Aeditui: An Epigraphic Study of Temple Keepers

Jamie B. Erenstoft

University at Buffalo, SUNY

Roman religious organization during the early empire is a complex subject.  Augustus not only redefined Roman religion physically with restorations and the erection of new temples, but also restructured it administratively.  It is the intent of this paper to shed further light on Augustus' religious reforms.  Focusing on the role of a single religious occupation, the aedituus, it can be shown that Augustus' influence as well as that of his imperial dynasty extended into the lower levels of Roman society.  The function of the aeditui, or temple keepers, is obscure.  These people were not important members of society.  They were not part of the upper classes and they did not hold political office.  One would not be able to find any of their names within any scholarly prosopographical works.  Aside from the few references to this occupation by a small selection of ancient authors, the only real testament to its existence can be found within the realm of Latin epigraphy. 

Using a corpus of inscriptions from Rome, this paper examines the role of aeditui within Roman society and arrives at a more precise definition of the occupation.   There is also the question of hierarchy, and perhaps even associated collegia.  Again, the corpus of inscriptions provides some clues as to the nature of the any possible structuring within the occupation.  Finally, this paper will initiate a discussion of a purposeful connection between the creation of the position of aeditui and the early imperial period.  It is clear that the majority of aeditui are imperial freedmen and that their associated temples/shrines were testaments to the legacy of the Julio-Claudians.


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