Aulus Didius Gallus

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Aulus Didius Gallus was a Roman senator, engineer, military commander and provincial governor of the 1st century AD.

Much of his early career can be reconstructed from an inscription from Olympia.[1] He was quaestor under Tiberius, probably in 19. He served as a legate in Sicily, then as praefectus equitum (cavalry commander), before returning to Sicily as its proconsular governor. He was curator aquarum (superintendent of aqueducts) from 38 to 49,[2] under Caligula and Claudius, and was suffect consul twice during this period, in 39 and 46.[3] He was also a member of the quindecemviri, a religious college. He received the ornamenta triumphalia under Claudius, probably for his actions in Bosporus, where Tacitus tells us he commanded forces that were withdrawn in 49.[4] After this he seems to have taken up another proconsular appointment, possibly in Asia or Africa.

His later career is recorded by Tacitus.[5] In 52 he was appointed governor of Britain, replacing Publius Ostorius Scapula, who had died suddenly in office. He arrived to find the province in turmoil. A legion commanded by Gaius Manlius Valens, probably the XIV Gemina, had been defeated in the interim by the Silures south Wales, who caused considerable disruption until Didius arrived to quell them.

Didius, who was of advanced years, was concerned to consolidate territory already won rather than make any new conquests, and mainly acted through his legates. During his period as governor there was a revolt among the independent but allied Brigantes, led by Venutius against his ex-wife, the pro-Roman queen Cartimandua. This revolt was put down by a legion commanded by Caesius Nasica. Didius governed Britain until 58, when he was succeeded by Quintus Veranius Nepos.

Quintilian reports that Didius spent many years trying to secure a provincial governorship, but was unhappy at the province he was offered, although whether this refers to Sicily or Britain is not known. The orator Domitius Afer responded sarcastically to his complaints, suggesting he think of his country.[6] The tombstone of Quintus Veranius says that he took the job "although he did not seek it", which has been interpreted as a barbed comment on Didius.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Anthony R Birley (1981), The Fasti of Roman Britain, pp. 44-49
  2. Frontinus, On the Water Supply of Rome 2:102
  3. Roman Numismatic Gallery: Consuls for the Julio-Claudian period
  4. Tacitus, Annals [Annals 12:15
  5. Tacitus, Agricola 14; Annals 12:40, 14:29
  6. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria Book 6, 3:68