WHEN I ONCE told an eminent ancient historian that I was working on police forces in the Roman provinces, his snap reaction was, “But there weren’t any!” After a moment of reflection, he conceded, “Well, I suppose there were eirenarchs. And stationarii …” It was a revealing exchange, which demonstrated that a modern study of imperial Roman policing and public order was long overdue. This book is intended to remedy that neglect. I have tried to make it accessible to anyone interested in the ancient world or the history of policing, while also contributing to the academic dialogue of fellow specialists.
In the following pages, I quote a broad range of ancient sources. Biblical passages are from the New Revised Standard Version. Quoted translations of papyri are usually those of the specified edition, when these included an English translation. Otherwise most translations from Greek and Latin sources are my own; exceptions are specifically noted. In translating, I have often consulted published translations as a rough guide. In every case, my analysis is based on the original Greek and Latin, and I vouch for all of the following translated passages, even when they are not my own. My understanding of material in other ancient languages, such as Aramaic or Coptic, depends entirely on the cited translator.