Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Word of the Day -- Frumentarii

Frumentarii were officials of the Roman Empire, originally wheat collectors, who also acted as the
secret service of the Roman Empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

There are two main sources of information about the frumentarii, inscriptions on gravestones and anecdotes where the actions of individual frumentarii are mentioned by historians. From what is known of the Frumentarii, they always worked in uniform. The Empire was based on patronage, not an ideology (until Theodosius I). From inscriptions; one of the few things known about the frumentarii is that they were mostly attached to individual legions, except for a few centurion frumentarii. Attachment to individual legions suggests that their main function was, as the name suggests, to service those legions with supplies. Frumentarii appear to have spent a lot of time travelling and had a base in Rome at the Castra Peregrina. Frumentarii were obviously proud of their status if they put the rank on their gravestones. There are a number of inscriptions honouring the genie of the Castra Peregrina, this suggests that the frumentarii had high morale and social status.

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