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Notitia Dignitatum

The official handbook of the civil and military officials in the later Roman Empire

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Notitia Dignitatum (Register of Offices), the official handbook of the civil and military officials in the later Roman Empire. The extant Latin form belongs to the early fifth century. The last addenda concerning the Eastern Empire point to the year 397 as thelatest chronological limit, while supplementary notices concerning the Western Empire extend into the reigm of Valentinian III (425-55). The bulk of the statements, however, point to earlier years of the fourth century, individual notices showing conditions at thebeginning of this century. The first part of the “Notitia” gives a list of the officials in the Eastern Empire: “Notitia dignitatum omnium tam civilium quam militarium in partibus Orientis”; the second part gives a corresponding list for the Western Empire: “Notitia … … in partibus Occidentis”. Both give, first the highest official positions of the central administration, then the officials in positions subordinate to these, and also the officials of the various “dioceses” and provinces, the civil officials being regularly stated alongwith the military. In addition, the insignia of the officials and of the army divisions are shown by drawings. This register was used in the imperial chancery; the chief official of the chancery (primicerius notariorum) found in it all necessary information for drawing up the announcements of the appointment of officials and of their positions. The “Notitia”, preserved as it is in an incomplete condition, is partly an abstract, partly an exact transcript of this official register. It shows that at various periods, extending as late as the first part of the fifth century, additions were made to the state register and gives the essential form of the list in the era just mentioned. It is, therefore, a very important authority for the divisions of the Empire, for an understanding of the Roman bureaucracy, and for the distribution of the army during the late Roman Empire. The first printed edition was “Notitia utraque cum Orientis turn Occidentis” (Basle, 1552); the latest editions were edited by Bocking (2 vols., Bonn, 1839-53), and O. Seeck, “Notitia dignitatum. Accedunt Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae et Laterculi provinciarum” (Berlin, 1876).

J. P. KIRSCH


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