and 486 traders

In the most recent general survey of names painted on Baetican amphorae, Robert Etienne and Fran^oise Mayet counted 405 oil merchants and eighty- four traders in salted fish and fish sauces.77 This disparity stems from the wealth of evidence from Monte Testaccio, that artificial hill made of fragments of oil amphorae that were emptied as soon as they arrived at Rome. This disparity also explains the chronological imbalance: since the mound has not been thoroughly excavated, only 51 oil traders are attested for the period before Antoninus Pius, as against 216 of them between ad 140 and 161. It is the latter figure that gives us a more reliable picture of the numbers of people engaged in trading a single commodity at any one time.

The Decimi Caecilii

The familia most frequently represented among these oil traders is that of the Decimi Caecilii.[1] The consular dates marked on some of their pieces from Monte Testaccio beside the traders’ names go from 144 to 160; but other criteria suggest that some undated inscriptions are from the period of Severus Alexander. In all, there are twelve different cognomina. Eight of these are Greek and were probably borne by freedmen, which is confirmed by the functions of viator and lictor occupied by two of them, of whom I shall speak at greater length. The form DD. Caeciliorum without cognomen is also found and quite often other forms representing associated members of the familia, freedmen grouped together, freedmen with free men, free men grouped together, and even DD. Caeciliorum et libertorum, a form that shows clearly the duality of statuses. Lastly, there are two instances of association with another gens, one Iulius, whose cognomen is missing,[2] and one Aelius Optatus. From one inscription, which I deal with later, we learn that the family belonged to the colony of Astigi (Ecija) on the River Genil.

In this group, did the free men and the freedmen have different roles? The answer from the amphorae is: no. They formed associations in various ways; but in all cases they formed a societas unius negotiationis, dealing in quite a small number of amphorae, judging by the split cargoes already mentioned. The functions of the freedmen were in no way different from anyone else’s. They were all equal owners of the goods carried. In decisions about associations between a freeborn man and a freedman, the initiative presumably came from the former. There is, however, evidence that on one occasion, in 149, D. Caecilius Onesimus, a freedman, took as an associate his daughter Charitosa, which is why Rodriguez Almeida says ‘he was no less enterprising than Hospitalis or Maternus themselves’.

The most outstanding character in the family does seem to have been this

D. Caecilius Hospitalis. In 147, representing the whole group of oil traders in

Baetica, and in tandem with one of his colleagues, Cassius Faustus, he took on the setting-up of a monument dedicated to a prefect of the food-supply system (annona) who had been the patron of their college and was now leaving his post to take up that of Prefect of Egypt.[3] The name of D. Caecilius Hospitalis appears unaccompanied on amphorae from Monte Testaccio in 145 and 147; associated with that of D. Caecilius Maternus in 145 and 154;[4] [5] and once with Onesimus in 149. This Onesimus is definitely the most successful freedman in the family; his name appears by itself, as well as associated with Maternus in 145. He died in Rome: on a large marble altar erected by his heirs, a funerary inscription tells us he was viator, apparitor Augustorum, diffusor olearius ex Baetica.82 To be exercising the function of apparitor is a sign of social advancement.[6] This is a freedman who has made good, as can be seen from the high quality of his funerary monument[7] and his post of diffusor. One assumes that other freedmen would have exercised functions in the oil trade that were less conspicuous and of shorter duration.

But the Decimi Caecilii had a longer past and a wider reach. An amphora with the inscription DD. Caeciliorum was found at Pompeii (CIL IV. 9480); two others with the same inscription were found at Amiens and in the Gulf of Fos (from the shape of the letters, these two would appear to date from the start of the second century); and also from the Gulf of Fos, though from a later date (but still earlier than the middle of the second century), is a new freedman, D. Caecilius Abascantus,[8] a predecessor of Onesimus. He, too, is known from an inscription at Rome.[9] And he, too, was a diffusor olearius, a member of the order of apparitores as a lictor; he lived in the capital, where he had a funerary altar raised to the memory of his wife; his intention was to die there, the funerary monument being for himself, as well as for his freedmen, freedwomen, and their descendants. Were they meant to go on engaging in the Baetican oil trade, though now in Rome, or did Abascantus plan to set them off on some other track? Whatever the case, Astigi, the home town of the Decimi Caecilii, was now far away. Abascantus is a good example of a freedman from somewhere else who grew rich, set himself up in the capital, and became established there via his own freedmen.

Jose Remesal has exhumed inscriptions at Rome that mention some individuals by the name of Decimus Caecilius, whom he links to the family of oil merchants.[10] In fact, though the Caecilius gentilicium (family name) was widespread, it was rarely prefaced by the first name Decimus. In addition to those mentioned by Remesal, there were a good fifteen men called Decimus Caecilius in Rome; and they certainly did not all belong to the same family. However, it is quite plausible to see a branch of the Baetican traders in the lineage that goes from Caecilia Helpis, a freedwoman of the DD. Caecilii Trophimus et Logus, to her grandson D. Caecilius Vindex.[11] The probability is even greater with the epitaph to Valeria Firma, who died at the age of 21, and was mourned by her father C. Valerius Onesimus and her husband

D. Caecilius (the cognomen is missing). There is a mention of a C. Valerius Onesimus on an amphora from Monte Testaccio. It is true that both names, Valerius and Onesimus, were very common; but there is nothing fortuitous in the relation to D. Caecilius. Everything suggests that he married in Rome the daughter of one of his colleagues. Both of them were living there, though whether temporarily or definitively, we do not know.[12]

As late as the third century there were still Caecilii in the Baetican oil trade. There is an inscription DD. (or II?) Caecilior(um) followed by two illegible cognomina and several others mentioning only the Caecilii, which Rodriguez Almeida tends to date from the period beginning with Severus Alexander. We are obviously dealing here with a mercantile dynasty that lasted for more than a century and a half.[13] The impression given (if we bear in mind the enormous over-representation from ad 140 via Monte Testaccio) is of a permanent trunk around which many shoots of freedmen spring up and rise to differing levels of success. They are not agents of their patrons. They set up associations independently of them and are identified in inscriptions as owners of cargoes. However, they did collaborate with them, as is shown by the instances of mutual association. The role played by some of these freedmen was shortlived; but others, such as Abascantus and Onesimus, succeeded brilliantly and grew rich. Andrzej Los[14] points out that the proportion of freedmen in inscriptions is much lower in the first century than in the second; and the accumulation of more data has only added point to this observation. It is possible that some freedmen, either through the intermediary of their own freedmen or by filiation through continuing for some time to choose Greek cognomina, formed branches of their own that, though secondary, were still linked to the family of origin.[15]

The same could be shown with several other families.[16] The Baetica oil traders, as I have already said, had different origins and different places of residence. They were not all of the same rank. A small number of them diversified their activities into other commodities, wine, salted fish, or garum: in the first century, P. Attius Severus, the Quinti Caecilii, and the Atinii. One of them, M. Valerius Abinnericus, even simultaneously traded salted goods from Baetica and salted fish from Cumae.[17]

  • [1] I am relying here on the listing by Etienne and Mayet (2004: 164-75), which recapitulatesand marginally complements the one given by Rodriguez Almeida (1984: 223-33). See RemesalRodriguez and Aguilere Martin (2003: 299-303).
  • [2] Rodriguez Almeida (1994: 119).
  • [3] CIL VI. 1625 b = ILS 1340. See Ch. 15.
  • [4] On the shoulder of the amphora bearing this date the producer of the oil is mentioned: anImperial estate (CIL XV. 2, 3773; Liou and Tchernia 1994: 151). It is worth noting that oil froman Imperial estate was being handled by the most high-profile, conspicuous traders.
  • [5] Panciera (1980: 242); Granino Cecere (1994: 713-15). There has been much discussionabout the role of the diffusor. The most reliable conclusions are those arrived at by MichelChristol (2008) after a thorough clarification of a copious and at times confusing bibliography.The post of diffusor olearius ex Brntica was a stage in the careers of the most importantnegotiatores. The function of the diffusor, who lived in Rome, was to work with the communityof oil traders, the corpus oleariorum: through the organization of the annona, which since thedays of Hadrian or the beginning of the reign of Antoninus had been responsible for the efficientsupply of oil to Rome, he was charged with ‘receipt of consignments arriving in the ports andwith the transition from transport to distribution to consumers' (Christol 2008: 292). Of theearlier bibliography, see especially Chic Garcia (1986: 248) (who was the first to make the linkbetween grain and oil in the second century, later stressed by Christol); Rodriguez Almeida(1987-8); Granino Cecere (1994); and, for the idea of the warehouses, Taglietti (1994).
  • [6] Purcell (1983); and, on this particular case, Tran (2006: 86-7, 221-2, 466-7).
  • [7] Granino Cecere (1994: 713 and fig. 3).
  • [8] Amiens: Massy and Vasselle (1976); Fos: Liou (1987a: 56-7). Probably also CIL XV, 4058.
  • [9] Granino Cecere (1994).
  • [10] Remesal Rodriguez (2004). 2 CIL VI. 13823, 13860.
  • [11] 89 Etienne and Mayet (2004: 174-5, 188), argue that the Valerii were from Narbonne,whereas, according to Camodeca (1993: 39; 1999), TPSulp. 58, 59, and Eos (2005: 100), theywere from Campania. A Valerius Valens, however, appears in two recently published inscriptions from Seville, linked to the corpus oleariorum (Stylow and Gimeno Pascual 2002: 345-6;Hispania Epigraphica, 10 (2000 [2004], 207-12, no. 577); AE (2002 [2005]: 715, 716): he isalmost certainly the M. Valerius Valens recorded on amphorae from Monte Testaccio in 145 and
  • [12] 149; so that a Spanish origin for the M. Valerii is now the most likely hypothesis. The place ofresidence of the C. Valerii remains uncertain. Cf. Rovira Guardiola (2007: 1265).
  • [13] One is even tempted to push the lineage farther back, by including in it the QQ. Caecilii,who dealt variously in oil and garum, are mentioned on an amphora from Lyons dating from theend of the reign of Augustus or the start of Tiberius', and were well represented in Rome in themiddle of the first century, as shown by excavations in the Castro Pretorio (CIL XV. 2, 3646,4753-4; Desbat, Lequement, and Liou 1987: 156-60).
  • [14] Los (2005: 85-91).
  • [15] The point made by Claude Domergue should be noted: that, among those who developedthe silver mines at Cartagena under the Republic, there were ‘veritable industrial dynasties', andthat, in two cases, freedmen from these families ‘branched out on their own into working themines’ (1985: 203; 1990: 324-7).
  • [16] For example, the Coelii. See Zevi (1989: 8-9); Taglietti (1994: 172-5).
  • [17] Botte (2009: 144). 5 Gascou (2000); Christol (2002).
 
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