|Precedent and law|
|Titles and honours|
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 Principate is characterised by the reign of a single emperor (princeps) and an effort on the part of the early emperors, at least, to preserve the illusion of the formal continuance, in some aspects, of the Roman Republic.
This section does not cite any sources . (September 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In a more limited and precise chronological sense, the term Principate is applied either to the entire Empire (in the sense of the post-Republican Roman state), or specifically to the earlier of the two phases of "Imperial" government in the ancient Roman Empire before Rome's military collapse in the West (fall of Rome) in 476 left the Byzantine Empire as sole heir. This early, 'Principate' phase began when Augustus claimed auctoritas for himself as princeps; and continued (depending on the source) up to the rule of Commodus, of Maximinus Thrax or of Diocletian. Afterwards, Imperial rule in the Empire is designated as the dominate , which is subjectively more like an (absolute) monarchy while the earlier Principate is still more 'Republican'.
The title, in full, of princeps senatus / princeps civitatis ("first amongst the senators" / "first amongst the citizens") was first adopted by Octavian Caesar Augustus (27 BC–AD 14), the first Roman "emperor" who chose, like the assassinated Julius Caesar, not to reintroduce a legal monarchy. Augustus's purpose was probably to establish the political stability desperately needed after the exhausting civil wars by a de facto dictatorial regime within the constitutional framework of the Roman Republic - what Gibbon called "an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth"- as a more acceptable alternative to, for example, the early Roman Kingdom.
Although dynastic pretences crept in from the start, formalizing this in a monarchic style remained politically perilous;and Octavian was undoubtedly correct to work through established Republican forms to consolidate his power. He began with the powers of a Roman consul, combined with those of a Tribune of the plebs; later added the role of the censor; and finally became Pontifex Maximus as well.
Tiberius too acquired his powers piecemeal, and was proud to emphasise his place as first citizen: "a good and healthful princeps, whom you have invested with such great discretionary power, ought to be the servant of the Senate, and often of the whole citizen body".Thereafter however the role of princeps became more institutionalised: as Dio Cassius put it, Caligula was "voted in a single day all the prerogatives which Augustus over so long a span of time had been voted gradually and piecemeal".
Nevertheless, under this "Principate stricto sensu", the political reality of autocratic rule by the Emperor was still scrupulously masked by forms and conventions of oligarchic self-rule inherited from the political period of the 'uncrowned' Roman Republic (509 BC–27 BC) under the motto Senatus Populusque Romanus ("The Senate and people of Rome") or SPQR . Initially, the theory implied the 'first citizen' had to earn his extraordinary position (de facto evolving to nearly absolute monarchy) by merit in the style that Augustus himself had gained the position of auctoritas.
Imperial propaganda developed a paternalistic ideology, presenting the princeps as the very incarnation of all virtues attributed to the ideal ruler (much like a Greek tyrannos earlier), such as clemency and justice, and military leadership,obliging the princeps to play this designated role within Roman society, as his political insurance as well as a moral duty. What specifically was expected of the princeps seems to have varied according to the times, and the observers: Tiberius, who amassed a huge surplus for the city of Rome, was criticized as a miser, but Caligula was criticized for his lavish spending on games and spectacles.
Generally speaking, it was expected of the Emperor to be generous but not frivolous, not just as a good ruler but also with his personal fortune (as in the proverbial "bread and circuses" – panem et circenses ) providing occasional public games, gladiators, horse races and artistic shows. Large distributions of food for the public and charitable institutions were also means that served as popularity boosters while the construction of public works provided paid employment for the poor.
With the fall of the Julio-Claudian dynasty in AD 68, the principate became more formalised under the Emperor Vespasian from AD 69 onwards.The position of princeps became a distinct entity within the broader – formally still republican – Roman constitution. While many of the same cultural and political expectations remained, the civilian aspect of the Augustan ideal of the princeps gradually gave way to the military role of the imperator. Rule was no longer a position (even notionally) extended on the basis of merit, or auctoritas, but on a firmer basis, allowing Vespasian and future emperors to designate their own heir without those heirs having to earn the position through years of success and public favor.
Under the Antonine dynasty, it was the norm for the Emperor to appoint a successful and politically promising individual as his successor. In modern historical analysis, this is treated by many authors as an "ideal" situation: the individual who was most capable was promoted to the position of princeps. Of the Antonine dynasty, Edward Gibbon famously wrote that this was the happiest and most productive period in human history, and credited the system of succession as the key factor.
The autocratic elements in the Principate tended to increase over time, with the style of dominus ("Lord", "Master", suggesting the citizens became servi, servants or slaves) gradually becoming current for the emperor.There was however no clear constitutional turning point, with Septimius Severus and the Severan dynasty beginning to use the terminology of the Dominate in reference to the emperor, and the various emperors and their usurpers throughout the 3rd century appealing to the people as both military dominus and political princeps.
It was after the Crisis of the Third Century almost resulted in the Roman Empire's political collapse that Diocletian firmly consolidated the trend to autocracy.He replaced the one-headed principate with the tetrarchy (c. AD 300, two Augusti ranking above two Caesares), in which the vestigial pretence of the old Republican forms was largely abandoned. The title of princeps disappeared – like the territorial unity of the Empire – in favor of dominus; and new forms of pomp and awe were deliberately used in an attempt to insulate the emperor and the civil authority from the unbridled and mutinous soldiery of the mid-century.
The political role of the Senate went into final eclipse, [ citation needed ]no more being heard of the division by the Augustan Principate of the provinces between imperial (militarised) provinces and senatorial provinces. Lawyers developed a theory of the total delegation of authority into the hands of the emperor, and the dominate developed more and more, especially in the Eastern Roman Empire, where the subjects, and even diplomatic allies, could be termed servus or the corresponding Greek term doulos ("servant/slave") so as to express the exalted position of the Emperor as second only to God, and on earth to none.
Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor, 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 Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the 3rd century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and the city of Rome as sole capital. After the military crisis, the empire was ruled by multiple emperors who shared rule over the Western Roman Empire and over the Eastern Roman Empire. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until AD 476, when the imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople, following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustulus. The adoption of Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire in AD 380 and the fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings conventionally marks the end of Classical antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Those events, along with the gradual hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire is why historians distinguish the medieval Roman Empire that remained in the Eastern provinces as the Byzantine Empire.
Tiberius Caesar Augustus was the second Roman emperor, reigning from AD 14 to 37. He succeeded his stepfather, Augustus.
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.
Marcus Velleius Paterculus was a Roman historian, soldier and senator. His Roman history, written in a highly rhetorical style, covered the period from the end of the Trojan War to AD 30, but is most useful for the period from the death of Caesar in 44 BC to the death of Augustus in AD 14.
Princeps 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 BCE. 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".
The princeps senatus was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and possessing no imperium, this office conferred prestige on the senator holding it.
The equites constituted the second of the property-based classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the senatorial class. A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques.
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 civilisation began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, traditionally dated to 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 civilization was led and ruled by the Romans, alternately considered an ethnic group or a nationality. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.
The Dominate 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.
Auctoritas is a Latin word which is the origin of English "authority". While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political history of Rome, the beginning of phenomenological philosophy in the 20th century expanded the use of the word.
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. Its framework was based on Roman and Greek precedents, and was formulated during the early Principate of Augustus. It was rapidly established throughout the Empire and its provinces, with marked local variations in its reception and expression.
The Constitution of the Roman Empire was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. 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 theoretically 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. During the reign of the second emperor, Tiberius, many of the powers that had been held by the Roman assemblies were transferred to the Senate.
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 history of the constitution of the Roman Empire begins with the establishment of the Principate in 27 BC and is considered to conclude with the abolition of that constitutional structure in favour of the Dominate at Diocletian's accession in AD 284. The Roman Empire's constitution emerged as a transformation of the late Roman Republic's constitution, utilising various late Republican precedents, to legitimise the granting of incredible legal powers to one man and the centralisation of legal powers into bodies which that man controlled.
Augustan literature refers to the pieces of Latin literature that were written during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor. In literary histories of the first part of the 20th century and earlier, Augustan literature was regarded along with that of the Late Republic as constituting the Golden Age of Latin literature, a period of stylistic classicism.
Lucius Licinius Varro Murena was a Roman politician who was accused of conspiring against the emperor Augustus, and executed without a trial.
The aerarium militare was the military treasury of Imperial Rome. It was instituted by Augustus, the first Roman emperor, as a "permanent revenue source" for pensions (praemia) for veterans of the Imperial Roman army. The treasury derived its funding from new taxes, an inheritance tax and a sales tax, and regularized the ad hoc provisions for veterans that under the Republic often had involved socially disruptive confiscation of property.
| Library resources about |