The most biggest lie about roman emperors

At this point, just admit that you are emotional attached to the idea of Roman Emperors not being absolute rulers, and will twist definitions to make that the case. If not, then actually defend your definition of an absolute ruler, which was "being able to enforce your personal whim". Until you actually do this, I will just repeat this sentence in reply to your posts.

If the Emperorship is an accumulation of different packages, then how could the Praetorians auction it off as a single thing? That shows beyond any potential doubt that, the Praetorians and the various bidders (and probably everyone else) recognised that the emperor ship was a single package.
 
Feb 2012
5,166
Defend? I don';t have to. There's a wealth of literature available that describes Roman politics and society. Go and read some.

If the Emperorship is an accumulation of different packages, then how could the Praetorians auction it off as a single thing?
They didn't. They auctioned Rome.
 
Jan 2015
3,439
Australia
Your posts say nothing. What Roman history have you read in the last week? Any?
I could point out I know much, much more about Roman history than you, but that would be reductive; because everyone on this thread disagrees with you, as does all modern academic consensus. That's why the quotes below, as I'll cover, are either misrepresentative, parsed, or just irrelevant.

Caesar was very much bent on control. ...
I am well familiar with the Spain story, with the village anecdote, and with Sulla's career. I've posted about them at various points on this board in depth. Those stories, which are certainly in line with Caesar's character to my mind, are in no way incongruent with the idea Caesar didn't want to be a dictator. You obviously need to read up on his career. Caesar was basically forced into a Civil War, a subject discussed in depth in many, many threads on this forum I'm happy to direct you to (or you can go read them). Caesar was accused of planning a Civil War when he was first consul. Unsurprisingly, his enemies propaganda was incorrect and he used the armies he was given as proconsul to go best Rome's enemies and get Rome more territory. Sure, that was beneficial to him to, but that sort of misses the point. Even today there are many men who are determined to be top of their field, or the most famous or most powerful, etc, and that ambition drives them; but it doesn't mean Bill Clinton or Bill Jobs, etc, were determined to be dictators; their desire for fame and glory was achievable without such a step. Similarly, Caesar's goals were not uncommon among noble Romans; many of them wanted what he wanted. Had he been able to become consul a second time, as he tried desperately to do while avoiding a Civil War, he'd have just gone to Parthia and the East to fight in another 5-10 years of war, then probably come home to be consul again before retiring.

Caesar was basically forced to take control of war torn Rome as a dictator, much as Sulla was, except unlike Sulla he tried to spare his enemies for the most part, because he wanted a real opposition and didn't want to get rid of the different factions in Rome. Unlike Augustus, who scrubbed out all the enemies he could, fundamentally centralized power, and set up a succession plan for his new form of government. Sulla stepped down when he felt Rome was stabilized. Caesar wasn't at the point he could do that, because every time he left Rome there was a new crisis, and because he couldn't risk the Senate he had left in charge (full of enemies he'd pardoned) from doing exactly what happened to Sulla (after he went East to fight a war, they declared him public enemy and built up armies to fight him on his return). Sulla was wrong of course, he hadn't fixed the fundamental problems he'd tried to sort out, which is why most of his laws were tossed out before long; but he didn't care, because he left to drink himself to death in an orgy of parties at a country villa. Caesar on the other hand wasn't stepping down until he'd fixed everything; that was going to be pretty tough to do, and I'm not sure he'd have managed to sort it out before his death even if he'd lived, but there's no evidence of any of the succession planning of Augustus; and in fact Caesar's changes to Rome's government were more mild than anything Sulla did, let alone Octavian's centralization. I think that was part of the problem; Caesar wanted to keep a republic, with real opposition, but he had no idea how to do that given how far things had gone. There might not have been any going back easily. So while Caesar was certainly dictator, it was a very reluctant dictatorship he'd been forced into, and with a pretty free political opposition all things considered. Augustus on the other hand centralized power, that was his clear goal, and removed all plausible opposition within the legal system, including setting up a succession. There's no question Augustus was more dictatorial than Caesar, both in his intention and actions.

So, with that out of the way (and please, search some of the threads about Caesar being forced to march on Rome before replying), let's consider the "quotes" you've given us.

Caesar had not been a bloodthirsty tyrant: but he had been a tyrant, and had underestinated the importance which contemporary Romans attached to constitutional form. His signs of megalomania, his ambition, his perpetual dictatorship, and his general carelessness for outward appearances all seemed intolerable to the outraged aristocrats who assassinate him. Augustus, though we may consider him inferior to Caesar in many respects, took immense pains to avoid Caesar's error: and it was his superiority in this vital respect which enabled him to succeed where Caesar had failed.
A Shorter History of Rome (M. Cary & J. Wilson)


1) This is a weak source. It's the opinion of a (archaic) 3rd rate text book writer
2) Nobody is disputing Caesar was a dictator. He was a very reluctant one though.
3) If you had kept quoting from that book, I imagine these 3rd raters would have kept going to say something along the lines of what exactly the "error" Augustus avoided was, which is pretty clear from the text you've parsed; namely an error of form, not substance, because the writer knows Augustus was a dictator in fact too, if not in name. This therefore does not support your argument at all.

Augustus, despite one source describing his lust for power, did not dictate.

Augustus, of course, always held a virtual monopoloy of the real power - chiefly by retaining control of the legions. He governed by persuasion, but it was the sort of persuasion that no wise man would resist.
A Shorter History of Rome (M. Cary & J. Wilson)
We're gone through these quotes before. Even the parsed version of the quote you present above is not supportive of your point. It describes him as holding a "virtual monopoly [on] power". That is dictatorship under the definition everyone on this thread accepts except you, with a definition that makes nobody in history a dictator (and which you keep avoiding questions about; for eg, were Hitler and Stalin dictators still under your definition? You indicated they were, but they'd clearly fail your definition). The last line describes a Godfather like autocrat almost line for line; "he'd make them an offer they couldn't refuse..." (i.e. murder), so they would willingly obey, but out of compulsion; that's dictatorship.

We have observed the importance of patronage in Roman society.With the Principate was created one supreme patron in the person of the Emperor. Of course, he was by no means the only patron: Patronage still pervaded Roman society to every sphere and at every level. But no patron could match the Emperor.
The Legacy of the Republic (David C Braund) - from The Roman World (Ed. John Wacher)
This does nothing to support your argument. It's irrelevant to the points under discussion.

While depressing the powers, Augustus intended to restore the public and official dignity of the supreme magistracy of the Roman Republic.
The Roman Revolution (Ronald Syme)
As a fuller reading of Syme will tell you; he was restoring the illusion of their power and dignity, which is what that quote says before you parsed it. Their "public and official" dignity was restored... while their powers were "depressed" (i.e. reduced). Syme says the same thing all of us are telling you.
 
Jan 2015
3,439
Australia
He twice thought of restoring the republic; first immediately after the overthrow of Antony, remembering that his rival had often made the charge that it was his fault that it was not restored; and again in the weariness of a lingering illness, when he went so far as to summon the magistrates and the senate to his house, and submit an account of the general condition of the empire.
Augustus (Suetonius)
An Imperial biographer clearly can't be 100% honest about the illusion the emperors were trying to cultivate. He didn't have access to Augustus inner thoughts so many years later, and nobody alive did either; we have Augustus word as to what his thoughts were, which stand in contrast to his actual actions. Maybe he thought this and maybe he thought that; but it's not what he actually did, so who cares? Maybe Hitler thought of sparing the Jews. He didn't though.

In his Acts and on his coins he (Augustus) stressed that he was the Liberator who had saved the lives of citizens, that he had held no post 'contrary to ancestral tradition', that he had 'transferred the state from his own control to the free will of the Senate and the Romanie', and to those traditional components of the Roman state, the S.P.Q.R., there are many honorific references on his coins. It may seem suprising that in spite of their vigilant Republicanism many members of the Italian governing class were satisfied by what seems to us a fiction. Yet the Romans, although their intense anxiety to preserve everything good in the past made them instinctively averse to open changes, had a fairly impressive record for modifying their institutions when this was necessary.
The World Of Rome (Michael Grant)
You're literally citing Augustus own propaganda to us, which Grant tells us above was "a fiction". So Grant is agreeing with us, not you. He's telling us Augustus claim to not be an autocrat and dictator was a convenient illusion. You seem to somehow believe that if a dictatorship is disguised to the common people, it isn't one. Nobody else has this conception of what a Dictatorship is. Doubtless many Germans felt Hitler or Stalin were benevolent leaders; Hitler was in fact elected initially, before he neutrered democratic institutions. Does it follow he was therefore not a dictator?