This word--which, like δίπτυχα,
signified two tablets fastened
together, as far as mere outward form is concerned--is fully treated of
under DIPTYCHA: so here we have to set forth the
various kinds of diplomata as regards their tenor They all agreed in being
some kind of a governmental grant. The Greeks sometimes called them γράμματα βασιλικά,
and they were analogous to
our letters-patent or passports (Salmasius ad
Suet. Aug. 50
). During the civil war Caesar
gave diplomata to such as he allowed to enter the city (Cic. Fam. 6.1. 2
) or to leave Italy (ib. Att.
10.17, 4). To some of
those who were condemned for adultery with Julia, Augustus is said to have
given diplomata to ensure their safety (Senec. de Clem.
4). But the word is generally applied either to permissions to use the
public post, or to the grants of citizenship and rights of marriage to
1. After the establishment of the post by Augustus, diploma
was the regular term for the permission granted by
the emperor or provincial governor to an individual to use the post
(C. I. G.
4956, 25, Plin. Ep.
(54), 64 (14), 120, 121). In the early empire the
Praefectus Praetorio seems to have usurped the right of issuing diplomata
when there was no emperor (Plut. Galb. 8
but illegally, for in such a case the chief administration rested with the
consuls (Herodian, 2.12, 4; yet cf. Mommsen, Staatsr.
ii.2 1064, note 7). In the Constantinian and subsequent
ages (see Godefroi, Paratitlon
to Cod. Theod. 8.5) the
Emperor, the Praefectus Praetorio, and the Magister Officiorum issued
permissions to use the post (Lyd. de Magistr.
2.10, 26), but
most of the other magistrates could only use it themselves, and that on
state service, though certain officials were given the disposal of a limited
number of permits each year: e. g. the Magister Militum per Orientem had
twenty-five (Böcking, Not. Dig.
i. p. xiv.). Another
common name for these grants was evectiones.
the strange terms combinae
see Salmasius on Capitol. Pert.
They only lasted for a certain time (Plin. ll. cc.
and were very sparingly given, the greatest strictness being observed in
requiring those who used the post to have them (Dig.
; Capitol. Pert.
1). On these
diplomata the name (Plut. Otho,
3; Suet. Otho 7
) and seal (Suet. Aug.
; Plut. Galb. 8
) of the emperor were
essential. After the further extension and development of the postal system
under Hadrian, there were regular clerks, who were freedmen, for furnishing
the various kinds of diplomata. These clerks were called a diplomatibus
(Orelli, 2795), and perhaps formed a
department of the scrinium a memoria
6328). The imperial tabellarii
appear to have
been called diplomarii
(Mommsen, I. R.
6903). For further details see CURSUS
PUBLICUS; Friedländer, 2.14 ff.; and O. Hirschfeld,
1.103-105; and for the later
ages, Cod. Theod. 8.5 and Godefroi's notes.
2. The Military Diplomata were documents granting rights of citizenship and
regular marriage to soldiers who had served out their time; hence are
frequently called Privilegia Veteranorum de civitate et
Up to the date of the publication of the fifth
volume of the Ephemeris Epigraphica,
1884, there are 80
extant, a complete index of 77 being given by Mommsen in that number (pp.
101 ff.). Previously in C. I. L.
iii. p. 843 ff., he had
given a full text and treatise on the diplomata then discovered. Five of
these diplomata (21, 23, 30, 75, 76) are in the British Museum, one (21, of
Trajan's time) being in good preservation. The earliest dates from the reign
of Claudius, 52 A.D. (Dipl. 1); the latest from that of Diocletian, 301 A.D.
(Dipl. 58). In republican times grants of citizenship were made by the
people; in imperial times by the emperor (cf. Plin.
; Suet. Nero
). The diplomata given to soldiers were always, like laws, cut in
brass and posted up (cf. Cic. Fam. 13.3.
2.36, 92) somewhere, before Domitian's time
generally in the Capitol near the temple of Fides, subsequently in muro post templum divi Augusti ad Minervam.
if they were like laws, it was like “leges datae,
” not “
” (see Mommsen, ad Leges Salp. et Malac.
p. 392 ff.),
and so Gaius (1.57) rightly classes them among the principum constitutiones.
They rest on the right granted to
imperatores in the later ages of the republic, by such laws as the Lex
Gellia et Cornelia (72 B.C.), a law which enacted that those who got
citizenship from Cn. Pompeius with the advice of his council should be valid
citizens (Cic. Balb. 8
. cf. Reid's introduction, p. 11); a right
possessed long previously by certain Triumviri coloniis
(ib. 21, 48, and Reid's note). The diplomata we are
considering are copies
of the law, and bear special
reference to one individual and certain [p. 1.642]
relations, whose names are inserted at the end after the long preamble of
the law, a space being evidently left in some diplomata (e. g. 6, 7, 10) for
the name, which was subsequently added, perhaps in the presence of the
witnesses, a reference being sometimes made to the actual place in the law
where the individual in question will be found alluded to (e. g. in Dipl. 6
we find “Tabula I. pagina v. loco xxxxvi.” ). They bear the
names of seven witnesses, who, after comparison of the copy and the law,
affixed their seals; a practice arising from the sealing of wills, and
afterwards extended to all legal documents. The names of the witnesses are
nearly always in the genitive, signifying that it is their seal. These
witnesses were mostly in early times friends and compatriots of the beneficiarius,
called in by him; from Vespasian's
time they were Roman citizens of the lower classes, who were perhaps called
in by the brass-cutter and most likely made a business of such attestations,
Hence the same name frequently occurs: e. g. Ti. Julius Felix (Dipl. 34, 35,
39, 41, 46). the name of Pullius occurs at least twenty-one times in these
inscriptions and they were, Mommsen supposes, freedmen of the Pullii, who
for some generations seem to have had an extensive metal-working factory.
It is noticeable that among the legions the only ones to which diplomata are
given are I., II. Adjutrices. These were formed for the fleet by Galba and
Vespasian. Several are assigned to the praetorian and urban cohorts; but far
the most to the auxiliary alae and cohorts, and to the classici.
As to the date which is always added to the
diplomata, Mommsen notices that in the third century the only dates found
are “a. d. v. Kal. Jan.” and “a. d. vii. Id. Jan.”
; the latter being the day of Augustus's establishment of the empire
(C. I. L.
i. p. 383): yet cf. Dipl. 72 (Eph.
iv. p. 508), which bears date “a. d. iii. Id.
As to the form in which the diplomata were couched, it is best to give a
specimen of one. We take No. 16 of the year 93 A.D., now preserved at Florence (C. I. L.
iii. p. 859).
Imp(erator) Caesar, divi Vespasiani f. Domitianus Augustus Germanicus
pontifex maximus tribunic(ia) potestat(e) xii imp(erator) xxii co(n)s(ul)
xvi censor perpetuus, p(ater) p(atriae).
Peditibus et equitibus qui militant in cohorte iii Alpinorum et in viii
voluntariorum civium Romanorum, qui peregrinae condicionis probati erant, et
sunt in Delmatia sub Q. Pomponio Rufo, qui quina et vicena stipendia aut
plura meruerunt, item dimisso honesta missione emeritis stipendiis
Quorum nomina subscripta sunt, ipsis liberis posterisque eorum civitatem
dedit et connubium cum uxoribus quas tune habuissent cum est civitas iis
data, aut, si qui caelibes essent cum iis quas postea duxissent dumtaxat
A. d. iii. Id. Julias M. Lollio Paullino Valerio Asiatico Saturnino, C. Antio
Julio Quadrato co(n)s(ulibus)
Cohort(is) iii, Alpinorum cui praeest C. Vibius Maximus, pediti, Veneto Diti
f., Davers(o), et Madenae Plarentis filiae uxori eius Deramist(ae) et Gaio
Descriptum et recognitum ex tabula aenea quae fixa est Romae in muro post
templum divi Aug(usti) ad Minervam.
The names of the seven witnesses are added A. Volumni Expectati, Q. Orfi
Cupiti, &c. [As to the difficult question of the marriage of
soldiers, some remarks will be found under EXERCITUS
The tablets were, as we said, of brass. They are generally oblong, about 6
× 4 3/4 inches. They have for the most part four holes, which are
indicated in the accompanying figures of the four sides. The tablets were
fastened together by two brass rings passed through holes 1 and 2.
Accordingly, if you have the outside of tabella
facing you, the fastenings are on the right side of the
tablets. Also a thread (of brass in the case of the diplomata) was fastened
three times through the holes 3 and 4, in accordance with the usual usage in
“Amplissimus ordo decrevit,
” says Paulus
5.25, 6), “eas tabulas quae
publici vel privati contractus scripturam continent, adhibitis testibus
ita signari, ut in summa marginis ad mediam partem perforatae triplici
lino constringantur atque impositae [p. 1.643]supra
linum cerae signa imprimantur.
” (Cf. Suet. Nero 17
; Gaius, 2.181; Just. Inst.
3.) But after the time of Antoninus Pius the holes 1 and 2 nearly always (e.
g. Dipl. 51) do not appear, the only fastening being through 3 and 4 (e. g.
Originally an official document was written only on the inside tablets, the
names of the witnesses alone being outside. But later the instrument was
written on the outside as well: and such is the case with all our diplomata.
The contents are written on the outside of tabella
(Fig. 1), the lines running along the shorter side of the
oblong. On the inside of tabella prior
(Figs. 2 and 3), the diploma is
again found in full in larger letters, the lines running along the longer
side of the oblong and passing on from one tablet to the other. The writing
here was after Trajan's time somewhat careless, with many abbreviations;
also the locality where the diploma was fixed was omitted or inadequately
specified. The inner side of tabella posterior
was not used at all in the diplomata of the third century. Fig. 4 shows the
outside of tabella posterior
the names of the witnesses. These names were cut at the same time as the
rest of the document; and the witnesses gave their attestation by affixing
their seals in the vacant space in the middle of the tablet, after
comparison of the law and the copy. See Mommsen in C. I. L.
iii. p. 902 ff.; Ephemeris Epigraphica,
495-515; 5.92-104, 610-617, 652-656.