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Personal Patronage Under the Early Empire

Cambridge University Press
May 2002

Personal patronage was an accepted element in the functioning of Roman society. It is usually considered to be a particularly Republican phenomenon, which declined as other mechanisms developed with the growth of the imperial bureaucracy. Dr Saller's book, the first major study of patronage in the early Empire, shows that the patron-client relationship continued on much the same basis into the third century AD. Drawing on literary and epigraphic sources, he examines the language and ideology of the patron-client exchange, and then investigates how the exchange functioned in the political, economic and social life of the Roman world from the imperial court to the subjects in the provinces. A case study of North Africa illustrates the importance of patronage relationships in a province which produced many members of the new bureaucracy and also eventually an emperor, with consequences for the range of patronage bonds.