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Frumentarii – secret Roman police

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Legionnaires march through the forest
Legionnaires march through the forest

Frumentarii was the secret Roman police. Initially, they were collecting taxes and spreading messages throughout the Empire. They were also responsible for controlling and regulating grain deliveries to the capital. Their role, however, evolved during the reign of Hadrian (117-138 CE), who abandoned the policy of expansion and focused on internal stabilization – for this purpose frumenatrii took over the role of the secret police.

The hatred of the Romans towards this unit reached its peak during the crisis of the 3rd century CE when the Empire was ruled by chaos, and many chiefs and pretenders sent their loyal representatives to look for conspiracies, obtain information, and, if necessary, arrest subjects. Interestingly, they did not always fulfil their tasks. For example, on one occasion, after being pursued by frumentarii Christians, Dionysius fled and hid in his own house, where he was hiding for four days. Surprisingly, it did not occur to those frumentarii following him that he might be hiding in his own “four walls”.

  • Dymowski Arkadiusz, Agentes in rebus. Antyczny rodowód współczesnych służb specjalnych
  • Pikulska-Robaszkiewicz A., Funkcjonariusze służb specjalnych w późnym Cesarstwie

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