Aelius Lamia [ ? - 33 CE]

Lucius Aelius Lamia the younger was scion of an illustrious family of cavalry officers that Augustus elevated to senatorial status to increase the ranks of his patrician supporters.  He, or more likely his father, was a close friend of Horace & Cicero junior.*

In 3 CE Lucius Lamia Jr. was appointed consul of Rome. He gained the confidence of Tiberius, under whom he twice served as legion commander in Germany (4-6 & 10-11 CE).  After Tiberius became emperor, he twice appointed Lamia as his personal legate, first to Africa (19 CE) & then Syria (22 CE). The latter assignment, however, was in name only, since he was detained in Rome as Tiberius relinquished administration of the empire to the praetorian prefect, Sejanus, following the death of his own son. The absence of an imperial legate in Syria for a decade gave Pontius Pilate much greater autonomy than was usual for a military prefect of Judea.

Sources fail to record any reason for Lamia being prevented from assuming his imperial post, but the fact that his detention coincided with the period in which another cavalry officer [Sejanus] was consolidating administrative power in his own hands justifies suspicions that it was related to professional rivalry.  All that is certain is that soon after the praetorian prefect's downfall (31 CE) & a decade as provincial governor in absentia, Lamia was elevated by Tiberius to the office of prefect of Rome (32 CE). The aging military bureaucrat died after only a year in office & was honored by the emperor with a state funeral.

* Note: It is not easy to distinguish father & son when both bear the same name & references in sources are few. According to Tacitus, Lamia Jr. was of venerable age when he died. But he would have had to be almost a centenarian to have been a contemporary & intimate colleague of Horace (65 BCE - 8 BCE) & other intellectuals of the Augustan age.  It would have been remarkable for someone of that influential circle to have remained in political obscurity until 3 CE & to have assumed his first recorded military commands [under Tiberius] as a septuagenarian.  The known details of Lamia's career in imperial service fit better someone who was born only after Julius Caesar's assassination (44 BCE), which would still make him almost 80 when he died.

References: Tacitus, Annals 4.13, 6.27.
                   Cassius Dio, Roman History 58.19.
                   Horace Odes 1.26; 3.17.

Other resources on line:

Perspective on the World of Jesus

Copyright 1999-2017 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.

an American Theological Library Association Selected Religion Website
OCLC catalog no.: 62046512