Janury 7 , 2013/
CLCV 2905-A ~ Monday, January 07, 2013 ~ Lecture 01
Quick recap from 2904:
- Republican state destroyed by ambitious men
Marius & Sulla
Caesar, Crassus, Pompey
Antony, Octavian (Augustan)
- Octavian became Augustus – revolution to monarchy, with façade of Republican
- Concealed power: auctoritas, gravitas (ability to restore peace) (because Octavian had
ended the civil war; he had a lot of authority at the age around 24)
- Message: moral rebirth, peace, reconciliation (this was preached by Augustus to make
the Romans more moral
- Distract people from truth (but Augustus was still a mass murderer)
- Reminder: sober verdict of Tacitus
- We now call Rome ‘Empire’
- But: had been ‘Empire’ from some time
- Process began after the First Punic War (ended 241 BC)
- Accelerated after end of Second Punic War (ended 202 BC)
- By end of Republic, the division of power Augustus recap:
- Rebuilding Rome
- New forum (temples)
- Ara Pacis: message of peace, renewal
- Res Gestae
- Religious renewal – evaluation of patron deities e.g. Apollo
- Literary efforts: Virgil, Horace, Propertus – Actium, victory, peace, Antony as
Augustus: Rome’s First Empire
- Family and associates (because he didn’t do things by himself)
- Augustus as showman
- Religious policies
- Augustus and the army disaster in Northern Germany
- Legacy – great man, or tyrant? (Augustus is kind of the opposite of Alexander the
Great, Augustus is a good administrator but bad military leader)
Augustus and those around him
- Family of Augustus
- Political purpose e.g. role of Julia, daughter
- 25: daughter:
Julia = Claudius Marcellas Augustus’ successor (first marriage)
Julia = Agrippa Augustus’ general (second marriage)
Julia = Tiberius (12 BC) Augustus forced Tiberius to divorce his wife to marry
Julia (third marriage)
(alas, poor Julia) (Julia was exiled to an island and starved to death)
- Third wife, Livia - Important role (confidant and advisor of Augustus)
- Claudii (married into the family of Claudii)
- Adopted in will Julio-Claudians (accomplished the merger of adopting her in
(Augustus would not have been successful without the help of these two
generals, especially Agrippa; like Augustus, these two were also young men)
- Devotion; support for Augustus
- Equestrian (middle class) – Etruria (rise of the equestrians) (Maecaenas is from
Etruria, not Rome) (the equestrian squeezed out the patricians) (the equestrian
and plebeians were the supporters of Augustus, rarely the upper class)
- Patron of the arts
- Diplomat – force behind Trs. Of Brundisium, Tarentum spies (spymaster for
- Died 8 BC: out of favour (something happened and died in shame in 8 BC)
(Virgil and Horace wrote about him)
- Agrippa (without him, Augustus wouldn’t have beaten Octavian)
- Born 64 – obscurity
- Military brains of operator
- Benefactor, administrator – built sewers, his name is on the Pantheon, etc
- Political heir (if he hadn’t died so early)
- Children with Julia – Gaius and Lucius (more later)
- Co-consular colleague; proconsular imperium - Died 12 BC
(given consulship with Augustus)
(rise of non-traditional background)
January 9 , 2013
Augustus and administration
• Consummate administration – he was very talented.
o This is important because he was able to cement a legacy and building
an empire that functions.
• Romans built a very complex bureaucracy.
• Augustus begins an important trend of giving access to bureaucracy for people.
• The equestrians become the backbone of the administration.
• Eventually, emperors of Rome will come from all over the Mediterranean.
• Disdain for those who didn’t e.g. Looked down on other people who couldn’t take
care of their empire.
o Plutarch, Moralia, opinion of Augustus on Alexander the Great:
“He felt astonishment that Alexander the Great didn’t regard it as a
greater task to set in order the empire which he had won than to
• Big question for Augustus
o How to manage empire of 50 million?
o From shores of France to Syria.
o Much of the success of the empire is laid at the door of Augustus because
he thought about that to do, while Alexander never did.
• 2 things:
o 1. Restructuring of senate and equestrians (middle class).
2 most important social groups dealt with this term.
o 2. Make Rome look like model civilisation for other to initiate. Reason why the Empire lasted for so long.
• Senate equestrians
o Idea of service
o Morality, values
The Senate had lost touch with politicians, so they wanted to
Augustus wanted to repair the functional service.
Created this in his propaganda. (morality and values)
Tried to make people think differently about the state and the
Create a senate that would serve the state (meaning himself)
• Changed property qualification 400k 100000 sesterces
o Tight control, use prestige
This massively shrunk the pool of available senators
By making the senate a prestigious body, the senate would
compete to have a spot.
Does who were able to get into the senate, felt they owed it to
Augustus, and they would do his bidding in return.
• Equestrians more open, became key part of admin and support for Augustus
o Membership: Italian, provincial elites
o Had supported him as Octavian
To create special position for them, could only be held by the
Had the effect of bouncing out the senate.
Created a very small senate that was loyal to him, and that had
traditional values, pushed the middle class as his key basis
support. • Special commands/careers – Only Equestrians
o Naval fleet
Nobody left to fight, but still very prestigious to be a naval
o Legionary commands e.g. Egypt
Egypt always held a special place to the Equestrians.
Senators cannot travel to Egypt without permission of the
o Praetorian guard (imperial by) prefect’s – Only Equestrians
2 in command of the emperor
People of the middle class gained far more influence while
Augustus as Emperor
• Augustus built up equestrians to run empire.
o They would run the bureaucracy for the imperial palace and become
o Rise of the Equestrians would be a good answer on exam. SOCIAL
CHANGES IN EMPIRE
• Comitia? Declined
o Assembly completely disappeared in influence.
o Augustus didn’t care what the people thought, only what the Equestrians
o He sounds like a dictator
• General administration
o 3 levels to empire, Rome, Italy, provinces
• Capital of world empire
o Rome had suffered in civil wars, tried to make it prettier, but it was a
complete mess. o Probably the most densely-populated city.
• 14 districts under magistrates-city-councillors.
• Top Man – prefect of the city- senator
• Subordinates – grain, water, river Tiber etc.
o Subordinates assigned to various branch to deal with different problems.
o If you did the job well, you would be popular, if you did it bad like Pompeii,
you would feel the anger of the people.
• Turn it into model capital, worth living in, worth admiring
• 5-8 million
• All free men citizens, no tax
o Augustus focused more on Italy because many of his supporters came
o Anybody free in Italy, was giving citizenship and exempt from tax.
o No tax thing, did not last very long, as the Romans ended up taxing
everyone very heavily.
• II regions. Augustus left most cities alone.
o Let the cities keep their form of government and not interfere
o Soft approach that romans had which create an effective administration.
o Provided overlay for effective administration.
• Divided into senatorial and imperial provinces, from shores of France and Syria
o Governor, farmer consul/praetor
o Had to have held the rank of proconsul
Idea was to have experience before doing the job Power of consul, without actually taking office.
o E.g. sicily, Transalpine Gaul
Nothing happened there
• Imperial (came under his jurisdiction)
o Propraetorian legate
o E.g. Syria, Pannonia
These 2 had more legion than the entire empire; Pannonia always
had military control problems.
o Armies were based here. Most likely to have a military problem.
o Egypt: special case
It goes to the Equestrians.
• Very flexible system
• Not much unity
• Mean that Roman ideas, culture, not imposed
• Preferred to make the roman ideas attractive, so that the people want to have
• Idea: provide peace/ stability, make people want to be Roman
• Empire: mosaic of people MIDTERM
• Common factor: under control of emperor
• Creates peace
Augustus as Showman
• Suetonius, Life of Augustus, 43:
o ‘Augustus surpassed all predecessors in frequency and magnificence of
• Built on legacy of Julius Caesar
• Use of spectacles, gain loyalty, admiration of people. • Model for future
• Res Gestae: text
o Chap 22: importance of Games
• Augustus used shows
o Generosity to people
o Piety to gods
o Devotion to family
o Promote ideas of piety, family values
• e.g. Secular Games, 17bc
o ordered by Sybilline Oracle – celebrate new saeculum
o coincided – laws on adultery, family practice
o powerful connections
o Horace: three days-prayers, sacrifice, theatre, races
o Apollo and Diana
Augustus new age of peace, prosperity, piety, virtue
o Not everyone got it: Ovid, for e.g.
o Augustus at games
Attentive (c.f. Julius Caesar)
o Popularity of spectacles in provinces, Italy
o Cf, Augustus’ aims
o Spread culture
Link between Roman culture and mass entertainment Role of emperor as distributor of largesse
• Suetonius: Augustus very superstitious
o Exploited ritual, religious occasions
o Policy: restoration, renewal
o Restoration (use of the old)
Dignity of priesthoods
Took position of Pontifex Maximus
Religious policies and imperial cult
o Rebuild relationship with gods
o Reforms, policies deities
o E.g. grain and Ceres
• Promoted Venus, Apollo, Mars Ultor
• Idea of divinity
• Models, Alex the Great
• Eastern ideas – Julius Caesar, Egyptians
• Provinces – Spain, 27 BC – tribune vowed himself to Octavian/Augustus
• Municipal altars to Augustus in Spain
• Various precedents then for imperial cult
• Imperial cult slowly established
o 30: name in Saliam hymn
o 26: altars in Spain
o 9: Asian calendar from Octavian’s birth o 8: festivals for birth
o 14AD: deified by Senate
• Overtime – grew
o Forms varied
o Usually focused on person of emperor
o Links to Dea Roma, goddess, deified Rome
o All: idea of Augustus as saviour
• Overtime: normal part of life
• Major focus for Augustus
• Helped him
• Oath to him
• Victories campaigns,
• After Actium, what to do?
o 300000 civilian life
o Aerarium militare
• Another step professional force
• Finally, now, permanent force
• Occupation army, fought campaigns.
• New terms, years enlistment
• Legions names and numbered
• Legion examples
Legion Formed by Meaning Emblem II Augusta Pansa in 43 Reconstituted by A Capricorn
XV Apollinaris Octavian 41 Sacred to Apollo ?
XX Valeria Victrix Octavian 41 Valiant, victorious Boar
• Auxiliary units
• Cavalry, slingers, skirmishers
• Specializations – e.g. Syrian archers, camel archers
• Numbers ? – 250k
o Rome – praetorians – paid more
o Urban cohorts – police
o “urban garrison”
• Legions assigned to imperial provinces – 28 in all
January 14 , 2013-02-06
-- what was the army doing?
Rebellions in Egypt, Africa
25/4 Aelius Gallus, Expedition to Arabia Felix
Friend, Strabo, Geography
Shows typical ethnographic ideas
Standards of Crassus, Antony
Western campaigns against barbarians - especially germs
Campaigns in Armenia - Gaius Caesar (Agrippa/Julia) d.o.w
Campaigns in Germany - Drusus, stepson, died
Most famous Quinctilius Varus
rebellion - Arminus (Herman)
lost three legions, nine auxiliary brigades
Tacitus: brigade and legion commanders nailed to trees
Capped aspirations in Germany
Rhine -> frontier
Danube - new provinces, same problems
General idea - consolidation, not expansion
(Plutarch, Moralia, opinion of Augustus on Alexander the Great:
‘He felt astonishment, that Alexander did not regard it as a greater task to
set in order the empire which he had won that to win in.)
Needed secure succession
Name publicly - look like monarchy
or leave to chance?
Had no son
Solution: marriage, indirect designation - “open secret”
First choice - Claudius Marcellus, Son of Octavia
Approached Agrippa = Julia; sons, Gaius, Lucius, adopted by Augustus
12: Agrippa died; Tiverius Claudius Nero = Julia
6: Tiberius ‘opted out’ for Rhodes
Gaius and Lucius - both died
Solution; Tiberius, 4AD, adopted
Hedged: Agrippa Postumns (Agrippa/Julia)
One more just in case: Tiberius adopted Germanicus (son of Drusus, brother of
Agrippa Postumus exiled
13 AD: Tiberius became formal equal
14 AD: Augustus died Tiberius became emperor
How do we see him?
Goals: cement power, support
disseminate ideology, image, name
21st century attitudes
peace and stability
The Legacy of Augustus
Results of rule
senate small, elite group
rise of equestrians, bound to him
plebs provided with food, games
army professionalized, loyal to him
one man: stability, no more divisions
Learned a lot from Sulla, Marius etc.
Could not take supreme power
Needed to mask it
Managed to keep Republic in some sort of shape
Did this by resorting, using old, and bringing in new ideas
Find analysis - deserves our respect, even if we dislike his methods
Gaius = Caligula 37-41
Themes: stability of political rule; relations with senate; religious issues; foreign
policy; living up to Augustus.
but: popularity, question of fear
remember how he came the throne - reluctant He depended on creating fear among his subordinates, he had taken
himself out of politics to go live in Rhodes for a while, he became emperor
because the other candidates died.
3 phases of reign
1:15-23 - moderate; dealt with rebellions; death of Germanicus, trial of
2: 23-31: dominated by sejanus; Tiberius -> Capri
3:31-37: informers: ‘delatores’: things go from bad to worse
Tactius: “a clan of people invented for the destruction of the state”
Died in 37, did not prepare for succession
Last minute choice:
Gaius Julius Caesar Germnaicus
“Freddy Krueger in a toga”
rumors - did he kill Tiberius?
how do we see him?
career - at the centre of things
“disappeared” after 30 AD
view - from Principate - evolution of Republic
Throne in 37
Will of Tiberius
Lots of enthusiasm for Caligula at the beginning but...
Then he went crazy
Actions towards Jews in Palestine
Jan 24 41: murdered
Albert Camus: rejections of principate
And: “that movie” Who’s next? Claudius
Found behind a curtain; became Emperor unwillingly
Discussions in Senate: bring back Republic?
Soldier found Claudius
But - Claudius probably:
did not want the position
savy - first to use Praterorian Guard as ‘kingmaker’
built on Sejanus’ activities
ominous for future
Claudius - unlikely emperor?
ridiculed - intellectual
Seneca - mocked him - apotheosis
Did accomplish some things:
Rome as ‘melting pot’
home life - not good
bad choice of wives, advisers, e.g. Agrippina the Younger, mother of Nero
Invasions of Britain, 43 (richborough castle)
Added Thrace and Mauretania (N Africa) as well; interfered in
January 16 2013
Claudius – unlikely emperor
• Home life: not good
• Bad choice of wives advisers e.g. Agrippina the younger, mother of Nero
• Military activities
• Invasion of Britain, 43 (Richborough castle) • Added Thrace and Maretania (N. Africa) as well, interfered in Judae/ Palestine
• Richborough castle, SE England: Roman earthworkds (43ad)
Claudius and Britain
• Beginning of permanent, 400 year occupation
• Major impact on Britain and British history
• Who’s next?
• Claudius died; deified by Senate; murdered by Agrippina??
• Suetonius perhaps maybe thinks it might have happened
• Suetonius, Claudius 44, 2-3. On death of Claudius
o …that Claudius was poisoned is the general belief…and required relief by
that form of evacuation as well…
• Nero’s accession well prepared
• Praetorians, again…
• Presented himself as Augustan candidate to senate
• Pedigree: claimed descent from Anthony, Augustus, Claudius
• Began well? Ended..badly
• Archetype of “bad’ emperor
o Pliny the elder: ‘enemy of the human race’
Catalogue of crimes
• Killed mom
• Incest with mom (before)
• Married freedmen
• Bad actor • And, that ‘fire’
• Later Christian authors “antichrist”
• Strange ambitions
• Rome Neropolis
• Fire: Domus Aurea, ‘golden house’, was fire deliberate?
• Function of D.A., placement
• Cultured, artistic-cont, Augustan spectacles
• Performed himself (bad)
• 59AD: things go bad
• Killed mother-why?
• Used the barge of death (thanks history chanel)
o Tarcitus, Annals, 14, on attempt to kill Agrippina with “the barge of death”
o “…A night of brilliant starlight with the calm…which happened to be too
strong to yield under the weight…A cerronia, however, thought lessly
exclaiming…and so entered her house.
• Nero’s assassins caught up with her and she was stabbed to death
• After the matricide – Nero became unpopular
• And, Poppaea Sabima
• 2 wife; complicit in murder of Octavia (daughter of Claudius)
• Daily bath in milk (cassius dio)
• Murdered by a kick in the stomach from Nero (Suetonius)
• Nice family
• What else happened in principate?
A failure of self restraint and a complete absence of respect for roman tradition
A central pillar to Augustan propaganda is to look after your family, honour your parents,
don’t kill your wife, don’t have your lover kill your old wife, don’t do incest. The worst emperors are the ones that give reign to their indulgences and forget what
their job is, which is to govern.
They all started with the best of intentions and ended badly especially Caligula and
Other aspects of the Julio-Claudians
What stayed the same and what changed.
The growing autocracy of the emperor is part of a wider theme, because after the
principate, the empire will become the dominate, where the emperor is the undisputed
master and the senate is totally sidelined.
• Development vs. tradition, this is relate to Augustus
o Some Augustan ideas kept; others developed
Bring in new things to see where the boundaries can go to
How will they deal with Augustus’ legacy
Augustus – connection to Caesar, dynastic principle
Every emperor wants to connect himself to someone else very
powerful…or descended from great men in hsitory
All emperors came from the Julio-Claudians family: continued this
– all (ex. Tiberius). This gave them a link that they come from the
powerful Julius Caesar
Descended from julii family
o Used legitimacy of Augustus
Apart from Caesar, they looked to Augustus. So that they could
sell that link publicly. The Julio-claudian emperors had their ashes
buried in the mausoleum too.
o Ashes in mausoleum
o Coins, medals, public events
Use augustus’ image on all of theses. He was a sort of sponsor.
Clear example of continuity of tradition! This is what Augustus had done himself, appealing to the old
ideas in the state, particularly his link with Caesar
o JC tried to keep Augustus idea that the senate was still useful at doing
sth, or at least let they might believe that that was the case, and let the
emperors continue whatever they were doing
• Retained ‘the plea’ that it was doing sth
o Discussion that the empire would revert to a republic cuz nothing was
o Some thought that the Senate still had a role to play in
o Augustus wanted the senate to believe that
o This is also a clue of continuity from the time of augustus
• Overtime, Julio-Claudians blantantly more autocratic
o They were testing the boundaries of what was acceptable to the senate
o FOR EXAMPLE:
o Started off trying to work with the senate, effort to consult them.
o Anxious beginning
Senate tried to give him honours, and declined because augustus
o 30AD – fed up, stopped talking
Midlife crisis, stopped dealing to the senate.
o Comments of Tacitus
Men ready for slavery, tiberius left the senate decision making , he
decided that he would be making all the decisions. Augustus would have been horrified, because it went against that
he wanted for the senate-emperor relation, for it to be calm and
• Caligula (one of the two emperors)CHANGE
o Good start went bad
o 39, replaced consul whenever wanted
Authoritarian style was replace consul whenever wanted…It was
supposed to be the senates job to replace the consul members.
But the emperor started to do it, and the senate couldn’t do
• Claudius (Tiberius sorta character, normal crazy etc)
o Return to tradition
Effort to return to some of the tradition.
• Claudius is taking off the censorship position, moral-
• This is nicely about augustus idea, about keeping the
morality of ppl on course, and also the morality of the
o Effort the Augustan property qualifications that he had put out for the
The censor was not a impartial 3 party, it was Claudius
Gave him opportunity to eliminate of any senators he didn’t want,
and put he thought should be there
MIX OF NEW THINGS AND OLD THINGS
Elements to go on tradition, but also go on to new things
o But, Claudius was the Censor, so…
o Claudius, Caligula, both enforced Augustan seperations between
senators and equestrians
• Nero o Good start discord, disaster
He just became focus on his own life, senate lost respect for him
when he killed his mother.
• Nero-imperator, end of career.
o Took this title for himself, connotation of dominance. Position of emperor
should be autocratic and had nothing to do with what augustus had
All of emperors, made some vague effort to stick with what Augustus started, but at the
same time, they also tried to push the boundaries of their own power, did it in different
Claudius tried to take the office of censor for himself, but then used it to manipulate the
Julio-Claudian foreign policy
• What did Augustan do?
• Cassius Dio, 56.33: the will of Augustus, and the ‘limits of empire’
o …4 books were then brought in…but he had not wished to do so…
o Conservative, clients, diplomacy
Augustus was very clear in his will about what the emperor should
do and what they shouldn’t.
Don’t expand, solidate!
Augustus had been conservative with foreign policy, he had
followed a policy of entrenchment. Romans used clients(friendly
states who are supported with money, client is subordinate to the
empire, having a client could mean a buffer between an enemy
city state and you.)
Augustus knew what he was doing with administration
Established diplomatic links with ppl around him
• Tiberius o Followed…sort of
o Tried to avoid conquering other states
o Didn’t aquire much territory
o Carried on a very successful method of intimidation
Marching a giant army in the rhyne to scare the germans..
o Building clind ship
o Kinda followed what augustus had suggested
o ??reign to short
Assassinated, can’t say much
• What about the other rwo?
o Invaded, occupied southern Britain
o Departed from what augustus had asked for.
o Went against his idea of not adding anything to the empire….Britain was
o Medelled in the east, in particular
o Carried on what Caligula had done, getting involved in things in the east.
o Pissing off everybody, and started the jewish revolt
The last 2 men go against what Augustus said in his will, Tiberius makes his best to stick
to it cuz the injunctions were addressed to him personally since he was his successor,
Claudius was out for glory cuz he didn’t have any, and nero..well hes just crazy
• 66 – First Jewish revolt – causes?
• Nero – sent Titus Flavius Vespasiavus…better known as? • Revolts, uprising in provinces – few
• Main issues?
o Presence of Roman power
• Turmoil in Rome-related to aristocracy
o Squeezed out by imp power
What happened to the big blue blood families
Who had run the republic
History of Ancient Rome
January 30 , 2013
Hadrian was also active in legal areas; having a legal system allows you to know what
was right/wrong and your punishment. ‘Edict of the praetors’ changed frequently, had a
jurist write down the diminuitive laws. This is a new effort – basis for later: Theodosian
Code (5 c.) and the Justinianic Code (6 c.) which still remain the basis for our laws
today. Other admin aspects, he continued the imperial council (advisors, almost like a
cabinet) under Hadrian the equestrians become the formal bureaucratic class, they get
the best jobs in government, essentially a slight middle-upper class. He dealt with his
succession choice, he adopted Antoninius Pius and Lucius Verus (7), M. Annius Verus
(17) “Marcus Aurelius” (often adopted their heirs). In Feb 25, 138 he handed over offices
– Baiae; he retired to Naples and died in July 10, 138 and was buried in a famous
building made more famous by Dan Brown. Hadrian had much opulence in his private
life, you can still visit his villa at Tivoli.
During his reign there was a savage revolt carried out by Bar Kochba (called the Bar
Kochba war) over Jewish policies. The cause? New capital called Colonia Aelia
Capitolina; renaming Jerusalem after “Military Colony of Hadrian, of Jupiter on
Capitolina”; he prevented circumsicion and essentially the practice of Judaism. This led
to the revolt, they used the hill nearby as a natural fortification but were starved out,
slaughted later at a different site. Next emperor – man who gave name to Antonines, Antoninus Pius had a solid
reputation. He came from a family near Nimes in Gaul, an illustrious family – and
wealthy. Later seen as apogee of Roman empire. His reign is considered quite boring,
but this is good, boring means successful. For much of the information on him, we get it
from Marcus Aurelius (who based his own rule on his; much come from his Meditations).
He died later in his estate in 161, he had a few outstanding events:
- no senators were killed
- increased cash reserves (few emperors did this)
- smooth administration
- made the provinces richer
- 148 AD: 900 anniversary of Rome’s foundation
He did have trouble in Britain, 141-3 he ordered a new wall to bolster its defenses, this is
called the Antonine Wall, much northern than Hadrians, they never tried to control the
north of Scotland. Cause of this? Usually seen as a rising of Brigantes, a tribe in
northern England. In 154/5 coins were issued celebrating victory; and throughout history
the wall was repaired/abandoned/repaired. The background to this perhaps is the
inspiration for Eagle of the Ninth. There were also minor rebellions in Egypt (a peasant
revolt) and some unrest in Mauretania, Dacia. None very exciting or dangerous, because
of this quietness of the Empire an important question was raised. “How would the
Roman Empire manage serious and sustained and widespread pressure in frontier
regions?” The reign of Antoninus is the height of peace and prosperity, prior to him,
Rome could deal with rebellions and revolts individually, but should all of Romes
enemies get their act together, what should happen? This question is for Marcus
Aurelius to answer.
Marcus Aurelius is easy to find in scultpture (has a beard) – he is the archetype of the
philosopher (and to lesser degree soldier) king. His idea as a ruler of the empire, is to
submit to guidance of conscience, being emperor was a serious duty (similar to Trajan)
and as emperor has to carry out this duty. Role of Marcus is to put the world in order
(protect the people, smooth out finances etc) and became the archetype of philosopher
king. Meditations were all written in 167 whilst on campaign, he would retreat to his
camp and mind; you would have no idea he was knee deep in blood hours earlier. Julius
Caesar wrote in the third person and demonstrated his thrashing of the gauls, whereas
Marcus Aurelius is calm and humble.
Early life of MA – born in Rome, April 121 – M. Annius Verus. His family was Spanish
(Baetica) and held many influences: Hadrian, Imperial court (ideas of rule), and the
influence of Stoicism (e.g. self-control, fortitude, seek moral perfection). He was carefully educated, many of his correspondants between himself and his latin tutor (serious
implications of how the empire should be run). He followed accelerated cursus: quaestor
139, consul 140 (when only 18), close to Antoninus (Faustina), in 147 marked out by
proconsular imperium and tribunician powers (more a formality at this point, less power
actually divulged to next in line). While he was spectacularly well-prepared for the job,
his theory of government was great. But: a bit lacking in military experience, and was
frail (the ailments in his correspondence were real) and his job essentially killed him. He
probably suffered from copius amounts of stress and depression from his job.
The irony of his reign is that he spent 17/19 years fighting the Germanic tribes where he
would rather spend time in the books. What about the Other Guy? Lucius Verus.
Lucius Verus in 138: Antoninus Pius adopted him. L. Ceionius Commodus = L. Verus (7)
studied with MA. MA became the preferred candidate because of his age and studies,
but MA and LV shared power (this choice was made by MA), two men might rule better
than one given the threats faced down the line. This is almost a collegial governing
experiment. Lucius Verus essentially became co-emperor. This is the first time since the
republic that collegial admin at the top. Of course MA always senior partner, over time
Verus married Lucilla (daughter of MA) to seal the deal.
Idea of ‘harmony’ between MA and LV –coins – slightly artificial, they actually hated each
other guts, but they had little contact as most of their reign was consumed by war. The
west is senior as that is where Rome is, but over time the switch happens where the
East is the preffered position.
In 161 AD: war returned on multiple fronts (some in Britain), much in Raetia, Upper
Germania – called the Chatti tribe (name given by Romans). The main event: in Parthia
161-66 an aggressive king Vologeses IV – in armenia and Syria. The legions defending
these regions were defeated. The Roman response was robust. LV was at Antioch –
took three legions from Rhine/Danube. He took:
I Minervia (Bonn); II Adiutirx (‘rescuer’) from Aquincum (Budapest); V Macedonica
He set this pack loose against Vologeses. Avidius Cassius, commander of III Gallica
(stationed in Syria) – another Suetonius Paulinus who would later attempt to usurp
power from the emperor. In short order:
163 – Armenia retaken; Verus took title Armeniacus; new pro-Roman king installed (ex-
164/5 – Parthia invaded; capital Seleucia-Ctesiphon sacked; Mesopotamia became
Roman protectorate; Romans occupied Dura Europos (has a famous story about its
siege with use of poisoned gas).
Ultimately Cassius captured a major success. Glory for Avidius Cassius, they beat their
old enemies for the first time since (someone was executed with gold down their throat?)
– became military commander in Egypt (plum job), but: troops brought something back
with them (they brought back the bubonic plague, probably from Iraq).
166: MA faced new problems on Danube
168: LV returned – both emperors in Danube
New phase: Danubian wars. This phase is not well-understood. Cause? Migration of
Germanic peoples? This is negotiation (for land) vs. force. It is possible that Rome
interpreted their movements as a hostile act. Not much is known how it began, but it
consumed MA’s reign. By 177-180 new conflicts occurred (savage wars, remember
Gladiator with messenger with head cut off). MA had by then a new emperor as LV died;
Commodus replaced him. 178: Victory over MA’s new nemesis, Quadi. Things more
quiet – March 17, 180 – MA died at Vindobona. What did these campaigns mean?
Defences of the empire had been sorely tested (they had to sell silver and gold of senate
to raise legions with men as young as 16). Is this catastrophe? Maybe not, but it
foreshadows what is coming down the pipeline: barbarian invasions, plague, and war
without end (=end of pax romana).
Search for a scapegoat when things are bad in the empire, they turn to Christians.
Recogniton of change in outlook of Roman empire: Trajan’s column versus column of
Marcus Aurelius. Order < tangled, suffering, corpses (shows a disturbed world view and
outlook). The Romans may be winning, but their faces are screaming as they trample
and spear their enemy. It portrays the rain miracle, a storm wiped out their enemy and
prevented them from fighting (they require divine intervention to win occasionally), they
sometimes do lose their battles. The men are exhausted. MA and power; did not neglect government, his inspiration came from Antoninus. He
continued to get support from Senate, and give support to the equestrians. Search for
talent – e.g. Cassius, Pertinax (general). Collegial rule – repeated after 1 Jan, 177, with
Commodus (provided secure succession and good training for Commodus when MA
However one thing that did not work well was the delegation of jobs (not always
working). Avidius Cassius heard a rumour that MA had died, and (probably thinking he
was Vespasian) attempted a coup d’etat. This was sad for Marcus Aurelius to see such
disloyalty, Cassius’ head was sent to MA in a box by his killer. Looking to this is a clue to
a change in empire. When Pompeii was killed and Caesar received his head, he was
furious his enemy received a shitty death, whereas now, this is usual and grim.
MA’s reign held an increase in martyrs. MA had no real friend of Christians – thought
they were fanatics. Became a political problem when they broke laws or resisted the
empire and… religion spread – held a higher profile (there are more, and they are more
visible). They appear to have done very little to change their image: popular hatred and
feeling that Christians were subversive (easy to pick on in times of crisis). Marcus
Aurelius goes down as one of the greatest emperors of Rome, but there is nothing great
about his time.
February 4 , 2013 th
From Galba to Commodus
180:stayed on Danube
182: plot by Luculla, Senate, nearly succeeded
Result: reign of terror
182-5: Empire practically ruled by Praetorian Prefect
185-9: Empire under influence of Cleander
Commodus: not interested in rule
Cleander: went nuts 189: Cleander became Praetorian Prefect
Claimed to be Heracles reborn
Colonia Commodiana (remember Nero?)
“first among the gladiators”
Jan 1: gladiatorial procession
Plan for 193: human sacrifice – including fave
Dec 31, 192
Commodus wasn’t really a gladiator like in the movie, right?
Aurelius Victor, On the lives of the caesars, 17 (written after 337 ad)
He possessed such an utterly harsh and cruel nature that…..said that the one with which
commodus was armed was said to be enough for both of them.
And: he charged the state one million sesterces for each performance!
Who else had gladiatorial training?
Madness of Commodus
Empire managed to keep going (Antonine wall abandoned in Britain)
Note role of praetorian prefect – vice emperor
Death of Commodus – empire lurches to new crisis
Cassius Dio, 73.6 purges under Commodus
“Sextus Condianus, the son of Maximus, who surpassed all others by reason both of his
native a ability and his training….though a great number of heads purporting to be his
were brought to Rome – or whether he made good his escape.”
Antonines – high point
Death of Commodus = formal enf of pax Romana
End of Antonine dynasty
Increased role of provincials
Increased wealth of provinces
Corresponding decline in Italy – result of ‘globalisation’
Intellectual life – in Italy, Roman law
Meditations – written in Greek – significant
Reflects widening division east vs. west
Boundaries of empire
Linguistic – Greek vs. Latin
S. Med vs N. Med
To begin with:
W – stable, political supremacy
W – economic powerhouse
W – higher % of citizenship, local elites more important
Now, situation beginning to reverse
West peaked under Antonines
What about east? Eastern “Greek” Empire
Importance of Hellenistic (post-Alexander) and Semitic civilization
Especially: urban life/civilization
cities powerhouses of Roman civilization
Vs. West – Rome provided literacy, government, cities
Prosperity of east – link to internal security
Prosperity of cities – helped by hands-off approach of Rome
Allowed ancient role of cities continue
Fostered by emperors’ individual interests
Apamaea (Seleucid) – Claudia Apamaea
Corinth – Julia Flavia Augusta Corinthiensis
Evidence for Roman arch, imperial cult
What underpinned strength of east?
Interface of Roman institutions, culture
Ancient civilization preserved and fostered by Rome
Reflection of prosperity in east
Public spaces (remember Trajan’s Rome)
Wealth of the great urban centres of the eastern world (vs. west)
e.g. Apamaea, Syria
A lot of this local wealth – not possible without Roman policy in east
Syria overland China
Role of Petra, Palmyra – urban wealth
Gaza, Antioch,n. Syria – also very rich – olive oil, grain, wine
‘dead cities’ – indication of local wealth
Prosperity measured in quality of ingtellectual life
Plutach – Parallel Lives
Arrian – Anabasis
Appian – civil wars
Lucian – satirist (more on him)
Appollodorus of Damascus – architect
Law school , Beirut
Lucian – satirist
A true story – characters visit Moon and Venus
Parodies of Homer
One of the earliest examples of science fiction
Symposium – not approved by Plato
Characters drink a lot and behave poorly
Lucian, A true story – characters stuck in a whale? Of course!
From that time on, as I could no longer endure the life in the whale and was
discontented with the delay….at the last moment, then, we propped the mouth open with
great beams and made our boat ready…
What about Romans speaking Greek?
Augustus – M.A. pax Romana
Helped strengthen position of Greeks in east Aelius Aristides – Eulogy of Rome
Romans who speak Latin
Romans who speak Greek
Now – idea that emp might be from east – ok
Even while RW and RE diverging – RE playing bigger role in orbis Romanus
And…centre of gravity shifting
Role of Antioch, emperor looking to east, eventually
Blanket term for spread of culture, ideas, government
Complex problem – how ‘roman’ could one be?
“I want to be roman for the following ten reasons, and this is how I plan to
achieve that goal”
What did it mean to be a roman citizen?
But: also culture, language
Use latin and greek
Use roman material culture (toga, bowls, swords)
Games, spectacles, bathhouses, eating habits But not that simple
e.g. open a grave from antiquity
what can its contents tell you?
Cynical approach – what benefits came from ‘becoming Roman’?
Learn latin? Get ahead in bureaucracy.
Take a roman name? flavius is a good choice.
(there are many babies called Barack Obama)
Use Roman material culture – sophistication?
So if you think about this problem
No clear answer as to
What it meant to be roman
Why people thought themselves to be romans
Also: reciprocal – romans may adopt customs of others
And: most likely to manifest a ‘roman’ identity – elites
Feb 11, 2013
African Emperors, Syrian Emperors 193-235
• Egyptian vacation, 199-200
• Syria, 200-201
• Antioch, Jan 1, 201: co-consulship with Caracalla
• Rome, afterwards
• African journey, 202-3
• Leptis Magna
o Ius Italicum – raise profile
• Back in Rome, 203-new secular games
o Good opportunity to sweep out the rubbish and bring in a new age… o Trying to do the same thing that Augustus did, the civil war was over and