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Konstantin Bespalov
Konstantin Bespalov

Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors From Augustus To Co...

Each of the emperors considered execution or exile of their foes the natural way of politics, yet most of them also showed at least a token of concern for the common people, to the extent they felt they needed their support. As the author emphasizes, the Roman army really became the foundation of the empire, and many of these emperors were career soldiers who used the loyalty of their troops to gain and keep their thrones. Any student of political science can learn a number of lessons from this book, mostly Machiavellian ones, on how to acquire and maintain power while satisfying multiple competing constituencies.

Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Co...

The Roman emperors were the rulers of the Roman Empire from the granting of the name and title Augustus to Octavian by the Roman Senate in 27 BC onward.[1][2] Augustus maintained a facade of Republican rule, rejecting monarchical titles but calling himself princeps senatus (first man of the Senate) and princeps civitatis (first citizen of the state). The title of Augustus was conferred on his successors to the imperial position, and emperors gradually grew more monarchical and authoritarian.[3]

The style of government instituted by Augustus is called the Principate and continued until the late third or early fourth century.[4] The modern word "emperor" derives from the title imperator, that was granted by an army to a successful general; during the initial phase of the empire, the title was generally used only by the princeps.[5] For example, Augustus's official name was Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.[6] The territory under command of the emperor had developed under the period of the Roman Republic as it invaded and occupied much of Europe and portions of North Africa and the Middle East. Under the republic, the Senate and People of Rome authorized provincial governors, who answered only to them, to rule regions of the empire.[7] The chief magistrates of the republic were two consuls elected each year; consuls continued to be elected in the imperial period, but their authority was subservient to that of the emperor, who also controlled and determined their election.[8] Often, the emperors themselves, or close family, were selected as consul.[9]

After the Crisis of the Third Century, Diocletian increased the authority of the emperor and adopted the title "dominus noster" (our lord). The rise of powerful barbarian tribes along the borders of the empire, the challenge they posed to the defense of far-flung borders as well as an unstable imperial succession led Diocletian to divide the administration of the Empire geographically with a co-augustus in 286. In 330, Constantine the Great, the emperor who accepted Christianity, established a second capital in Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople. Historians consider the Dominate period of the empire to have begun with either Diocletian or Constantine, depending on the author.[10] For most of the period from 286 to 480, there was more than one recognized senior emperor, with the division usually based on geographic regions. This division was consistently in place after the death of Theodosius I in 395, which historians have dated as the division between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. However, formally the Empire remained a single polity, with separate co-emperors in the separate courts.[11]

The fall of the Western Roman Empire is dated either from the de facto date of 476, when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by the Germanic Herulians led by Odoacer, or the de jure date of 480, on the death of Julius Nepos, when Eastern emperor Zeno ended recognition of a separate Western court.[12][13] Historians typically refer to the empire in the centuries that followed as the "Byzantine Empire", orientated toward Hellenic culture and governed by the Byzantine emperors.[a] Given that "Byzantine" is a later historiographical designation and the inhabitants and emperors of the empire continually maintained Roman identity, this designation is not used universally and continues to be a subject of specialist debate.[b] Under Justinian I, in the sixth century, a large portion of the western empire was retaken, including Italy, Africa, and part of Spain.[17] Over the course of the centuries thereafter, most of the imperial territories were lost, which eventually restricted the empire to Anatolia and the Balkans.[c] The line of emperors continued until the death of Constantine XI Palaiologos at the fall of Constantinople in 1453, when the remaining territories were conquered by the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed II.[23][d] In the aftermath of the conquest, Mehmed II proclaimed himself kayser-i Rûm ("Caesar of the Romans"),[e] thus claiming to be the new emperor,[29] a claim maintained by succeeding sultans.[30] Competing claims of succession to the Roman Empire have also been forwarded by various other states and empires, and by numerous later pretenders.[31]

Not all women who gained fame in the Roman empire were related to the emperors. Zenobia was a Syrian queen who carved out a kingdom in the eastern part of the Roman empire. From her capital city of Palmyra, she sent out armies that conquered territory extending from what is today central Turkey to southern Egypt. A tolerant ruler, she embraced the different ethnic groups in her realm and appealed to each of them according to their own customs. Meanwhile, she turned her court into a center of learning and philosophy.

The reign of Commodus is sometimes pegged as the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire, but Strauss disagrees. While it's true that his death was followed by a bloody and protracted civil war, it ended with the establishment of the Severan Dynasty, a run of ethnically diverse emperors hailing from North Africa, Syria and other corners of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire began during the rule of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, after he won the civil war against Mark Antony and Cleopatra. People often mistakenly believe that Julius Caesar was the first emperor, but he was only ever named dictator for life. Part of the confusion might come from the fact that many emperors would style themselves after Caesar and after Augustus; Trajan, for example, was officially Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus.

The later era of the Roman Empire, when it was divided into the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, is called the Dominate. In the Dominate (from dominus, "lord" or "master" to a slave), power was divided between several Roman emperors who co-ruled different parts of the empire. The emperors of the Dominate gave up the pretense of being equal to elected officials; they wore lavish robes, and called themselves augusti and caesars rather than princeps. During this time the Senate was made pretty much irrelevant, and equestrian military families were promoted in their place.

Read the Res Gestae in translation at dkjordan/arch/romans/DivineAugustus.html . You can read more about Augustus at and about his mausoleum at . The medallion is reported on in The Lexden Tumulus: a re-appraisal of an Iron Age burial from Colchester, Essex by Jennifer Foster (1986). 041b061a72


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