|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
|Precedent and law|
|Titles and honours|
This article needs additional citations for verification . (February 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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 .[ citation needed ]
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.
It is etymologically derived from the Latin word princeps , meaning chief or first, the political regime dominated by such a political leader, whether or not he is formally head of state and/or head of government. This reflects the principate emperors' assertion that they were merely "first among equals" among the citizens of Rome.
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 dictator 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 as a more acceptable alternative to, for example, the early Roman Kingdom.
The title itself derived from the position of the princeps senatus, traditionally the oldest member of the Senate who had the right to be heard first on any debate. Although dynastic pretenses crept in from the start, formalizing this in a monarchic style remained politically unthinkable.
Often, in a more limited and precise chronological sense, the term is applied either to the Empire (in the sense of the post-Republican Roman state) or specifically the earlier of the two phases of "Imperial" government in the ancient Roman Empire, extending from when Augustus claimed auctoritas for himself as princeps until Rome's military collapse in the West (fall of Rome) in 476, leaving the Byzantine Empire sole heir, or, 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'.
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 in turn placing the onus on 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; 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 was redefined in formal terms under the Emperor Vespasian in AD 69. The position of princeps became a distinct entity within the broader – formally still republican – Roman constitution. While many of the cultural and political expectations remained, the princeps was no longer a position 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.
This first phase evolved into the so-called dominate . Starting with the Emperor Diocletian, an oriental type of style like dominus ("Lord", "Master", suggesting the citizens became servi, servants or slaves) gradually became current, though not legal, but there was no clear constitutional turning point. This trend is also said to have been established by the Emperor Septimius Severus; while the Severan dynasty began to use the terminology of the Dominate in reference to the emperor, the various emperors and their usurpers throughout the 3rd century appealed to the people as both military dominus and political princeps.
After the Crisis of the Third Century almost resulted in the Roman Empire's political collapse, Diocletian replaced the one-headed principate with the tetrarchy (c. AD 300, two Augusti ranking above two Caesares), in which the vestigial pretense of the old Republican forms was largely abandoned. The title of princeps was abandoned – like the territorial unity of the Empire – in favor of dominus, and the position of the emperor(s), especially in the Western Roman Empire, was entirely dependent on their control of the armed forces.
The dominate developed more and more, especially in the Eastern Roman Empire, along the lines of an oriental absolute monarchy, where the subjects, and even diplomatic allies, could be termed servus or the corresponding Greek term doulos, ("servant/slave") to express the exalted position of the Emperor as second only to God, and on earth to none.[ citation needed ]
Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who became 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.
Tiberius was the second Roman emperor, reigning from 14 AD to 37 AD. 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.
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 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".
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.
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.
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.
The office of Roman Emperor went through a complex evolution over the centuries of its existence. During its earliest phase, the Principate, the reality of autocratic rule was masked behind the forms and conventions of oligarchic self-government inherited from the Roman Republic. The emperor had no specific office unless he chose to occupy the Republican office of consul.
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 Roman Senate was a governing and advisory assembly 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 AD 395, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.
The History of the Roman Constitution is a study of Ancient Rome that traces the progression of Roman political development from the founding of the city of Rome in 753 BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. The constitution of the Roman Kingdom vested the sovereign power in the King of Rome. The king did have two rudimentary checks on his authority, which took the form of a board of elders and a popular assembly. The arrangement was similar to the constitutional arrangements found in contemporary Greek city-states. These Greek constitutional principles probably came to Rome through the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia in southern Italy. The Roman Kingdom was overthrown in 510 BC, according to legend, and in its place the Roman Republic was founded.
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 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 Tetrarchy. 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 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.
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.
Lucius Licinius Varro Murena was a Roman politician who was accused of conspiring against the emperor Augustus, and executed without a trial.
| Library resources about |