The beneficiarii consularis in the western provinces of the Roman Empire
Beneficiarii consularis were members of the military staffs attached to Roman provincial governors of the Principate, and are well attested epigraph!cally, both at provincial capitals and at outposts along major roads and frontiers of the Western military provinces. They were usually experienced legionaries approaching retirement. and were of senior principalis rank. Each legion in a province provided the governor with (probably) sixty men of this rank. The governor's staff (the officium consularis) assisted the governor in ail his duties, administrative, judicial and military, and the beneficiarii were employed in a variety of roles, appearing in the sources as arresting officers, messengers, servants to the governor and general assistants. To indicate their status as officiales of the governor, they carried a decorated lance-symbol when operating away from the officium. In Britain and the two German provinces they were evidently outposted, apparently for periods of six months at a time, along the roads linking the provincial capitals with the frontiers, with neighbouring provinces, and with Rome, in contrast with the other Western provinces where, for the most part, no such stationes are attested. The stationes have usually been regarded as police posts for the protection of the roads, but this seems unlikely. Although a few stationes fall outside the general pattern and can perhaps be associated with the control of imperial estates, the majority are to be linked with frontier defence. Since the main network of stationes, both in the Germanies and in the rest of Europe first appears in the 160's, they may be seen as a response to the Chattan and Marcomannic attacks. The evidence is consistent with the interpretation of the stationes as relays for the improvement of military communications, those on the frontiers perhaps having an additional role in the coordination of military intelligence-gathering.