History

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Inscriptions of the city phylai of Philippopolis on the seats of the theatreInscriptions of the city phylai of Philippopolis on the seats of the theatre

Roman Philippopolis was a Greek-speaking city. Greek was the official language and was used in administration and coinage as well as in private deeds, including votive or funerary inscriptions. Latin was used, together with Greek, only in extremely important cases, for example in inscriptions commemorating an imperial visit or inaugurations in the emperor's honor.

The prosperous times of the 2nd Century were shadowed by the Marcomannian invasions of the 160s and the so-called Aurelian Plague (possibly measles or smallpox).

The 3rd Century was a time of great changes and hardship. In 212, Emperor Caracalla (198-217) gave full citizenship to all free men in the empire. The change was probably met with mixed feelings. Citizenship meant free bread from the state and the opportunity to join the better paid legions, but it also meant paying taxes. Several years later, probably because of a visit by Emperor Elagabalus (218-222), Philippopolis received the prestigious title of neokoros, a city where  an official temple of emperor cult existed. Thirty years later, Philippopolis was proclaimed a colony, the highest possible title for a city in strict administrative system of the empire.

Times, however, were bad. Emperors were coming and going, wreaking havoc in the state and its finances. The Plague of Cyprian, possibly smallpox, and the Barbarians ravaged it. In 251, the Goths of Cniva ruined Philippopolis, killing thousands of citizens. The weak economy and soaring inflation prolonged Philippopolis's recovery. The whole empire was shattering. It stabilized only under the emperors Aurelianus (270-275) and Diocletian (284-305).

 

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