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longshotgene

Julius Caesar an Emperor?

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But if this is the case of Caesar being the first Emperor, then he surely is not. Other men came before him and assumed the role of Dictator. Are we not forgetting Sulla? What about the several men who took up the reins during the tragedy of Spartacus? They all accepted the title, 'Imperator'. As has been stated, Imperator just means General. Dictator was someone who came into power in times of crisis. Caesar was just the man to do that. The lands of Rome had just finished a Civil War, and were recovering. Another one was about to begin. I would have to disagree with those who say he was the first Emperor. The emperors ruled for their life until the time of Diocletian, when he put a cap on the term. Hence, Caesar was given a term for 10 years. Another point I think that needs to be made. Don't confuse the real Iulius Caesar with the Shakespearean version. There are several differences.

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The difference is that previous dictators were temporary, and even Sulla retired voluntarily. Caesar on the other hand had no intention of relinquishing power, and was only too pleased to accept the post of Dictator for life. Thats about as permanent a job as you can get. Why else did Caesar go to the trouble of staging that false coronation and refusing Antony's offer of a crown repeatedly? He knew he was going to be accused of wanting to be king and indeed so he was.

 

You can argue about defintions of roles and so on. Imperator doesn't quite mean general for instance, its an honorific military title applied to someone already in power. By emperor, in our view, we mean permanent autocrat and leader of a dynasty. Caesar was certainly made permanent autocrat and in Octavian, was seeking to ensure a peaceful succession to a chosen person. Suetonius was under no illusions about Caesar - that why he listed him among his Twelve Caesars.

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You can argue about defintions of roles and so on. Imperator doesn't quite mean general for instance,

C, have you checked any translation from a Latin primary source?

 

(Let say T. Livius, for example?)

 

You can review previous posts on this same thread.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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If I remember correctly though, Sulla was given the same opportunity as Caesar. His term as dictator set a new precedent. He too had no time limit like Caesar. He did in fact resign from his position. But he did not have to do so.

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The discussion about 'imperator' seems irrelevant to the question at hand. No one would doubt that Augustus was an emperor, yet his titles were all rather ordinary ones (imperator, princeps, etc) held by people who were not in fact emperors. Nor is supreme power the distinguishing factor either--Sulla, Caesar, and Augustus dominated all political life, yet there was clearly something unique about Augustus' dominatio. Best I can tell, the most important factor setting Augustus against his equally monarchical predecessors was the lex Titia, which was an explicit sanction of the people for his re-organization of the state. Neither Caesar nor Sulla enjoyed such a strategically important own-goal from the democratic assemblies, and thus Augustus also could claim with some authority to have the sanction of the people in his actions.

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Could another possible distinction be that Caesar's (and Sulla's) positions were not considered hereditary? I.E. - It seems that only after Augustus came along that it was assumed that there would be a line of succession.

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You can argue about defintions of roles and so on. Imperator doesn't quite mean general for instance,

C, have you checked any translation from a Latin primary source?

 

(Let say T. Livius, for example?)

 

You can review previous posts on this same thread.

 

I may not be particularly clued up on latin but I do occaisionally look things up. However, in the case of imperator, the title is often confused with 'emperor'. The two words are very different although usually applied to men in similar situations. Imperator is a term conferred on a roman ruler (sometimes by himself although he shouldn't) by the military. It means something along the lines of 'Honorary Chief Commander of Rome's Armed Forces' - and since Rome was a conquest state, the title has political significance. Being awarded it means the troops recognise you as their overall commander and therefore so should you.

 

Now, if you think that definition is wrong, you're entitled to say so, but you will get an arguement, because it came from someone far more learned than me.

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I may not be particularly clued up on latin but I do occaisionally look things up. However, in the case of imperator, the title is often confused with 'emperor'. The two words are very different although usually applied to men in similar situations. Imperator is a term conferred on a roman ruler (sometimes by himself although he shouldn't) by the military. It means something along the lines of 'Honorary Chief Commander of Rome's Armed Forces' - and since Rome was a conquest state, the title has political significance. Being awarded it means the troops recognise you as their overall commander and therefore so should you.

 

Now, if you think that definition is wrong, you're entitled to say so, but you will get an arguement, because it came from someone far more learned than me.

To be clear though, you're not saying there could only be one imperator at a time though, are you? Like there would only be one emperor or one commander in chief? My understanding is that the term was conferred on a military commander (as opposed to a 'roman ruler') by his troops in order to acknowledge some significant victory, which in turn would allow him to claim a triumph.

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You can argue about defintions of roles and so on. Imperator doesn't quite mean general for instance,

C, have you checked any translation from a Latin primary source?

 

(Let say T. Livius, for example?)

 

You can review previous posts on this same thread.

 

I may not be particularly clued up on latin but I do occaisionally look things up. However, in the case of imperator, the title is often confused with 'emperor'. The two words are very different although usually applied to men in similar situations. Imperator is a term conferred on a roman ruler (sometimes by himself although he shouldn't) by the military. It means something along the lines of 'Honorary Chief Commander of Rome's Armed Forces' - and since Rome was a conquest state, the title has political significance. Being awarded it means the troops recognise you as their overall commander and therefore so should you.

 

Now, if you think that definition is wrong, you're entitled to say so, but you will get an arguement, because it came from someone far more learned than me.

This is chronologically the first use of the word imperator by Titus Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, Liber II, Ch. XX:

 

The Latin text:

"Ibi alia inter proceres coorta pugna. Imperator Latinus, ubi cohortem exsulum a dictatore Romano prope circumuentam uidit, ex subsidiariis manipulos aliquot in primam aciem secum rapit. Hos agmine uenientes T. Herminius legatus conspicatus, interque eos insignem ueste armisque Mamilium noscitans,"

 

1st translation:

" There another engagement took place between the leading officers. The Latin general, on seeing the cohort of the exiles almost surrounded by the Roman dictator, hurried up some companies of reserves to the front. Titus Herminius, a lieutenant-general, seeing them advancing in a body, and recognising Mamilius, distinguished among them by his armour and dress,"

(Translation by John Henry Freese, Alfred John Church, and William Jackson Brodribb, 1904)

 

2nd translation

"Another single combat between the leaders took place; the Latin commander saw the cohort of exiles almost hemmed in by the Roman Dictator, and hurried to the front with some maniples of the reserves. T. Herminius saw them coming, and recognised Mamilius by his dress and arms."

(Translation by Rev. Canon Roberts)

 

You could find the same translation in any other quotation of Livy or any other Latin primary source Here; simply compare them with their English versions.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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Cicero was hailed as imperator, but that does not make him supreme commander of all roman forces, but of the particular forces in "his" province. And he was surprisingly shy about this title.

Probably at the time there were dozens of people that have been called imperator.

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Cicero was hailed as imperator, but that does not make him supreme commander of all roman forces, but of the particular forces in "his" province. And he was surprisingly shy about this title.

Probably at the time there were dozens of people that have been called imperator.

Salve, K.

 

And at JSTOR, I found Cicero Imperator. Studies in Cicero's Correspondence 51-47 B.C. by Magnus Wistrand .

 

Valete.

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Cicero was hailed as imperator, but that does not make him supreme commander of all roman forces, but of the particular forces in "his" province. And he was surprisingly shy about this title.

Probably at the time there were dozens of people that have been called imperator.

 

Indeed. And in fact it wasn't necessarily an indication that one was named a commander, but that one was hailed as a victorious commander, eligible for a triumph. There were many legitimate legates who were never hailed as imperator.

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The term was applied in honour of a commander, therefore its entirely possible that two military commanders might be awarded with the title at the same time, given the loyalty of their troops. The emperors of course would have none of that and effectively kept the title to themselves. The significance of such awards can vary of time and this is the case with Imperator, which kind of lost its original meaning during the empire and began to be associated with Caesar, the correct term for a roman emperor and even that was a corruption of Julius Caesars name.

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As we commonly support our thesis in what the Romans told us via the primary sources, I think any thesis given for the explanation of this and related terms (Imperium, Imperator, Imperare) has to deal with the use that such sources did of such terms during Republican times; virtually all of them.

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I find this debate, which has aparantly raged on since 44 BC, VERY confusing and I do not blame casual observers for regarding Caesar as an Emperor. To what extent has modern convention decided that he wasn't whereas Augustus was? Is it the same kind of scholastic thinking which states that the 'Roman' period ended and the Byzantine one begun in 610, even though no - one noticed at the time? Or that the Western Empire ended in 476 even though Odoacer technically ran Italy as a Roman governor, and again, no one at the time noticed?

 

Why is Caesar not regarded as an emperor but Postumus is, even though Caesar had sovereignty over more of the Roman world? Is it not true that the 'Emperor' was a political office, not a hereditory monarchy, until the time of Diocletian?

 

These questions are not rhetorical - I would genuinely like to know the answers. It is all so much more complex than the plans of buildings... B)

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