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Tiberius Claudius Balbilus

Tiberius Claudius Balbillus Modestus

Τιβέριος Κλαύδιος Βαλβίλλος Μόδεστος

Scholar, politician and a court astrologer to the Roman emperors Claudius, Nero and Vespasian.

of Tiberius Claudius Balbilus

TNMP 124

Ti. Claudius Balbillus was both the leading astrologer of the period in Rome and related by marriage, possible too by blood, to the Commagenian dynasty. That Balbillus was the father-in-law of C. Iulius Antiochus Epiphanes, the son of the last ruling king of Commagene, is generally agreed; most scholars also accept that Balbillus was the son of the pre-eminent astrologer of the previous generation, Ti. Claudius Thrasyllus, who may—here is where the real uncertainty obtrudes—himself have married a Commagenian princess. This coincidence of a well-known astrologer in close proximity to the Commagenian dynasty at the crucial time is too promising to pass over in silence.

Balbillus, as the kinsman of the dynasty and a person of rank and influence within the Roman élite, was, of course, the social superior of the original Mithraists here postulated. If one were to fit him into the scenario, it need not be as an early Mithraist himself or as the putative founder. Rather, on might imagine a sort of intellectual patronus of the early Mysteries, a mentor and close source of inspiration. Still, I emphasize that it is less important to nominate a specific individual as our missing genius than to demonstrate through an actual example the historial plausibility of the account even when we add in this feature.

—Beck (2004) The Mysteries of Mithras: A New Account of their Genesis.
—Beck (2004) Whose Astrology? The Imprint of Ti. Claudius Balbillus on the Mithraic Mysteries.



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