Marcus Antius Crescens Calpurnianus

Marcus Antius Crescens Calpurnianus – Acting Governor of Britannia c.202AD

This man is styled iuridicus Britanniae or ‘Administrator of Justice for Britain’ on a Roman inscribed stone recovered on the continent (vide ILS 1151 infra). This curious title implies that Calpurnianus was not the governor of the province (legatus Augusti pro-praetore), but was here in some legal or administrative capacity, perhaps laying the groundwork for emperor Severus’ grand plan to split Britain into two separate provinces Britannia Superior / Inferior, which actually came to fruition c.212AD. Another school of thought is that Calpurnianus was assigned to Britain in order to relieve the governor Virius Lupus of the backlog of legal cases which had built up due to the bringing to trial of all those implicated in the recent revolt of Albinus.

Crescens Calpurnianus – Epigraphic Evidence

Since he was only an acting governor, it is no surprise that no inscriptions on stone have been unearthed in Britain to confirm his jurisdiction.

Dedicatory Inscription from Rome

M ANTIO CRESCENTI CALPVRNIANO COS PROCOS PROV MACED XVVIRO S F IVRID BRIT VICE LEG LEG PR PR PROV CVR R P MARS[ORVM MARRVVIOR] PRAET “For Marcus Antius Crescens Calpurnianus, consular, proconsular [governor] of the province of Macedonia, member of the ‘Board of Fifteen’ for the making of sacred places,¹ iuridicus Britanniae,² likewise a successful legate [in Britain under] the pro-praetorian governor of the province, curator of the public works of the Marsi at Marruvium,³ praetor.”
Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae – Titvli virorvm et mvliervm ordinis senatorii ILS 1151; CIL VI 1336; Roma
  1. The quindecimvir sacris faciendum were responsible for the restoration and upkeep of the temples and religious places in the City of Rome.
  2. Literally ‘Administrator of Justice in Britain’. This means that he was not serving in the capacity of provincial governor but held some subservient position on the governor’s staff, evidently in some sort of legal role.
  3. The Marsi were a Germanic tribe who in ancient times migrated to Italy and settled near the Fucine Lake about 50 miles east of Rome. Their principal town was named Marruvium or Marrubium, now known as San Benedetto.

With regard to the translation of ILS 1151 above, it is possible that the text VICE LEG has a double meaning; vice legatus may be read ‘like a legate’, suggesting that his powers in Britain were confined to that of a legate, presumably of the governor, but the phrase may also mean ‘victorious (or successful) with a legion’, which suggests that he may have won a military victory (or victories). However, any victories won in a province would be assigned to the pro-praetorian governor, so this double-entendre may be Crescens way to claim successes in Britain during his stint in the province. It is also noteworthy that the name of the governor under which he served has been excluded; perhaps intentionally, in retribution for a personal slight?