|Intro||Roman Syrian; member of the Herodian dynasty|
Lucius Julius Gainius Fabius Agrippa also known as Lucius Julius Agrippa (Greek: Λούκιος Ιούλιος Γαίουνίός Φαβία Άγρίππας) was a considerably wealthy man who descended from royalty. He lived in the second half of the 1st century and first half of the 2nd century CE in the Roman Empire. Agrippa was a son of Cilician Prince Gaius Julius Agrippa (who served as a Quaestor for the Roman Province of Asia and before 109 served as a Praetorian Guard) and his mother was a Roman woman who belonged or was related to the Fabian gens. His brother was a younger Gaius Julius Agrippa.
Agrippa was of Jewish, Nabataean, Edomite, Greek, Armenian, Median and Persian origins. Through his paternal grandfather Herodian Prince and King of Cetis Cilicia Gaius Julius Alexander, Agrippa was a descendant of King Archelaus of Cappadocia; King of Judea Herod the Great; his wife Mariamne and King Tigranes VI of Armenia. Through his paternal grandmother Princess and Queen of Cetis Cilicia Julia Iotapa, he was a direct descendant of Greek King Antiochus IV of Commagene and his sister-wife Greek Queen Julia Iotapa. Agrippa was an apostate to Judaism. However, his name indicates that the family connections with the Herodian Dynasty were not wholly broken. It is unlikely that Agrippa attempted to exert influence on Judean politics.
Agrippa lived and became a citizen in Apamea in Western Syria. Little is known of his early life. In his career, Agrippa served as a gymnasiarch. A gymnasiarch was a public official responsible for sports or games held at public festivals. This official directed Ancient Greek Gymnasiums and supervised competitors. A gymnasiarch could have a teacher, a coach or a trainer of athletes. Agrippa also served as a Pontifex Maximus.
In 115, Apamea suffered a serious earthquake. During this crisis, Agrippa served as the city’s ambassador to Rome. Agrippa at his own expense had made various generous public benefactions to his community. He frequently at his own expense undertook embassies to the Roman Emperor and the Roman Senate.
For six months, Agrippa paid and distributed expensive olive oil for anointing and corn for public use in Apamea. Agrippa with his wealth assisted in the reconstruction of Apamea in the following ways:
He financed the construction of an extension for the city’s aqueduct.
In 116/117, Agrippa brought sufficient land to finance the construction for the baths, an adjacent large hall and the stoa. The large hall and stoa had lavish decorations. The large hall was used for concerts or competitions in music or oratory.
The baths in Apamea were part of a magnificent complex. Agrippa had commissioned a number of bronze statues to be created of Theseus and the Minotaur, and the ancient Greek god Apollo with the satyr Marsyas. These statues were placed in the baths.
There are a number of honorary inscriptions and decrees that have survived which were dedicated to Agrippa in Apamea and Rome. These honorary inscriptions and decrees date from 115 until 118. On the façade of the baths, Agrippa dedicates an inscription to a Julius Bassus, a Pro-Praetorian Legatus in Apamea. Other inscriptions in consoles attached to the pillars of the baths are dedications by Agrippa’s slaves, freedmen or clients.
At the Capitoline Hill in Rome, there is a bronze inscription dedicated to Agrippa. This inscription in Rome reveals that he undertook numerous voluntary liturgies. Below is an honorary decree that has survived on a base of a statue of Agrippa. The decree reads:
Lucius Julius Gainius Fabius Agrippa
The honorand went to embassies at his own expense to the emperors, to Rome and to governors.
The surviving inscriptions and decrees of Agrippa reveal that he had a generous spirit, who was concerned for public safety and order in Apamea. His choice of Apollo and Marsyas at the baths reveals his gentle, witty commentary on the ambitions of the performers who competed for prizes in the Large Hall. A possible descendant of Agrippa was the usurper of the 3rd century Jotapianus.