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THE MEDICI OF THE

ROMAN ARMED FORCES


R. W. Davies
of the most important groups of men in the Roman army was the medical
They had various titles but by far the most common was tnedicus, the
ion of whidr with med.icina is obvious. There are various references in
to the med.ici and a large number of epigraphic examples occur, but the
is by no means clear and has caused scholars considerable difficulty in
ion. It was not until the time of the Principatel that a proper medical
vas organised, and a collection of the epigraphic and other eyidence is
divided up into the various types of unit, in an appendix,.
is epigraphic evidence for medici in all brandres of the Roman forces in
and in the provinces, as well as the fleets, Four medici are attested in two
cohortes vigilum in A. D. 2103. It is therefore rather surprising to find
in a dedication set up in A. D, 198 or 799 by the members of the hospital
at Lambaesis the medici are not mentioned. The stafi attested are: two
incs ztaletudinarii.; pequari, sometimes called, pecaarii; a librarius; and
tes capsarioruma.It is interesting to note that all the troops had an equal
ial interest, except for the discentes, whose amount is only half that of
L mrades; this might be taken rc mean tht they were paid at a difierent
from rhe others, or possibly that they could not be expected to have the same
es the others, while they were sdll undergoing their training and had not
qualified. Epigraphically there are considerably more medici attested rhan
e other medical staff put together. Perhaps it is safest to ssume that
irucription was set up by the medici and capsarii and any other members

F,c c

evidence

of the Republic

see

O, Jacob, 'Le service de saat dans les armes romaines',


the Later Roman Empire cf. Ammianus, XVI 6,2:

A'f:c;qui Classique 2, 1933,313-29. For


fut qtidam ex medico scstariontm.
ber of the inscription or literary

reference given

in the appendix will be cited in

aces and not the source. For other lists of rzelici, by no means exhaustive aad at times
see F{. Gummerus,'Der Arztestand im rmisdren Reidre nadr den Insd-rriften',
-asr-rte,
Scientiarum Fennica, Commentationes lfumanarum Litterarum, III. 6 (1932). - A.
t-r
Gan; La Medicina Militare nella Leggenda e nella Storia (1929\ 124 . - \f. Liebenam,
lt.l-I 1668, - . Passerini, Dizionario epigraco di antidrit romane IV (1950) 608, number
-" - J. Marquardt, Rmisdre Staatsverwaltung (second edition) II (1884) 554-7. - J.
eclcwgh,'Roman Medicine and the Legionsr a Reconsideration', Medical Hisrory, 12,
|' 258, n. 27. - G. Vebster, The Roman Impeia,I }urlLy (1969) 248-254.
,16.
l-trI 2553 + AE 1906, 9 : ILS 2438 * addenda.

R. V. Davies

of the

medical stafi6, and this has not been discovered;

it might be that

receiYed different rate of pay.


Vegetius in his 'Epitome of Military Matters. quotes as one

the praefectas castroram:,Fle was responsible

for the

of the

respoun-h1

sick soldiers and

mediri, by whom they were looked after, and also the expenses involved-.
another passage he discusses the hygiene, sanitation, arrd ,nedi"irre employcd
Roman camps and twice menrions tned;ci| . An important literary source b
lst of immwnes quoted in the Digest; the source cited is the first vol
'Military Matters' of Tarruntenus paternus, the one-time praetorian prefecg
may also have been rhe source for Vegetiuss. An immunis was a soldier
because of the special tasks he performed, was not available for
the normal
to day duties in his unit and was relieved from fatigues; he did not receivc
extr^ pay for his responsibilities but got the same standard rate as a
Paternus quotes in the lirst part of the list optio valetadinarii medici
and later and separately qui aegris prdesto sr.nt and, also veterinarii. He
regaJds the opti,o-in targe of the hospital, the medici, and the dressers
as a gp
in the. same_ field. The optio valetud.inarii and, the ca7tsarii (so called from
cap,sa in whidt the bandages were kept) are clearly periormini
specific taskg i
to be presumed thar the term ,nedici w^s similarly intended jesc.ibe a sp
post and is not generalisation for the medical sta{f. It is not known o
meant by qui degris prdesto sunt, not why a vague phrase should be accordcd
them, why their tedrnical ranh or ranks ,." ,rt merrtiorred, nor wy thry r
separated from the rest of the medical staf. They are perhaps to be regardcd
attendants, who would look after the sidr troops, as opposej $ the nedici,l
would give them medical attention and careo. In the Royal Navy they wiII
L
equivalent of the ratings medical assistant and medical tedrnician respectivdyThere are other difficulties that arise in connection with paternus,s list
contains only a fraction of the known immunes; presumably he was dravi
his memory rather than quoting a writren source. 5o-" ut l""rt of the men
as imrnunes can be shown from the evidence of Vegetius and epigraphy
mI
been not immanes but principaleslo. A principalis *,
*ho,
b..aus.
of
" -".,
extra responsibiliries, received exl- pay, either twice the
basic rate (dupli
or one and a half times (sesqaiplicarius), as.{.e11 as not doing fatigues. Tte
5

Number 59 shows rhat the medici in the fleet (classis |isencnsis\ had. a collezhtm
of
For^othe_r medical staf, see CIL XIII 6778, sphsiaius;
/le. tititts, ii,' vfi
2618,b,25, mars rs j
52 beIow, oe terinarius.

^oteMilitaris
o Vegetius, Epitoma Rei
7lbid,
?
Ibid.
2- Vegrtiuys.source
Vesetius'" r1*.

III .,

II

&
2*t

10.

may L--have L-"


been A. Cornelius Celsus, who wrote oo rn&
-.maners nd medrcrne, it he is to be identied with the Cornelius Celsus
cired by Vegetbr
in his list of. sourcer; cf, euintitian, )(II i1,24. Other p""ft-.".*r'
*. the.-tq
Augustus, Trajan, and Hadrian, and the praetorian prefect Trr.n,"rr" p"*""".
I^
Dig., L 6,7;

0 Liebenam.

see

previous note,

op. cit. (note 2), Xrankenwrter; F. Lammert, RE Suppl. lV 1094. Al.errir


as they ftmediatety precede four types of librails, they mi!t
be concemed vi r
in the running-oiihe fiospital; t.. i tit;"",- i"i i-o.pit l, .o c
f,p:ll:jl
--*1":d
1or expenses,
not-e 6 and AE 193j, 120; a rcrj(rd)
note
rcrj(la) is ssocited
associated with number 25.
.^
.u^ r.oJ qrscussron ot the probjem,
see G, R. Vatsoll,s study in: M. G.
Jarrett and B. Dotcc
Britain and Rome (1966) 45-55.

85

The Medici of the Roma Armed Forces

as second in command of his century and its acting commander'


its officer (the centurion) fall ill or be absent, was a principalis, The optio
i is presumably a supernumerary optio of the same standing as an
in a century, who had been put in drarge of the hospitallr. Valerius Rufus,
, is listed in a vexillation of legio XI Claadia in A. D. 155 t the end of a
of principales and immediately b efore the irnmunes penatoresTz. The medici

aanple,

'

ships of the fleet are always attested as being d,upLic ariirs.


suggests that there may have been more than one type

is

of rnedicas with

srme dtle but with difierent ranks. More detailed examination contrms this
and shows that one m.edicus is to be equated with a medical officer of high
and the other with a medical orderly of low rank; it is presumably the
whidr is to be identited with the immunis rnentioned by Trruntenus
It is possible to distinguish the medical officer from the orderly in
ways.
Domaszewski showed that in the case of the Italian units they held
ins
qrial position; they were associated on inscriptions with officers and senior
. In two cases a man is referred to s rnedicus castrensis or medicus
that is, the doctor in drarge of the camp of the unit, Bononius Gordus
or XIII urbana at Lugdunumls, and Quintus Marcius Artemidorus of
qrites singuLares Augusti at Rome16. In the case of the provincial units the
has at times a Greek name. As normally a Greek would not be enlisted in
ion or an auxiliary ala or cohott, he must clearly be a Greek-speaking
ited doctor'?. In this category belong Tiberius Claudius Hymnus of
b XXI Rapaxts, Titus Flavius Onesiphorus of kgio III Aagwstatg, Marcus
ius Hegetor of cobors XXXII Voluntarioramzo and Lucius Fabius Anthimus
&rc IV Vindelicorwrnzoo. It is possible that the Greek doctor may have been
Roman citizenship, if he did not lready possess it, on joining his unit".
, where the dedicator sets up his dedication in Greek, he is to be
with the doctor, as for example, Aufidius Clemens oI legio XXII
brzna2z and Asclepiades of kgio II Traiana in A' D. 146'3 and probably
other instances2a. Another way of identifying the doctor is when the

.|dct supernumerary optio will have been the ogtio fabricae, DiA., L 6,7, CIL III 8202.
lE is preferable to supposing .ht .he opt;ones labricae and. valetadinarii were totally difkr rrps of NCO from the tactical ones of the same name.
37.

op. cit. (note 9). Numbers 59-65.

ra Domaszewski, Die Rangordnung des rmisdren Heeles (1908)


-rq The Vigiles of Imperial Rome (19261 72,73,78.
tatds,
.N-

15, 26.

P'

Bailtie

7.

t8.

rdditioo to the following four notes

see also notes 16, 23, 24, 25,

26,1A,31, 33,34, 36,39,

d17.

23-

25.
5.{.

hber 52.
t& Caesar gave Roman citizenship to all practising doctors
.ll bers of a legion had to possess Roman citizenship.
20.
38.
39, 68, ar'd 70-

at Rorne, SuetoDius, JuI.,42,1.

R.

Davies

rnedicts dedicates to the god of healing, Aesculapius, or rhe goddess of I


health, Hygieia,'who is at times identified with the Roman Salus; ofo.
dedication to the deiries is associated with a wish for the health of rTtrus Marcus Aurelius -ocomas at Bindrester in the third century dedicatod
altar 'to Aesculapius and Salus for the good health of the ala Vettontm.,
unit251 Sextus Titius Alexander, ntedicus of cobors V praetoria, dedicated
in A. D. 82 'to Aesculapius and the good health of his fellow-soldiers.;
Iulianus dedicated in A. D. 198 at Osterburken ,for the good health of
III Aquitanorum', of whidr unit he was the med,ica|; Tiberius Martius
sis, the med.icus of legio II Adiutrix at Aquincum, dedicated to Aesculapius L
A. D. 147281' Marcius Marcellus, a med,icas probably of the same legio,
to Aesculapius and Hygieia under the supervision of an eoocd,tus, and
zewski interpreted him as a doctor on the exercise-groundro. Sometimes
doctor is reyealed by the special circumstances under whidr the dedicatim
made. Marcus Rubrius Zosimus, a Greek but whose home was Ostia, was
of cohors IV Aquitanoram, whidr was stationed at Obernburg in Upper
many; he set up an altar to Apollo, the god of healing, Aesculapius, Sals,
Fortuna, for the good health of the commanding officer of his unit; as he
fulfilling his vow, presumably he had nursed the prdelectras through a
illnessso. Marcus Ulpius Ffonoratus, a decurion of the eqnites singalares
set up an altar in fullment of a vov 'to Aesculapius and Hygieia for the
I
health of himself, his family, and of Lucius Iulius Helix, medicus, wln
diligently and devotedly looked after me'sl. It is unfortunate tht it is
possible to read, tny of the letter addressed to Priscus, a med.icas t the lesi
f ortress at Vindonissas2.
The calibre of the medical officers must have been very high. pedanius
des, for example, was n army doctor who uavelled extensively in rtre d
of Claudius and Nero; his work Materia Med.ica was referred to with
respect by Galen, the greatest medical aurhoriry of the Romansst. Galeo alrr
mentions a remedy for headadre devised by Antigonus ,who was a distingui#
doctor in camp'3!, and also refers to clinical observations of military doors a
a German war35. Marcus Ulpius Telesporus (1) was medicns first of the dld Inb
nd, in Upper Germany, then of the ala III Astr4rum in Mauretania Tingit"ne, te
r5 Number 45:
20

lAescltlapio letf Salati fpro saht)te alae Vetftoxrm-

Number 3: lsclepio et saluti commilitonam.


,7 Number 56: lprol salute cob III Aq.
2e Number 30. Cf. also number 67.
2e Number 29. Domaszewski, op, cit. (note 14), 45. professor
E. Birley suggests to me tlac
CIL reading should be emended to stb c(ur)a(gente) p. Vat(io) praesiit(e) eook(aarl- fother doctors possibly connected with the trainiag of recruits, seebelow, notes 77-g0_
80 Number 55, Numbers 26 and,27 similarly show
doctors of Greek origin a long *ay tr

their home.
Nurnber 17: Aesculapio.et

Hlgke.,. pro salute u.a srort4mqq.e et L.


mei diligenter egit secundum deos.
sz Number 40. Gesellsdraft Pro Vindonissa
,1947148 (1948) 32.
s3 Number 69.
ea Number 71, For another military doctor
mentioned by Galen see number 66.
15 Number 76. See also nore 90e1

I*li

Helicis

qri o-

-.\-i

The Medici of the Roman rmed Forces

rcurning to ciYilian Practice s medical officer of health at Ferentium rn


t Marcis Valerius Longinus' medicus of kgio VII Claud'ia, was awatded'
rery membership of the iown council of Drobeta in Upper Moesia; he may
hare devoted sime time to the municipal health servicesT' It is only to be
I tlat Roman military doctors would be used to assist local or native
ions- if there was no civilian doctor in the vicinity of the fortts' Callil the medicus of the ala I tllpia contariorum cirtium Romanorutn was
4 history
ruolvr/ of the Parthian Var of
LarsrlLsand wrote a
considerable talents
Or ConsrqeraDle
EII of
rs \terus3o. It is worth noting that a doctor of his ability was attadred to an
illiaria, a unit superior to all other auxiliary ones in its training, organr
prsonnel, and commanderao.
ire r",rer"l clear examples of the low-ranking medical orderly' Titus
Numeriusal and Marcus Sabinianius Quietusa', the former of kgio XXII
ia. the latter in a vexillation of legio I Mineruia, are each described as
med.icas. The addition of miles shows quite clearly that both men were rn
nnks and were not officers' In several cases the inscription gives the number
ate
ycars that the soldier had been serving in the army;
-stipendid of
^s,the
f, *r-.lly given in the case of other ranks, Titus Aelius Martialiso'
II Dard.inorum and Caius Nundinius Opterviusaa, presumably of legio
,tlittix, re to be equated with the medical orderlies' An tnknown medi'cus
of the
W XV Apollinaris is associated in an inscription with a- century
in
found
was
d .od h" too will have been an orderlyas. A medical spatula
lettering;
LraA-Utoa. t Caerleon with 7 Cu----anili inscribed in punctuate
this belonged to a medical ordedy whose nme was -anilius, in a
r ol legio II Augustaa$.
is alsJ evidenc! to show that there were specialists, in addition to the
r: who were the equivalent of general practioners. So far they are attested
in the fourth Praeiorian cohort, but these specialists must hve existed in
units too. Caius Terentius Symphorus was a med'icus cbirurgts or sur. Tiberius Claudius Iulianus was ^ med'icas clini'cus, ot a doctor who
ded patients who were sick in their beds in the hospitalas; it is to be assumed
ahe-, do"tors, unlike Iulianus, will have dealt with the sick parades' Other
46. Telesporus is Professor Birley's suggested emendation of the name'
nber 36.

-t -Jl."t

&r

of6cers and stafi

of the armed

forces continue to do even today in the more

parts of the world.


47.

fftily, lAl"" and cohortes milliariae', Corolla Memoriae Eridr


Itl-- Vetetius, Epitoma Rei Militaris, I 5; II 6; II 12.
lbber 2l; he is associated on the inscription with another zriler'
34. For revised date and spelling,

see

Swoboda Dedicta (1966)

Epigr. Studien 5 (1968) 18

48.
32. But cf. A. M6csy, Bevlkerung von Pannonien (1959) 251'

hber
nf.t

44.

+2. Ardr. Camb., 95, :-9ka, l27 Mr. G. C. Boon kindly informs me that the object is
of a pair of forceps.

hber 2.
ibb.t l. For interpretation of clinias, see C. T. Lewis
{ftc) s- v.; Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, 1900 fi., s. v.

and

Short, Latin Dictionary

R. rV. Davies

sdrolars prefer to interpret the,nedicus clinicas as a sPecialist in internal


and complaints; if this is so, it shows that there must have been several
types of specialist attadred to the Roman military forces{o. Although

of a military tnedicus ocularias, there rs


evidence to show that the Roman army did have oculists, sudr as Axius of
classis Britannicaso. Such experts were not confined to the care of
Quartiussr was the ,ned.icas zteterinari*s of the first Praetorian cohort, eJ
ability and value to the rmy s a veterinary surgeon can be gauged frn
lact that he was still attached to the Guard at the age of eighty-five- Tbcy
also attested in the provinces: Lucius Crassicus62, for example, was a
as yet no epigraphic example

leter;nd,riut and his inscription depicts various quadrupeds; it is known rb


served in a century and he will have been one of the leter;ndrii i-n tbc Er

immunes quoted by Tarruntenus Paternus, There are a dozen epi


examples o1 pecuaits or pequait4s in a legion, seYeral of whom have c
tional title of tnilesis. llowever, one man, Ioctanus, who is the only examglc
closely associated with a legion, has the rank medicas pequariu#.'Itrr,
distinction may probably be drawn as before in the case of humans: there
skilled and qualified veterinary surgeon, and under him the other rank assi
among the sta{f of the hospital at Lambad
worked. The peqnar;
^ttested
^recentury.
Caius Aufidius55' who is described as
the close of the second
ol cobors I Thebaeorum eqaitata, presamably belongs to the same genrl
The difierent titles show that these veterinary surgeons and their assistants'
might at times be ordinary soldiers detailed to look after animalss, will
specialised in the care of different beasts. It may be suggested that the
looked after the horses ol the ala or cohors equitata a;nd, of the l2o eqtes
zis, while the veterinarii looked after the various beasts of burden ard
pequarii after the cattle on the pmtd of the unit. Hyginus places the leterirr
next ro the valetad.inarium in the teld camp, and it is found in this posfuic,

the legionary fortress at Bonn and possibly elsewheres?.

Epigraphy reveals that there was another grouP of nedici with the
title ordinarius. Five are known: two in difierent legions, a third
certainly nother legionry, and one each in an auxiliary cohort and a

ae

Lammert, op, cit. (note 9), citing Khn. U, E. Paoli, Rome, Its People, Life, aad
(1963) 215.

Liebenam, op. cit. (note 2). R. Cagnat, L'Arme romaine d'Afrique et l'occupation
de l'Afrique sous les empereurs (second edition, 1913) 169' Number 66 and note 83.
u Number 5.
5! Number 67. Passerini, op. cit. (note 2),609, uumber 69, also cites CIL III 11215
CIG 1953, but there is no evidence that these are military.
53 CIL III 10428; XIII 8287: AE 1896,97. For the others, see Passerini, op. cit', 609' r*
50

70. See also above, note 4.


5a

Number 72.
rs Number 50.
56 I cite the evidence in detail in 'The Supply of Animals to the Roman Army and the R.c
Systern,' Llomus, 28, 1969,429 fr.
r? H. von Petrikovits, Das rmisdre Rheinland, Ardrologisdre Forsdrungen seit 19't5 (!i
45 {. Hyginus, De Munitione Castrorum, 4.

TJ
89

The Medici of the Roman Armed Forces

to draw

some distinction between


it was is not known, and modern
various ways. Th. Mommsen suggested that

: Clearly

these five individuals wished


and the other medici, b:ut what

irrterpret ordinarizs in
rile meant that the man was serving in the ranksso; this interpretation has
followed by A. von Domaszewski and many later sdrolarsuo, and would
& medicus ordinarius a medical orderly. The main objection to this is
sdinzus used by itself in a military contest is a synonym for a centurion,
ir iact is at times used to describe the word centaio, as has been convin1 own by Professor J. F. Gilliamu'. A. Passerini cites two views of the
14, of ordinarius but does not commit himself to eitheru2; the first, that of
- -,--: -, ^) that it meant an other rank orderly, has already been mentioned;
c second he cites G. L. Cheesman for the meaning of a fully-qualified
in contrast to the elementary skills of the orderly; although Cheesman
at a case for there being two difierent types of medicus, Passerini has
him, for Cheesman stated quite clearly that he believed the
served in the ranks. Professor H. A. Sanders was of the opinion that
ordinarius was of a higher standing than the medicus, probably had
-4X
rt of a centurion, and was in command of an ordo or centuri'a63. 'lhere is
eidence to suggest that the medicus ordinarius held a tactical command,
Glliam has shown that Sander's views and reasoning are suspect. F. FI.
oo has stated that the medici ordinaii were the stafl surgeons of the
and auxiliary units, who were freedmen or foreigners, so called to
auish them from the tnedici of the other brandres of the armed forces, who
'man citizensGa. All the evidence is against this: the five attested medici
ii all possessed Roman citizenship and were of Roman origins; many of
ra his category of Roman are in fact of Greek origin; the five
-dXifall into both his categories. Conversely, J. Marquardt believed that the
dmr called himself ord.inarius to distinguish himself from the freedmen
dese assistantses. Once more the evidence will not support and in fact
this view. L. C. Purser believed that the medicus ord'i'narius was

see below, notes 70-74. c.IL III 6532 is too fragmentary for
whether it referred.to a medias orld.inar(ius).
Eer.4, 1879,239-40 : Gesammelte Sdrriften VIII (1913) 376, ut significetur eum de
stipendia facere et, ut olim dicebant, in ordine merere.
rki, op. cit. (note 14), 45. - G. L. Cheesman, The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial
rmisdren
4 (l91\ $aa. - Raillie - Reynolds, op. cit. (note 14)' 72' - \1. Haberling, 'Die
Errzte,' Verfentlidrungen aus dem Gebiete des Militr-Sanittswesens 42, 1910' 25,
2- - L A. Ridrmond, 'The Roman Army Medical Service,' University of Durham Medical
Jone, 1952, 2. - Scarborough, loc. cit. (note 2),258. - Ifebster, op. cit. (note 2),251. Bonner Jahrb. 139, 1934, 63.
d,ii and, Ordinati of the Roman Army,' Tr$act. American Phil. Assoc' 71, 1940,

1g,33,35,49, and 5z;

hor

oote 2 for Passerini, note 60 for Cheesman.

l8O4

in the Midrigan Collection,'

255-43, espedally 278.

o t[e History of Military


Lqxy oI Rome (1923) 292-3.
.i- (nore 2), 556.

Classical Srudies

in Honor of John C.

Rolfe

in C. Bailey

(ed.)'

Medicine (1922), cited by C. Singer

R.

V. Davies

so called because he served in a nt4rnerus in conrrast with those in a


the evidence totally disproves this theory. Similarly, G. p. Carratelli's vier
the medicus ordinarias served in the auxiliary units and fleet in contrasr b
medici. legionum, is disproved by the evidence6?. Dr. E. Sander has propoced rr
alternative explanations: ordinarius is to mean either drtt the rnedii s servd,/,,
centaria or that he had the rank of a centurionos, The former may be disc
none of the milites medici ever has this title; if there were some sirry
ordinarii in every legion, there .would be far more examples of them atte*cd;
is doubtful if so many would be needed in addition to all the other med.ical
the interpretation of the Latin is harsh. The second translation would bc

keeping with rhe interprettion of ordi.narius demonsrrated by Gilli".conneclion with centurio. If the Mommsen interpretation is accepted, as it
been by mann this means that in a military context ordinarius has the dire
opposite meanings of commissioned and non-commissioned. Gilliam cites
late literary evidence to show that ord.inarius can have the meaning in r
military context of'ordinary', in the sense of,other ranks.. Unfomrnatein
is much later than the epigraphic evidence and is never concerned with .
medicus..Gil[am, while agreeing with the general view of Mommsen, suggsl
that ord'inarias was added to distinguish him from a civilian doctore. This seqr
unlikely; all five instances occur il contexts whidr are beyond doubt military,
and there is no apparent reason why the individual should have felt any J
to make a contrast with his civilian counrerparr.
It is worth while examining ea of the inscriptions to see what further inform*
tion they may provide, In the case of Aemilius Deciminus of bgio I Adib
at Adiaum?o and Ulpius Lucilianus, probably ol legio III ltaliia, at ltq
burg?1, little can be deduced. Titus llavius processus, medicus bordiA,
dedicated in h(onorem) d.(omas) d(ivinae) genio capsarioram n(ameri) Divitiasjzz at Niederbieber in the period A. D. 244/97r.It is hard to reconcile ;
v/ith the traditional interpretation, whereby the med.icas ord.inariu.r is an oa.
rank orderly and of the same standing as thc capsar;i, as in paternus's lisr d
immunes; here there is only one medicus, when several would have ba
expected in a. nttTnerus to mtc the plurality of the dressers; the .whole tone of
the inscription, especially whereby processus dedicated in honour of the Imperirl
Family and the genius of the capsari.i, suggests that he is superior to thr
Anicius Ingenuus of cobors I Tungrorurn milliaria, died at Housesteads at 6e
age of rwenty-five, but even so he could have been old enough to have quali6cd
as a doctor; the military surgeon Symphorus died at the age of twenry-eigha,
and Longinus, who was honoured by the town council of Drobeta, diJ t
tt Cited in

rf.

Smith (ed.), Dictionary

of Greek and Roman Anriquities, vol. I, (f890) tt!-

He appears to have mistranslated Mommsen.


67 Cited in G. Giannelli (ed.), The
!florld of Ancienr Rome, (1962), 148.
08 'Zur Rangorfnung des rmisdren
Heeres,. }{jsto:iia. S,195i,89J7.
o Op. cit. (note 61), 147.
zo Number 19.
zl Number 35.
12 Number 52.

The Medici of the Roman

dy

Arfted

Forces

of twenty-three?s. The other extreme is reached in the case of


lepirius Arlianrrs o1 legio III Aagastd,, who died at Lambaesis aged g5
age

rE

monrhs fifteen days?4. It is inconceivable that an other rank medical


have been retained in the army at sudr an old age or even have
so late in life.
r3te$s that these people were in fact difierent from the other med,ici, as
have intended rhe addition of ordinarias to show. Explanarions

veld

may

-lrtd- None of the tve has a Greek name or bachground, but each does
r be superior to an other rank medical ord"dyl Cillir-,s epigraphic
ows that ordinarius means 'having the rarrk of a centurion.l i, ir"y U.
at these five individuals were qualified doctors having t tedrnical
rd status of a centurion, but not, oi course, the tactical cimmand; each
I prsumably have the pay and. privileges of c"rrturiorr. ii" *"diro,
"
ir will have served under the Greek, better_qualified,
medical officer.
rr tbar the latrer, if in a civilian practice, could ao.
substantiallv
l: centurion; in view of their qualities and abilities, "rrrr.d
they must have had
sratus, perhaps equivalent to an_ Equestrian officer7i. if both
types of
ofi6cer were merely artached to theii unit, as opposed ,o b.ing ,"ruing
; is would explain why they are never atr;;d in the laierculi ot
iEative records kept in the tabularium of the unit. There are parallels
ndern armed forces, where doctors, padres, and. various ,..lroi"ui ."p"rt,
fu starus but not a tactical command. In the British army, for e""ple,
ngi*ered doctor is commissioned as a caprain in the Royal rmy Medical
L * }o{a] Navy a qualified doctor is given offic". statu,
,,rrg"on
"
in
",
the
Naval
Medical
Branch.
In
both
of
the
forces
the
-tort
doctor
"rms
service commission for five years, during
*hi.h ti-e h" -ay opt fo.
r r-ith a regular commission to the p"r-"i.n, list, which will entail
-. Alternative explanations lor the med.icus ord,inarius may
be offered.
Lrs has its mor-e usual literary meaning of ,ordinary.,
then the term
En rhat these five men were ordinary or non_spe;i;lisr doctors in
: o_the various medical specialists, srl.h as the surgeo-n and consultant in
aJments. This $/ould make him the equivalent in civilian
life of
Irrcdorer. A third explanation may also b" o{fered. There is some legal"
q vhi suggests that the Roman forces, like modern
ones, may hiue
e docmr the opportunity of holding a short service .o--irrion,
"fa.,
E T@ld return to civilian practice; such a doctor vould not be
the same
blding a regular commission, who would be an 'ordinary. o, ;."g.rt"r.

fueL

trl

from Egypt_ may possibly throw light on the position of the doctor??.
Jooo1*-a dated to 3rd Seprember, A. D. 1,17, and conta jns six
receipts
ca of the six slgz iferi in tu:r, of the centuries of cohors I Lasitanorum;
,ll- Cf

above, notes 47 and 32.

'to_

ogestion to Professor Birlev.


rira from rhe prospectuses of tire two

services.

R.

92

\[.

Davies

they are made out to Longinus Tituleius for the depositd of Asian recn
had been assigned to eadr century. In the trst receipt he is described as [
Tr,rou1icg icr[gQ] (xarovrriplqr). The signit'er states that he is in c
of Tituleius. If the reading of the editors is corect, this means that

doctor with the rank of centurion. Tle


Tituleius was an
^rmy
whether Longinus Tituleius and the centurion of the first cohon, 1iald
the same person. If the two are identical, this means that the docu
tactical command at the same time as his medical post, for whi& crc
evidence and little probability. If there are in fact two officials, there i
ambiguity in the document, but perhaps more to the modern reader tiar
Roman?8. Recruits to the Roman army were given a stifi medical p'ru'ri
before they became fully qualified soldiers, and were also frequently
during their probationary period of several months, when anyone not
the necessary standards would be disdrargedtn. In such circumstances a
doctor would be ideal on the journey from Asia to Egypt. A copy of a
recording that Tryphon, who was trying to enlist in the army, was
because of defective eyesight, contains the phrase at the end, 'the qari
was held at Alexandria' three times; it is not impossible that the original
ment was signed by three separate medical officers8o. It is consequendy {
more regrettable that the reading in the list of receipts is not beer
In a recent study of the document Professor Gilliam has thrown doubt c
reading; he believes that Tituleius was the centurion of the first cenory
centwio princeps of the cohort; he suggest that the signifer in facr wr
referring to the centurion of his own centurysl. The question is still openThe picture of the various med,ici is interesting. In the fleet they art
called med.ici duplicarii and often give the name of the ship; presumably
was one orderly to eadr vessel, who saw to the medical needs of his ovn
As yet no other medical sta{f are attested on board, but presumably ea
will have had its own medical officer and subordinates at the shore base,
the med.icus ocularius Axius, whose eye-salve is mentioned by Galefrned.icus in any of the other brandres of the armed forces is ever aurd
being duplicarius; possibly the medici were of different standards in the
types of units, and if the med,icas of a ship had to cary out his duties by
lat. I, verso, 5 X-XI, shovrs two men vrith the sarne tr;a nomind not mcttf L
same legionary century but listed side by side. For another case of two of6ccs 1Laving the same names in the one inscription, see J. F. Gilliam in Am. Journ- PhToL 71.
359-75, especially 373, on AE 1955, 238. It should be noted that in the present papyrt
centurions are referred to by one name onln and consequently the possible ambigoiy
not have been noticed.
R. \f. Devies, 'Joining the Roman Army,' Bonner Jahrb., 169, 1969, 208 fr. Note in pd
Vegetius, Epitoma Rei Militaris, I, 8.

re P. Gen.

?0
80

P. Oxy. 39.

e|An

Egyptian Cohort in A. D. 117,' Boner Historia-Augusta-Colloquium, 1964 65


91-7, especially 92, * 5.
ez'lhe collegium of number 59 is best interpreted as referring to one for all the ndici 4
fleet, rather than one for ead-r vessel. \wo medici (numbers 60 and 61) had died -b
had served only ve years and this is indicative of other ranks; see above, notes 43 d
In the smaller ships of the Royal Navy there is often no medical of6cer but only a radager Number 66. Cf. RE II 2633; RE Ml.

The Medici of the Roman Armed Forces

vell haye been given extfl pay, whereas in the land forces a medical
in ea& unit would have the assistance of several colleagues at lest' and
rey have been merely an irnmanis. The Greek highly-qualified medical
ras of a very high standing, and there is some evidence to show that they
certain privileges. Cxaca.lla rn/rote to one, Numisius, medicus legionis
Adiutricis , then stationed at Aquincumsa

srate that you arc the med.icas of legio II Adiatrix, you will not be compelled to
re civil liturgies, for as long as you have been absent on state business. llowever,
ryw have ceased to be absent [ol state business], after the end of the exemption on

kis, if

you are in the category applicable to the benefits granted to medici, yort

'is it is clear that doctor

to a military unit was absent rci


causa and his privileges included exempti on ftom munera cioilia, b.ut.
.omdcally for as long as he was with the army; whenever he returned
practice, he would retain various rights only if he was engaged in a
attached

fo rype of employment. Some passges in the Digest quoting from the works
inus give further information. The trst deals with the people who may
tcstitutio because of their absence on state business, among whom are

ncdici:
doctors, since the occupation on whidr they are engaged, both is of public
ead ought not to cause them injury, are able to invoke the remedy of restoration.'

nd, quoting the rulings of various second century emperors, states that
i enployed by the municipalities were free from various liturgies and
not be compelled to undergo military service against their wishessu. This
aidence suggests that these highly-trained men may have been engaged by
rnny on short service commissions. Many of them vrill have relished the
of a lucratively paid post, whidr also entailed various privileges, would
tem wide experience in different conditions in various parts of the Empire,
grovide them with a well-equipped hospital and all the ancillary staff. This
will have been extremely useful to them, when they returned to
practice; it caq be no mere coincidence that the careers of some of the
medici, sudt as Dioscurides, Telesporus, and Callimorphus, belong to this
. It is unfortunate that there is no evidence to shovr the relationship
this doctor and the rned,icus ordinarius, and the two are never attested in
unit at the same time. The latter, as has already been suggested, probaly
e regular commission and spent his whole career in the army, and was thus a
doctor in comparison vith the others.
in the third century by two brothers, Marcus and Serenus, who
dctors, to their parents reveal interesting details about the military medical
In the first Marcus writessT:
lctrs sent

31.

633,2.

L 68.

lc-- Georg., nl, \ 1-7 ard. 17-19. The editors (G. Zereteli and P. Jernstedt) and also
Iil&en (Ardriv fr Papyrusforsdrung und verwandte Gbiete, 10,259) dated the letters

I
,)

R.

'Marcus
obeisance

V. Davies

to Antonia,

-Sarapion, and Cassiaos, my parents, many greetings. I


for you in the preseace of the gods sharing ihe temple. For o one caq

E
Bo

by river to make-obei"ance, because of ihe battl" hi hai taken pi""" l"rr"Anoteritae with the soldiers, Fifteen soldiers of the singalares have'died, apan f
theleglonaries, evocali, the vounded, and those su{fering frim battle-fatigue..

He is clearly being kept busy looking after rhe Roman casualties. A little
in the letter he requests:
as in every letter I write to you to shake the dust oIT my medical books, sh:tc
and remove thern from the window, where I jeft them on my eparture..

'And

of

This suggests that he is a doctor on a shoft seryice commission. He had


brought all his medical text-books with him to Alexandria, as he intended
return home to a civilian practice, when his commission expired; he would
able to use the military books in the oaletadinariurn, The second letter is wri
by Serenus to his mother Antonia, although it is clear that intervening co
pondence has been lost. Serenus regrets that he has not been able to cme
comfort his morher on her bereavement, but both he and his brother had
rushed off their feet88:
'You will do_well, thereforg mother, on receiving our lerter, to come ro us immediatdyYou realise that my brother Marcus is gready concerned with the sid< and th" surgcri_
You know that it is-not easy
_to leave th" paiierrtr, who are not few in number, anj

dispensary, in case there should be grumbling abour us, and this under sudr a comn:.
At any rate, Marcus has told you in_ a lette; abour my occupation, for I am in govco_
ment service and for this leason am busy, For some few dayi it was not possible-for

to sit down or send him to you.'

As Serenus is assisting Marcus, he must harre become attadred ro the miliarrr


service and not the municipal one of Alexandria. He presumably had s;mib,l'

accepted a short service commission.

A modern leading study on medicine throughout the ages has pronounced a ver;r
low view of the medical service of the Romn armed forces. Its authors
demn the Romans for the absence of any elastic sdreme for the ranking of tc
medical officers; the totl subordination of the medical to the combatant -off,cer5
indifference to theoretical science and failure to add to medical knowle.tg
and giving the medical stafi a low starus on a par with clerks. Much of this viJ
is improbable if not incorrect. celsus notes that an observant militarv do.*
could learn far more from the study and retment of a wounded soldier abcthe internal organs rhan the vast majority of civilian doctorseo. Vegetius sar:r
that it was the consranr duty of all officers to see rht the sicJ< iroops *ae
to the beginning of the third century. C. H. Robercs, 'An Army Doctor in Alexandri+.
Aus Antike und Orient, Festsrift Vilhelm Sdrubarr (1950), 2ll15, suggests a d*e
d

circumstances ol A. D. 270, although I canno! agree


os/e rhe
"tf
"oo"l*ioo..
rence to Professor E. G. Turner.
88 P. Ross. Georg., III2,6-15.
80 C. Singer and F,, A. Underwood, A
Short H,istory_of Medicine (second edirior, 1962), 56.
00 Celsus, De Medicina, pr. 43. Cf note
7. The unknown *"a;ii
ZO (see abovq
35) are. reproved- by Galen for not dissecting the corpses of Germans to advance their

*iit

l;,

.i ii"i

anatomical knowledge. On the other hand, it is quite pissible that the Roman doctors
busy looking after Roman casualdes to conduct pst-m'ortems.

r#

c
orr
ver! r

The Medici of the Roman Armed Forces

95

to health by an appropriate diet and the skill of the med,icisl. Ardta.eolo.


prosides the details of the special medicinal food, drink, and drugs; papyri
rzi at a si& soldier would be kept in his bed and fed by others, tat special
!!g@ents were made to avoid noise near rhe camp hospital, that blankeis for
hcryital had ro be of a very high qualitn and at tL"
xroops
"orrl,al"rcenr
::!ea to the coast to recuperate; epigraphy tevels that
the soldiers soon
of aud used the curatiye waters at Bath and other spas; excayarion
rle hospitals, with operating theatres, numerous wards ea isolated from
. r:orher to avoid infection, medical and surgical instruments, and the means
er[ise them; Galen and Pliny provide instances of army doctors advancing
fuzl knowledge0,. All this ancient evidence refutes this modern interpreration
ccofrms the high quality both of the skills and of the medici themselveses.

Appendix
E

,:ontains all rhe army medici known to me, arranged alphabetically by nomina
to e type of unit. The man,s name is given in th nomirr.ti'r", boihi titl" aod
in rhe original; where the unit is not given after th" titie ot i, t rrown

e'g

=.rcorded

4'bc

it

deduced,

is listed separately.

Cohors praetoria
IL\12532 :

ILS 2093 (Rome)

4. CIL VI2594 (Rome)

(Ieodiqs Iulianus
cliaicus coh

.tE t945,

IIII

L. Vibius Rufus
medico coh V pr

pr

62 (Messina)

5. CILVI 37194

&rtirrs Symphorus

ir coh IIII praet


CIL t'I 20 : ILS 2092

-.

ILS gOZt (Rome)

- - - llius Quartius
medico coh I pr veterinario

6. CILVI 212 : ILS

(Rome)

Alexander

2100 (Rome)

rgnotus

o Vpr

medicus coh

Cohors ulbana

CL XIII

tu,

1833

ILS 2126 (Lugdu-

8. AE 1917/18,118 (near Rome)

-.

Prifernius Crispinus
Im]edico co[h] XIIII urb

hin<eldus
a:Eltensrs

XIII

urbana

pitoma Rei Militaris

III

2.

Cf note

7.

L nres and further discussion of the evidence will be given in forthcoming


patot writer,'The Roman Army Medical Servic". and ,Sorie irrn"" i,f"f*".

Professor Eric Birley


1lj,9:laD-k
- !s hles oo the Roman army,

for his help in srriting this pap",

"nJ

ioi'-.king

papers by

"".il^bl.

96

R.

V. Davies

Cohors vigilum
9. CIL VI

-.

1059 (Rome)

13. CIL VI 1058


C. Iulius fermes

Aurelius llegumenus

II vig
10. CIL VI 1059 (Rome)

medic coh

ie cohors V vigilum

14. CIL VI 1058 : ILS 2157


Lutatius Ecarpus

Claudius Thamyras
medic coh II vig

..

Sex.

lLS 2157 (Rome)

medici
ie cohors V vigilum

15. CIL VI 1058 : ILS 2152


C. Runnius Hilaris
medici

medici

ILS 2157 (Ro)

medici

-.

11. CIL VI 1058


Q. Fabius Pollux

ie cohors V vigilum

VI 1059 (Rome)
Flavius
Panmen-.
medic coh II vig
12. CIL

(Roc)

ie cohots V vigilum

16. CIL VI 1059 (Rome)

-. ----Aphroditus
medic coh

il
f

II vig

Equires singulares augusti

17. CIL VI 19
L. Iulius Helix

ILS 2194 (Rome)

1,8.

CILVI31172

ILS 2193a

(Rorl

Q. Marcius Artemidorus
medicus castrorum
ie equites singulares Augusti

medici
ie equites singulares Augusti

Legio
III 4279 (Adiaum)
Aemilius
Deciminus
-.
medicus otdinarius leg I Adi
19. CIL

20. IGRR

-.

C. Iulius Filetio
medicus

presumably legio

-.

14347,5 (Aquincum)

T. Aurelius Numerius
militi medico leg XXII Pr p

22. CILY

4367

(Brixia)

L, Caelius Arrianus
medico legionis

II Italic

23. CIL XIII 5208 (Vindonissa)


Ti. Claudius Hymnus
medicus leg

XXI

24. CIL YIII2872

II Adi
28. CIL YIII 29 5 1 (Lambaesis)

-.

Marcius Claudianus
medico leg III Au[g]

29. CIL

25. CIL YIII 287 4 (Lambaesis)


T. Flavius Onesiphorus

III Aug
26. CIL III 3583 (Aquincum)

III

3413 (Aquincum)

-.

Marcius Marcellus
med
presumably legio II Adiutrix

30, AE 1937,180 (Aquincum)


Ti. Martius Castrensis
med leg

(Larnbaesis)

T. Flavius Italus
med leg III Aug

med leg

Marcius Callinicus

medi[c] leg

ozpE e.yr Bn'

III

Adiutrix

27. AE 1923,14 (Carthage)

1361 (Pselcis)

Aufidius Clemens

21. CIL

ll

II A

31. Cod Iust 10,53(52),1

-. Numisius-----

medicum legionis secundae Adiutric

32. CIL III 14349,7 (Aquincum)


C, Nundinius Optervius
med (?)
presumably legio

II Adiutrix

(?)

97

Forces
The Medici of the Roman Armed

cIL\

13314

39. RIB 461

ILS 2432 (Lam-

pr"iurn"bly of l"gio XX Valeria Victrrx

III A

ordioario leg

40. AE 1953,246b (Vindooissa)

7943 (Iversheim)

-. ----Priscus

bbiniaoius Quietus
oedicus
ior of legio I Minervia

III

CIL

medico

41. CIL

-.

5959 (Regensburg)

CIJ-]lll

III

ILS 71s0a

Yalerius Longinus

43. CIL

VII Cl

ienotus

CIL

III

7449 (Moesia SuPerior)

IGRR I

1212

leg

igye

Mac

44. CIL

lll

II

16

Augusta

3532 (Aquincum)

III I Ft
67

47 (T raPeus)

ignotus

XI Claudia

III

riedicfo]

Yalerius Rufus

of legio

IIII

(Caerleon)
-. - - anilius
presumablY legio

@robeta)

Ls

6700 (Mainz)

42. JRS 30, L940,186-7 'no'

Italica

14216,9

XIII

- - nius Valens

Ime]dicus leg

@rios Lucilianus
ordinario
legio

P' 48 (Chester)

iaroc

Aelianus

XIII

CIL VII

Flermogenes

toesis)

CIL

medicus

legio XV APollinaris

CIG 4766 (Thebes)

Totr ioxlod

Ala
x'IB

Yrttooum
CIL XI

llloius

VII

EE
1028
-comas
c

47, Lucian, quom' Hist' consc' 16' 2'+-25

979 (Biudrester)

Callimorphus
i,otpq tfl rv xovroqoQov t'l'r1E

i"ii"l'ne I

3OO7

ie

ILS 2542 (Viterbium)

1239) emends

ala I UlPia

..,ntariorum milliaria

to eiLl'

+c16lsPorus+

alar Indianae et tertiae Asrurum

Cohors
51. CIL III 7490 (Carsum)
O' Erucius Victor

AE 1903, 290 (Timacum)


coh

Martialis
Aur Dar

edico coh I

II

l(IB 1618 : cIL

vII

690

$ds)

l-i.in. lngenuus
o ord coh I Tungr
IGBS I 1373
(Diarrakah)

CIG 5117

(Flouse- 52. CIL XItt 7415 (Gross-Krotzenburg)


'
L Fabius nthimus
med[icus coh] IIII [Vin]
51. PSI 1063 (EgYPt)
Longinus Tituleius
io1[ ] (fuarovrriyP)

-.

cohors I Lusitanorum

R.

98

54. CIL

III

10854

V. Davies

ILS 2601 (Siscia)

56. CIL

M. Mucius Hegetor

XXXII Vol

medicus coh

55. CII-

-.

XIII

6621

ILS 2602

denda (Obernburg)

ad-

XIII

11767 (Osterburke)

Ulpius Iulianus

medicus [c]oh s s
ie cohors III Aquitanorum

M. Rubrius Zosimus
medicus coh s s
ie cohors IIII Aquitanorum

Numetus
57. CIL

XIII

11979

ILS 9182

58. AE 1933,44 (El-Kantara)

(Niederbieber)

Maldrus

T, Flavius Processus
medicus hordinarius
numerus Divitiensium

medicus
ie numerus Palmyrenorum

Classis
59. CIL

VII

3441

RIB 2315*

CIL

1144 (Misenum)

63. CIL X 3599 (Misenum)


L. Lollius Valens

III

C. Acilius Bassus

med

medic duplic

classis Misenensis

classis Misenensis

Fide

64. CIL X 3443 (Misenum)

60. CIL XI 29 (Ravenna)


Sex. Anius Romanus

C. Octavius Fronto
quondam medicus duplicar ex

medic dupl n Aegyp


classis Ravennas

classis Misenensis

III

Tir3r

65, CIL'{3442: CIL X 2701 (Bai.c)


M. Sarius Longinus

61. CIL VI 3910 (Rome)


T. Flavius Euprepetus
medicus duplic

medic dupl

III

Cupid

classis Misenensis

classis Misenensis

66. Galen,

62. CIL X 3444 (Misenurn)


M. Iulius Casullinus
med duplic

XII

786 (Khn)

Axius
ol,purxo ot6ou

Bperawrxo

classis Misenelsis

Unit not known


67. CIL V 2183 (Altinum)
L. Crassicus
medicus veterinarius

68. RIB 808


port)

: CIL VII p. 85 (Mary-

A. Egnatius Pastor
presumably an army doctor of one of the

auxiliary cohorts attested at this fort


69. P.EV 113142

-.

Pedanius Dioscurides

the introduction of his Materia Medica


reveals that he was a widely-travelled

army docror

70. J. Lesquier, L'Arme romaine dTgSp


te d'Auguste Diocltien (1918) 49L
Appendix 1, number Z; cf numbc t
(Abou-Dourouah)
Alcimus
iatpq

71. Galen,

XII

557 (Kiihn)

Antigonus
v otgmorrp rlof poE orgeoawoE
qui in casris exercitus insignis medicus foir
7

2. C'IL XIII

Ioctanus
medico peq

79

65 (Blankenheim)

The Medici of the Roman Armcd Forces


D-

l-4eorg., III

(Egypt)

76. Galen,

XIII

99

604 (Khn)

rgnou

t-

Iy'

206a (Egypt)

L l-4eorg., iil

2 (Egypt)

o[

tcr rv feppavwv lepov iatpoi,

medici bello Germanico

77. Plin., N. H. XXV 20 (Germany)


ignoti
medici