Lucius Licinius Sura was an influential Roman Senator from Tarraco, Hispania, a close friend of the Emperor Trajan and three times consul, in a period when three consulates were very rare for non-members of the Imperial family. The dates of two of these consulates are certain: in 102 and 107 AD he was consul ordinarius; the date of his first consulate, as a suffect consul has been debated. Fausto Zevi[1] postulated that he was also suffect consul in 97, based on a plausible restoration of part of the Fasti Ostienses, which reads "..]us". However, two more recently recovered fragments of military diplomas show that the name of this consul is L. Pomponius Maternus, who is otherwise unknown.[2] Most authorities have returned to endorsing C.P. Jones' surmise that Sura was consul for the first time in the year 93.[3] He was a correspondent of Pliny the Younger.

Life edit

He was mentioned by a number of contemporary writers, who provide hints about his personality. The earliest mention of Sura are in three of Martial's epigrams. In the first (I.49), addressed to Licinianus of Bilbilis in 85/86, Sura is described as wealthy. The second (VI.64) is published in 89/90, wherein Martial defends his trifles against criticism by appealing to the highest authorities, who include, besides Sura, Silius Italicus, consul in 68, Marcus Aquilius Regulus, and the emperor himself. The third, dated to the year 92, congratulates Sura on recovering from a serious illness (VII.47); Ronald Syme speculates that Sura was one of the victims of an epidemic that followed one of the Dacian Wars.[4] Arrian, in his Life of Epictetus, has the title character refer to a rich catamite belonging to Sura.[5] A third writer is Pliny the Younger, who addressed two letters to Sura on scientific matters.[6]

Licinius Sura was a close and trusted companion of the emperor Trajan, and Cassius Dio tells how Trajan proved his fidelity: one day, without prior notice, he went to Sura's house; then, after dismissing his bodyguard, Trajan bathed, had Sura shave him, and dined with him. The following day he said to those who had disparaged Sura: "If Sura had desired to kill me, he would have killed me yesterday."[7] How Sura came to be a trusted companion is unclear. Edmund Groag surmised that it was Sura who suggested Trajan's name as an heir to the emperor Nerva after the latter was confronted by a mutiny by the Praetorian Guard.[8] However, this view has been challenged: when discussing the details of Nerva's choice of Trajan as an heir, John D. Grainger simply omits all mention of Groag's theory.[9] Werner Eck notes that Sura was governor of Germania Inferior from the year 96 to 98;[10] Nerva announced his choice of an heir in October 97.

During the first campaign against the Dacians, after the Second Battle of Tapae, Trajan dispatched Sura and Tiberius Claudius Livianus to negotiate peace with the Dacian king Decebalus. Nothing was accomplished, since Decebalus did not meet them, but sent envoys instead on this occasion. Nevertheless, because the Romans captured key strongpoints in the mountains and Decebalus' sister was captured, the Dacians agreed to the terms the Romans demanded and peace was agreed to between the Romans and Dacians.[11] For this, Sura was appointed to a second consulate as consul ordinarius in 102 as the colleague of Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus.[12] He also participated in Trajan's second campaign against the Dacians; while his role in that war is undetermined, it was important enough for Sura to be awarded triumphal ornaments and a third consulate in 107 with Quintus Sosius Senecio as his colleague.[13]

Sura vanishes from the public record after his third consulate; Syme believes he died in 108.[4] According to Cassius Dio, Trajan gave him a public funeral and had a statue erected in Sura's memory.[14]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Fausto Zevi, "I consoli del 97 d. Cr. in due framenti gia' editi dei Fasti Ostienses", Listy filologické / Folia philologica, 96 (1973), pp. 125-137
  2. ^ Werner Eck and Pangerl, "Zwei Konstitutionen für die Truppen Niedermösiens vom 9. September 97", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 151 (2005), pp. 185-192
  3. ^ Jones, "Sura and Senecio", Journal of Roman Studies, 60 (1970), pp. 98-104
  4. ^ a b Syme, Some Arval Brethren, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), p. 22
  5. ^ Arrian, Diss. Epict. 3, 17, 4
  6. ^ Pliny, Epistulae IV.30; VII.27
  7. ^ Dio, LXVIII.15f
  8. ^ Groag, Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 13 (1926), col. 472
  9. ^ Grainger, Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of AD 96-99 (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 89-102
  10. ^ Werner Eck, "Jahres- und Provinzialfasten der senatorischen Statthalter von 69/70 bis 138/139", Chiron, 12 (1982), pp. 326-328
  11. ^ Dio, LXVIII.9
  12. ^ Alison E. Cooley, The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy (Cambridge: University Press, 2012), p. 467
  13. ^ Cooley, Cambridge Manual, p. 468
  14. ^ Dio, LXVIII.15.3
Political offices
Preceded byas Suffect consuls Consul of the Roman Empire
with Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus II
Succeeded by
Preceded by Consul of the Roman Empire
with Quintus Sosius Senecio II
Succeeded by