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Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 747


LETTER OF THE ROMAN CONSULS CONCERNING OROPOS

Greek text:   EpOropou_308
Date:   73 B.C.
Tags:     Roman_letters ,   taxation
Format:   see key to translations

In this letter, the consuls formally confirmed that the sacred lands near Oropos were free from taxation. They appended two documents to their letter (part B): exemptions contained in the censors' law for leasing the tax farming in the province, and the confirmation of Sulla's acts by the senate.

The publicans justified their attempt to collect taxes from the sacred lands by claiming that Amphiaraos was technically a hero, not a god. Their claim is reported by Cicero ( ND_3'49 ) - Cicero must have been well aware of the dispute with Oropos, because his name appears in this inscription amongst the members of the consuls' advisory council.

The translation is adapted from A.Johnson, P.Coleman-Norton & F.Bourne, "Ancient Roman Statutes", no. 74 ( Google Books ). There is another English translation by R.Sherk, "Rome and the Greek East to the death of Augustus", no. 70 ( Google Books ).



[A]   The consuls Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus, son of Marcus, and Gaius Cassius Longinus, [son of] Lucius, to the magistrates and the council and the people of Oropos, greetings. If you are well, it is well. In accordance with a decree of the senate we wish you to know that we have rendered our decision in the dispute between the officers of the temple of Amphiaraos and the publicans. This was done in the Basilica Porcia on October 14th, when [Lucius] Licinius and Marcus Aurelius were consuls { 74 B.C. }. In the advisory council there were present:

Whereas the envoys of Oropos - Hermodoros son of Olympichus, priest of Amphiaraos and formerly acknowledged as an ally by the senate, Alexidemos son of Theodoros and Demainetos son of Theoteles - asked that they should pay no tax for these lands to the publicans, since in the law of lease these fields 20 which Lucius Sulla granted for the security of the sacred domains of the immortal gods have been exempted, and since Lucius Sulla assigned these revenues, which form the subject of dispute, to the god Amphiaraos;   and whereas Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus claimed for the publicans that it was permissible for the publicans to farm the taxes from these lands, although in the law of lease these fields which Lucius Sulla granted for the security of the sacred domains of the immortal gods have been exempted, since Amphiaraos, to whom these lands are said to be assigned, is not a god;   in accordance with the judgement of the advisory council we have given our verdict. 30 This verdict we shall report to the senate and we have entered it in the official records as follows:   in regard to the land of Oropos, which is subject for dispute with the publicans, in accordance with the law of lease it is exempt so that the publicans shall collect no tax on it. We have given this decision in accordance with a decree of the senate.

[B]   In the law of lease this land appears to be exempted as follows:

And excepting those lands or whatever by a decree of the senate our general or generals have given or have left to be enjoyed for the honour of the immortal gods and the security of their sacred domains, and except for those lands 40 which the general Lucius Cornelius Sulla in accordance with the advice of his advisory council gave to be enjoyed for the security of the immortal gods and of their sacred domains. And this same grant the senate ratified and it has not since then been annulled by a decree of the senate.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla, in accordance with the advice of his advisory council, appears to have declared as follows:   for the purpose of fulfilling a vow, I grant to the temple of Amphiaraos a tract of land of 1,000 feet in length and width, that this land also may be inviolate.

Likewise he consecrated to the god Amphiaraos all the revenues of the city, the territory, and the harbours of Oropos for the games and the sacrifices which the people of Oropos celebrate for the god Amphiaraos, as well as for those which hereafter they shall celebrate for the victory and supremacy of the Roman people, 50 except the lands of Hermodoros son of Olympichus, priest of Amphiaraos, who has steadfastly remained in the friendship of the Roman people.

In regard to the said matters a confirmatory decree of the senate appears to have been passed in the consulship of Lucius Sulla Epaphroditos and Quintus Metellus Pius. This decree was formulated as follows: 'All that Lucius Cornelius Sulla, in accordance with the advice of his advisory council, assigned and granted to the god Amphiaraos and to his temple, the senate deems that these same properties have been given and conceded to this god.'

[C]   The same senators were present in the advisory council who are named in the first volume, fourteenth page, containing the records of senatorial decrees.

The decree of the senate is as follows. 60 On October 16th, in the comitium. Titus Maenius, son of Titus, of the tribe Lemonia, Quintus Rancius, son of Quintus, of the tribe Claudia, and Gaius Visellius Varro, son of Gaius, of the tribe Quirina, assisted in drafting the decree. Whereas the consuls Marcus Lucullus and Gaius Cassius have heard the case and have reported their verdict concerning the land of Oropos and the publicans, namely that land of the Oropians appears to be exempt in accordance with the law of lease and that the publicans do not appear to have the right to collect taxes on it, and whereas this appears to them to be in the public interest and in accordance with their own good faith, it is so resolved.


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