Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes (suffect consul 133)
Origin and life
Claudius Atticus was a Greek of Athenian descent. As he bears the Roman family name, Claudius, there is a possibility that a paternal ancestor of his, received Roman citizenship, from an unknown member of the Claudius gens. His great-great-grandfather was a man called Polycharmus (ca. 9/8 BC-22/23). Claudius Atticus was born and raised into a very distinguished, wealthy family. He was the son of Hipparchus (born c. 40) and an unnamed woman. His sister was called Claudia Alcia, and married the Athenian aristocrat Lucius Vibullius Rufus. In his lifetime, Hipparchus was considered one of the wealthiest men in the Roman Empire; he was reputed to possess one hundred million sesterces. This reputation is evident in a line from Suetonius (The Twelve Caesars, Vespasian, 13):
- When Salvius Liberalis was defending a rich client he earned commendation from Vespasian by daring to ask: ‘Does the Emperor really care whether Hipparchus is, or is not, worth a million gold pieces?’
However, his fortune ultimately led to Hipparchus' downfall. In the reign of Vespasian's second son Domitian, either in 92 or 93, the emperor ordered proscriptions on a large number of wealthy men. The father of Claudius Atticus seems to have been accused of attempting a form of an extra-constitutional regime in Athens. Consequently, his fortune and estates were confiscated, and on Domitian's orders, Hipparchus was either executed or exiled.
In later years, in a house that Claudius Atticus acquired near the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, he found an immense treasure. As a precaution, he wrote a letter to the Roman Emperor Nerva informing him of this and asking what to do with the treasure. Nerva replied in a letter stating: “Use what you have found”. Again however Claudius Atticus wrote to Nerva, stating that this discovery was beyond his station in life, to which Nerva replied: “Then misuse your windfall, for it is yours”. It is possible that this treasure was hidden there by Hipparchus during Domitian's proscriptions. With it, Claudius Atticus restored his family's influence and prestige.
In 98, using the money of the treasure, Claudius Atticus purchased a seat in the Roman Senate. According to two fragments from the Christian chronicler Hegesippus, Claudius Atticus served as a legatus of the Iudaea Province from 99/100 to 102/103. Claudius Atticus served as one of the suffect consuls in the year 133, being the first Greek from old Greece to reach the post, and probably also its first member in the Roman Senate.
Claudius Atticus married an Athenian heiress called Vibullia Alcia Agrippina, a member of a very wealthy and prominent family. Vibulia was also his niece, being the daughter of his sister, Claudia Alcia. She bore him three children:
- Lucius Vibullius Hipparchus Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes, otherwise known as Herodes Atticus, 101-177
- Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodianus
- Claudia Tisamenis
Herodes Atticus with his wife, the Roman aristocrat Aspasia Annia Regilla, erected a great outdoor nymphaeum (a monumental fountain) at Olympia, Greece. The monumental fountain features statues and honors members of the ruling imperial family, relatives of Herodes Atticus and his wife. Among the statues is a bust of Claudius Atticus, now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia
- Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p. 238
- Graindor, Un milliardaire antique p. 29
- Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p. 242
- Day, An economic history of Athens under Roman domination p. 243
- Cited in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica III.32, 3, 6
- E. May Smallwood, "Atticus, Legate of Judaea under Trajan", Journal of Roman Studies, 52 (1962), pp. 131-133
- Werner Eck, Paul Holder, Andreas Pangerl, "A diploma for the army of Britain in 132 and Hadrian’s return to Rome from the East", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 174 (2010), p. 194f
- Wilson, Encyclopedia of ancient Greece p. 349
- Pomeroy, The murder of Regilla: a case of domestic violence in antiquity
- McManus, Barbara F. "Plancia Magna, Aurelia Paulina, and Regilla: Civic Donors". Vroma.org. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- Suetonius - The Twelve Caesars – Vespasian
- Day, J., An economic history of Athens under Roman domination, Ayers Company Publishers, 1973
- Graindor, P., Un milliardaire antique, Ayers Company Publishers, 1979
- Wilson, N.G., Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, Routledge 2006
- Pomeroy, S.B., The murder of Regilla: a case of domestic violence in antiquity, Harvard University Press, 2007
- "Plancia Magna, Aurelia Paulina, and Regilla: Civic Donors"