The most biggest lie about roman emperors

Jan 2015
3,360
Australia
#61
Ok @Caesarmagnus, you claim that "Emperors are autocratic" or that "Emperors are monarchical" then claim that Didius wasn't the same as other Emperors. This only acknowledges the point that myself and others have been making. Emperors had varying degrees of power, it was more common for them to be insecure in their authority than it was for them to be secure.

Quite aside from this fact you explicitly did claim that Didius Julianus was not a legitimate Emperor:



How is the statement "no legitimacy?" not meant to be contentious or serve as a disputation?
When I first posted my reply, I didn't even bother to include the Didius part because I thought "let's focus on what's important". I then thought "heck, I'll edit it to include an answer to that side point about Didius too". It seems my first instinct was correct though, because your reply completely ignores the first (and important) issue, in order to follow up a side one. Please answer the first question if you expect me to engage on your Didius side point.

The point about Didius isn’t complex. In a debate about how much power a Prime Minister or President has, it would be pretty unhelpful to mention an example of a Prime Minister or President in a coma “who has no real power at all haha! He can’t even lift the pen to sign legal documents!” Didius is given the Emperor label by historians, but his power was utterly atypical of the usual authority of an Emperor for reasons both explained and obvious. Of course, every Emperor’s power varied based on context, in the same way that every person who ever lived had a different context that makes them not perfectly analogous to other people. We get nowhere with that sort of analysis, in which nothing is comparable to anything because everything is unique. However, it is possible to look at the powers of a typical, stable pre-crisis Emperor, which is what I’ve been doing. Didius was not one of those, so bringing him up as a counter to my arguments never made any sense. If anything he is an example of the helplessness of the Senate in the face of the army, P.guard and people (in that order), and the lack of say they had, as those were the forces who made and unmade him as emperor. The Senate was nowhere in that process, except as a rubber stamp.
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,141
#62
As for Didius; nobody is disputing he was Emperor, the issue is that he was not "the same as any other emperor", no more than a local high school baller is the same as Lebron James. Your comment to that effect was just wrong. He was a claimant to the throne who never was able to firmly grasp the mantle, and despite being considered an Emperor for a few months he is not a sensible example of the typical powers wielded by an Emperor for pretty obvious reasons (which have been explained).
There was no throne. There was no crown. There was no official post of 'emperor' at all in ancient Rome and none of these would have been tolerated by the Romans despite their increasing acceptance of autocratic rule over their decreasingly republican state. No-one claiming precedent and first citizenship had any established quota of powers and privilege - these were awarded ad hoc, though over time expectations of following in the footsteps of the great and good and the familiarity of the situation led to certain similarity of those awards.

No-one in Rome would accept that anyone had a previous 'right' to be in charge. This is fundamental to understanding why autocracy became acceptable at all. Dio complains that Caesar's are using certain titles to hide monarchical pretensions - He may well have had a point - but grasping the mantle as you put it was never straightforward. Since none of them had any established right to rule, and no accepted method of choosing who would rule was ever accepted or indeed ever suggested, grasping the mantle isn't taking hold of a role as it might exist.

Even Augustus, as powerful and influential as he became, remained quietly paranoid about his security. He dispersed his own guards for fear they might become rebellious. He tortured individuals he suspected of plotting against him. Or Claudius, whose claim to power was based initially on the threat of the Praetorians who put him there, the very same guards Augustus had established and who had been concentrated in Rome during the reign of Tiberius. Claudius felt it necessary to authorise an invasion of Britain to give himself credibility he lacked. This illustrates why the title of Imperator was so important in the guise of autocracy. Rome liked successful military leaders with undertones of strength and courage. Such that it became synonymous with imperial power and hence we derive the word 'Emperor' rather loosely from it. Augustus had set a precedent that many overlook - that he effectively achieved sole authority by way of victory in war. At that point, following the death of Marc Antony and the Egyptian rebellion, he contemplated giving up. Why? Because as sole remaining Triumvir he was in the same dangerous position that Julius Caesar strove to achieve by way of the office of Dictator. That Imperator was not a permanent title meant little - it was the immediacy of the situation that was important. His chosen path was to present himself as a dignified first citizen with no pretensions of tyranny (especially since he had been the most ruthless of the Triumvirs in terms of proscriptions). That he still worked toward domination behind the scenes is not particularly remarkable. How very Roman.
 
Sep 2017
109
Pennsylvania
#64
I'll ask again. What legal avenues did the Senate have to oppose an Emperor with the powers I outlined them having?
@Caesarmagnus

The SCU, Senatus Consultum Ultimum, or "Final Act."

This is what effectively replaced the office of Dictator from 133 BCE. It is what served as the legal mechanism for justifying Julius Caesar's murder.

Despite falling out of use the law was never revoked, amended or altered in any way between its establishment in 133 BCE and the fall of the Roman Empire.

So, to answer your question, by vote, the Senate maintained the power to strip anyone, at any time, for any reason of all powers, offices and honors even into the Dominate.

I suppose it would be similar to impeachment of an American President except it's also now legal to kill the impeached party.

I hope we don't need to delve further into the minutiae of the Roman Constitution to satisfy your question regarding legal mechanisms retained by the Senate to act against an Emperor.
 
Jan 2015
3,360
Australia
#66
@Caesarmagnus

The SCU, Senatus Consultum Ultimum, or "Final Act."

This is what effectively replaced the office of Dictator from 133 BCE. It is what served as the legal mechanism for justifying Julius Caesar's murder.

Despite falling out of use the law was never revoked, amended or altered in any way between its establishment in 133 BCE and the fall of the Roman Empire.

So, to answer your question, by vote, the Senate maintained the power to strip anyone, at any time, for any reason of all powers, offices and honors even into the Dominate.

I suppose it would be similar to impeachment of an American President except it's also now legal to kill the impeached party.

I hope we don't need to delve further into the minutiae of the Roman Constitution to satisfy your question regarding legal mechanisms retained by the Senate to act against an Emperor.
The Senatus Consultim Ultimum can be vetoed from being introduced. Augustus had a veto. See the problem yet? The US President can't just veto his own impeachment, which is why it's disanalogous. He is also choosing who to remove and add to the Senate as censor, so how is a Senate that tries to be hostile to him a) going to exist in the first place, and b) manage a sustained opposition to him? I'm not even mentioning stuff like him controlling the armies and provinces, etc, yet.
 
Sep 2017
109
Pennsylvania
#67
...The Senatus Consultim Ultimum can be vetoed from being introduced...
@Caesarmagnus, what's your point?

You continue to argue that Roman Emperors were autocratic monarchs, your latest argument is that "the Senate didn't have any mechanism to remove the Emperor:"

I'll ask again. What legal avenues did the Senate have to oppose an Emperor with the powers I outlined them having?
Whether or not the legal avenues in question are practical has nothing to do with whether they existed. You claim there were none. I've shown that there were. In any event a consular veto could in turn be vetoed by that of his colleague, so Augustus - or any other Emperor who possessed the power of Veto - having the power of veto would not have been an insurmountable obstacle to the introduction of SCU.

Consular Veto

Reference paragraph entitled "Abuse Prevention"
 
Jan 2015
3,360
Australia
#68
@Caesarmagnus, what's your point?

You continue to argue that Roman Emperors were autocratic monarchs, your latest argument is that "the Senate didn't have any mechanism to remove the Emperor:"



Whether or not the legal avenues in question are practical has nothing to do with whether they existed. You claim there were none. I've shown that there were. In any event a consular veto could in turn be vetoed by that of his colleague, so Augustus - or any other Emperor who possessed the power of Veto - having the power of veto would not have been an insurmountable obstacle to the introduction of SCU.

Consular Veto

Reference paragraph entitled "Abuse Prevention"
You and Cal are just not right about Augustus powers. First it was "Augustus veto had to be renewed each year" (which was wrong, see link on previous page), and now you're claiming the veto could be "vetoed" or overridden by someone else possessing the veto. That is simply wrong, and you're confusing the tribunican veto (which Augustus had, see the link I provided earlier) with a "consular" veto to sentencing (a totally different thing). If tribunes could have been stopped by other tribunes then they would have been a lot less useful at blocking things. Much of the last 100 years of Ancient Republican Rome would not make logical sense if that was the case. There were definitely pro-Boni tribunes at the time when tribunes for Caesar (or Pompey, etc) were vetoing their motions. One can only wonder why these Boni tribunes didn't simply veto their veto.

The veto was an insurmountable obstacle to the SCU. That's why in order to pass it against Caesar the Boni finally resorted to the (illegal) physical expulsion of the 2 tribunes who were vetoing it, forcing them to flee the city to Caesar. So, I ask again, what was the legal avenue they had against an Emperor that could be effective?
 
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Sep 2017
109
Pennsylvania
#69
You and Cal are just not right about Augustus' powers...
@Caesaremagnus, again, what's your point?

@caldrail and I aren't talking about Augustus. This thread is about Roman Emperors, plural, as a demographic.

A fact of which you are well aware since your challenge encompassed that entire demographic:

I'll ask again. What legal avenues did the Senate have to oppose an Emperor with the powers I outlined them having?
The circumstances of the SCU against Julius Caesar constitute an edge-case scenario in any event which arose because only one consul was present during its introduction.
As the link I provided earlier demonstrates, SCU was used dozens of times both with and without opposition.

Again, this is merely one legal Avenue and again Augustus is by far the best of the Roman Emperors in an objective sense in that he seized power, expanded upon it and maintained it. Even compared to actual autocrats Augustus stands up well. But again, most other Emperors fall well short of this.
 
Jan 2015
3,360
Australia
#70
@Caesaremagnus, again, what's your point?

@caldrail and I aren't talking about Augustus. This thread is about Roman Emperors, plural, as a demographic.

A fact of which you are well aware since your challenge encompassed that entire demographic:



The circumstances of the SCU against Julius Caesar constitute an edge-case scenario in any event which arose because only one consul was present during its introduction.
As the link I provided earlier demonstrates, SCU was used dozens of times both with and without opposition.

Again, this is merely one legal Avenue and again Augustus is by far the best of the Roman Emperors in an objective sense in that he seized power, expanded upon it and maintained it. Even compared to actual autocrats Augustus stands up well. But again, most other Emperors fall well short of this.
1) The legal powers, and autocritas, of the Emperors did not decrease after Augustus. Quite the reverse. You act like future Emperors didn't have the same powers he had. Often they had a lot more, as the idea of republican government and checks and balances became a distant memory. There were weak emperors who failed to grasp power firmly in the transition or whatever, and were deposed by another Emperor, but that in no way changes the power of the role of Emperor. It's just instead of the failed Emperor having dictatorial power, the following who deposed him did.
2) Huh? An "edge case scenario"? The SCU is only being discussed because I said "what could the Senate legally do to challenge an Emperor?" You said "well, they could pass a SCU", to which I replied "no, they can't, cos he can veto it". So why are you even discussing the SCU anymore?

I'll ask again, now that we've gotten the SCU out of the way; what legal avenues did the Senate have to oppose an incumbent Emperor? You can focus your answer on Augustus if you like, or on the typical stable Emperor up till the time of Septimius Severus. The answer is the same anyway (i.e. there was nothing the Senate could do legally).
 
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