Ancient Roman History: Salutatio

The Roman Colosseum.
The Roman Colosseum. Banar Fil Ardhi/EyeEm/Getty Images

Salutatio is a Latin word from which the word salutation stems from. A salutation is a common greeting utilized throughout the world. It is commonly used to express acknowledgment of one's arrival or departure. Salutations are utilized in numerous cultures throughout the world.

In Ancient Rome, a Salutatio was the formal morning greeting of the Roman patron by his clients.

The Morning Ritual

The salutatio took place every morning in the Roman Republic. It was considered to be one of the central aspects of the start of the day. The morning ritual was reiterated daily throughout the Republic and Empire, and was a fundamental part of Roman interactions between citizens of varying status. It was used as a sign of respect from the patrons to the client. The salutatio only went one way, as the clients greeted the patron, but the patron would not greet the clients back in return.

Much of the traditional scholarship on the salutatio in Ancient Rome has interpreted the relationship between the salutatory and salutatee essentially as a system of social acquiescence. In this system, the salutatee was able to accrue significant social esteem, and the salutator was merely a humble client or social inferior.

Ancient Roman Social Structure

In Ancient Roman culture, Romans could be either patrons or clients. At the time, this social stratification proved mutually beneficial.

The number of clients and sometimes the status of clients conferred prestige on the patron. The client owed his vote to the patron. The patron protected the client and his family, gave legal advice, and helped the clients financially or in other ways.

A patron could have a patron of his own; therefore, a client, could have his own clients, but when two high status Romans had a relationship of mutual benefit, they were likely to choose the label amicus ('friend') to describe the relationship since amicus did not imply stratification.

When enslaved people were manumitted, the liberti ('freedmen') automatically became clients of their former owners and were obligated to work for them in some capacity.

There was also patronage in the arts where a patron provided the wherewithal to allow the artist to create in comfort. The work of art or book would be dedicated to the patron.

Client King

is typically used of non-Roman rulers who enjoyed Roman patronage, but were not treated as equals. Romans called such rulers rex sociusque et amicus 'king, ally, and friend' when the Senate formally recognized them. Braund emphasizes that there is little authority for the actual term "client king."

Client kings did not have to pay taxes, but they were expected to provide military manpower. The client kings expected Rome to help them defend their territories. Sometimes client kings bequeathed their territory to Rome.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Ancient Roman History: Salutatio." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 26). Ancient Roman History: Salutatio. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Ancient Roman History: Salutatio." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 6, 2023).