Amici Populi Romani


     The database Amici Populi Romani (APR) originates in the Trier-based research project The Foreign Friends of Rome (SFB 600-A2, 2002-2008). Directed by the late Professor Heinz Heinen, it formed part of the Collaborative Research Centre 600 Strangers and Poor People. Modes of Inclusion and Exclusion from Antiquity to the Present Day (SFB 600). The Foreign Friends of Rome was dedicated to the systematic study of the ‘friendly’ relations between the Roman people or Roman individuals on the one side and their diplomatic partners throughout the Mediterranean World and beyond on the other. These interpersonal connections played a major role in the establishment and development of imperial rule, because this solidification of Roman power was by no means solely based on its military prowess, but also on the loyalty and voluntary support of external kings or elites. Those who collaborated with the Romans and were formally recognized as amici populi Romani were often able to strengthen their position within their local community, if not increase their influence on neighbouring areas.

     The main targets for inclusion into the APR collection are all individuals outside of Italy that were made friends of the Romans either on the official level (as represented by the senate, the assembly of the people, a magistrate, or pro-magistrate) or less formally with an individual Roman aristocrat. Some female dynasts are also listed, either by virtue of their own status as amicae, or, more often, to clarify genealogical uncertainties of their more prominent male counterparts. In the same vein, other close relatives who are known to have played important roles are included as well. Further entries on successors or even rivals of such amici are included, in the hope that detailed knowledge of them may help us better understand the extent but also limitations of diplomatic friendship with Rome.

     Most entries fall into the period stretching from the Hannibalic War (218-201 BC) to the Flavian period (AD 69-96), but these are not strict temporal limits. At one end, the kings of Egypt have been included as far back as Ptolemy II Philadelphos, who entered into friendly relations with Rome in 273 BC; at the other, some rulers remained – consistently or at least occasionally – on friendly terms with Rome until the 3rd century AD, such as the Abgars of Osrhoene. But it is the Bosporan kings that boast the longest continuous amicitia relations with Rome, attested as late as the early 5th century AD. Apart from such exceptions, the Alamanic and Gothic incursions, coupled with the ascension of the Sasanid dynasty in Parthia during the 3rd century, mark the beginning(s) of a new era. These events are normally taken as the lower chronological limits of APR.

     The change between indirect and direct rule, i.e. the imposition of a provincial regime, is relevant only in so far as it normally ends a series of reges amici populi Romani or more petty dynasts that enjoyed at least nominal autonomy, before the senate or the emperor took over direct control. But the descendants of such rulers frequently continued to play prominent roles in local governments and beyond, as can be richly exemplified with the Herodians. Such royal or dynastic offspring also qualify for inclusion into APR, at least as long as quasi-dynastic positions have been attested for them.

     The prosopographical database APR started as a by-product of the several case studies conducted in the context of the project on The Foreign Friends of Rome, the most important of which have been published in one of the following six books:


Altay Coskun (ed.): Roms auswärtige Freunde in der späten Republik und im frühen Prinzipat, in Zusammenarbeit mit Heinz Heinen und Manuel Tröster, Göttingen 2005 (=Göttinger Forum für Altertumswissenschaft, Beiheft 19).

Altay Coskun (ed.): Freundschaft und Gefolgschaft in den auswärtigen Beziehungen der Römer (2. Jh. v.Chr. – 1. Jh. n.Chr.), Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang Verlag, 2008 (=Inklusion/Exklusion. Studien zu Fremdheit und Armut von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, vol. 9).

Altay Coskun/Heinz Heinen/Stefan Pfeiffer (eds.): Repräsentation von Identität und Zugehörigkeit im Osten der griechisch-römischen Welt, Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang Verlag, 2009 (2010) (=Inklusion/Exklusion. Studien zu Fremdheit und Armut von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, vol. 14).

Altay Coskun (ed.): Cicero und das römische Bürgerrecht. Die Verteidigung des Dichters Archias. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung und historisch-philologische Kommentierungen, Göttingen 2010 (=Vertumnus, vol. 5).

Heinz Heinen: Antike am Rande der Steppe. Der nördliche Schwarzmeerraum als Forschungsaufgabe. Abhandlung der Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literatur, Geistes- und sozialwissenschaftliche Klasse, Stuttgart 2006.

Heinz Heinen: Kleopatra-Studien. Gesammelte Schriften zur ausgehenden Ptolemäerzeit, Konstanz: Universitätsverlag Konstanz, 2009 (=Xenia 49).


     A more complete list of publications (until 2010) is accessible on the website of the SFB 600 project. Some more recent titles are included as updates to the bibliographies of the APR entries. For an acknowledgment of the impact that these works have had, the reader may refer to the handbook on ancient foreign relations by Ernst Baltrusch: Außenpolitik, Bünde und Reichsbildung in der Antike, Munich 2008, 210 (with several cross-references).  

     In more recent years, young and established colleagues from Europe and North America have generously made further contributions to APR by drawing on the material on which they had been focussing their research for various purposes. I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude to them, all of whom are listed on the front page. It is certainly hoped that more scholars may join our network and help complete the collection Amici Populi Romani.

     Unfortunately, the webserver that hosted APR 05 since 2014 discontinued its service last fall. APR 06 has therefore been moved to, though it is expected that the previous web address will soon be functional again. This unforeseen move has caused some further delay for the construction of the Genealogical Tables of the Graeco-Roman World (GenTab). My apologies for the as yet void stemma links in APR. My thanks go to Emily Orosz, who has been helping me design the squarespace website and is now working on connecting APR and GenTab.


May 2016, Waterloo ON