Members of a religious and social institution common in the cities of the western Roman empire. There are numerous variations on the title, which taken together appear in some 2,500 inscriptions. Nearly all Augustales were freedmen, as well as Trimalchio (see petronius arbiter) and his friends, the only Augustales depicted in literature. They often acted as benefactors (see euergetism), funding public entertainments and building‐projects as well as paying entry fees. In return, they enjoyed the prestige of their office, which functioned almost as a magistracy. Augustales were entitled to honorific insignia and were often selected by the town councillors. As their title indicates, their formal responsibilities may have centred on the imperial cult (see ruler‐cult), in the context of which they probably arranged sacrifices and games. They usually performed these duties for a year, after which they retained membership in an order, sometimes organized like a collegium, whose members held a rank just below that of the local council. The institution thus provided rich freedmen, who were legally barred from holding civic magistracies, with opportunities for public display and prestige.
Subjects: Classical Studies.