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Lecture 17

CLA233 Lecture 17 Notes

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Michael J.Dewar

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CLA233 Lecture 17 Notes Imperialism II – The Exercise of Power - imperator – “commander” - princeps senatus – “first head of the senate” - tribunica postestas – “power of the tribune” - imperium proconsulare maius – “authority of a proconsul [but] greater [than usual]” - exercise and limitation of the emperor - in law – emperor was not the head of state and did not have absolute power - consuls were the leaders of state - emperor as magister or special, but limited, powers - Roman monarchy – begins as limited constitutional monarchy and becomes unlimited total power of the emperor - while incredibly powerful, emperors are not totally so – must act with restraint within the law - consuls still elected for a year - in law, consuls were joint heads of state – despite emperor having more power in practice - imperator – control of the army - princeps – honorary title of the oldest senator – emperor takes it - emperor – could be called Augustus or Caesar – royal title - princeps – later becomes “prince”, other name for the emperor - princeps is a title of honour – not inherited, etc. – title honours the emperor - the way one called the emperor was indicative of the person’s status - senators could name him princeps – says that he does not have total power - emperor – legal and practical limits - logical definition of imperial power • tribunica potestas – 5-10 years of power • like to believe that they remain true to the ancestors • “champions” of the public people against the excesses of aristocracy • power to veto laws - veto – “I forbid” - emperor can veto any law he wished ad can introduce laws that bypass the senate - emperor’s power as great but with limits - job to protect ordinary Romans from the aristocracy - emperors have power that is near god-like - must be both aristocrat and champion of the people – strike a balance - duty of the proconsul is primarily military based - proconsul – like a consul but slightly higher – most commonly perceived as a general - bulk or Roman legions were in the provinces - proconsul appointed by senators - emperor – greater authority of proconsul – in practice the emperor directly controlled 4/5 of the army through his election of proconsuls - every new year’s day he emperor came to power – legions had to sweat fealty not just to the state but to the emperor as well - as time went on, the emperors had greater power – constitutional laws were ignored more - emperors became more like gods - deal – incredible power and god-like position of emperor but also one of the people - emperor as army, senate, and people – simultaneously - emperor must juggle senators and power – but must always maintain an army to survive - emperor can also lose power completely – example of Nero - emperor so utterly incompetent that his is disgraced and voted out of power - Augustus wins the Battle of Actium – power of the emperor is contingent on his success as a general – ability to defeat Antony and Cleopatra People Know You Nearly Didn’t Get the Job - senators often called the emperor by princeps – acknowledging senatorial status - called pious, respectful – in front of witnesses – must reward the man - man likely trained the bird but did not get the reward - ultimately the power of the emperor rests on military power - nearly did not get the job because he nearly did not win the battle – best was to inherit the title however And anyway, the Job isn’t all it’s Cracked Up to Be - by law, all emperors could be removed - in practice, this was very dangerous - in practice – very few emperors are allowed to retire/abdicated - emperors either died of natural causes or were assassinated - Domitian himself was assassinated – stabbed in bed – sordid plot Then Again, the Job Does Have Some Perks - Roman social custom – Ausonius - Ausonius – professor - could turn down a “god’s request” by law – but not a good idea - oxymoron of “god’s request” – because gods do not request, but order And People Watch What They Say About You - Pollio – keeps the peace because it is not a good idea to go against a man who could write his death sentence - not event princeps – power/dignitas of Roman citizen due to his military power – soldiers at his command - Kaster’s note in Volume I of his Loeb Classical Library edition of Macrobius runs: “Fescennine verse, properly so called, was ribald poetry sung at weddings, with insults directed at the groom; the latter element presumably explains the extended use here, where invective poetry seems to be meant (for Augustus’ talent in this vein, cf. Martial 11.20). Pollio used the verbs scribere (‘write’) and proscribere (‘record publicly in writing/post’), the latter referring to the ‘proscriptions’ of 43-42 BCE, when the Triumvirs posted the names of those declared to be public enemies.” Except Behind Your Back - goodness of Hadrian - example of how an emperor is perceived socially - Hadrian was also a poet – enjoyed turning up at lectures to correct the professor - Favorinus yields to the correction - emperor corrects lecturer - lecturer/professor – technically in charge but did not correct the emperor – yields - as soon as the emperor left – friends believe that with such a high literacy class – can exercise authority and correct the emperor - to his friends, he looks bad – yielded his authority and allowed the emperor to lower his dignitas - g
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