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Old February 14th, 2018, 01:55 AM   #1
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The Roman Cycle - New Play Cycle about the emperors of Rome


Hello! I'm new to the forum but am a long-time history buff and have loved some of the conversations I've seen here, so I thought this may be as good a place as any to post about this:

I'm currently working on a massive project, a series of scripts, each roughly 45-60 minutes long, each one covering the reign of a Roman emperor, beginning with Augustus and (with some skips) ending with Romulus Augustus (or perhaps Constantine 11).

I'm happy to post the scripts if anybody is interested to read, so far I have drafts for Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Romulus.

AVGVSTVS

TIBERIVS

CALIGVLA

CLAVDIVS

AVGVSTVS


I had some minute questions I was wondering if anybody could help me with:

What did the early emperors wear when they walked about? When they were in the palace?
Did the emperor always wear laurels or a crown?
Why did Claudius abandon Britannicus later in his reign?
Why in Messalina's revolt of 48 was there no attempt at discretion?
Did successive emperors use the same throne? The same artifacts (crown, laurels, sceptre, mantle, etc.)?

Thanks in advance, if you take a look at the scripts feel free to comment!
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Old February 15th, 2018, 06:56 AM   #2

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What did the early emperors wear when they walked about? When they were in the palace?
Anything they liked. Togas were traditionally used for business and indeed some Caesars, notably Augustus, insisted upon them for business.

Did the emperor always wear laurels or a crown?
Good grief, no way. Rome was traditionally against monarchs and symbols of that sort would soon get the wearer into some serious trouble. Laurels had specific uses and meanings, not concerned with ultimate power, but then please realise that we call Caesars 'emperors' - they did not. SPQR had no actual requirement for anyone to rule over the state since SPQR means 'Senate and People of Rome, but the Caesars were the most important people of the empire and had huge influence by control of the military and the client/patron social system.

Why did Claudius abandon Britannicus later in his reign?
Agrippina the Younger. She wanted Nero to succeed and Brittanicus was out of favour, appearing dressed as a boy while Nero progressed to the toga virilis.

Why in Messalina's revolt of 48 was there no attempt at discretion?
Firstly she did not mount an actual revolt. Her marriage was both a symbol of her rejection of Claudius and her increasing importance. Whether she and her new husband meant to rule Rome is one thing - they were actually ill-placed to achieve it because none of the legions had been brought into line.

Did successive emperors use the same throne? The same artifacts (crown, laurels, sceptre, mantle, etc.)?
No throne. No artifacts. They were not kings, and not technically legal rulers of the empire, just elite Romans who had been accepted as important by the state (or by a bunch of heavily armed men who insisted upon it in many cases). The reason they were so easily gotten rid of was because they had no constitutional right to rule. Law was everything to Romans, but the word emperor derives from the latin word imperator which meant 'victorious general', a term of salute applied by soldiers after critical battle victories, later an informal office with authority over the legions (even though each legion was always going to decide loyalty for itself). Caesars were given this title as a mark of their importance and it was usually renewed from time to time, without much argument. Nero for instance had the title renewed twice in one year three times. Hadrian had it renewed once only. Imperator was the only office or title that Caesars always maintained during their reigns, so that the word became synonymous with imperial power and thus through the French language became 'emperor', now a title for a monarch.
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Old February 15th, 2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by caldrail View Post
What did the early emperors wear when they walked about? When they were in the palace?
Anything they liked. Togas were traditionally used for business and indeed some Caesars, notably Augustus, insisted upon them for business.

Did the emperor always wear laurels or a crown?
Good grief, no way. Rome was traditionally against monarchs and symbols of that sort would soon get the wearer into some serious trouble. Laurels had specific uses and meanings, not concerned with ultimate power, but then please realise that we call Caesars 'emperors' - they did not. SPQR had no actual requirement for anyone to rule over the state since SPQR means 'Senate and People of Rome, but the Caesars were the most important people of the empire and had huge influence by control of the military and the client/patron social system.

Why did Claudius abandon Britannicus later in his reign?
Agrippina the Younger. She wanted Nero to succeed and Brittanicus was out of favour, appearing dressed as a boy while Nero progressed to the toga virilis.

Why in Messalina's revolt of 48 was there no attempt at discretion?
Firstly she did not mount an actual revolt. Her marriage was both a symbol of her rejection of Claudius and her increasing importance. Whether she and her new husband meant to rule Rome is one thing - they were actually ill-placed to achieve it because none of the legions had been brought into line.

Did successive emperors use the same throne? The same artifacts (crown, laurels, sceptre, mantle, etc.)?
No throne. No artifacts. They were not kings, and not technically legal rulers of the empire, just elite Romans who had been accepted as important by the state (or by a bunch of heavily armed men who insisted upon it in many cases). The reason they were so easily gotten rid of was because they had no constitutional right to rule. Law was everything to Romans, but the word emperor derives from the latin word imperator which meant 'victorious general', a term of salute applied by soldiers after critical battle victories, later an informal office with authority over the legions (even though each legion was always going to decide loyalty for itself). Caesars were given this title as a mark of their importance and it was usually renewed from time to time, without much argument. Nero for instance had the title renewed twice in one year three times. Hadrian had it renewed once only. Imperator was the only office or title that Caesars always maintained during their reigns, so that the word became synonymous with imperial power and thus through the French language became 'emperor', now a title for a monarch.
Wow, very helpful, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these!
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Old February 18th, 2018, 06:25 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakeg1235 View Post
Hello! I'm new to the forum but am a long-time history buff and have loved some of the conversations I've seen here, so I thought this may be as good a place as any to post about this:

I'm currently working on a massive project, a series of scripts, each roughly 45-60 minutes long, each one covering the reign of a Roman emperor, beginning with Augustus and (with some skips) ending with Romulus Augustus (or perhaps Constantine 11).

I'm happy to post the scripts if anybody is interested to read, so far I have drafts for Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Romulus.

AVGVSTVS

TIBERIVS

CALIGVLA

CLAVDIVS

AVGVSTVS


I had some minute questions I was wondering if anybody could help me with:

What did the early emperors wear when they walked about? When they were in the palace?
Did the emperor always wear laurels or a crown?
Why did Claudius abandon Britannicus later in his reign?
Why in Messalina's revolt of 48 was there no attempt at discretion?
Did successive emperors use the same throne? The same artifacts (crown, laurels, sceptre, mantle, etc.)?

Thanks in advance, if you take a look at the scripts feel free to comment!
Interesting projects! Are these film, TV or radio scripts?

Re your queries- early emperors - as Princeps, first among equals (though some animals are more equal than others!)- the incumbent was the most prominent member of the Senatorial Order, the most senior.order. As such in a 'professional' capacity he would have been considered improperly dressed were he not wearing the Toga Laticlavia, a broader purple-striped tunic beneath the toga which was the badge of the Senatorial Order. On coins, the emperor of this period is always depicted togate unless wearing military dress.

Re Messalina- she may well have been set up by the Imperial freedmen acting in concert after she caused the death of Polybius.

Re Britannicus- his association with Messalina may have worked against him as well as Agrippina's influence.
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Old February 19th, 2018, 02:42 AM   #5

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It is worth pointing out that the Romans had quite a strict dress code which illustrated your status in society, but in private, this was not important, and whilst Augustus may have demanded everyone wear togas for formal occaisions, he is known to have dressed in a simple rough tunic in his off-hours at home. What we have in the Principate is the beginning of fashion as a medium for 'freedom' against tradition, which reflects the prosperity and free time available for many citizens after the civil wars. The behaviour of women begins to change abruptly around this time as well, as they are less under the control of guardians/fathers/husbands and often find loopholes in law to manage their own lives in some way. Not always appreciated by the males, however, and Julia's unrestrained lifestyle was a pretty deliberate slight against her father (Augustus) for his controlling manner and title of 'Protector of Roman Morality'.
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Old February 19th, 2018, 04:50 AM   #6
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That's a pretty neat project! I look forward to reading more of it. It reminds of those old Roman writers who'd completely make up statements and speeches to present a point, though keeping the gist and spirit of what was intended to the reader.

One thing I can definitely correct you on, Tiberius wouldn't have referred to Augustus as Father in 8 BCE. He wasn't officially adopted until 4 CE, after the deaths of Augustus' grandsons and intended successors. Maybe Caesar?

I recall a story that Augustus was walking in the Roman Forum and saw a bunch of Roman youths loitering in tunics. He decided on the spot that anyone who was a citizen of Rome must be wearing a toga while in the Forum.

Clothing was important to the Romans, it denoted social status, the quality and color of the material worn. Since togas were required to be worn at public occasions (such as theatre) anyone walking into one of these gatherings would've seen a striking display of blocks of different colored togas, each one denoting a strata of Roman society.

The other posters above have done a good job of answering the OP questions, but I'll just touch on the last one. Though it is true that no artifacts were carried from one reign to the next to symbolize the transfer of power (because the Principate wasn't a monarchy utilizing such ensigns of power) but I should note that there was a signet ring, used for wax impressions when writing letters, passed from Augustus to Tiberius and then Caligula. It was even given to Marcus Agrippa when Augustus became extremely sick once and was thought to pass at any time, though his friend loyally returned the ring once he recovered.
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