus, their economic survival became their most pressing problem, since they desperately needed fiínds in order to maintain their established way of life, i.e gymnasia, baths, market -places. Therefore, the elite families, who had so far monopolized the land and the other sources of wealth, had to foot the bill. Progressively most public offices became liturgies: the incumbent had to pay the expenses of his office and thus he was granted the title. As adult males of the elite were not always available for offices, for a number of reason, their children, under the de facto tutelage of their mothers, had to fulfill the civic obligations of the family . The membership of the curial class became hereditary and the curíale's sons were called patrobouloi. The Greek cities expressed their gratitude to the rich families of their society by granting to the elite offspring honorary titles such as «son» or «daughter» of the city and also by issuing paramythetic decrees upon their premature death. Such was the power of children office-holders that in the 3rd century AD two adolescents, Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus, reigned in Rome under the tutelage of their grandmother.