Res publica

Last updated

Res publica is a Latin phrase, loosely meaning 'public affair'. It is the root of the word 'republic', and the word 'commonwealth' has traditionally been used as a synonym for it; however translations vary widely according to the context. 'Res' is a nominative singular Latin noun for a substantive or concrete thing – as opposed to 'spes', which means something unreal or ethereal – and 'publica' is an attributive adjective meaning 'of and/or pertaining to the state or the public'. Hence a literal translation is, 'the public thing/affair'. [1]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

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.

A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a hereditary monarch.

Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare general good or advantage" dates from the 15th century. Originally a phrase it comes from the old meaning of "wealth", which is "well-being", and is itself a loose translation of the Latin res publica (republic). The term literally meant "common well-being". In the 17th century, the definition of "commonwealth" expanded from its original sense of "public welfare" or "commonweal" to mean "a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people; a republic or democratic state".

Contents

In ancient Rome

Public property

Res publica usually is something held in common by many people. For instance a park or garden in the city of Rome could either be 'private property' ( res privata ), or managed by the state, in which case it would be part of the res publica. [2]

The state or commonwealth

Taking everything together that is of public interest leads to the connotation that the 'res publica' in general equals 'the state'. For Romans this equalled the Roman Empire and all its interests, so Res Publica could as well refer to the Roman Empire as a whole, regardless of whether it was governed as a republic or under imperial reign. In this context scholars[ who? ] suggest commonwealth as a more accurate and neutral translation of the term, while neither implying republican nor imperial connotations, just a reference to the state as a whole. But even translating res publica as 'republic' when it clearly refers to the Roman Empire under Imperial reign occurs (see quotes below).

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in 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 Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Senate of Rome sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian 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.

The Roman Republic

Roman authors would also use the phrase res publica in the sense of the era when Rome was governed as a republic, that is the era between the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Empire. So in this case res publica does distinctly not refer to the Roman Empire, but to what is generally described as the Roman Republic.[ citation needed ]

Roman Kingdom Romes political structure 753-509 BCE

The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history, when the city and its territory were ruled by kings.

Roman Republic Period of ancient Roman civilization (509–27 BC)

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.

Public affairs or institutions

Res publica could also be used in a generic meaning, referring to "public affairs" and/or the general system of government of a state. In this usage res publica translated the Greek concept politeia (which originally meant the state organisation of a city-state). Also, for a Roman politician engaging himself in the res publica, a translation can often be the even more generic "being occupied in politics".

Politeia (πολιτεία) is an ancient Greek word used in Greek political thought, especially that of Plato and Aristotle. Derived from the word polis ("city-state"), it has a range of meanings, from "the rights of citizens" to a "form of government".

A city-state is a sovereign state, also described as a type of small independent country, that usually consists of a single city and its dependent territories. Historically, this included cities such as Rome, Athens, Carthage, and the Italian city-states during the Renaissance. As of 2019, only a handful of sovereign city-states exist, with some disagreement as to which are city-states. A great deal of consensus exists that the term properly applies currently to Monaco, Singapore, and Vatican City. City states are also sometimes called microstates which however also includes other configurations of very small countries, not to be confused with micronations.

Other uses

Even when limited to its "political" connotations, the meanings of the term res publica in ancient Rome are diverse and multi-layered, and differing from the Greek politeia in many ways (that is: from the several interwoven meanings the word politeia had). However, it is also the customary Latin translation of politeia; the modern name of Plato's The Republic comes from this usage.

<i>Republic</i> (Plato) philosophical work written by Plato

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning justice (δικαιοσύνη), the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man. It is Plato's best-known work, and has proven to be one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically.

In some contexts the "state organisation system" meaning of res publica derives into something like "constitution", although "constitution", properly speaking, is a much more modern concept. Ancient Romans would use the expression "Twelve Tables" instead of res publica, when referring to their constitution at the time of the "republic", and the "inalterable laws installed by the divine Augustus", for their equivalent of a constitution in the era of the early Empire.

After the Roman Empire collapsed in the West, the idea of res publica disappeared, as foreign to the barbarians of the Migrations Period: whenever Gregory of Tours refers to res publica, it is the Eastern Empire of which he is speaking. [3]

Quotations

The translations of the quotations below are copied without alteration from existing non-copyrighted material. Other translations might differ, but they all serve to illustrate the many aspects of the res publica concept in ancient Rome. The Latin original texts are given concurrently with the translations, in order to show that only the context of the text allows to interpret the res publica concept in each instance.

From these examples it also follows that probably there was also a gradual shift of meaning of the res publica concept throughout the Roman era: the "(Roman) Republic" connotation of res publica is something that rather occurs with retrospect to a closed period (so less appararent in Cicero's time, who never knew the era of the Emperors, and could only compare with the epoch of the Kings); on the other hand the translation of the Greek "politeia" concept appears to have nearly completely worn off in late antiquity.

Cicero

Cicero's De re publica (this translates as "about the res publica"), a treatise of the 1st century BC in Socratic dialogue format, takes the res publica as its subject. The differing interpretations and translations of the title of that work are discussed in the "De re publica" article. The expression res publica is used several times throughout the work too. The quotes below aim at demonstrating that within any translation of Cicero's work differing English translations of the term res publica need to be used, according to context, in order to make sense. The quotes are taken from the Latin text at "The Latin Library" (chapter numbering follows this text), from C. D. Yonge's translation at gutenberg.org (2nd column) and from Francis Barham's translation at "The Online Library of Liberty" (3rd column).

When Cicero refers to the Greek authors (pointing at the "politeia" concept):

(ch. 16) dein Tubero: 'nescio Africane cur ita memoriae proditum sit, Socratem omnem istam disputationem reiecisse, et tantum de vita et de moribus solitum esse quaerere. quem enim auctorem de illo locupletiorem Platone laudare possumus? cuius in libris multis locis ita loquitur Socrates, ut etiam cum de moribus de virtutibus denique de re publica disputet, numeros tamen et geometriam et harmoniam studeat Pythagorae more coniungere.' But, then, my Africanus, replied Tubero, of what credit is the tradition which states that Socrates rejected all these physical investigations, and confined his whole attention to men and manners? For, with respect to him what better authority can we cite than Plato? in many passages of whose works Socrates speaks in such a manner that even when he is discussing morals, and virtues, and even public affairs and politics, he endeavors to interweave, after the fashion of Pythagoras, the doctrines of arithmetic, geometry, and harmonic proportions with them. “But, my Africanus, (replied Tubero) of what credit is this tradition which states that Socrates rejected all these physical investigations, and confined his whole attention to men and manners? In this respect, what better authority can we cite than Plato's? And in many passages of his works, Socrates speaks in a very different manner, and even in his discussions respecting morals, and virtues, and politics, he endeavours to interweave, after the fashion of Pythagoras, the doctrines of arithmetic, geometry, and harmonic proportions.”

When pointing at the Roman context:

(ch. 9) Iam illa, perfugia quae sumunt sibi ad excusationem quo facilius otio perfruantur, certe minime sunt audienda, cum ita dicunt accedere ad rem publicam plerumque homines nulla re bona dignos, cum quibus comparari sordidum, confligere autem multitudine praesertim incitata miserum et periculosum sit. quam ob rem neque sapientis esse accipere habenas cum insanos atque indomitos impetus volgi cohibere non possit, neque liberi cum inpuris atque inmanibus adversariis decertantem vel contumeliarum verbera subire, vel expectare sapienti non ferendas iniurias: proinde quasi bonis et fortibus et magno animo praeditis ulla sit ad rem publicam adeundi causa iustior, quam ne pareant inprobis, neve ab isdem lacerari rem publicam patiantur, cum ipsi auxilium ferre si cupiant non queant. Those apologies, therefore, in which men take refuge as an excuse for their devoting themselves with more plausibility to mere inactivity do certainly not deserve to be listened to; when, for instance, they tell us that those who meddle with public affairs are generally good-for-nothing men, with whom it is discreditable to be compared, and miserable and dangerous to contend, especially when the multitude is in an excited state. On which account it is not the part of a wise man to take the reins, since he cannot restrain the insane and unregulated movements of the common people. Nor is it becoming to a man of liberal birth, say they, thus to contend with such vile and unrefined antagonists, or to subject one's self to the lashings of contumely, or to put one's self in the way of injuries which ought not to be borne by a wise man. As if to a virtuous, brave, and magnanimous man there could be a juster reason for seeking the government than this—to avoid being subjected to worthless men, and to prevent the Commonwealth from being torn to pieces by them; when, even if they were then desirous to save her, they would not have the power. Those apologies, therefore, which undertake to furnish us with an easy excuse for living in selfish inactivity, are certainly not worth hearing. They tell us that to meddle with public affairs and popular demagogues, incapable of all goodness, with whom it is disgraceful to mix; and to struggle with the passions of the insensate multitude, is a most miserable and hazardous life. On which account, no wise man will take the reins, since he cannot restrain the insane and unregulated movements of the lower orders. Nor is it acting like a gentleman (say they) thus to contend with antagonists so unwashed and so unrefined (impuris atque immanibus adversariis) or subject yourself to the lashings of contumely, of which the wisest will always have most to bear. As if to virtuous, brave, and magnanimous men, there could be a juster reason for seeking the government than this, that we should not be subjected to scoundrels, nor suffer the commonwealth to be distracted by them, lest we should discover, too late, when we desire to save her, that we are without the power.

The translation shows that the meaning of res publica can differ even within the same paragraph...

Pliny the Elder

When Pliny dedicates his Naturalis Historiae to his friend Emperor Vespasian in the first century, he uses the word res publica (Latin from LacusCurtius website / 1601 Philemon Holland translation from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/holland/index.html / 1855 John Bostock translation from the Perseus website):

(I) triumphalis et censorius tu sexiesque consul ac tribuniciae potestatis particeps et, quod his nobilius fecisti, dum illud patri pariter et equestri ordini praestas, praefectus praetorii eius omniaque haec rei publicae es: nobis quidem qualis in castrensi contubernio, nec quicquam in te mutavit fortunae amplitudo, nisi ut prodesse tantundem posses et velles. For albeit you have triumphed with him for your noble victories, been Censor in your time, and Consul six times,7 times executed the sacred authority of the Tribunes, patrones, and protectors of the Commons of Rome, together with him; albeit I say you have otherwise with your noble heart honouring and gracing both the court of the Emperor your father, and also the whole state of Knights and Gentlemen of Rome, whiles you were captain of the guard, and Grand master of his house and royal pallace (in which places all, you carried your selfe respectively to the good of the Commonwealth) yet to all your friends, and especially to myself, you have borne the same colours, and lodged together in one pavilion. You, who have had the honour of a triumph, and of the censorship, have been six times consul, and have shared in the tribunate; and, what is still more honourable, whilst you held them in conjunction with your Father, you have presided over the Equestrian order, and been the Prefect of the Prætorians : all this you have done for the service of the Republic, and, at the same time, have regarded me as a fellow-soldier and a messmate.

When under an Emperor, that is Vespasian or his predecessors, Pliny was not talking about the Roman Republic, but used "commonwealth"/"republic" in the meaning of "the state". The ambiguity of Rome still considering itself formally, or just "pro forma", a republic throughout the era of the principate, when a monarchic rule had already de facto been established, adds to the complexity of translating "res publica" in this context.

Tacitus

As another example of the complexities of the meaning of the word res publica one can cite Tacitus, who in the early 2nd century described in his Annals how the first Emperors, like Tiberius in the year Augustus had died (AD 14), sought to preserve all institutions of the Res publica completely intact (Latin and translation as available at the Perseus Project):

(I.7) Nam Tiberius cuncta per consules incipiebat, tamquam vetere re publica et ambiguus imperandi: ne edictum quidem, quo patres in curiam vocabat, nisi tribuniciae potestatis praescriptione posuit sub Augusto acceptae. For Tiberius would inaugurate everything with the consuls, as though the ancient constitution remained, and he hesitated about being emperor. Even the proclamation by which he summoned the senators to their chamber, he issued merely with the title of Tribune, which he had received under Augustus.

... while Tacitus complained in the same writing that at the same time the res publica went astray for good because not a single soul seemed to care any more:

(I.3-4) quotus quisque reliquus qui rem publicam vidisset?
Igitur verso civitatis statu nihil usquam prisci et integri moris: omnes exuta aequalitate iussa principis aspectare...
 How few were left who had seen the republic!
Thus the State had been revolutionised, and there was not a vestige left of the old sound morality. Stript of equality, all looked up to the commands of a sovereign...

The least that can be said is that the two quotes above (like so many passages in Tacitus' writings) are a translator's minefield:

  • In the first quote above Tacitus qualifies the res publica he intends as "vetus" (the "old" res publica) - which implies he knows another, not "old", "re(s)public(a)", while Tacitus' dense writing style would usually avoid redundancies. Nonetheless in the second quote, actually preceding the first in the text of the Annals, "res publica" does not have such qualifier, while in the context it is clear he meant the then lost republican form of government.
  • "imperandi", litt. "to command", is translated as "being emperor" - while the "emperor" concept (which in fact did not yet literally exist in the time Tacitus describes here, and so could not be assigned to Tiberius as an intention) was usually indicated as "princeps" by Tacitus.
  • "tribunicia potestas" is translated as "title of Tribune", while the "tribunicia potestas" is more about exercising the power of a tribune without actually being a Tribune, and had been an invention of Caesar Augustus (compare to Holland and Bostock translations for the same concept in the Pliny quote above: "sacred authoritie of the Tribunes" and "the tribunate", respectively).

Nonetheless it can only be admired in Tacitus how, with some judicially chosen words, he most poignantly and to the point describes the transition from "(overdue) remnants of the republic" to "actual Imperial reign, already established in the minds of people".

In his book Germania , Tacitus also uses res publica in the context of the Germanic "barbarian" society. Here the word is used to convey the generic meaning of "public affair" or "the commonwealth" (in contrast to the private or family life) without the Roman connotations of republicanism. This is illustrated in the following text (Latin text and English translation from the Perseus Project):

(Ch. 13) Nihil autem neque publicae neque privatae rei nisi armati agunt. Sed arma sumere non ante cuiquam moris quam civitas suffecturum probaverit. Tum in ipso concilio vel principum aliquis vel pater vel propinqui scuto frameaque iuvenem ornant: haec apud illos toga, hic primus iuventae honos; ante hoc domus pars videntur, mox rei publicae. They transact no public or private business without being armed. It is not, however, usual for anyone to wear arms till the state has recognised his power to use them. Then in the presence of the council one of the chiefs, or the young man's father, or some kinsman, equips him with a shield and a spear. These arms are what the "toga" is with us, the first honour with which youth is invested. Up to this time he is regarded as a member of a household, afterwards as a member of the commonwealth.

Augustine

Augustine of Hippo uses the word res publica several times throughout his work The City of God , in which he comments, in the early 5th century on several Greek and Roman authors. Again, the standard translations of the expression "res publica" are multiple throughout the work. Examples taken from the Latin text at "The Latin Library", English translation from the version available at "New Advent"

Meaning "the (Roman) state" in general:

(III,1) Verum ne nimis longum faciam, tacebo aliarum usquequaque gentium mala grauissima: quod ad Romam pertinet Romanumque imperium tantum loquar, id est ad ipsam proprie ciuitatem et quaecumque illi terrarum uel societate coniunctae uel condicione subiectae sunt, quae sint perpessae ante aduentum Christi, cum iam ad eius quasi corpus rei publicae pertinerent. But that I may not be prolix, I will be silent regarding the heavy calamities that have been suffered by any other nations, and will speak only of what happened to Rome and the Roman empire, by which I mean Rome properly so called, and those lands which already, before the coming of Christ, had by alliance or conquest become, as it were, members of the body of the state.

Note that in this quote Augustine does not use the expression imperium Romanum ("the Roman empire") as a synonym to "the era when Rome was governed by emperors". Compare also to the 2nd quote from Tacitus above: there an expression different from res publica and imperium Romanum is used for referring to "the (Roman) State" in general.

Meaning "the Roman Republic" as era with a distinct form of state organisation, from the same book:

(III,7) Adhuc autem meliorum partium ciuilium Sulla dux fuit, adhuc armis rem publicam recuperare moliebatur; horum bonorum initiorum nondum malos euentus habuit. Now, up to this time, Sylla's [4] cause was the more worthy of the two; for till now he used arms to restore the republic, and as yet his good intentions had met with no reverses.

Calques

Later calques of Res publica:

Notes

  1. 'res', Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary, via the Perseus Project
  2. Haakonssen, Knud. 'Republicanism.' A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy. Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit. eds. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995. pg. 569.
  3. Noted by Michel Rouche, "Private life conquers state and society", in Paul Veyne, ed. A History of Private Life: I. From Pagan Rome to Byzantium (Harvard University Press) 1987:419.
  4. Note that Sylla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla) lived in an age of civil wars, receiving the official Roman Dictator title for limited periods.

Related Research Articles

Reich is a German word analogous in meaning to the English word "realm". The terms Kaiserreich and Königreich are used in German to refer to empires and kingdoms respectively. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary indicates that in English usage, the term "the Reich" refers to "Germany during the period of Nazi control from 1933 to 1945".

Republicanism is a representative form of government organization. It is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state organized as a republic. Historically, it ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular sovereignty. It has had different definitions and interpretations which vary significantly based on historical context and methodological approach.

Classical Latin High-prestige style, register and form of the Latin Language of the Roman Republic and Empire

Classical Latin is the form of Latin language recognized as a standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and Roman Empire. In some later periods, it was regarded as "good" Latin, with later versions viewed as debased or corrupt. The word Latin is now taken by default to mean "Classical Latin." In example, modern Latin textbooks use Classical Latin. Marcus Tullius Cicero and his contemporaries of the late republic used lingua latina and sermo latinus versions of the Latin language. Conversely, the Greeks used Vulgar Latin in their vernacular, written as latinitas, or "Latinity" when combined. It was also called sermo familiaris, sermo urbanus, and in rare cases sermo nobilis. Besides latinitas, it was mainly called latine, or latinius.

The spatha was a type of straight and long sword, measuring between 0.75 and 1 m, with a handle length between 18 and 20 cm, in use in the territory of the Roman Empire during the 1st to 6th centuries AD. Later swords, from the 7th to 10th centuries, like the Viking swords, are recognizable derivatives and sometimes subsumed under the term spatha.

Imperator rank in ancient Rome

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.

Rzeczpospolita Name of the Polish State

Rzeczpospolita Polska is a traditional and official name of the Polish State.

De re publica is a dialogue on Roman politics by Cicero, written in six books between 54 and 51 BC. The work does not survive in a complete state, and large parts are missing. The surviving sections derive from excerpts preserved in later works and from an incomplete palimpsest uncovered in 1819. Cicero uses the work to explain Roman constitutional theory. Written in imitation of Plato’s Republic, it takes the form of a Socratic dialogue in which Scipio Aemilianus takes the role of a wise old man.

The Agricola is a book by the Roman historian Tacitus, written c. AD 98, which recounts the life of his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola, an eminent Roman general and Governor of Britain from AD 77/78 – 83/84. It also covers, briefly, the geography and ethnography of ancient Britain. As in the Germania, Tacitus favorably contrasts the liberty of the native Britons to the corruption and tyranny of the Empire; the book also contains eloquent and forceful polemics against the rapacity and greed of Rome.

Tacitean studies

Tacitean studies, centred on the work of Tacitus the Ancient Roman historian, constitute an area of scholarship extending beyond the field of history. The work has traditionally been read for its moral instruction, its narrative, and its inimitable prose style; Tacitus has been most influential as a political theorist, outside the field of history. The political lessons taken from his work fall roughly into two camps : the "red Tacitists", who used him to support republican ideals, and the "black Tacitists", those who read his accounts as a lesson in Machiavellian Realpolitik.

Numen Ancient Roman divine presence

Numen, pl. numina, is a Latin term for "divinity", or a "divine presence", "divine will." The Latin authors defined it as follows. Cicero writes of a "divine mind", a god "whose numen everything obeys," and a "divine power" "which pervades the lives of men." It causes the motions and cries of birds during augury. In Virgil's recounting of the blinding of the one-eyed giant, Polyphemus, from the Odyssey, in his Aeneid, he has Odysseus and his men first "ask for the assistance of the great numina". Reviewing public opinion of Augustus on the day of his funeral, the historian Tacitus reports that some thought "no honor was left to the gods" when he "established the cult of himself" "with temples and the effigies of numina". Pliny the younger in a letter to Paternus raves about the "power," the "dignity," and "the majesty;" in short, the "numen of history." Lucretius uses the expression numen mentis, or "bidding of the mind," where "bidding" is numen, not, however, the divine numen, unless the mind is to be considered divine, but as simply human will.

<i>Civitas</i> Roman civil law

In the history of Rome, the Latin term civitas, according to Cicero in the time of the late Roman Republic, was the social body of the cives, or citizens, united by law. It is the law that binds them together, giving them responsibilities (munera) on the one hand and rights of citizenship on the other. The agreement (concilium) has a life of its own, creating a res publica or "public entity", into which individuals are born or accepted, and from which they die or are ejected. The civitas is not just the collective body of all the citizens, it is the contract binding them all together, because each of them is a civis.

Dignitas is a Latin word referring to a unique, intangible, and culturally subjective social concept in the ancient Roman mindset. The word does not have a direct translation in English. Some interpretations include "dignity", which is a derivation from "dignitas", and "prestige" or "charisma".

Porta Esquilina gate of Servian Wall, Rome

The Porta Esquilina was a gate in the Servian Wall, of which the Arch of Gallienus is extant today. Tradition dates it back to the 6th century BC, when the Servian Wall was said to have been built by the Roman king Servius Tullius, however modern scholarship and evidence from archaeology indicates a date in the fourth century BC. The archway of the gate was rededicated in 262 as the Arch of Gallienus.

Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant

"Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant" is a well-known Latin phrase quoted in Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum. It was reportedly used during an event in AD 52 on Lake Fucinus by naumachiarii—captives and criminals fated to die fighting during mock naval encounters—in the presence of the emperor Claudius. Suetonius reports that Claudius replied "Aut non".

History of the Constitution of the Late Roman Empire

The History of the Constitution of the Late Roman Empire is a study of the ancient Roman Empire that traces the progression of Roman political development from the abolition of the Roman Principate around the year 200 until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE. When Diocletian became Roman Emperor in 284 CE, he inherited a constitution that was no longer functioning, and so he enacted the most significant constitutional reforms in over three-hundred years. His reforms, much like those three-hundred years before, were intended to correct the errors in the previous constitution. Diocletian's specific reforms were less radical than was the reality that he exposed the state of government for what it had been for centuries: monarchy. With Diocletian’s reforms the Principate was abolished, and a new system, the Dominate, was established.

Tacitus Roman senator and historian

PubliusCornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors. These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus, in 14 AD, to the years of the First Jewish–Roman War, in 70 AD. There are substantial lacunae in the surviving texts, including a gap in the Annals that is four books long.

Legacy of the Roman Empire impact of ancient Rome on later events

The legacy of the Roman Empire includes sets of cultural values, religious beliefs, technological advances, engineering and language. This legacy survived the demise of the empire itself and went on to shape other civilisations, a process which continues to this day. The city of Rome was the civitas and connected with the actual western civilisation on which subsequent cultures built.

Glossary of ancient Roman religion Wikimedia disambiguation page

The vocabulary of ancient Roman religion was highly specialized. Its study affords important information about the religion, traditions and beliefs of the ancient Romans. This legacy is conspicuous in European cultural history in its influence on later juridical and religious vocabulary in Europe, particularly of the Western Church. This glossary provides explanations of concepts as they were expressed in Latin pertaining to religious practices and beliefs, with links to articles on major topics such as priesthoods, forms of divination, and rituals.

References