They decipher a Roman inscription that sheds light on the political corruption of Septimius Severus

They decipher a Roman inscription that sheds light on the political corruption of Septimius Severus

In a letter to the inhabitants of Nicopolis del Istro, Emperor Septimius Severus falsely claims that he belongs to the Antonine dynasty and thanks the citizens for a ‘donation’ of 700,000 denarii, which could well cover up a bribe, say the researchers.

A group of experts managed, after gathering and assembling fragments, to decipher the inscription of a stela erected in the year198 in the roman city of Nicopolis of the Istro, on the territory of contemporary Bulgaria, reports the portal Archeology in Bulgaria.

The shattered stone was found in 1923, but spent almost a century in a local museum before it was finally restored by specialists.

By gathering the ancient Greek text and translating it, they determined that it was a letter of thanks from the emperorSeptimius Severus (193-211) to the citizens of the town, who had donated 700,000 denarii to him.

According to the epigraphist Nikolai Sharankov, this sum, equivalent to'Several million' euros today was"A bribe" from the inhabitants of Nicopolis to Septimius. However, the bribe was masked as a donation.

"That is why the text says: 'I accepted this money given by well-intentioned people.'That is, he did not accept it as a bribe, but as a gift.«, Indicates Sharankov.

He thinks that in this way the citizens tried to regain the favor of the emperor after having endorsed one of his rivals, Pertinax, in the year 193.

Political lie for legitimization: introduce himself as the son of Marco Aurelio

In addition, the researcher highlights that the text contains an obvious"Political lie". So, in the preamble Septimius appears as the son of Marcus Aurelius (161-180), although it came from North Africa and had nothing to do with the Antonine dynasty, to which his deified predecessor belonged.

«In this way, [Septimius Severus] traced his lineage back to the emperor Trajan (98-117), and thus, with this letter, the emperorhe sought to legitimize himself before the people«, Affirms Sharankov.

The restored three-meter-high stele was returned to its original location and can be appreciated by visitors to the Nicopolis ruins.

I hope it will generate additional interest, becausethere are very few imperial [Roman] cards that survive until today ”, highlights the director of the Veliko Tárnovo Regional Museum of History, Iván Tsárov.


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