Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes (suffect consul 133)

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Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes (65 - before 160) was a distinguished Greek aristocrat of the Roman Empire.

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Origin and life

Claudius Atticus was a Greek of Athenian descent. As he bears the Roman family name, Claudius, there is a possibility that a paternal ancestor of his, received Roman citizenship, from an unknown member of the Claudius gens. His great-great-grandfather was a man called Polycharmus (ca. 9/8 BC-22/23). [1] Claudius Atticus was born and raised into a very distinguished, wealthy family. He was the son of Hipparchus (born c. 40) and an unnamed woman. [2] His sister was called Claudia Alcia, and married the Athenian aristocrat Lucius Vibullius Rufus. [2] In his lifetime, Hipparchus was considered one of the wealthiest men in the Roman Empire; he was reputed to possess one hundred million sesterces. [3] This reputation is evident in a line from Suetonius (The Twelve Caesars, Vespasian, 13):

When Salvius Liberalis was defending a rich client he earned commendation from Vespasian by daring to ask: ‘Does the Emperor really care whether Hipparchus is, or is not, worth a million gold pieces?’

However, Hipparchus' fortune ultimately led to his downfall. Vespasian's second son Domitian, in either 92 or 93, ordered proscriptions on a large number of wealthy men. [3] The father of Claudius Atticus seems to have been accused of attempting to form an extra-constitutional regime in Athens. Consequently, his fortune and estates were confiscated, and, on Domitian's orders, Hipparchus was either executed or exiled. [3]

In later years, in a house that Claudius Atticus acquired near the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, he found an immense treasure. [4] As a precaution, he wrote a letter to the Emperor Nerva informing him of this and asking what to do with the treasure. Nerva replied in a letter stating: “Use what you have found”. [4] However, Claudius Atticus again wrote to Nerva, stating that this discovery was beyond his station in life, to which Nerva replied: “Then misuse your windfall, for it is yours”. [4] It is possible that this treasure was hidden there by Hipparchus during Domitian's proscriptions. With it, Claudius Atticus restored his family's influence and prestige. [4]

In 98, using money from the treasure, Claudius Atticus purchased a seat in the Roman Senate. According to two fragments from the Christian chronicler Hegesippus, [5] Claudius Atticus served as a legatus of the Iudaea Province from 99/100 to 102/103. [6] Claudius Atticus served as one of the suffect consuls in the year 133, being the first Greek from old Greece to reach the post, and probably also its first member in the Roman Senate. [7]

Family

Claudius Atticus married an Athenian heiress called Vibullia Alcia Agrippina, a member of a very wealthy and prominent family. Vibullia was also his niece, being the daughter of his sister, Claudia Alcia. [2] [3] [8] She bore him three children: [9]

Herodes Atticus and his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla, erected a great outdoor nymphaeum (a monumental fountain) at Olympia, Greece. The monumental fountain features statues and honors members of the ruling imperial family, relatives of Herodes Atticus, and his wife. Among the statues is a bust of Claudius Atticus, now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia [10]

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References

  1. Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p. 238
  2. 1 2 3 Graindor, Un milliardaire antique p. 29
  3. 1 2 3 4 Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p. 242
  4. 1 2 3 4 Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p. 243
  5. Cited in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica III.32, 3, 6
  6. E. Mary Smallwood, "Atticus, Legate of Judaea under Trajan", Journal of Roman Studies , 52 (1962), pp. 131-133
  7. Werner Eck, Paul Holder, Andreas Pangerl, "A diploma for the army of Britain in 132 and Hadrian’s return to Rome from the East", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik , 174 (2010), p. 194f
  8. Wilson, Encyclopedia of ancient Greece p. 349
  9. Pomeroy, The murder of Regilla: a case of domestic violence in antiquity
  10. McManus, Barbara F. "Plancia Magna, Aurelia Paulina, and Regilla: Civic Donors". Vroma.org. Retrieved 2010-04-28.

Sources

Political offices
Preceded by
Quintus Flavius Tertullus,
and Junius Rusticus

as suffect consuls
Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
133
with Publius Sufenas Verus
Succeeded by
Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus  III,
and Titus Vibius Varus

as ordinary consuls