“Commissioned by the Town Council”
Imp(eratori) Caesar[i]
M(arco) Aurelio Anto=
nino Aug(usto) Armeniaco, 
trib(unicia) pot(estate) XVIII
imp(eratori) II, co(n)s(uli) III, pont(ifici)
max(imo), p(atri) p(atriae), d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) publice.
[Imp(eratori) Caes(ari)]
[L(ucio) Aur(elio)]
Aug(usto) Armen[i]=
aco, trib(unicia pot(estate) 
I̅I̅I̅I, ìmp(eratori) II, co(n)s(uli) II
pontif(ici) max(imo), p(atri) p(atriae),
d(ecurionum) d(ecreto) public(e).

164 d.C. / 164 d.C.

Text from EDR

Viewing these inscriptions in tandem, this 164 epigraph from Camerinum, which was commissioned by the town council, briefly gives a sense of what an inscription of both emperors entails. Each honors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus with their respective titles–including Armeniacus, even though Lucius already had the name for over a year. The average Roman, however, would have noticed Marcus’ greater auctoritas proudly displayed through his being consul for the third time and Lucius for the second. In addition, Marcus has held tribunicia potestas for the 18th time compared to his partner’s 4 times having held that office.

Settling a Tax Dispute”
Imp(erator) Caesar M(arcus) Aurelius
Antoninus Aug(ustus)
Germanicus Sarmat(icus) et
Imp(erator) Caesar L(ucius) Aurelius
Commodus Aug(ustus)
Germanicus Sarmat(icus)
hos lapides constituì ìusserunt
propter controversias quae
inter mercatores et mancip̣es
10 ortae erant uti finem
demonstrarent vectigali
foricularì et ansariì
promercalium secundum
veterem legem semel dum
15 taxat exigundo.

 177 d.C. / 180 d.C.  (prosopographia)


Text and Image from EDR

In an inscription in Rome dating to the last three years of Marcus’ rule, both he and Commodus credit themselves with settling a dispute among merchants and possibly city contractors over a civic tax. When searching for inscriptions of this theme, I did not expect Marcus Aurelius to share in the glory of this domestic achievement with his son Commodus, who we can potentially say with some certainty was not particularly interested in social tax reform. Perhaps this is a public example of Marcus Aurelius as an imperial father grooming his son for office, encouraging him to gain experience in domestic policy and affairs.

“Sharing in power”

[— Co]mmod[us?] Caes(ar), pr(inceps?) iuvent(utis), co(n)s(ul), desi[gn(atus), —] [—] particeps iṃp̣[eri —]
[—? M(arcus) Antonius Iu]venis Ti(berius) Iulius Frugi [mag(ister)? ob adventum Imp(eratoris) Caes(aris)]
[M(arci) Aureli Antonini Aug(usti) immolavit] Iovi Opt(imo) Max(imo) bovem mare[m, Iunoni Reginae]
[bov(em) femin(am), Minervae bov(em) femin(am), Sa]luti bovem femin(am), Neptuno t[aur(um), Genio Imperatoris taur(um)],
[et ob adventum L(uci) Aureli C]ommodi Caes(aris) Iovi bov(em) mare[m, Iunoni Reginae] [bovem femin(am), Minervae bovem femin(am), Saluti] bov(em) fem(inam), Genio Imperatori[s taur(um)].
[—]I Decembr(es?) [—].
10 ——

176 d.C. / 176 d.C.


Text and Image from EDR

In this inscription from 176, Marcus endorses his son while still emperor of Rome, admitting his sharing of imperium. Because so many epigraphs feature titles and honors extending for tens of lines, increasing one’s own renown is an ultimate goal of any such advertisement. Marcus Aurelius, however, not only seems to prime his successor early on, but also solidifies the image of Commodus in the minds of the people as a worthy one.

This inscription seems to coincide with the imperial family’s return to Rome in 176, specifically for the mere arrival of Marcus and Commodus. Six different head of cattle were sacrificed for six different Roman gods solely for the emperor and his heir to-be.

Marcus Bassaeus Rufus, praetorian prefect of Marcus Aurelius

M(arco) Bassaeo M(arci) f(ilio) St[el(latina)]
Rufo, pr(aefecto) pr(aetorio)
[Im]peratorum M(arci) Aureli Antonini et
[L(uci)] Aureli Veri et L(uci) Aureli Commodi Augg.,
[c]onsularibus ornamentis honorato
[e]t ob victoriam Germanicam et Sarmatic(am)
[A]ntonini et Commodi Augg. corona
[m]urali, vallari, aurea, hastis puris IIII,
[to]tidemque vexillis obsidionalibus
10 [ab iisdem] donato, praef(ecto) Aegypti, praef(ecto)
[vig(ilum)], proc(uratori) a rationibus, proc(uratori) Belg[icae et]
[d]ụarum Germaniarum, proc(uratori) regni [No]=
[ri]ci, proc(uratori) Asturiae et Gallaeciae, trib(uno) [coh(ortis)]
[—] pr(aetoriae), trib(uno) coh(ortis) X urb(anae), trib(uno) coh(ortis) V vigul(um), p(rimo) p(ilo) bis.
15 [Huic se]natus auctoribus Ìmpp. Antonino et
[Comm]odo Augg. statuam armatam in foro
[divi Traia]ni et aliam civili amictu in templo
[divi Pii et] tertiam loricatam in tem=
[plo — po]nendas [censuit].

179 d.C. / 180 d.C.

Marcus Bassaeus Rufus


Text and Image from EDR

In this inscription, Marcus Bassaeus Rufus, the praetorian prefect under Marcus Aurelius, is thanking the emperor for his consular gifts and three statues that were erected in his own honor. Bassaeus anachronistically claims his tenure as the prefect of the praetorian guard under not only Marcus Aurelius and Commodus but also Lucius Verus, who has been dead for over a decade when this epigraphy is etched. He also pays homage to the fact that Marcus has just conquered the Germans and Sarmatians by including his most recent military victory titles. We are to assume that Marcus decreed three different statues be made in Bassaeus’ visage, one in armed garb in the forum of divine Trajan, one in civilian attire in the temple of divine Pius (Marcus’ own adoptive father), and the last in a third location in a second temple.

Marcus Aurelius, the Arvalian Brother

Imp(eratori) Caes(ari), Dìvi A[ntonini] 
Piì fìl(io), Dìvì Had[riani] 
nepoti, Dìvi Tr[aiani] 
Parthici prone[poti], 
Dìvi Nervae abnep[oti] 
M(arco) Aelio Aurel[io] 
Antonìno Aug(usto), p(ontifici) m(aximo), 
trib(unicia) pot(estate) X̅V̅I̅I̅, co(n)s(uli) I̅I̅I̅,
fratri Arvali
163 d.C. / 163 d.C.

Adorning a statue base, this inscription names Marcus Aurelius a member of the Arvalian Brothers, a religious sect restored by Augustus. Our knowledge of their membership is limited, but this could provide a link to the claim that Marcus was initiated and was in fact depicted in statuary in Arvalian garb.