Criers, Impresarios, and Sextons: Disreputable Occupations in the Roman World Criers, Impresarios, and Sextons: Disreputable Occupations in the Roman World

Sarah Bond, Sarah Bond, Richard Talbert
2011 unpublished
SARAH E. BOND: Criers, Impresarios, and Sextons: Disreputable Occupations in the Roman World (Under the direction of Richard J.A. Talbert.) Roman law stigmatized not only the individual but also the collective for dishonorable acts. Numerous professions incurred varying degrees of disrepute that carried legal and civic disabilities. Professionals in the sex and entertainment trades who incurred the legal stigma of infamia have been investigated by modern scholarship; yet, those people who
more » ... se people who worked in the disreputable occupations of praeco (crier), dissignator (event coordinator), libitinarius (funeral director), and in the mortuary trade have not been fully discussed in terms of either the reasons for their disrepute or their significance within social, economic, administrative, and religious networks. To counteract this void of literature, I analyze the status and role of these professionals from the Republic to Late Antiquity. Through this research, I show the origins of social perceptions of disrepute and their codification into legal statute in the first century BCE, and illustrate the creation of a marginal society that was placed outside the civic realm in Roman cities. I argue that these professionals were crucial negotiators between the civic and marginal society. Moreover, my use of predominantly epigraphic remains such as dedications and epitaphs allows me to investigate the identities and associative relationships formulated by these professionals, as well as the shifts in their status related to broad administrative and religious changes in the Roman world. The elevation of groups of funeral workers in Late Antiquity-fossores, copiatae, decani, and lecticarii-and their use within the minor orders of some early Christian churches illustrates ! "#! this status shift. Though disreputable, these professionals did have a level of social and economic mobility and served as vital cultural mediators within Roman society. Acknowledgments In writing this dissertation, I learned that it "takes a village" to raise a scholar. Without the efforts of my advisor, Richard Talbert, this dissertation would not have been possible. Rather than assigning me a dissertation topic, he allowed me to come to the subject of disreputable occupations on my own, and permitted me the space to formulate my own ideas and analyses. "Funeral workers!" I proclaimed as I walked into his office. "Yes, what about them? Moreover, why should I care?" he answered. As a result of his encouragement and his inquisitions, these marginal and rather unnoticed professionals became more than just novelties within Roman society, more than outcasts. He challenged me to decipher individuality and to establish the significance of these workers within Roman society. In the same manner that my disreputable persons came to have a clearer identity, I too uncovered newfound interests and strengths while investigating them. The strong mentorship of my committee members also served to shape and inform this dissertation. James Rives helped me to tackle difficult questions in regard to Roman law, and allowed for this project to extend proficiently into early Christianity and the Late Antique period. Always the positive force, Brett Whalen's advice guided me toward considering new religious and theological questions in evaluating my archaeological data within an early Christian context. Fred Naiden helped me to approach the Greek East and to grapple with the Egyptian papyri, while Werner Riess-whose expertise in epigraphy has guided me throughout my graduate education, from here to Heidelberg and back-helped me ! #""! to better understand marginality and the use of epitaphs. I deeply appreciate all the red pens and office hours spent for my benefit by the committee members. In executing the research for my dissertation, I am indebted to the University of North Carolina's Medieval and Early Modern Studies, who provided me with a fellowship to write. I am also beholden to parents, family, friends, and mentors that supported this project from its inception. My husband, Matthew Belskie, listened endlessly as I rambled about funeral workers, burial patterns, criers, and Roman administrators, and provided me with helpful feedback, as well as suggestions concerning the use of information theory. He was there for the highlights and lowlights of the dissertation, and allowed me a "room of one's own" within which I researched and wrote. Furthermore, I am eternally indebted to my friend and editrix, Kristina Killgrove. Not only was she a tough critic-which I needed-she gave me professional advice and became my paradigm for balancing academic and personal life. A final note of gratitude is given to those outside scholars that provided me direction. Elizabeth Meyer, my undergraduate advisor at the University of Virginia, continued to be a guiding light. As a young student, she introduced me to the CIL, educated me about inscriptions, and has never failed to support me over these many years. Ever my alma mater, she tempered constructive criticism with encouragement. I give thanks also to Jerzy Linderski, who encouraged my research and pushed me in new directions, and to John Bodel-one of the only other persons in the world that shares my passion for Roman funeral workers-who provided me with offprints and responded with zeal to my queries about these professionals and their role in Roman society. I hope that it is clear, in citing those that helped to support and advise this dissertator, that this project was a success due to the collective efforts of many, not just one.