An edict issued by the emperor Caracalla records a universal grant of citizenship as an expression of magnificence and gratitude to the immortal gods.
The papyrus roll contains three edicts with different states of preservation. Unfortunately, our text is very fragmentary. A high-resolution image of the papyrus roll can be found at http://bibd.uni-giessen.de/papyri/images/pgiss-inv015recto-1600kb.jpg
The third issue of the papyrus is concerned with the extent to which Caracalla’s edict applied. As has been translated above, the emperor affirmed that all the people across the world were to be granted Roman citizenship. This information complies with the note of the contemporary jurist Ulpian (Digest 1.5.17), and, later, Augustine (De civitate Dei 5.17), who hinted at the universal nature of the Constitutio Antoniniana. The only exception (χωρίς/chôris) according to the edict were the dediticii singled out in line 9. This is a Latin legal loanword that was traditionally used for those who took arms against Rome but surrendered and were conquered. The problem is that we do not know how many people may have qualified as such before 212 CE, or what exactly was their status (see e.g. Benario, “The Dediticii”; Sherwin-White, Roman Citizenship, 382-383). Likewise, Caracalla refers to the oikoumenê as the geographical framework of his edict, but the delimitation of this “inhabited world” is not straightforward. Consequently, we cannot know with certitude how truly universal was this grant of citizenship in which victory (νίκη/nikê) may have played a part according to line 10. From here, the text in the papyrus almost completely vanishes, although we can see that the emperor probably presented his action not only as an expression of personal gratitude to the gods but also as a sign of magnificence – again the word μεγαλειότης/megaleiotês) –, most likely of the Roman people (l. 11).
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