Greek and Latin discourses of provinciality

Working Papers on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.34 (21/3/15)

‘Greek and Latin discourses of provinciality in the early second century CE’                                                                                        Myles Lavan

Abstract for a paper given at the project’s 3rd Literary Interactions conference, in Boston, 18-19 June 2015:

Over the course of the first three centuries CE the Roman world was transformed from a tributary empire whose population was divided between a few million Roman citizens (the vast majority of them Italians), and tens of millions of non-citizen subjects, into a world state with universal citizenship in which all free inhabitants were Romans. The process entailed a reconfiguration of Roman identity and privileged status by which Italy and Italians lost their hitherto privileged position. That transformation was well underway in the early second century CE. The reigns of Trajan and Hadrian saw the growing provincialisation of the core institutions of the Roman state: the expanding population of provincial citizens came to dominate the legions, may well have begun to outnumber of Italian citizens overall, became a majority in the imperial elite (the equestrian and senatorial orders) and – most striking of all – reached the Principate itself. For the first time too emperors began to spend significant time in the provinces rather than in Rome. This paper will investigate how these processes are reflected in Greek and Latin writing of the period. It will map the similarities and differences between Greek and Latin ‘discourses of provinciality’ by exploring how Greek and Latin writers represent the condition of provincials and especially that of provincial citizens.