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PRINCEPS (Gk. ἡγεμών: Mon. Anc. Gr. 7.9, ἐμοῦ ἡγεμόνος), the title of courtesy customarily given to the Roman emperors of the first century, and less commonly to those of the second and third. The use of the term, as one which conveniently expressed the pre-eminence of a single citizen, was familiar to the writers of the later Republic, and the term itself is thus applied to both Pompey and Caesar. [The ideal “princeps civitatis” sketched by Cicero (Augustin. de Civ. Dei, 6.13), in a lost book of the de Republica, was evidently drawn with a direct reference to Pompey: cf. ad Att. 8.11. Comp. also ad Att. 8.9, “nihil malle Caesarem quam principe Pompeio sine metu vivere” ; Sallust, Hist. iii. fr. 81, ed. Kritz, “Pompeium malle principem volentibus vobis esse, quam illis dominationis socium.” And for Caesar, Cic. Fam. 6.6, “esset hic quidem clarus in toga et princeps” ; Suet. Jul. 26, “difficilius se (Caesarem) principem civitatis a primo ordine in secundum detrudi.” ] Its significance as accorded by popular consent to Augustus and his successors was the same. It was not an official title, and formed no part of the official designation of the emperors. It did not connote the tenure of any special office or prerogative, nor was it conferred by any formal act of senate or people. It was a title of courtesy pure and simple; marking out its bearer as the “first citizen” (princeps civium, Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.733, note 3), or rather as the “foremost man of the state” (princeps civitatis; see the passages quoted above), and [p. 2.484]implied not only a general pre-eminence, as distinct from a specific magisterial authority (Tac. Ann. 3.53, “non aedilis aut praetoris aut consulis partes sustineo, majus aliquid et excelsius a principe postulatur” ), but a constitutional pre-eminence among free citizens as opposed to despotic rule. (Tac. Hist. 4.3, “ceterum ut princeps loquebatur, civilia de se, de republica egregia;” Plin. Paneg. 55, “sedem obtinet principis ne sit domino locus;” D. C. 57.8, δεσπότης τῶν δούλων, αὐτοκράτωρ τῶν στρατιωτῶν, τῶν δὲ δὴ λοιπῶν πρόκριτός εἰμι.) For the objections to the view, once commonly held, that the title is only an abbreviation of “princeps senatus,” see Mommsen, Staatsrecht, 2.733, notes; Pelham in Journ. Phil. viii. p. 323. This view is, however, restated in a modified form by Herzog, Gesch. u. System d. röm. Verfass. ii. p. 133.

Principatus.--The title princeps exactly expressed the characteristic features of the position occupied by the emperor, under the Augustan system--a position which depended, not on the tenure of any one great office, still less of any newly-created office, but on the fact that certain powers had been conferred upon an individual citizen by senate and people, in virtue of which he was for the time raised above the heads of his fellows. It was moreover a position created by constitutional means for each holder in turn, and involved an explicit recognition of the continued existence of a free commonwealth.

The principate dates, properly speaking, from January B.C. 27. The summer of B.C. 29 found Octavian the undisputed master of the Roman world (Mon. Ancyr. 6.14); nor probably by any section of Roman society was it considered either desirable or possible that he should literally resign the wide authority he wielded. But while the experience of the last fifty years had amply shown that some concentration of the executive authority was imperatively necessary, if the empire was to hold together, it was scarcely less important in the interests of peace and order that this authority should be legitimised, and as far as possible harmonised with republican institutions and traditions. After twenty years of anomalous or provisional rule, public opinion demanded a government which should be not only strong, but outwardly at least regular and constitutional. The first step towards satisfying this demand was taken by Octavian, when in his sixth consulship (B.C. 28) he put an end by edict to the provisional régime of the triumvirate, laid down the extraordinary authority he had held since B.C. 43, and formally gave back the government of the Commonwealth to the senate and people (Mon. Ancyr. Lat. 6.13; Tac. Ann. 3.28; D. C. 53.2; cf. Suet. Aug. 28). This restoration of the Republic was followed in Jan. B.C. 27 by a settlement of Octavian's own position, a settlement planned unquestionably by himself. By a vote of the senate and people, he was legally re-invested with the essential elements of his former authority. He was given a command, limited indeed both in area and duration, but which yet in both points was unprecedentedly wide. The “province” now assigned to him included with one exception the important frontier provinces. It carried with it the sole command of all the armies of Rome, and the exclusive right of levying troops, of concluding treaties, and of making war and peace (D. C. 53.12, 17; Suet. Aug. 47, “provincias validiores ipse suscepit, ceteras proconsulibus permisit;” Lex Vespasiani, Wilmanns, 917: cf. Strabo, p. 840; PROVINCIA). Finally, it was given to him for a period of ten years, at the expiry of which it was renewable (D. C. 53.13, 16). But had Octavian rested content with this “consulare imperium” alone, he would have been merely a powerful proconsul, with wider powers indeed than even those held by Pompey under the Gabinian and Manilian laws, but still only a proconsul. As such he would have had no locus standi in Romle, and would have been only the equal and not the superior of the proconsular governors of the provinces not included within the area of his own imperium. Nor could the old difficulties arising from the separation between the chief military command abroad and the highest magistracies at home have failed to reappear. (The proconsul lost his imperium on re-entering the city, Cic. Fam. 1.9; Dig. 1, 16, 16; cf. also Veil. Pat. 2.31, of Pompey's imperium in B.C. 67, “imperium aequum in omnibus provinciis cum proconsulibus.” ) These disadvantages and difficulties Octavian escaped by retaining the consulship, and by wielding his imperium as consul. As consul he was chief magistrate of the state, with precedence, not only over all other magistrates at home, but over all proconsuls and propraetors abroad (Cic. Phil. 4.4, 9; ad Att. 8.15); while unlike any consul of later times, excepting only Pompey in B.C. 52, the province of his imperium was not confined to Rome and Italy, but extended over a great portion of the Empire. It was a return, in a sense, to the practice of the early Republic, when the consuls were at once the highest civil and the highest military authorities of the state. His control of the administration at home was further confirmed by his retention of the tribunicia potestas, granted to him for life in B.C. 36 (D. C. 49.15), though it is doubtful what use, if any, he made of the prerogatives attached to it at this stage (Tac. Ann. 1.2, “posito iiiviri nomine, consulem se ferens, et ad tuendam plebem tribunicio jure contentum” ). Finally, in recognition of his great services, and to mark his pre-eminent dignity, he was invested by senate and people with the cognomen of Augustus (Mon. Ancyr. Lat. 6.16; C. I. L. i. p. 384; Ov. Fast. 1.590).

For four years Augustus continued to exercise the primacy at home and abroad assigned to him in the restored Republic, under the old constitutional form of the consulship. But in B.C. 23 a change was made which gave to the principate a somewhat different shape, and one which in the main it retained down to the time of Diocletian. (See esp. Herzog, op. cit. ii. p. 141; Pelham, in Journ. Phil. xvii. p. 27.) On June 27 in that year Augustus laid down the consulship which he had held year after year since B.C. 31 (D. C. 53.32; C. I. L. 6.2014). His “consulare imperium,” with its wide province, he still retained, but he now held it only pro-consule; and it therefore ceased at once to be valid in Rome and Italy, i. e. within the sphere assigned to the actual consuls. He further lost both the precedence (majus imperium) [p. 2.485]over all other magistrates and pro-magistrates which a consul enjoyed, and the various rights in connexion with senate and assembly attached to the consulship. He had, lastly, no further claim to the consular dignity and insignia. These losses, which would have seriously impaired the reality and completeness of his “primacy,” were now made good by the following measures:--(a) He was exempted from the disability attaching to proconsular tenure of the imperium, and was allowed, though no longer consul, to retain consular imperium in Rome (B.C. 23) as proconsul. (b) His imperium was to rank as “majus” over that of proconsuls abroad (B.C. 23). (c) He was given the consul's prior right of convening the senate (B.C. 22), and of introducing business (B.C. 23), though the latter extended only to one “relatio,” περὶ ἑνός τινος (Dio Cass.), “jus primae relationis.” (d) He was granted (B.C. 19) equal rank in Rome with the actual consuls by the bestowal of the twelve fasces, and by the permission given him to sit between the consuls on an official seat (D. C. 53.32; Liv. 3.10; Lex Vespasiani (Wilm. 917), ll. 4 sqq.; Dig. 1, 16, 8). But Augustus seems to have been unwilling openly to rest his position in Rome on that “proconsular imperium” which, until the exemption made in his own favour, had only been exercised abroad, and was associated with the absolute methods of rule prevalent in the camps and the provinces. Hence he brought forward into special prominence his tribunicia potestas. This now appears for the first time among his titles, and appears sometimes alone ( “summi fastigii vocabulum: qua cetera imperia praemineret;” Tac. Ann. 3.56; D. C. 53.32; Cohen, Médailles, i. Nos. 342 sqq.; Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.752). A number is appended indicating for how many years it has been held, and the thirty-seven years of the tribunician power of Augustus are reckoned from B.C. 23 (Mon. Anc. Lat. 1.29; Tac. Ann. 1.9). On this power Augustus declared that he relied for carrying out the administrative reforms pressed for by the senate, and on this ground refused the extraordinary offices which were offered him (Mon. Ancyr. Gr. 3.19). Henceforward the tribunician power ranked highest among the prerogatives voted to the princeps; higher even than the imperium itself (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.1050; D. C. 53.32, 54.12). To sum up the results of these changes. The “consulare imperium” voted in B.C. 27 gave Augustus the immediate and exclusive control of the frontier provinces, the troops, and the foreign relations of the Empire. From B.C. 27 to B.C. 23 he wielded this imperium as consul, and thus united with this military command that general primacy in the state which belonged of right to the consuls. From B.C. 23 onwards he held it not as consul, but pro-consule; and hence the designation of it afterwards current, as imperium proconsulare. But he was nevertheless allowed to hold it in Rome, and was, moreover, specially granted the consul's rights of precedence over other magistrates. As if, however, to conceal the startling fact, that there was now in Rome, by the side of the annual consuls, a holder of consular imperium, fully their equal in rank and power at home, and vested besides with a wide command abroad, the tribunicia potestas was put forward as the outward sign and symbol, at least in Rome, of the pre-eminence of the princeps. The new form thus given to the principate it retained as long as it lasted: for the future the position of princeps is only occasionally and accidentally connected with the tenure of what continued to be in theory the chief magistracy of the state; and the princeps is, strictly speaking, not a magistrate at all; he stands by the side of the consuls and over the heads of all other magistrates, with a definite province of his own, but vested also with a pre-eminent authority in all departments of state. One more result of importance may be assigned to this resettlement of the principate in B.C. 23: the prerogative of Augustus was now determined by a series of grants conferring upon him various powers, privileges, and exemptions; and so in the case of each succeeding princeps, the question was not one of electing him to an established office with well-understood prerogatives, but of conferring upon him certain powers. Of these a customary list was gradually formed; and embodied in a single statute, under the terms of which the citizen designated for the principate received from the hands of the senate and people the powers, honours, and privileges once voted to Augustus, and after him to each successor in turn. (Of this statute a fragment survives in the so-called Lex Vespasiani: see Pelham in Journ. Phil. xvii. pp. 45-51.)

This “Augustan settlement” was in form, possibly in intention, a compromise, which aimed at securing the needed centralisation of the executive authority with the least possible disturbance of the traditional machinery of the Republic. But it was a compromise, which was from the first unreal. The powers vested in Augustus were too wide to make the existence of any other substantial authority possible, and the independence of consuls and senate was even in his own lifetime a fiction, which it became increasingly difficult to respect. Though, however, there is from the first a gravitation of all administrative work towards the princeps as the one real power in the state, yet even in the latter half of the third century the original theory of his position was not entirely discarded. The princeps of the time of Ulpian was still in strictness only a citizen invested by senate and people with certain powers. His position remained always extra-magisterial, and was created only for each princeps for his life. No constitutional provision was ever made for the transmission of his powers to any successor, nor was any one method of selecting a successor legally recognised. The principate died with the princeps: necessity alone determined that some citizen must be selected to fill the position first given to Augustus: accidents, such as kinship by blood or adoption to the last princeps, military ability, or popularity with the senate, determined the selection; and even the invitation “suscipere imperium” might come indifferently from distant legions, from the praetorian guards, or from the senate. Once, however, selected and designated, the citizen received the powers which legally made him princeps, from senate and people, according to the form handed down from the days of Augustus (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.1038; Vita Hadr. 6, “esse respublica sine imperatore non potest;” [p. 2.486]Vit. Taciti, 3, “imperator est deligendus quia cogit necessitas:” cf. Tac. Hist. 1.16; Mommsen, l.c. 1039; Journ. Phil. 17.47).

But, although the principate remained so far true to its original character, it underwent in other respects important changes during the three centuries which separated the accession of Augustus from that of Diocletian. These changes may be conveniently summed up under the following heads:--(1) The enlargement of the area placed directly under the control of Caesar: (2) the transformation of his majus imperium into a direct control even over those departments of administration not properly included within his province: (3) the subordination to him of the originally co-ordinate authority of the regular magistrates and the senate: (4) the increasingly monarchical character not only of the methods of government employed by Caesar, but also of the outward accessories of his position. Of these changes the first two were mainly brought about by the necessities of administration, and are sufficiently explained by the words of Ulpian when describing the institution of the praefectura vigilum. Dig. 1, 15, “Salutem reipublicae tueri nulli magis convenire. . . nec alium sufficere ei rei quam Caesarem.” The two last were the inevitable result of this process of centralisation which at once rendered impossible the existence of any independent-authority by the side of that possessed by Caesar, and elevated Caesar himself to a position where the limitations imposed by republican usage and tradition fell away of themselves.

To the “consulare imperium” as held by Augustus was assigned, according to established custom, a definite area or province, within which he was as exclusively supreme as Cicero in Cilicia, or Pompey in Asia. It included (a) the command-in-chief of all the forces of the state, and with this the sole right to levy troops and promote or discharge soldiers. [That the taking of a census in the provinces was from the first a prerogative of Caesar is almost certain (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.945), and it was probably directly connected with the levying especially of auxiliary troops (ib. 2.393; Henzen, 6453; Plin. Nat. 3.28).] (b.) The sole right to declare war and peace, and to conclude treaties. (c.) The right to coin gold and silver. (d.) The “jus edicendi” : Lex de Imp. Vesp. 6. (e.) The government of certain specified previnces.

The distinction between the department properly belonging to Caesar, and those left to the care of other authorities, had not wholly disappeared even by the close of the third century: but Caesar's province from the first steadily increased in extent. After the transference of Illyricum to Augustus in B.C. 11, and the separation of Numidia from the proconsular province of Africa in 37 A.D. (Strabo, p. 840; D. C. 53.12, 59.20; Tac. Hist. 4.48), even the immediate command of regular troops passed absolutely into the hands of Caesar's officers. The senatorial provinces are with Tacitus the “provinciae inermes.” In the time of Dio Cassius the proconsuls were even forbidden to wear the military paludamentum (D. C. 53.17), and Gallienus finally excluded senators from all posts in the army (Aurel. Vict. Caes. 33). There is some reason for thinking that under the earlier emperors, a census, though ordered by Caesar, was in provinces other than his own carried out by the proconsul; but after Hadrian there is no trace of this distinction, and the whole work throughout the Empire is in the hands of Caesar's servants. The unimportance of the copper coinage was probably the reason why in this case the limits originally imposed upon the emperor were retained until the time of Aurelian (Schiller, Gesch. d. Kaiserzeit, 1.867).

The number of provinces originally assigned to Caesar was eight. But inasmuch as all provinces created subsequently were also placed under his authority, the number rose rapidly.: At the close of the first century there were, already twenty-five provinces of Caesar, including the most populous and wealthy districts of the Empire, and stretching in an almost unbroken line along its frontiers. Outside this area, in the so-called senatorial provinces, and in Rome and Italy, Caesar laid his hand on one department after another. In the case of the former, Caesar possessed from the first exclusive control over the troops, over foreign relations, and over the census. But the proconsul's area of authority was further limited by the appropriation to Caesar of a certain portion of the revenues drawn from his province; and the amount of these steadily increased [FISCUS]. Their collection and management were entrusted to imperial procuratores [PROCURATOR], who from being at first merely private agents, with no official status or powers, gradually came to form a distinct financial executive, virtually independent of the proconsul, with which he is recommended by Ulpian (Dig. 1, 16, 9) to have as little as possible to do. To Caesar lastly belonged the right, even in senatorial provinces, of founding colonies, of granting charters. of incorporation to communities, of raising or lowering their status, and of conferring both. Latin rights and the Roman franchise. (See CIVITAS and Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.828 sqq. That in the first century questions affecting the status of communities had not yet passed wholly into Caesar's hands may be inferred from the occasional mention of senatusconsulta and of discussions in the senate respecting them: Suet. Tib. 37; Tac. Ann. 11.23, 12.58, 61.)

Rome and Italy lay, like the senatorial provinces, outside; the proper province of Caesar, but here too one department of administration after another was brought within the area of his authority, at the cost either of the magistrates. in Rome or of the municipal officials. In some cases the transfer was made directly, in others; the change was broken by the creation in the first instance ex senatusconsulto of senatorial curatores. But these curatores were all sooner or later either replaced by imperial praefecti and procuratores, or made so dependent upon Caesar as to differ only in name from his actual servants. The care of the corn supply (ANNONA; Hirschfeld, Verwaltungsgesch. 139), of the aqueducts (Id. 164), of the public buildings, the banks of the Tiber, and the cloacae (Id. 149-161), had all by the time of Claudius passed into Caesar's hands. The praefectura vigilum [PRAEFECTUS] dates from A.D. 6. The far more important praefectura urbis became a permanent [p. 2.487]office in the reign of Tiberius; and as early as the reign of Domitian, its holder exercised a wide criminal jurisdiction in Italy as. well as. within the city [PRAEFECTUS URBI].

In Italy the area of direct Imperial government widened more slowly than in Rome. The exclusive military authority vested in Caesar from the first made. him, it is true, responsible not, only for the levying of troops (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.797) and for the protection of the Italian coasts and harbours (the fleets at Misenum and Ravenna date from Augustus, and Ostia and Puteoli were special objects of imperial care: Suet. Cl. 25), but also for the suppression of such disorders as required the intervention of military force. (Cf. milites stationarii, Suet. Aug. 32, Tib. 37; Tac. Ann. 14.17.) But, Septimius Severus first quartered a legion (II. Parthica) in Italy; and the imperial correctores, for the maintenance of order in the various districts of the peninsula, do not appear as a regular institution before the reign of Aurelian. [For further details on this subject, see PROVINCIA] Closely connected with the maintenance of order in Italy was the care of the main roads [VIAE], the lands of Caesar, and other revenues accruing to him [FISCUS; PROVINCIA]: as regards his control by means of the curatores reipublicae over the local government of Italian towns, see PROVINCIA and COLONIA

Enough, has been said to show how enormously the area assigned; to the direct imperium of Caesar had expanded since B.C. 23. Outside the limits, wide. as they were, of the imperial provinces, in the provinces of the senate and people, and in Rome and Italy, there were prerogatives reserved exclusively for Caesar, and departments of administration controlled absolutely by himself and his. own officials.

The settlement of B.C. 23 declared that the imperium of Augustus should rank as majus over that exercised by all other holders of imperium; excepting only, it is probable, the consuls; and the use made of this majus imrperium did even more than the extension of Caesar's own proper domain to make him absolute, and to render little more than nominal the distinction between Caesar's department and those of the regular magistrates of the state. The possession of this “greater authority” entitled Caesar to claim from the. praetors and lower magistrates in Rome, and from the proconsuls abroad, the deference due in republican times to the consul; and as Caesar became stronger, and the need for administrative unity increased, this deference was easily transformed into a complete subordination, which placed praetors and proconsuls almost as entirely under Caesar's control, as his own legates, prefects, and procurators. The effectiveness of this weapon illustrated by the relations between the emperor and the proconsular governors of the senatorial provinces. The proconsul, as holding an independent magisterial authority, derived ultimately from. senate and people, was in theory and at first: in practice. in a wholly different position to the imperial legate. In particular he was responsible not to Caesar,, but, like Caesar himself, to the consuls, senate, and people of Rome. And there are instances in which the earlier emperors almost ostentatiously abstain from exercising authority over proconsuls, and. proconsular provinces outside the limits of the, rights specially reserved to them. Deputations from such provinces sent to Caesar are by him referred to consuls and senate (Suet. Tib. 31). Administrative questions affecting them are discussed in the senate, and decided by senatusconsulta (Tac. Ann. 2.47, 3.60; Plin. Ep. ad Traj. 72; Mommsen, Staatsr. 3.1211). Nero declared that appeals from these provinces should go to the judgment-seat of the consuls (Tac. Ann. 13.4). A proconsul charged with extortion was as late as the reign of Trajan ordinarily tried by consuls and senate; and finally the instances in which the maladministration of a proconsular province led to its transference to Caesar, or to the sending thither of a special imperial legate, indicate that down at least to the end of the 1st century Caesar's control over these provinces was less absolute and direct than over his own (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.227; Plin. Ep. 8, 24; C. I. L. 3.567; Wilmanns, Exempla, 874). But in the course of the second century the distinction, though retained in form, gradually ceased to. have any practical importance; and on the strength of his majus imperium Caesar's control over proconsuls was virtually as complete as his control of his own legates. The appeal to consuls and senate disappeared in favour of the appeal to Caesar. Instances of the trial of a proconsul before the senate are rare after the time of Trajan (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.110). Dio Cassius, represents the exercise of this jurisdiction by the senate as a concession on the part of the emperor (D. C. 71.28; Vita Marci, 10). Under Commodus, a proconsul of Sicily was tried by the imperial praefectus praetorio. Septimius Severus heard such cases himself (Vit. Sev. 4, 8), and Ulpian clearly contemplates Caesar's tribunal as the only one in question. It is no less certain that at least after Hadrian the proconsul was, equally with the imperial legate, controlled, directed, and instructed in. the work of administration by the rescripts, edicts, and constitutions of Caesar. The right to do so, derived from the majus imperium, and confirmed apparently by a special clause of the Lex de Imperio (see Lex. de Imp. Vespas. 6; C. I. L. 6.930; Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.843 sqq.), was both possessed and exercised by Augustus; but while by the earlier emperors it was sparingly used, in the, second and third centuries there is a marked and rapid increase in the numbers of imperial edicts, and in the Digest they are the authorities mainly quoted on points affecting the.government of senatorial no less than imperial provinces (D. C. 70.3; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 4, 8; Dig. 1, 16, 4, 6, 10; 48, 6, 5, 8, 4, &c.). For the recognition in earlier times of the quasi-independent authority of the proconsul, see the decree of Norbanus (J. AJ 16.6, 6).

The increasing intensity and force of Caesar's majus imperium, coupled with the rapid extension of the area placed directly under his authority, told with equal effect upon the regular magistratus cum imperio in Rome. Their degradation from their original position as the chief executive officers of the state to that of municipal officials of the city of Rome began under the Republic, with the practice of assigning the commands of legions and provinces to proconsuls and propraetors, and was only completed by the transference to Caesar of one department of administration [p. 2.488]after another even in Rome and Italy. But this process, the converse of that which gradually raised Caesar's private servants to the rank of state officials, scarcely involved so marked a departure from the ancient constitution, or even from the principles of the Augustan system, as the virtual transformation of these theoretically independent colleagues of Caesar into subordinate officials. The two changes were indeed closely connected; for, with the increasing restriction of consuls and praetors to unimportant or purely departmental work, while the general administration and to a great extent the higher jurisdiction both in the city and in Italy was transferred to Caesar and to his officers, the theory of their supremacy and even of their equality with Caesar became an untenable fiction.

The Augustan system left the consulship still the supreme magistracy of the state, and this pre-eminence was formally recognised throughout the first century (Tac. Ann. 4.19, “consulis, cujus vigiliis niteretur ne quod respublica detrimentum caperet:” cf. Suet. Tib. 31; Plin. Pan. 59, “summa potestas” ). Even in the third century there was no appeal to Caesar from the jurisdiction of consuls and senate (Ulpian, Dig. 49, 2, 1), and one right at least attaching to their old position, that of giving their names to the year, remained with the consuls (i. e. with the consules ordinarii: see CONSUL and Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.86) in post-Diocletian times. But the Augustan system, in placing by the side of the consuls a holder of consular imperium, brought the nominal supremacy of the consuls into unequal conflict with the wide authority of the princeps. The course of events robbed the consuls of all but purely domestic duties, while it entrusted to the princeps the general guardianship and government of the Empire. Even Tiberius could claim for the princeps a general control, distinct from the limited sphere belonging to the consul (Tac. Ann. 3.53). In Pliny's panegyric the older and newer views of the relative position of the two are both represented. On the one hand, the consulship is still regarded as the “highest authority” and as on a level with that of Caesar (Pan. 59); on the other, it is merely the highest post open to a private citizen (Pan. 64; Ep. 2.1) as distinct from the sovereign dignity of the principate, and the limited and domestic character of its duties is contrasted with the wider imperial sphere belonging to Caesar (Pan. 79). Rather more than a century later in the Digest the subordination of the consulship is complete. The consuls have only specific departmental duties to perform, and the duties are not infrequently spoken of as assigned to them by the emperor (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.96; CONSUL), while not only Caesar, but Caesar's prefect of the city, ranks above them (Ulpian, Dig. 49, 1, 1, 3; cf. Dig. 5, 1, 12; PRAEFECTUS). In the case of the praetorship there was from the first no question of equality with Caesar, for to the consular rank and imperium of Caesar the praetor owed deference as to the actual consuls. We consequently find the praetors, even under the early emperors, filling a strictly subordinate place. Their jurisdiction was gradually restricted to certain well-defined departments marked out for them by Caesar (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.204, 206; PRAETOR); and such titles as praetor tutelaris and praetor hastarius clearly indicate the purely departmental nature of their duties.

This transformation of the originally supreme “magistratus cum imperio” into subordinate officials, with limited and almost entirely municipal duties, was assisted by the control which the emperors obtained over their appointment, and which reduced them to the position of imperial placemen. This control, based as it was on the right of nomination, which the emperor's consular imperium gave him co-ordinately with the consuls (Tac. Ann. 1.81), and on that of “commendation” (ib. 1.15. It was formally granted to Vespasian, Lex de Imp. 4; whether it was ever used in the case of the consulship is doubtful: Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.865 sqq.), was already well established and frankly recognised in the time of Trajan. [Plin. Pan. 77, “ipsum (sc. Caesarem) qui consules facit:” cf. Id. Ep. 4.15, ad Traj. 12. The election of the lower magistrates was still something of a reality, and involved canvassing (Id. Ep. 2.9), corruption (Id. Ep. 6.19), and even disorderly contests (Id. Ep. 3.20).] In the third century the whole business of appointing the “magistrates of the Roman people” is treated by Ulpian as one which concerned Caesar alone (Dig. 48, 14).

The final change by which these magistracies were, with the exception of the consulship, robbed of all imperial significance, by losing their value as qualifications for high provincial and military commands, was not completely carried out until after Diocletian.

For the gradual change in the relations of the emperor and the senate, see SENATUS: by the end of the second century the senate had lost all importance as Caesar's partner; by the end of the third it was virtually discarded even as an instrument of his government.

The changes described above, the extension of the area of government, assigned directly to Caesar, and the complete subordination to him of all other constituted authority within the state, brought about a corresponding change in his personal position. The more absolute he became in fact, the more difficult it was to treat him as anything but a monarch. This natural tendency to clothe Caesar with the attributes and surround him with the accessories of a legitimate monarchy shows itself even under Augustus; but it was undoubtedly strengthened by a growing feeling that the exceptional and provisional nature of his authority was a real source of weakness, both at home and abroad. The organisation of the principate as a regular and permanent office, with a settled mode of succession, was desirable not only in the interests of good government, but as a check upon the ambition of pretenders; while in the East, at any rate, it was important that the Roman Caesar should be able to challenge comparison in personal splendour and majesty with {he kings of Parthia or Persia. To secure the first of these ends was the aim of the ablest emperors of the second century. The endeavour to secure the second lies at the root of much in the policy of Aurelian and Diocletian. It was a policy so far similar in its motives to that which created the Queen of England Empress of Hindostan, and it was encouraged not only by the [p. 2.489]language and maxims of lawyers, like Ulpian, of Eastern birth, but by the ever-increasing influence of Oriental habits and beliefs in the imperial court and in Roman society.

The original theory that the princeps is nothing but a citizen on whom definite powers have been conferred by senate and people for a limited, time, was one never strictly carried out in practice; and by the close of the third century little remained to witness to it, but the formal “lex de imperio” and the absence of any recognised mode of succession. The history of this change it is impossible to follow in detail, and only the main outlines can be traced here.

The limitation of time, observed in form throughout the reign of Augustus, disappeared at his death. Tiberius and his successors received the imperium for life, and only the celebration of the decennalia preserved the memory of the original arrangement [IMPERIUM]. The distinction between the various powers and privileges granted to the princeps, as well as the purely individual nature of the grant, were easily obscured when, as was done first in the case of Gaius, they were not only conferred en bloc at one time, but transferred with little or no alteration from one emperor to another (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.744, and the references given there). The notion thus developed of a single and permanent authority wielded by each emperor in turn, and consequently of a prerogative inherent in the principate, was strengthened when the functions of the censorship were, after the time of Domitian, exercised in virtue only of the general authority belonging to the princeps (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.1013; CENSOR). The authority conferred upon Augustus was not only built up out of various distinct powers, but was limited by the extent of these, and was subject to the laws, except where its holder had been specially exempted from their operation. In this latter respect also a change took place. At any rate at the close of the second and in the third century the authority of the princeps was regarded not only as single, but as plenary and absolute. The emperors are exempted from the laws (D. C. 53.18), and it is their privilege to give laws, not receive them (Vit. Caracall. 10); a view springing naturally both from the virtual irresponsibility of Caesar as a life ruler and from his monopoly of the work of law-making, and which was finally and authoritatively adopted in the fifth century (Justin. Nov. 105, 4; Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.714, note. It appears, however, as early as Pliny, Paneg. 65, “ipse te legibus subjecisti, quas nemo principi scripsit” ).

But it is not only in this unrepublican theory of his prerogative that the tendency to transform Caesar into a monarch is observable. It is as clearly seen in the elevation of his family and friends above the level of private persons, and of his personal servants and agents to that of state officials. These changes, which involved a complete departure from republican principles, commenced with Augustus and were completed in the fourth century. The family of Caesar (domus Caesaris) had not properly, any more than that of an ordinary magistrate, any public rank or privileges. Augustus set his face against attempts to pay them honour as a royal house; and though provincials even in his reign coupled with Augustus himself his wife, children and family (Wilm. Ex. 104), there was no regular public recognition of the domus Caesaris till later. That in the time of Nero the praetorian guards already took the oath to the “whole house of Caesar,” is implied by Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 14.7). Under the Flavian emperors the domus is associated with Caesar in the vota publica (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.776). The phrase “domus Augusta” occurs in an inscription of the year 159 A.D (Orelli, 4092). “Domus divina” appears first under Commodus (Wilm. 120), and is frequent afterwards (see Orelli-Henzen, Indices, p. 57). A similar tendency is observable in the treatment of the individual members of Caesar's house. In the case indeed of the males, republican usage was so far adhered to, that for the most part they have only the rank which followed legitimately from the tenure of public office, though permitted to hold these offices at an earlier age and in more rapid succession than ordinary citizens (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.772 sqq.). To the females, for whom these more legitimate marks of distinction were out of the question, honours of a distinctly royal character were given. The title of “Augusta,” first given to Livia, was by the end of the first century commonly granted not only to the wife of the reigning princeps, but to his sisters and daughters. The “empress,” as she now became, was in the second century further distinguished by the appellation “mater castrorum,” first borne by the younger Faustina. Julia Mammaea in the third century is “mater castrorum et senatus et patriae et universi generis humani” (Wilmanns, 1005). The honour of deification, for which also the first precedent was set in the case of Livia, was freely granted in the second century (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.780, 781), and after the time of Domitian the heads of the wife and even of other female members of Caesar's house appear frequently on the coins. (For other marks of honour, e. g. the special body-guard, the torchbearers, &c., see Mommsen, Staatsr. 1.346, 2.775.)

More significant is the manner in which not only blood-relationship with Caesar, but even the tie of friendship came in time to confer a definite public status, and ultimately official authority. Augustus himself was obliged to check the tendency to place his “friends” above the laws (Suet. Aug. 56: cf. Tac. Ann. 2.34, of Urgulania, “supra leges amicitia Caesaris extulerat” ). Under Tiberius the “cohors amicorum” assumed a definite shape. It was divided into classes, with varying privileges; admission to it was a formal act (Tac. Ann. 6.9), expulsion from it a penalty equivalent in its consequences to exile (Suet. Tib. 56; Tac. Ann. 3.12, 24). At Rome it constituted a court, with a regular ceremonial and scale of precedence (Plin. Nat. 33.41; Sen. de Benef. 6.34, de Clem. 1.10). From this body were usually chosen the travelling companions (comites) of Caesar, to whom fixed allowances were given (Suet. Tib. 46), and also the trusted advisers with whom Caesar took counsel (Suet. Tib. 55, Tit. 7). V. Max. 9.15 uses the phrase “cohors Augusta:” the office a cura amicorum existed as early as A.D. 51 (Orelli, 1588). In the second century the term amici denoted broadly [p. 2.490]the regular frequenters of the imperial court, and more specially the innermost circle of these, whether chosen confidants or high dignitaries whom the emperor honoured with, this title. A more definitely official position was acquired by the comites. These “companions” were carefully: selected for each expedition; distinct quarters were assigned them in the camp, and. in rank they stood above the provincial governors To have been selected as a comes was an honour duly recorded on inscriptions along with the legitimate honores, such as the consulship. Finally not only Caesar himself, but other members of his family had also their circle of “friends,” and their. retinue of chosen “companions.” (See for a full discussion of the question, Friedlaender, Sittengeschichte, 1.118 sqq.; Mommsen, Hermes, 4.120 sqq.) The comites of post-Diocletian times no doubt differed widely in position from those of the second and third centuries; but the fact that high state officers bore this as their distinctive title significantly marked. the complete identification of the service of the state with the personal service of Caesar.

The monarchical tendency shown in the elevation of Caesar's family, friends, and companions from a private to a public and quasi-official position, reappears in the similar promotion which awaited both his household servants and his subordinate agents. The household service of Caesar was, like that of private persons, limited at first to slaves and freedmen. But even under the early emperors, and especially under Claudius, some at least of the household offices rose, as regards the extent and importance of the duties connected with them, to the level of the highest magistracies of state (e. g. the liberti a rationibus, a libellis, ab epistulis: see Friedl. Sittengesch. 1.160; Hirschfeld, Verwalt.-gesch. 30). In the second century the freedmen are replaced in the principal of these ministeria principatus by free-born Roman knights [PROCURATOR]; while among those which still continued to be filled by “liberti,” one at least, the post of chamberlain, acquired an importance, savouring strongly of Eastern monarchies; and which grew, as Oriental fashions gained a greater hold, till it reached its highest point in the “praepositus sacri cubiculi” of the later Empire [PRAEPOSITUS]. (Friedl. 1.99 sqq.) But no change did so much at once to consolidate Caesar's power, and to invest his rule with a genuinely monarchical character, as the gradual organisation and diffusion throughout the Empire of a strictly imperial service, distinct from that of the state, and which finally ousted the latter from all but an insignificant share in the administration of the Empire. The history of the growth of this new official hierarchy has been traced elsewhere. (PROCURATOR: see also Hirschfeld, Verwalt.-gesch. passim, esp. pp. 240 sqq.; Liebenam, Die Laufbahn d. Procuraturen, Jena, 1886.) But the fact must be noted here that by the close of the second century we find spread over Rome, Italy, and the provinces an army of officials, who are in the strictest sense the servants only of Caesar. From this service senators were excluded; its members, except in the lowest ranks, were “equites Romani.” There was a regular system of promotion upwards from the less important procurationes to the procuratorship a rationibus, and finally to the coveted prefectures of Egypt or the praetorian guard; and throughout promotion came from Caesar alone. This theoretically private service constituted the really effective part of the machinery of government. It attracted the ablest men; and even emperors, as for instance Pertinax, rose from its ranks (Vit. Pertin. 1, 2).

It only remains to notice how even the outward attributes and accessories of monarchy were gradually assumed. The designation of the early emperors adhered tolerably closely to republican usage, except that the gentile nomen was dropped by Augustus, Tiberius, and Gaius. But from the Flavian emperors onwards the case was otherwise. On the one hand the personal majesty of Caesar was magnified by the gradual multiplication of high-sounding cognomina; and on the other there was an evident attempt to disguise the real nature of the principate and to give it the appearance of a permanent office, handed on in legitimate succession from one holder to another, partly by the conversion of originally proper names into official titles (e. g. Caesar, Pius), partly by the recitation of a fictitious descent through several generations. Under the Flavian emperors “Imperator Caesar” took the first place, and the only official cognomen was that of Augustus. Trajan set the precedent of assuming cognomina commemorative of his victories; “Pius,” originally the proper cognomen of Antoninus, was subsequently adopted as part of the permanent titulature. “Felix;” was added by Commodus. “Invictus” first appears under Septimius Severus. By the middle of the third century the regular form was “Imperator Caesar--Pius Felix Invictus Augustus.” “Semper Augustus” is found on an inscription of Claudius Gothicus, and towards the close of the third century “dominus noster” frequently preceded “Imperator Caesar;” while the addition of complimentary epithets, such as “pacificator orbis,” “restitutor orbis,” &c., became more common. The recitation of descent from preceding emperors began with Trajan, the adopted son of Nerva, and had a basis in the fact of adoption, in the case of the Antonine Emperors. It was continued as a useful fiction by Septimius Severus and Caracalla. [With the simple “Imperator Caesar divi filius Augustus,” compare the lengthy titles of Caracalla (Wilmanns, 994): “Imp. Caesar (M. Aurelius Severus Antoninus) pius felix Augustus Parthicus maximus, Britannicus maximus, Germanicus maximus . . . divi Septimi Severi . . . filius divi M. Antonini nepos divi Antonini Pii pronepos divi Hadriani abnepos divi Trajani et divi Nervae adnepos dominus noster invictissimus Augustus.” ] In the list of honores the only change of importance was the significant insertion, dating from Septimius Severus, of the title “proconsul,” which occurs occasionally in inscriptions of Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.736, notes).: Diocletian first used it on coins: it emphasised the extraordinary character of Caesar's imperium as distinct from that of the regular magistrates, and, as used in Italy, implied that this imperium was paramount there, as in the provinces.

The language used in addressing the emperor, or in speaking of him, departed even more [p. 2.491]rapidly and widely from republican practice. The use of the term “dominus” as a mode of right of address, against which Augustus and Tiberius protested, was rapidly becoming common in the time of the younger Pliny. It first found its way into official documents under Severus, and its use was definitely sanctioned by Aurelian (Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.721, 722). By Greek writers and on Greek inscriptions the emperor is not unfrequently styled βασιλεύς, as early as the commencement of the second century. The Graeco-Oriental training of Ulpian and a century later of the Scriptores Hist. Augustae introduced such epithets as “regia,” “regale” (imperium). into Latin literature (Mommsen, ib. 724, note 3). The influence of Caesar-worship is seen in the phraseology even of the time of the Antonines. Trajan is described as “sacratissimus princeps” (Wilm. 693). Rescripts of Antoninus Pius are “caelestes literae” (Wilm. 693). Somewhat later we find “indulgentia sacra” (cf. Severus Alexander, C. I. L. 5.1837), “auctoritas sacra” (Wilm. 100, A.D. 244), “appellationes sacrae” (Wilm. 1220, A.D. 253). But not until the time of Aurelian was the emperor directly and officially styled “deus” ( “deus et dominus” on coins: Eckhel, 7.482; Mommsen, Staatsr. 2.720, and note).

Even in the ceremonial and general arrangements of the court the emperors at least of the third century approached very nearly to the semi Oriental state of the age of Constantine. While the households of the earlier emperors differed from those of great Roman nobles mainly by their greater numbers and magnificence, the best emperors at any rate eschewed the elaborate ceremonial with which Eastern monarchs fenced round their persons, the courts of Caracalla, of Elagabalus, and even of Severus Alexander are genuinely Oriental in character. We have already the host of court officials, chamberlains, cup-bearers, keepers of the imperial robes, &c., the jealously guarded royal chamber, with its hanging curtains and attendant guards, and even the prostration of the subject before his royal master. (Elagabalus suffered himself “adorari regum more Persarum,” Vit. Sev. Alex. 18. It is mentioned as a proof of Severus Alexander's moderation that he allowed himself to be saluted “quasi unus e senatoribus patente velo admissionalibus remotis,” ib. 4. He also limited the extravagance of the imperial establishment, ib. 41: cf. generally Friedlaender, i. chap. 11, and the Appendix, pp. 177 ff.)

The dress and insignia of the emperors of the first two centuries are all of republican origin, and only became distinctive in so far as the emperor was exempted in the use of them from the restrictions which bound the regular magistrate, or as their use was reserved for him alone. The consular chair and lictors were granted to Augustus in B.C. 23. The right to wear the ordinary magisterial toga was probably conferred at the same time, and down to the close of the second century this was the regular dress of the emperor when in Rome or Italy. (Vit. Hadr. 22. In this point, as in others, Severus Alexander returned to the practice of earlier times: Vit. Sev. Alex. 40.) On the other hand, the triumphal robes which Augustus was authorised to wear in Rome on special occasions (D. C. 53.26) became, with the celebrating a triumph, the monopoly of Caesar, and were commonly worn by later emperors at public festivals and games in the capital. Domitian wore them in the senate (D. C. 67.4). The purple paludamentum belonged from the first to Caesar, in virtue of his exclusive and supreme military authority; and this “imperial purple” was in the first century distinctive of the emperors In the third century it was frequently worn, even in Rome and Italy, and its assumption was the recognised symbol of accession to the principate (Herodian, 2.8; Eutrop. 9, 26;, Mommsen Staatsr. 1.349). The laurel wreath; of the vir triumphalis, was possibly from the first reserved, like the triumphal robe, for Caesar alone; and only he had the right to wear in Rome and Italy the; sword and dagger of military authority. But not until the close of the third century did the Roman Caesar openly copy in his dress the fashions of Eastern monarchs. The corona radiata, occasionally found at an earlier period, regularly appears on coins after the time of Aemilianus (A.D. 249). The more distinctively Oriental diadem was, according to Victor: (Epit. 35), first worn by Aurelian [DIADEMA]. Mommsen, however, Staatsr. 1.345, rejects the statement: Caligula, the Elagabalus of the first century, is credited with a premature attempt to introduce both the corona radiata and the diadem (Suet. Cal. 22). Gallienus anticipated the Eastern splendour of the Byzantine emperors, by appearing in Rome with a and barbaric display of gold and precious stones (Vit. Gall. 16, “gemmatis fibulis aureisque, tunicam auratam, caligas gemmeas” ), and much the same is said of Aurelian (Victor, Epit. 35). By Eutropius, however (9.26), the introduction of these unrepublican and un-Roman novelties is ascribed to Diocletian: “Ornamenta gemmarum: vestibus, calceamentique indidit, nam prius imperii insigne in chlamyde purpurea tantum erat”

[H. P.]

hide References (44 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (44):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 1.9
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 6.6
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 16.6
    • Cicero, Philippics, 4.4
    • Cicero, Philippics, 4.9
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 22
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 25
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 26
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 37
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 46
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 55
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 56
    • Tacitus, Annales, 11.23
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.58
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.61
    • Tacitus, Annales, 13.4
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.17
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.7
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.2
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.81
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.9
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.34
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.47
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.12
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.24
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.28
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.53
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.56
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.60
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.19
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.9
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.16
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.3
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 4.48
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 28
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 32
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 47
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 56
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.41
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.28
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 10
    • Ovid, Fasti, 1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 9.15
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