The Origin of the Agentes in rebus



Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper focuses mainly on the origin and beginnings of the functioning of imperial officials known as agentes in rebus. As Aurelius Victor informs us, their predecessors were dissolved during the reign of Diocletian: „And with no less regard for the concerns of peace the bureaucracy was regulated by the most impartial laws and by the abolition of that malignant clan of frumentarii, to whom our current agentes in rebus are very similar.“ (Aur. Vic. 39,44.) Based on this reference, many historians believe that agentes in rebus were founded during the reign of Diocletian. However, we lack direct written evidence for such a claim. The first mention of the existence of agents in rebus is documented only from the reign of Emperor Constantine I. when agentes in rebus are named directly in Act CTh 6.35.3 of 319 AD. This paper will aim to prove, or refute, or narrowly define the time of the establishment of agentes in rebus already during the reign of Emperor Diocletian on the basis of a thorough analysis of sources of administrative reforms, which separated military and civilian powers, and the abolition of frumentarii. At the same time, attention will be paid to some selected laws (e.g. CTh 6.35.2), which were related to the tasks of agentes in rebus, specifically with their intelligence activities in the provinces. These laws could help at least postpone the period of existence of these officials a few years before 319 AD.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.