The most biggest lie about roman emperors

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,308
I already have answered them. Repeatedly. It seems reading is not a widely practised skill around here. However it is also true that I don't have convenient access to the internet and my presence here is time limited. So I really am increrdibly sorry I don't answer you to your exacting whim, but tough.. Live with it
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,582
Australia
I already have answered them. Repeatedly. It seems reading is not a widely practised skill around here. However it is also true that I don't have convenient access to the internet and my presence here is time limited. So I really am increrdibly sorry I don't answer you to your exacting whim, but tough.. Live with it
You're really not answering us. For instance, you said Hitler and Stalin were dictators. Under your new definition of dictatorship how do they still qualify? You seem to confuse dictatorship with a state of mind; it is about actual powers you possess, not how you choose to exercise them, or your personal feelings about them.
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,308
Forget them. Not relevant to the issue. The concept of Augustus as Dictator is contrary to the descriptions given by the sources. Romans discussing him, that is. He was not an emperor because no such post existed in the Principate, which was an adaption of the republican government to allow for a senior statesman in the form of Princeps, or Imperator, or... Well there's the problem. You want a definitive label. Augustus was... Augustus. A amalgam, the sum total, of whatever social and political status he had accrued. He did not rule the empire per se, but parts of it, via representatives (His Egyptian rep is named in the sources), but did run the Roman government in administrative terms. Remember that back then, the Roman Empire was not a contiguous nation state. Rome was a city state that dominated a loose alliance of Italian city states, plus provinces -ruled locally with Roman oversight - military districts, and client states.

That was always my answer. Go back and check if you like. Or better still, check the sources and learn from the Romans what the situation was. It doesn't hurt. Nothing bad will happen to you.
 
Oct 2018
1,551
Sydney
Or better still, check the sources and learn from the Romans what the situation was. It doesn't hurt. Nothing bad will happen to you.
You repeatedly pretend that those who disagree with you have not read the sources. I think it quite clear that the users on this thread have read their fair share of ancient literature and modern scholarship. There's no need for petty comments.
 
Mar 2018
801
UK
Forget them. Not relevant to the issue. The concept of Augustus as Dictator is contrary to the descriptions given by the sources. Romans discussing him, that is. He was not an emperor because no such post existed in the Principate, which was an adaption of the republican government to allow for a senior statesman in the form of Princeps, or Imperator, or... Well there's the problem. You want a definitive label. Augustus was... Augustus. A amalgam, the sum total, of whatever social and political status he had accrued. He did not rule the empire per se, but parts of it, via representatives (His Egyptian rep is named in the sources), but did run the Roman government in administrative terms. Remember that back then, the Roman Empire was not a contiguous nation state. Rome was a city state that dominated a loose alliance of Italian city states, plus provinces -ruled locally with Roman oversight - military districts, and client states.

That was always my answer. Go back and check if you like. Or better still, check the sources and learn from the Romans what the situation was. It doesn't hurt. Nothing bad will happen to you.

Once again you are confusing the consitutional titles given to people, and the de facto powers that they had.

You are entirely right that Augustus didn't hold the title "Emperor" because such a title and position didn't exist. No one who knows their history will disagree with you there. However, what we disagree with is your claim that because he didn't hold the title of emperor, he didn't hold the powers of an autocrat. That simply does not follow logically.

It comes down to one simple question: What de facto powers should Augustus have had for you to consider him an autocrat?

If you can't provide actual powers that Augustus was lacking (not titles or ceremonies or crowns, actual things that he was unable to do), then you must conclude that he was an autocrat. If the powers he are lacking are powers that other historical figures that are universally considered to be autocrats are lacking (ie: Hitler, Henry VIII, Napoleon, Philip of Macedon, etc...), then you are redefining the term autocrat just to exclude Augustus from it.
 
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Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,582
Australia
Forget them. Not relevant to the issue. The concept of Augustus as Dictator is contrary to the descriptions given by the sources. Romans discussing him, that is. He was not an emperor because no such post existed in the Principate, which was an adaption of the republican government to allow for a senior statesman in the form of Princeps, or Imperator, or... Well there's the problem. You want a definitive label. Augustus was... Augustus. A amalgam, the sum total, of whatever social and political status he had accrued. He did not rule the empire per se, but parts of it, via representatives (His Egyptian rep is named in the sources), but did run the Roman government in administrative terms. Remember that back then, the Roman Empire was not a contiguous nation state. Rome was a city state that dominated a loose alliance of Italian city states, plus provinces -ruled locally with Roman oversight - military districts, and client states.

That was always my answer. Go back and check if you like. Or better still, check the sources and learn from the Romans what the situation was. It doesn't hurt. Nothing bad will happen to you.
I'm not going to "forget them" simply because they're inconvenient to your preposterous definition of dictatorship. Were Hitler and Stalin dictators or not in your mind?
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,308
There's nothing preposterous. The problem is your own fixation of totalitarianism. This is a common fallacy applied to Rome (One prominent historian has hosted a television series recently in which she says that Rome ruled by violence and oppression - it simply isn't true. There were a few periodic proscriptions but this was not the means of maintaining that all-important popularity. Notice that Augustus was actually reluctant to begin his during the Second Triumvirate and did not pursue this course of action during his reign).

Augustus was not dictatorial. He was however very powerful as a politician and his various attributes - virtus, auctoritas, potestas, offices, titles, etc combined to a hand of cards far better than anyone else. Roman politics was in some ways like a game of poker. You had to gamble to get ahead. You had to put money in the pot to maintain your career, such as funding games, civic improvement, the military, or even public largesse. But ultimately you had to build a hand with higher value cards. Augustus proved fortunate that his hand grew unbeatable in the high stakes game.

That word dictator. To the Romans it was a political office, one used to provide a Roman with emergency powers for a limited time and purpose, little used and technically subject to veto. To us it means a tyrant behaving dictatorially. The point is that the Roman system was geared to prevent tyranny, not by abolishment, but by harnessing it and managing political power to prevent what we would call dictatorship (the Romans would call it tyranny). For instance, the means of licensing individuals to command armies (imperium ) was a traditional concept in which no order of precedence was applied. All holders were equal, but the idea was provincia, the 'field of responsibility', that segregated powerful men to prevent rivalry and conflict. {i]Provincia[/i] is not about provinces per se, it means that a man is given a set purpose to his power. Whilst in most cases this did coincide with territorial responsibility, it didn't have to. Indeed, one reason for the collapse of senatorial control in the late republic is that imperium started to have grades applied, starting in 57bc when a superior imperium was suggested - it was opposed violently - but fourteen years later Cicero had Pompey so honoured when Pompey was tasked to wage war on Mithradates - note this was not subject to territorial restriction, but then why would it? He was a superior commander for that war and thus the objections of ordinary commanders held no weight.

Julius Caesar is very much the extreme in this case. Having eventually gained Dictator Perpetua, he was the most powerful man in Rome, which was dangerously close to Rex - a word we translate as 'king', but a word the Romans associated with tyranny. The masses liked the idea - it gave them a figurehead in government, but the elite of Rome was not comfortable. Still less when Caesar brought Cleopatrra into his fold, apparently seeking to marry a foreign barbarian queen, and worse, installing a throne in the Curia - a clear message of Caesar's monarchial intent whatever might be done in public rituals.

But Augustus does not seek this power. Indeed, he was very concious of his adoptive father's fate, and as the sole remaining Triumvir it is recorded that he considered giving up after Antony committed suicide. He plays on his status, adopts a senior position in society, and manages Rome rather than rule it. He observes public offices. He creates law by prescribed means. He avoids pretensions. He was, in many ways, actively pursuing his role as Rome's guarantor and rather than attempting to usurp senatorial control, instead he reforms it and urges efficient government. He does not 'own' the empire, having direct control over a proportion of the territories - and then governed in the same manner as other provinces (self rule with Roman oversight). The Principate is a period between republican and dominatal rule, where ambition drives many succeeding Roman leaders to seek more personal control at the expense of local and senatorial factions.

But Augustus as Dictator? The public wanted that. Rioters once forced the Senate to barricade themselves inside the Curia under threat of arson if they did not award Augustus dictatorship, a title that Antony had officially abolished after the death of Caesar. They wanted the revered victorious leader as what amounted to a king. But Augustus knew it was a death sentence, and chose to expand a more traditional form of political control. As a tyrant? Well, he could be ruthless. One had to be in Roman society if you wanted to grasp control of it. But he still respected many traditions and did not forcibly overrule the Senate. The value of Augustus was leadership, applied with some rational focus. Anything else invited a dagger or poison.

Once again you are confusing the consitutional titles given to people, and the de facto powers that they had.
No, you are, because you insist on applying modern themes to Roman society.

You are entirely right that Augustus didn't hold the title "Emperor" because such a title and position didn't exist. No one who knows their history will disagree with you there. However, what we disagree with is your claim that because he didn't hold the title of emperor, he didn't hold the powers of an autocrat. That simply does not follow logically.

It comes down to one simple question: What de facto powers should Augustus have had for you to consider him an autocrat?

Good grief. How many times have I answered that question? Incessantly and YOU STILL DON'T GET IT. Yes, he was an autocrat, but not by a simply one hit transformation. There was nothing convenient about it.


1 - Virtus. The virtue of a man, a vital consideration for an elite Roman. Is he a good man? Is he a man? Is he generous, protecting, contientious?
2 - Potestas - Power. Not political power, personal power. Charisma, leadership, ability. Personal qualities that make the holder shine above others.
3 - Auctoritas - Authority. His accumulated political power and ability to wield it.
4 - Offices - Augustus would hold thirteen consulships amongst other aspects. He held Imperium Maius until his death - the best/noblest right to command armies. Note that his earlier imperium had to be surrendered when he return to Rome by tradition - he complied, but the Senate world grant him something better in view of his victory.
5 - Official power - Some offices were not applicable to Augustus, such as Tribune, which he could not legally hold but was given the powers of nonetheless.
6 - Pater Patriae - Father of the Country. it may seem to us merely an honour with no actual value, but the concept of fatherhood was far more austere and powerful than our modern concerns. Naming someone like this in Roman times was significant - it could not be ignored, and worthless honours were insults in Roman eyes (given the Senate had already insulted him by awarding him the lesser Imperium Pro Praetore one can see the point)
7 - Protector of Public Morals - It may seem considerable hypocrisy for Augustus to assume this role given his active sex life, but he did, and Roman men were supposed to be virile anyway. His attempt to insist on marriages for the elite backfired - he was forced to back down. His attempt to control his own family backfired - Julia resorted to a wild party lifestyle for which she was banished when Augustus found out what she was up to.
8 - Client/Patron Society - As the most senior Roman, the empire was effectively his client, and the most basic of societal structures where the elite looked after the mundane in return for loyalty paid off handsomely. Even the Italian tribes all swore loyalty to him - though they remained technically independent until citizenship was extended to the entire empire by Caracalla.

I could probably find more cards to describe, but really, if you can't grasp these points, one has to question why there's any point. Roman society was not the same as ours. It was not the same as the Victorian Age. It was a society with it's own peculiar values and structures.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,308
I've never said anything else. The problem is that you see autocratism as a single coherent whole. It wasn't. Augustus held all the aces in his hand. Not the Joker.
 
Mar 2018
801
UK
I mean, you did argue that there was some power sharing with the Senate for a long time, that they could overrule Augustus, and so on... But I'm not here to score points or what you believed before, the important thing is what we believe at the end of the discussion. I see autocratism the way most people do. Where one person holds all de facto political power, regardless of it's de jure origins. I cannot stress the last thing enough. It doesn't matter what the legal origins of his power it, the point is one person has it. That's what literally everyone in this thread has tried to tell you for about 15 pages.

1) Augustus was an autocrat (ie, a man who held all real political power), more-or-less from Actium onward.

2) His successors tried to do the same thing, and broadly speaking, succeeded. The one's who failed were very quickly removed (generally by the army or by the Praetorians) when their failure was apparent, and immediately replaced by someone else who immediately tried to be an autocrat themselves.

Do you disagree with either of those statements?