How the Emperors of Rome Crested the Position

The audiobook you may find informative


Overview of the Emperor of Rome audiobook created by the Teaching Company provides a comprehensive and brief understanding of the Roman emperors from Augustus until the overthrow of Rome’s last Emperor Romulus and the collapse of the fall of the western roman empire in 476.

The course, unfortunately, doesn’t cover the Eastern Roman Empire and the succession states such as the Holy Roman Empire creating 800AD and the Ottomans sultans who, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, claimed the rights and privileges of the Roman Emperor.

For this blog, I’m only going to talk primarily about the Julio-Claudian dynasty comprised of the first five Roman emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.

They ruled the Roman Empire from its formation under Augustus in 27 BC until AD 68, when the last of the line, Nero, committed suicide.



Augustus created the creation of the position of first citizen and father of the Fatherland.


To understand the nature of Rome’s emperors is necessary to understand the nuance of the position created by Augustus, the first citizen. The Roman Emperor and People never used the title Emperor of the Romans.

I mention this point because the title Emperor tends to refer to an individual as King of Kings or elevated above the position of an ordinary monarch.

Augustus created the position of the first citizen due to the nature of the Roman political system.

The costs of the Roman culture Augustus had to craft his title and position by referring to all his grants of power from the Senate to make his position a natural part of the Roman political system.

This is why Augustus had the title of first citizen and father of the Fatherland and was not designated as Emperor.



Roman political culture


To understand Rome’s political culture and the fall of the Roman Republic, we must talk about Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (163/162–133 BC), who senators murdered due to his land reform bill and his attempt to tackle corruption rife within the Senate.

I mention this individual because his murder started the trend which continued in the Roman succession state Eastern Roman Empire where political disagreements were not resolved through democratic argument but by murder.

The murders of people like Tiberius Gracchus and Julius Caesar in 44 BC meant that when Augustus came to power, he crafted his position by using Roman traditions, which are called the way of the ancestors.

This means that Augustus had to craft his position in such a way that all his powers were powers granted to him by the Senate and peoples of Rome.

Augustus created this sham because he had to desperately try to cover up that political power in Rome came from the legions, not the Senate.

This cover-up and disguising of the nature of Rome’s political power completely broke down under the Severan dynasty after the destruction of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty with the murder of Emperor Commodus.

This turned the Roman Empire from a civilian administrative body into an empire governed by and for the legions of Rome.


The succession to the position of Emperor


Augustus’ largest and longest sailing is not creating a valid way for an Emperor to designate their successes due to the Emperor’s ship or position as a first citizen not being hereditary but with hereditary characteristics inside a republican system.

This will sound not very easy but just have to remember that the position of Emperor and be inherited by anybody with a dynastic claim from the previous Emperors.

For instance, in the Julio-Claudian dynasty, any family member with dissent from Augustus could claim the position of Emperor.

This led to a situation where members of the imperial house often faced the possibility of being murdered by the incumbent Emperor.

This happened with Emperor Tiberius and Nero with the murder of Emperor Claudius’s only living son Britannicus.

The most successful Roman dynasty would have to be the Nerva–Antonine dynasty of seven Roman Emperors who ruled over the Roman Empire from 96 CE to 192 CE.

These Emperors are Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Lucius Verus, Marcus Aurelius, and Commodus.

These emperors managed to secure Rome’s borders and kept the Empire out of internal civil wars, which will define the crisis of the third century as the succession problem that would never truly be resolved.

The first true attempt to fix the succession system was by Emperor Diocletian by creating a co-Emperor.

This failed as well because emperors and co-emperors tended to murder one another.

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