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Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus

Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (Greek: Τιβέριος Ιούλιος Κέλσος Πολεμαιανός, Tibérios Ioúlios Kélsos Polemaianós)[1] commonly known as Celsus (ca. 45 – before ca. 120) was an Ancient Greek Roman citizen who became a Roman senator,[2][3] and served as a Roman consul in 92 and governor of Asia (105–107). Celsus Polemaeanus was a wealthy and popular citizen and benefactor of Ephesus, and was buried in a sarcophagus beneath the famous Library of Celsus,[4] which was built as a mausoleum in his honor by his son Julius Aquila Polemaeanus.[5]


File:Efez Celsus Library 1 RB.jpg
The Library of Celsus, which was founded by Celsus who is buried in a sarcophagus beneath the library.[4]

He was born ca. 45 to a family of Greek origin[5][6][7] in either Ephesus or Sardis.[6] His family were priests in Rome and were originally from Sardis in Asia Minor.[8] They had been granted Roman citizenship, and some of them held official positions in the service of the Roman Empire. In 69, during the Year of the Four Emperors, when Celsus was launching his equestrian career, he and his legion acclaimed Vespasian emperor. After Vespasian solidified his control of the Empire, he rewarded Celsus by raising him to the senatorial class.[8] Celsus went on to hold the highest position open to Roman senatorial aristocrats, becoming suffect consul in 92. In 105, he was named proconsular governor of the Roman province of Asia by the Emperor Trajan.[3][4]

Library of Celsus

The Library of Celsus in Ephesus was built to honor Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus after his death. He paid for the library from his own personal wealth,[9] and bequeathed a large sum of money for its construction which was carried out by his son Julius Aquila Polemaeanus.[4] The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a monumental tomb for Celsus. The library is both a crypt containing his sarcophagus and a sepulchral monument of Celsus.[10] The library collapsed after Ephesus was deserted but it was restored by an Austrian Archaeology Foundation in the 1970s.[11]


  1. ^ Solin, Heikki (2003). CIL. Walter de Gruyter. p. 1131. ISBN 978-3-11-015244-9. Λέοντας Τιβερίου Ιουλίου Κέλσου Πολεμαιανοϋ δούλος 
  2. ^ Werner Eck, Matthäus Heil (2005). Senatores populi Romani: Realität und mediale Präsentation einer Führungsschicht : Kolloquium der Prosopographia Imperii Romani vom 11.-13. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 267. ISBN 978-3-515-08684-4. By contrast, Greek senators were more than free to lavish their wealth on their own cities or other ones…Celsus Polemaeanus of Sardis endows a library at Ephesus in which he is honored both as a Greek and a Roman; the library itself may have had a similar dual character, recalling the twin libraries of Trajan at Rome. 
  3. ^ a b Swain, Simon (1998). Hellenism and empire: language, classicism, and power in the Greek world, AD 50–250. Oxford University Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-19-815231-6. Sardis had already seen two Greek senators ... Ti. Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, cos. Suff. N 92 (Halfmann 1979: no 160), who endowed the remarkable Library of Celsus at Ephesus, and his son Ti. Julius Aquila Polemaeanus, cos. suff. in 110, who built most of it. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hanfmann, George Maxim Anossov (1975). From Croesus to Constantine: the cities of western Asia Minor and their arts in Greek and Roman times. University of Michigan Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-472-08420-3. …statues (lost except for their bases) were probably of Celsus, consul in A.D. 92, and his son Aquila, consul in A.D. 110. A cuirass statue stood in the central niche of the upper storey. Its identification oscillates between Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who is buried in a sarcophagus under the library, and Tiberius Julius Aquila Polemaeanus, who completed the building for his father 
  5. ^ a b Richard Wallace, Wynne Williams (1998). The three worlds of Paul of Tarsus. Routledge. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-415-13591-7. Apart from the public buildings for which such benefactors paid – the library at Ephesos, for example, recently reconstructed, built by Tiberius Iulius Aquila Polmaeanus in 110-20 in honour of his father Tiberius Iulius Celsus Polemaeanus, one of the earliest men of purely Greek origin to become a Roman consul 
  6. ^ a b Nicols, John (1978). Vespasian and the partes Flavianae, Issues 28–31. Steiner. p. 109. ISBN 978-3-515-02393-1. Ti. Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (PIR2 J 260) was a romanized Greek of Ephesus or Sardes who became the first eastern consul. 
  7. ^ Forte, Bettie (1972). Rome and the Romans as the Greeks saw them. American Academy in Rome. p. 260. OCLC 560733. The Julio-Claudian emperors admitted relatively few Greeks to citizenship, but these showed satisfaction with their new position and privileges. Tiberius is known to have enfranchised only Tib. Julius Polemaeanus, ancestor of a prominent governor later in the century, and the hellenized Tib. Julius Alexander. 1 16 His popular governor of Achaia, P. Memmius Regulus (IG II2 4174) 
  8. ^ a b Swain, Simon (2002). Dio Chrysostom: Politics, Letters, and Philosophy. Oxford University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-19-925521-4. Nevertheless, in 92 the same office went to a Greek, Ti. Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who belonged to a family of priests of Rome hailing from Sardis; entering the Senate under Vespasian, he was subsequently to be appointed proconsul of Asia under Trajan, possibly in 105/6. Celsus’ son, Aquila, was also to be made suffectus in 110, although he is certainly remembered more as the builder of the famous library his father envisioned for Ephesus. 
  9. ^ Too, Yun Lee (2010). The idea of the library in the ancient world. Oxford University Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-19-957780-4. ... and son of Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, proconsul of Asia, who founds the Celsian library from his own wealth ... 
  10. ^ Makowiecka, Elżbieta (1978). The origin and evolution of architectural form of Roman library. Wydaw-a UW. p. 65. OCLC 5099783. After all, the library was simultaneously the sepulchral monument of Celsus and the crypt contained his sarcophagus. The very idea of honouring his memory by erecting a public library above his grave need not have been the original conception of Tiberius Iulius Aquila the founder of the library. 
  11. ^ "accessed November 27, 2012" (PDF).