Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (Greek : Τιβέριος Ιούλιος Κέλσος Πολεμαιανός, romanized: Tibérios Ioúlios Kélsos Polemaianós), commonly known as Celsus (c. 45 – before c. 120), was an Ancient Greek Roman citizen who became a senator, and served as suffect consul as the colleague of Lucius Stertinius Avitus. Celsus Polemaeanus was a wealthy and popular citizen and benefactor of Ephesus, and was buried in a sarcophagus beneath the famous Library of Celsus, which was built as a mausoleum in his honor by his son Tiberius Julius Aquila Polemaeanus.
Celsus was born about 45 to a family of Greek originin either Ephesus or Sardis. His family were priests in Rome and were originally from Sardis in Asia Minor. They had been granted Roman citizenship, and some of them held official positions in the service of the Roman Empire.
The cursus honorum of Celsus has been recorded in a Latin inscription recovered at Ephesus.According to it, his earliest recorded office was military tribune in Legio III Cyrenaica, which was part of the garrison of Roman Egypt. The next recorded event in his life was his adlection into the Senate inter aedilicios by Vespasian and his son Titus, which was a reward Vespasian is known to have made to individuals who supported him during the Year of the Four Emperors. Exactly how Celsus supported Vespasian is not known: the governor of Egypt at the time, Tiberius Julius Alexander, was the first governor to declare publicly for Vespasian (1 July 69); a vexillation of Legio III Cyrenaica participated in the Jewish War and Celsus may have come to Vespasian's notice that way. Regardless of the reason, promotion to the Senate was a significant social and political achievement for Celsus.
Following this, Celsus achieved the republican magistracy of praetor of the people of Rome, requiring his presence in the capital city. Then he was appointed praetorian legate to the provincial complex of Cappadociae et Galatiae Ponti, Pisidiae Paphlagoniae, Armeniae minoris, an aggregation of territory that later became the provinces of Roman Cappadocia, Galatia, Paphlagonia, and Roman Armenia. This presents a problem: at this time (75-79) the garrison of this territory included two legions, which implies this governorship would normally be assigned to someone who had previously been consul; further, the governor of Galatia at this time is known to be Marcus Hirrius Fronto Neratius Pansa. Mireille Corbier provides a possible explanation: Celsus was acting here as an independent, yet subordinate associate to Neratius Pansa.
The next steps in his career are less problematic. Celsus was then assigned as commander of Legio IV Scythica (about 81-82),then the sortition allotted him the province of Bithynia and Pontus -- then one of the public provinces -- as his to govern (84/85). Celsus proceeded to Rome where the emperor Domitian appointed him one of the three prefects of the aerarium militare (85-87), then returned to the East where he was governor of Cilicia from the years 89 to 91. It was at this point that Celsus acceded to suffect consul.
After discharging his duties as consul, Celsus was admitted to the quindecimviri sacris faciundis , one of the four most prestigious collegia of priests of ancient Rome. His stay in Rome was further prolonged by serving as curator of the aedium sacrum et operum locorumque publicorum, or overseer of maintaining the temples, public buildings and places of Rome, an important administrative duty.However, by this point Domitian had grown suspicious of Senators and other powerful individuals to the point of paranoia, and Celsus quietly returned home to Ephesus.
With the reign of Trajan, Celsus returned to public life, and served a term as proconsular governor of Asia in 105/106.He died some time before 117, the year Gaius Julius Severus of Ancyra erected a monument mentioning Celsus Polemaeanus.
From the numerous inscriptions in Ephesus that relate to him, Corbier was able to determine many details of Celsus Polemaeanus' family.Celsus had married a Quintilla, possibly related to the provincial family known to have flourished at Alexandria Troas at this time. Together they had at least three children:
The Library of Celsus in Ephesus was built to honor Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus after his death. He paid for the library from his own personal wealth,and bequeathed a large sum of money for its construction which was carried out by his son Julius Aquila Polemaeanus. The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a monumental tomb for Celsus, being both a crypt containing his sarcophagus and a sepulchral monument to his memory. The library collapsed after Ephesus was deserted but its façade was restored by an Austrian archaeology foundation in the 1970s.
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.
The Library of Celsus is an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, Anatolia, now part of Selçuk, Turkey. The building was commissioned in the 110s A.D. by a consul, Gaius Julius Aquila, as a funerary monument for his father, former proconsul of Asia Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, and completed during the reign of Hadrian, sometime after Aquila's death. The library is considered an architectural marvel, and is one of the only remaining examples of a library from the Roman Empire. The Library of Celsus was the third-largest library in the Roman world behind only Alexandria and Pergamum, believed to have held around twelve thousand scrolls. Celsus is buried in a crypt beneath the library in a decorated marble sarcophagus.
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Λέοντας Τιβερίου Ιουλίου Κέλσου Πολεμαιανοϋ δούλος
By contrast, Greek senators were more than free to lavish their wealth on their own cities or other ones…Celsus Polemaeanus of Sardis endows a library at Ephesus in which he is honored both as a Greek and a Roman; the library itself may have had a similar dual character, recalling the twin libraries of Trajan at Rome.
Sardis had already seen two Greek senators ... Ti. Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, cos. Suff. N 92 (Halfmann 1979: no 160), who endowed the remarkable Library of Celsus at Ephesus, and his son Ti. Julius Aquila Polemaeanus, cos. suff. in 110, who built most of it.
…statues (lost except for their bases) were probably of Celsus, consul in A.D. 92, and his son Aquila, consul in A.D. 110. A cuirass statue stood in the central niche of the upper storey. Its identification oscillates between Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who is buried in a sarcophagus under the library, and Tiberius Julius Aquila Polemaeanus, who completed the building for his father
Apart from the public buildings for which such benefactors paid – the library at Ephesos, for example, recently reconstructed, built by Tiberius Iulius Aquila Polmaeanus in 110-20 in honour of his father Tiberius Iulius Celsus Polemaeanus, one of the earliest men of purely Greek origin to become a Roman consul
Ti. Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (PIR2 J 260) was a romanized Greek of Ephesus or Sardes who became the first eastern consul.
The Julio-Claudian emperors admitted relatively few Greeks to citizenship, but these showed satisfaction with their new position and privileges. Tiberius is known to have enfranchised only Tib. Julius Polemaeanus, ancestor of a prominent governor later in the century, and the hellenized Tib. Julius Alexander. 1 16 His popular governor of Achaia, P. Memmius Regulus (IG II2 4174)
Nevertheless, in 92 the same office went to a Greek, Ti. Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who belonged to a family of priests of Rome hailing from Sardis; entering the Senate under Vespasian, he was subsequently to be appointed proconsul of Asia under Trajan, possibly in 105/6. Celsus’ son, Aquila, was also to be made suffectus in 110, although he is certainly remembered more as the builder of the famous library his father envisioned for Ephesus.
… and son of Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, proconsul of Asia, who founds the Celsian library from his own wealth …
After all, the library was simultaneously the sepulchral monument of Celsus and the crypt contained his sarcophagus. The very idea of honouring his memory by erecting a public library above his grave need not have been the original conception of Tiberius Iulius Aquila the founder of the library.
Lucius Venuleius Montanus Apronianus,
and Quintus Volusius Saturninus
as suffect consuls
| Suffect consul of the Roman Empire |
with Lucius Stertinius Avitus
Gaius Julius Silanus, and
Quintus Junius Arulenus Rusticus
as suffect consuls