Edict of Ti. Iulius Alexander


Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold, Roman Civilization Volume II, Selected Readings: The Empire, 3rd Edition, 1990, New York, Columbia University Press, pp.295-298 

(The editors’ “The Emperor” has been replaced by “imperator” or "Caesar" and “the Deified” by “divus”. Their notes are at the end of the document.)

 H. G. Evelyn-White and]. H. Oliver; The Temple of Hibis (New York, 1938), no. 4 (abridged) =OGIS 669


6 July 68


(Col. 1)Tiberius Iulius Alexander declares:


Since I am exercising every solicitude for the city [of Alexandria] to maintain its proper political status in the enjoyment of the benefactions which it has from the Caesars, and for Egypt to continue in prosperity and cheerfully contribute to the grain supply and to the very great felicity of the present times unoppressed by novel and unlawful exactions; and since practically from the moment I entered the city I have been assailed by clamors of petitioners, both in small groups and in throngs, both from the most respectable people here and from the country farmers, complaining about the recent abuses, I have lost no time in righting pressing matters to the extent of my authority. And that you may the more cheerfully expect everything for your salvation and happiness from our benefactor, imperator  Galba Augustus, who has brought light to us for the salvation of the whole  human race, and that you may know that I have been concerned with the matters relating to your relief, I have perforce set forth the decisions and actions that are in my power concerning each of the requests, and the weightier matters requiring the authority and majesty of the emperor I shall report to him in all truth, for the gods have preserved to this most sacred age the security of the inhabited world.


(Col. 2 line 1.)First of all, I recognize the complete reasonableness of your petition that persons not be forced against their will, contrary to the general practice of the provinces, into tax ..farming or other leases of imperial estate; no little harm has been done by the compulsion of many persons inexperienced in such duties, when [the collection of] the taxes was imposed upon them. Wherefore I myself have not forced and shall not force anyone into tax farming or lease, for I know that it is to the advantage of the imperial revenues, too, to have competent men admin- ister these willingly and zealously. I am confident that in the future no [official] will force tax farmers or lessees against their will, but, observing the invariable practice of the former prefects instead of imitating someone's temporary wrongdoing, will lease to persons willing to come forward voluntarily. 1


2. Whereas some [officials] have also had loans of others assigned to themselves under pretense of public obligations and have then proceeded to consign some persons to the debtor prison or to other jails which I know have been abolished for this very reason, that loans may be executed out of the properties and not out of the persons [of the debtors]; in keeping with the wish of the deified Augustus I order that no one shall, under pretense of public obligations, have loans assigned from others which he did not originally make, and that no free persons shall ever be locked up in any jail whatsoever, except a criminal, or in the debtor prison, except those indebted to the fisc (=demosion).


 [The next section, here omitted, concerns prior liens of the state on the private property of persons who have entered into public contracts.]


4. I have also received petitions concerning tax exemptions and reductions . . . from persons requesting that these privileges be reaffirmed in accordance with the rescript of divus Claudius to Postumus 2 granting such release. . . . Since, therefore, Balbillus and Vestinus granted these releases, I reaffirm the decisions of both prefects, especially as they are in accord with the grant of divus Claudius; hence they have been released from the charges not yet exacted from them, and in the future certainly the tax exemption and reduction will remain in force for them.


[The next section, here omitted, guarantees purchasers of confiscated properties sold by the state against having to pay fiscal rents in addition to normal taxes.]


It is in keeping with the grants of the Caesars that native Alexandrians residing in the country for business reasons are not to be forced into any rural compulsory public service. You have often requested this and I confirm it, so that no one of the native Alexandrians shall be forced into rural public services. . . .


In general I order that whenever a prefect has already decided to dismiss a case brought before him, it is not to be brought again before the [prefect's] assizes. And if two prefects have been of the same mind, a state accountant who brings up the same matters before the assizes is also to be punished [in addition to having the case thrown out], seeing that he does nothing else than reserve for himself and the other civil officials a pretext for enrichment. Many persons, in fact, have decided rather to abandon their private possessions, because they have expended more than their value through the same matters being brought to judgment at each assize.


11. I also establish the same rule for matters brought up under the idios logos [see § 79], so that if any matter has been judged and dismissed, or shall be dismissed, by the [procurator] appointed for the "Special Account," the [accuser] shall not again be permitted to submit [the same charge] to a prosecutor or to bring it to trial, or else the person so doing will be punished mercilessly; for there will be no end of vexatious denunciations if dismissed matters are brought up till someone decides to condemn. Since already the city has become practically uninhabitable because of the multitude of informers and every household is thrown into confusion, I perforce order that if any of the prosecutors attached to the idios logos introduces a suit as spokesman for another, he shall produce the real accuser in court, so that the latter, too, may not be free from risk; 3 and if he brings three suits on his own responsibility and does not prove them, he shall not again be permitted to prosecute, but half his estate shall be confiscated; for it is most unjust that a person who brings upon many the dangers of [loss of] property and penalty should himself be completely free from liability. In general I shall order that the code of regulations of the idios logos remain in force, since I have amended the innovations introduced contrary to the grants of the emperors. And I shall openly publicize how I have meted out condign punishment to convicted informers.


1. By the beginning of the second century, however, practically all tax collectors in Egypt, at least on the local level, were assigned to their positions as compulsory public services (cf. § 77).


2. Gaius Julius Postumus, prefect of Egypt A.D. 45-47. The prefects mentioned later and the known dates of their tenure of office are Tiberius Claudius Balbillus, 55-59, and Lucius Julius  Vestinus,


3. Informers whose denunciations proved to be false were penalized.