The Antonine Constitution

An Edict for the Caracallan Empire


Author: Alex Imrie
In The Antonine Constitution, Alex Imrie approaches the famous edict of AD 212 from numerous angles, offering an assessment of its rationale that is rooted in the dynamic period of the early third century. Controversial since its discovery, it is depicted here as a keystone in Caracalla’s attempt to revolutionise the public image of the Severan dynasty after murdering his brother.

There is an inherent paradox between the apparently progressive nature of the edict, and the volatile emperor responsible for it. The enigma is only heightened by a dearth of ancient evidence relating to the legislation. By combining literary and material evidence with the surviving papyrological record, Alex Imrie shows that Caracalla’s rationale is best understood in an embedded context.

Prices from (excl. VAT):

Add to Cart
Alex Imrie, Ph.D. (2015), is a Tutor in Classics at the University of Edinburgh. He divides his time between teaching and outreach activities across Scotland. He has published articles on Caracalla and the Severan period. This is his first monograph.
"In conclusion, this book is a good introduction both to the CA and to related scholarship. Chapter 1, on historical and literary contexts, makes the topic accessible and interesting to a broad audience of specialist and non-specialist readers alike. The discussion of the practical rationales in chapters 2 and 3 is comprehensive and summarizes, with added nuance, the general state of scholarship on the matter..."
Lydia Schriemer in BMCR 2019.03.28

"To close, the year 212 will continue to feature in any history of later Rome. What Imrie's book does very well is force us to ask both new and old questions of this moment, of the actual physical copies of the edict and the emperor and dynasty shaping this shift. This is then certainly a worthwhile read, with elements that show great promise." Anthony Smart, CJ-Online, 2019.11.07.
List of Abbreviations
List of Figures, Table and Illustration

 The Antonine Constitution in Scholarship
 An Edict for the Caracallan Empire

1 Contexts
 The Historical Context: 193–212
 The Antonine Constitution in Ancient Literature
 The Role of the Jurists
 The Antonine Constitution and the Giessen Papyrus

2 The Fiscal Rationale
 Early Imperial Economic Activity
 Decline and Crisis in the High Empire
 The Severan Recovery
 The Economy under Caracalla
 The Economic Function of the Antonine Constitution
 The Vicesima Hereditatum
 The Purpose of Caracallan Fiscal Innovation

3 The Military Rationale
 Obstacles to Legionary Recruitment
 The Severan Reforms
 The Military Application of the Antonine Constitution

4 Alexander Imitatio
 Alexandrian Influences in the Antonine Constitution
 Alexander Iconography in the Caracallan Empire
 The Political Significance of Alexander Iconography

5 Securing the Caracallan Empire
 The Drive for Aequitas
 Re-writing the Severan Past
 A Religious Offering
 The Indulgentissimus Princeps
 A Social Contract


 Text, Translation and Commentary of the Giessen Papyrus
All interested in the history of the Severan period and the Roman Empire, more generally, and anyone interested in the spread of citizenship under Rome.