Princeps (plural: principes) is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost,chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person". As a title, "princeps" originated in the Roman Republic wherein the leading member of the Senate was designated princeps senatus. It is primarily associated with the Roman emperors as an unofficial title first adopted by Augustus in 23 BC. Its use in this context continued until the reign of Diocletian at the end of the third century. He preferred the title of dominus, meaning "lord" or "master". As a result, the Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian is termed the "principate" (principatus) and from Diocletian onwards as the "dominate" (dominatus). Other historians define the reign of Augustus to Severus Alexander as the Principate, and the period afterwards as the "Autocracy".
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.
Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.
The medieval title "Prince" is a derivative of princeps.
Principes were spearmen, and later swordsmen, in the armies of the early Roman Republic. They were men in the prime of their lives who were fairly wealthy, and could afford decent equipment. They were the heavier infantry of the legion who carried large shields and wore good quality armor.
A centurion was a professional officer of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Centurions originally commanded a hundred men of around 80 legionaries, with the other 20 being servants and orderlies, but senior centurions commanded cohorts or took senior staff roles in their legion. Centurions were also found in the Roman navy. In the Byzantine Army, they were also known by the name kentarch. Their symbol of office was the vine staff, with which they disciplined even Roman citizens protected from other forms of beating by the Porcian Laws.
A vexillatio was a detachment of a Roman legion formed as a temporary task force created by the Roman army of the Principate. It was named from the standard carried by legionary detachments, the vexillum, which bore the emblem and name of the parent legion.
Princeps was also used as the second part of various other military titles, such as Decurio princeps, Signifer princeps (among the standard-bearers). See also Principalis (as in Optio principalis): NCO.
Decurio was an official title in Ancient Rome, used in various connections:
An optio, plural optiones and sometimes, albeit rarely, anglicised as option – was a position in a centuria (century) of a Roman army similar to that of an executive officer. The main function of an optio was as an optio centuriae, the second-in-command of a century, although there were many other roles an optio could adopt.
Princeps is also the (official) short version of Princeps officii, the chief of an officium (the office staff of a Roman dignitary).
Princeps civitatis ("First Citizen") was an official title of a Roman Emperor as the title determining the leader in Ancient Rome at the beginning of the Roman Empire. It created the principate Roman imperial system.
An emperor is a monarch, and usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife, mother, or a woman who rules in her own right. Emperors are generally recognized to be of a higher honour and rank than kings. In Europe, the title of Emperor has been used since the Middle Ages, considered in those times equal or almost equal in dignity to that of Pope due to the latter's position as visible head of the Church and spiritual leader of the Catholic part of Western Europe. The Emperor of Japan is the only currently reigning monarch whose title is translated into English as Emperor.
In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants ) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
This usage of "princeps" derived from the position of Princeps senatus , the "first among equals" of the Senate. The princeps senatus (plural principes senatus) was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate, and his opinion would usually be asked first in senatorial debates.
The princeps senatus was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and owning no imperium, this office brought conferred prestige on the senator holding it.
Primus inter pares is a Latin phrase meaning first among equals. It is typically used as an honorary title for someone who is formally equal to other members of their group but is accorded unofficial respect, traditionally owing to their seniority in office. Historically, the princeps senatus of the Roman Senate was such a figure and initially bore only the distinction that he was allowed to speak first during debate. Also, Constantine the Great was given the role of primus inter pares. However, the term is also often used ironically or self-deprecatingly by leaders with much higher status as a form of respect, camaraderie, or propaganda. After the fall of the Republic, Roman emperors initially referred to themselves only as princeps despite having power of life and death over their "fellow citizens". Various modern figures such as the Chair of the United States Federal Reserve System, the prime minister of parliamentary countries, the Federal President of Switzerland, the Chief Justice of the United States, the Chief Justice of the Philippines, the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Anglican Communion and the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church fall under both senses: bearing higher status and various additional powers while remaining still merely equal to their peers in important senses.
The Roman Senate was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome,. It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.
It was first given as a special title to Caesar Augustus in 27 BC, who saw that use of the titles rex (king) or dictator would create resentment amongst senators and other influential men, who had earlier demonstrated their disapproval by supporting the assassination of Julius Caesar. While Augustus had political and military supremacy, he needed the assistance of his fellow Romans to manage the Empire. In his Res Gestae , Augustus claims auctoritas for the princeps (himself).
Various official titles were associated with the Roman Emperor. These titles included imperator, Augustus, Caesar, and later dominus (lord) and basileus (the Greek word for "sovereign"). The word Emperor is derived from the Roman title "imperator", which was a very high, but not exclusive, military title until Augustus began to use it as his praenomen.
The Emperor Diocletian (284–305), the father of the Tetrarchy, was the first to stop referring to himself as "princeps" altogether, calling himself "dominus" (lord, master), thus dropping the pretense that emperor was not truly a monarchical office. The period when the emperors that called themselves princeps ruled—from Augustus to Diocletian—is called "the Principate", Diocletian's rule began "the Dominate" period.
Ancient Rome knew another kind of "princely" principes too, like "princeps iuventutis" ("the first amongst the young"), which in the early empire was frequently bestowed on eligible successors to the emperor, especially from his family. It was first given to Augustus' maternal grandsons Gaius and Lucius.
"Princeps" is the root and Latin rendering of modern words as the English title and generic term prince (see that article, also for various equivalents in other languages), as the Byzantine version of Roman law was the basis for the legal terminology developed in feudal (and later absolutist) Europe.
"Princeps" is also the name of an obsolete genus of Swallowtail butterflies (now merged with the genus Papilio).
A Roman legion was a large military unit of the Roman army.
This article concerns the period 29 BC – 20 BC.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient Rome:
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period. The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it reflects his taking of the title Augustus or Caesar. Another title often used was imperator, originally a military honorific. Early Emperors also used the title Princeps Civitatis. Emperors frequently amassed republican titles, notably princeps senatus, consul and pontifex maximus.
The Latin word imperator derives from the stem of the verb imperare, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to commander under the Roman Republic. Later it became a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from imperator via Old French: Empereür. The Roman emperors themselves generally based their authority on multiple titles and positions, rather than preferring any single title. Nevertheless, imperator was used relatively consistently as an element of a Roman ruler's title throughout the principate and the dominate. In Latin, the feminine form of imperator is imperatrix.
Pater Patriae, also seen as Parens Patriae, is a Latin honorific meaning "Father of the Country", or more literally, "Father of the Fatherland". It is also used of U.S. President George Washington, Italian King Victor Emmanuel II and Swedish King Gustav I.
The Principate is the name sometimes given to the first period of the Roman Empire from the beginning of the reign of Augustus in 27 BC to the end of the Crisis of the Third Century in 284 AD, after which it evolved into the so-called Dominate.
The Dominate or late Roman Empire is the name sometimes given to the "despotic" later phase of imperial government, following the earlier period known as the "Principate", in the ancient Roman Empire. This phase is more often called the Tetrarchy at least until 313 when the empire was reunited.
A Roman governor was an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of Roman law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the Roman Empire. A Roman governor is also known as a propraetor or proconsul.
As with most other military forces the Roman military adopted an extensive list of decorations for military gallantry and likewise a range of punishments for military transgressions.
The Senate of the Roman Empire was a political institution in the ancient Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the "Roman Senate" to the "Roman Emperor." Beginning with the first emperor, Augustus, the Emperor and the Senate were technically two co-equal branches of government. In practice, however the actual authority of the imperial Senate was negligible, as the Emperor held the true power of the state. As such, membership in the Senate became sought after by individuals seeking prestige and social standing, rather than actual authority. During the reigns of the first Emperors, legislative, judicial, and electoral powers were all transferred from the "Roman assemblies" to the Senate. However, since the control that the Emperor held over the senate was absolute, the Senate acted as a vehicle through which the Emperor exercised his autocratic powers.
The constitution of the late Roman Empire was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down, mainly through precedent, which defined the manner in which the late Roman Empire was governed. As a matter of historical convention, the late Roman Empire emerged from the Roman Principate, with the accession of Diocletian in AD 284, his reign marking the beginning of the Dominate. The constitution of the Dominate ultimately recognized monarchy as the true source of power, and thus ended the fiction of dyarchy, in which emperor and Senate governed the empire together.
The history of the Roman Empire covers the history of ancient Rome from the fall of the Roman Republic in 27 BC until the abdication of the last Western emperor in AD 476. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the Republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside of the Italian Peninsula until the 3rd century BC. Civil war engulfed the Roman state in the mid 1st century BC, first between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and finally between Octavian and Mark Antony. Antony was defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian imperator ("commander") thus beginning the Principate, the first epoch of Roman imperial history usually dated from 27 BC to AD 284; they later awarded him the name Augustus, "the venerated". The success of Augustus in establishing principles of dynastic succession was limited by his outliving a number of talented potential heirs: the Julio-Claudian dynasty lasted for four more emperors—Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero—before it yielded in AD 69 to the strife-torn Year of Four Emperors, from which Vespasian emerged as victor. Vespasian became the founder of the brief Flavian dynasty, to be followed by the Nerva–Antonine dynasty which produced the "Five Good Emperors": Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and the philosophically inclined Marcus Aurelius. In the view of the Greek historian Dio Cassius, a contemporary observer, the accession of the emperor Commodus in AD 180 marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron"—a famous comment which has led some historians, notably Edward Gibbon, to take Commodus' reign as the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire.
Augustus was an ancient Roman title given as both name and title to Gaius Octavius, Rome's first Emperor. On his death, it became an official title of his successor, and was so used by Roman emperors thereafter. The feminine form Augusta was used for Roman empresses and other females of the Imperial family. The masculine and feminine forms originated in the time of the Roman Republic, in connection with things considered divine or sacred in traditional Roman religion. Their use as titles for major and minor Roman deities of the Empire associated the Imperial system and Imperial family with traditional Roman virtues and the divine will, and may be considered a feature of the Roman Imperial cult.
The Imperial Roman army are the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the Roman Empire from about 30 BC to 476 AD, the final period in the long history of the Roman army. This period is sometimes split into the Principate and Dominate (285–476) periods.