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Pourquoi y avait-il tant de consuls suffects pendant le Principat ?

Pourquoi y avait-il tant de consuls suffects pendant le Principat ?


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Comme cité dans cet article de Wikipédia, il est dit :

Si un consul mourait pendant son mandat (ce qui n'est pas rare lorsque les consuls étaient au premier rang de la bataille) ou était démis de ses fonctions, un autre serait élu par les Comitia Centuriata pour servir le reste du mandat en tant que consul suffectus, ou consul suffect.

Dans le livre "Augustan Rome 44 BC to AD 14: The Restoration of the Republic and the Establishment of the Empire (The Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome)" de J. S. Richardson - il cite Suétone :

La raison pour laquelle il détenait le consulat maintenant était, nous dit Suétone, pour l'introduction dans la vie publique de Gaius César, et, étant donné les célébrations qui y ont assisté, c'est sans aucun doute correct ; mais il convient de noter que la même année a également vu la réintroduction de l'élection des consuls suffects après la démission des consuls élus, une pratique qui avait été utilisée pour la dernière fois en 12 avant JC, l'année de la mort d'Agrippa.

Il dit aussi :

À partir de maintenant et jusqu'à la fin du règne d'Auguste, l'élection de consuls suffects devait être la norme, à quelques exceptions près seulement en 3 avant JC et 14 après JC.

Cela suggérerait que très souvent pendant le Principat, les consuls sont morts, ont démissionné ou ont été démis de leurs fonctions.

Pourquoi y a-t-il eu tant de consuls suffects pendant le Principat ?

Vous pouvez trouver une liste des consuls romains ici.


L'évolution du nombre et de la fréquence des consuls suffects ne fait que refléter l'évolution du poste de consul auprès du Principat.

Sous la République, au-delà d'anoblir votre famille, de vous permettre de diriger Rome pendant un an et de donner votre nom à l'année, le consulat était la passerelle vers un travail de prédilection administrant une province où vous pouviez collecter de l'argent et des contacts qui vous permettraient de payer sur le montant que vous avez dépensé pour vous rendre au consulat en premier lieu, et mis en place pour la prochaine génération. Si vous quittiez le consulat avant le travail, vous rateriez cette récompense.

Quand Auguste était aux commandes, il n'avait aucun intérêt à ce que des sénateurs ambitieux utilisent des armées dans les provinces pour se lancer au pouvoir… comme il l'avait fait. Pendant un certain temps, il a toujours été consul lui-même, ce qui a provoqué des grognements car cela a mis à l'écart les aristocrates. Il s'agissait alors de récompenser les aristocrates qui suivaient le pas et de trouver des candidats aux postes administratifs en province. Les consuls multiples suffects ont permis de créer un plus grand bassin de candidats pour ces emplois et ont permis aux nobles de lutter pour obtenir plus de récompenses et de renforcer le statut de leur famille.

Ainsi, la principale raison de ce changement était que la nature du travail du consul avait changé de la République à l'Empire.


L'Empire romain : Auguste et la période du Principat

Officiellement, après la bataille d'Actium en 31 avant JC, Octave (à partir de maintenant Auguste) était le seul souverain de Rome. Il n'a jamais été appelé «roi», mais les Romains n'aimaient pas ce mot. Pourtant, aucune forme de gouvernement républicain ne pouvait maintenir l'État romain en ligne. Ils ont recouru à la monarchie principalement parce que c'était le seul véritable moyen pour Rome d'être gouverné.

Auguste était le début de l'époque appelée la période du Principat, qui se caractérise comme une époque où les dirigeants de la nouvelle monarchie ont fait de leur mieux pour préserver les aspects de la République romaine. Auguste en était un parfait exemple. Il a fait de son mieux pour garder toutes les formes conservatrices de gouvernement et garder intactes la plupart des formes politiques. Le seul but d'Auguste était d'effacer la haine et la confusion causées par la guerre civile. Il a prouvé qu'il était un homme politique fort tout au long de son accession au pouvoir, et son règne a également prouvé qu'il était un homme d'État très réussi. C'est le sénat romain qui a en fait donné à Octave le titre d'Auguste, car Auguste voulait redonner le pouvoir au sénat romain dans ses nouvelles réformes.

Assez évidemment, étant le premier empereur d'un tout nouveau type de monarchie pour Rome, Auguste a pris plusieurs nouveaux titres qui lui ont donné le pouvoir qu'il détenait. Pour n'en citer que quelques-uns, il s'est vu conférer le pouvoir proconsulaire (imperium proconsulare), il a conservé le titre de Imperator (ce qui lui a permis de garder le contrôle de l'armée romaine), et il a été fait pontifex maximus (“prêtre en chef”). De tous les titres qu'il avait reçus, il aimait à être désigné par un en particulier : Princeps Civitates, ce qui signifie “premier citoyen de l'État”.

Auguste a fait de nombreuses réformes importantes au début de son règne, concernant à la fois les causes nobles et les causes populaires. Il a ramené un fort sentiment de dignité et de noblesse au Sénat en diminuant le nombre de personnes au Sénat, ainsi qu'en supprimant certains pouvoirs provinciaux. Auguste ne considérait pas le populus comme responsable de la prise de décisions politiques majeures et enleva beaucoup de pouvoir aux assemblées du peuple (elles n'étaient désormais principalement retenues que pour voter pour les nouveaux magistrats). Il n'a pas beaucoup changé la cursus honorum (ce qui, encore une fois, est le processus de progression dans les rangs des magistratures romaines) et il considérait les magistrats actuels de la république comme un poste exécutif spécial. Auguste a également réduit l'armée romaine de 50 légions à seulement 20 et les a réparties dans toutes les provinces afin que l'armée romaine soit moins un fardeau pour le peuple de Rome. Enfin, il a introduit la « garde prétorienne », un système de protection utilisé pour l'intérieur de l'Italie.

Comme indiqué ci-dessus, l'objectif d'Auguste pendant son règne était de tenter de rendre Rome aussi systématique, organisée et pacifique que possible. Il a séparé la ville romaine en 14 quartiers ou districts et a mis en place des forces spéciales de police pour faire respecter la loi et l'ordre dans toute la ville. Il espérait que l'introduction de ces forces de police dans la société romaine diminuerait l'extrême violence qui avait été observée au cours des dernières années de l'histoire romaine. L'ensemble de l'Italie était alors divisé en onze régions (districts administratifs), une conservateur viarurn (le surintendant des autoroutes) a été installé pour maintenir le grand réseau de routes en bon état, et un système de poteaux a été introduit. Toutes ces étapes ont clairement montré le désir d'Auguste pour le peuple romain de vivre une vie propre et systématique.

Auguste a fait beaucoup de travail pour réorganiser non seulement le système des provinces de Rome, mais aussi le flux d'argent des provinces. Les provinces étaient maintenant divisées en deux groupes distincts. Les sénatorial les provinces étaient celles qui gardaient le contrôle du sénat, tandis que les impérial les provinces étaient maintenant sous le contrôle de l'empereur. Sous un sénat avec un nouveau pouvoir, ou sous un empereur avec de bonnes mœurs, on a vu que les provinces de Rome augmentaient rapidement à la fois de prospérité et de richesse. Les revenus tirés des provinces sénatoriales étaient versés directement dans le trésor du Sénat, tandis que les rentrées d'argent des provinces impériales allaient au fiscus (trésor de l'empereur). Auguste pourrait être considéré comme l'un des dirigeants les plus intelligents économiquement de son époque. Avec l'aide d'une approche très systématique d'une nouvelle monarchie et d'un esprit vif, Auguste a réussi à créer une Rome très forte et puissante.

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Contenu

  • 'Principat' est étymologiquement dérivé du mot latin princeps, sens chef ou premier, et représente donc le régime politique dominé par un tel leader politique, qu'il soit ou non formellement chef d'État ou chef de gouvernement. Cela reflète l'affirmation des empereurs principaux qu'ils étaient simplement "les premiers parmi leurs égaux" parmi les citoyens de Rome.
  • Sous la République, le sénatus princeps, traditionnellement le membre le plus âgé ou le plus honoré du Sénat, avait le droit d'être entendu en premier sur tout débat. [5] et son entourage avaient nourri l'idée (quasi-platonicienne) que l'autorité devait être investie dans le citoyen le plus digne (princeps), qui guidera avec bienveillance ses confrères, idéal de l'homme d'État patriote repris plus tard par Cicéron. [6]

De manière plus limitée et précise chronologique sens, le terme Principauté est appliqué soit à l'ensemble de l'Empire (au sens de l'État romain post-républicain), soit spécifiquement à la première des deux phases du gouvernement « impérial » dans l'ancien Empire romain avant l'effondrement militaire de Rome dans le L'Occident (chute de Rome) en 476 laissa l'Empire byzantin comme seul héritier. Cette première phase de « Principauté » a commencé lorsqu'Auguste a affirmé auctoritas pour lui-même comme princeps et continué (selon la source) jusqu'au règne de Commode, de Maximinus Thrax ou de Dioclétien. Par la suite, la domination impériale dans l'Empire est désignée comme la dominer, qui s'apparente subjectivement plus à une monarchie (absolue) alors que l'ancienne Principe est encore plus « républicain ».

Le titre, au complet, de sénatus princeps / princeps civitatis ("premier parmi les sénateurs" / "premier parmi les citoyens") a été adopté pour la première fois par Octavian Caesar Augustus (27 BC-14 AD), le premier "empereur" romain qui a choisi, comme Jules César assassiné, de ne pas réintroduire la monarchie. Le but d'Auguste était probablement d'établir la stabilité politique désespérément nécessaire après les guerres civiles épuisantes par un de facto régime dictatorial dans le cadre constitutionnel de la République romaine - ce que Gibbon a appelé « une monarchie absolue déguisée par les formes d'une république » [7] - comme une alternative plus acceptable, par exemple, au premier royaume romain.

Bien que les prétentions dynastiques se soient glissées dès le début, formaliser cela dans un style monarchique restait politiquement périlleux [8] et Octavian avait sans aucun doute raison de travailler à travers des formes républicaines établies pour consolider son pouvoir. [9] Il a commencé avec les pouvoirs d'un consul romain, combinés avec ceux d'un tribun de la plèbe, a ajouté plus tard le rôle du censeur et est finalement devenu également Pontifex Maximus. [dix]

Tibère acquiert lui aussi ses pouvoirs au coup par coup, et est fier de souligner sa place de premier citoyen : « un bon et sain princeps, que vous avez investi d'un si grand pouvoir discrétionnaire, devrait être le serviteur du Sénat, et souvent de l'ensemble du corps citoyen". « vota en une seule journée toutes les prérogatives dont Auguste pendant si longtemps avait été votée progressivement et au coup par coup ». [12]

Néanmoins, dans le cadre de ce « Principauté Stricto sensu", la réalité politique du régime autocratique de l'Empereur était encore scrupuleusement masquée par des formes et des conventions d'autonomie oligarchique héritées de la période politique de la République romaine "sans couronne" (509 av. Senatus Populusque Romanus ("Le Sénat et le peuple de Rome") ou SPQR. Initialement, la théorie impliquait que le « premier citoyen » devait mériter sa position extraordinaire (de facto évoluant vers une monarchie presque absolue) par le mérite dans le style qu'Auguste lui-même avait gagné la position de auctoritas.

La propagande impériale développa une idéologie paternaliste, présentant le princeps comme l'incarnation même de toutes les vertus attribuées au souverain idéal (un peu comme un grec tyrannos plus tôt), comme la clémence et la justice, et le commandement militaire, [13] obligeant le princeps de jouer ce rôle désigné au sein de la société romaine, comme son assurance politique ainsi qu'un devoir moral. Ce qui était spécifiquement attendu de la princeps semble avoir varié selon les époques et les observateurs : [14] Tibère, qui a amassé un énorme surplus pour la ville de Rome, a été critiqué comme avare, mais Caligula a été critiqué pour ses dépenses somptueuses en jeux et spectacles.

D'une manière générale, on attendait de l'Empereur qu'il soit généreux mais pas frivole, non seulement en bon souverain mais aussi avec sa fortune personnelle (comme dans le proverbial « du pain et des cirques » – panem et circenses) proposant occasionnellement des jeux publics, des gladiateurs, des courses de chevaux et des spectacles artistiques. Les grandes distributions de nourriture pour le public et les institutions caritatives étaient également des moyens qui servaient à augmenter la popularité tandis que la construction de travaux publics offrait des emplois rémunérés aux pauvres.

Redéfinition sous Vespasien Modifier

Avec la chute de la dynastie Julio-Claudienne en 68 après JC, le principe est devenu plus formalisé sous l'empereur Vespasien à partir de 69 après JC. [16] La position de princeps est devenu une entité distincte au sein de la constitution romaine plus large – formellement toujours républicaine. Alors que bon nombre des mêmes attentes culturelles et politiques subsistaient, l'aspect civil de l'idéal augustéen de la princeps peu à peu cédé la place au rôle militaire de l'imperator. [17] La ​​règle n'était plus un poste (même théoriquement) étendu sur la base du mérite, ou auctoritas, mais sur une base plus ferme, permettant à Vespasien et aux futurs empereurs de désigner leur propre héritier sans que ces héritiers aient à gagner le poste grâce à des années de succès et de faveur publique.

Sous la dynastie Antonine, c'était la norme pour l'empereur de nommer un individu prospère et politiquement prometteur comme son successeur. Dans l'analyse historique moderne, cela est traité par de nombreux auteurs comme une situation « idéale » : l'individu qui était le plus capable était promu au rang de princeps. De la dynastie Antonine, Edward Gibbon a écrit que c'était la période la plus heureuse et la plus productive de l'histoire humaine, et a crédité le système de succession comme le facteur clé.

Dominer Éditer

Les éléments autocratiques dans la Principauté ont eu tendance à augmenter avec le temps, avec le style de dominus ("Seigneur", "Maître", suggérant que les citoyens sont devenus servi, serviteurs ou esclaves) devenant peu à peu courant pour l'empereur. [18] Il n'y a cependant pas eu de tournant constitutionnel clair, Septime Sévère et la dynastie des Sévères commençant à utiliser la terminologie du Dominer en référence à l'empereur, et les différents empereurs et leurs usurpateurs tout au long du 3ème siècle faisant appel au peuple à la fois militaire dominus et politique princeps.

C'est après que la crise du IIIe siècle a failli entraîner l'effondrement politique de l'Empire romain que Dioclétien a fermement consolidé la tendance à l'autocratie. [19] Il a remplacé l'unicéphale principe avec la tétrarchie (vers 300 ap. J.-C., deux Augusti classement au-dessus de deux Césars), [20] dans laquelle le prétexte vestigial des anciennes formes républicaines a été largement abandonné. Le titre de princeps disparu – comme l'unité territoriale de l'Empire – au profit de dominus et de nouvelles formes de faste et de crainte ont été délibérément utilisées pour tenter d'isoler l'empereur et l'autorité civile de la soldatesque débridée et mutine du milieu du siècle. [21]

Le rôle politique du Sénat s'est éclipsé définitivement, [22] on n'entend plus parler de la division par le Principat d'Auguste des provinces entre les provinces impériales (militarisées) et les provinces sénatoriales. [23] Les avocats ont développé une théorie de la délégation totale de l'autorité entre les mains de l'empereur, [24] et le dominer développé de plus en plus, en particulier dans l'Empire romain d'Orient, où les sujets, et même les alliés diplomatiques, pourraient être qualifiés de servir ou le terme grec correspondant doulos (« serviteur/esclave ») afin d'exprimer la position exaltée de l'empereur en tant que second à Dieu, et sur terre à aucun. [ citation requise ]


Consul

Après l'expulsion mythique du dernier roi étrusque Lucius Tarquinius Superbus et la fin du royaume romain, tous les pouvoirs et l'autorité du roi auraient été donnés au consulat nouvellement institué. Cependant, il est probable que les premiers magistrats aient été les préteurs. On pense que la fonction de consul remonte à l'établissement traditionnel de la République en 509 avant JC, mais la succession des consuls n'a pas été continue au 5ème siècle. Les consuls avaient des compétences étendues en temps de paix, administratives, législatives et judiciaires, et en temps de guerre (fréquents) détenaient souvent le(s) commandement(s) militaire(s) le plus élevé. Des devoirs religieux supplémentaires comprenaient certains rites qui, signe de leur importance formelle, ne pouvaient être accomplis que par les hauts fonctionnaires de l'État (comparer Rex sacrorum) la lecture des augures était une étape essentielle avant de conduire les armées sur le terrain.

En vertu des lois de la République, l'âge minimum d'élection au consul pour les patriciens était de 40 ans, pour les plébéiens de 42 ans. Deux consuls étaient élus chaque année, exerçant conjointement un droit de veto sur les actes de chacun, principe normal des magistratures.

En latin, consules signifie « ceux qui marchent ensemble ». Si un consul mourait pendant son mandat (ce qui n'est pas rare lorsque les consuls étaient au premier rang de la bataille), un autre serait élu et serait connu sous le nom de consul suffect (cos. suff.).

Selon la tradition, le consulat était initialement réservé aux patriciens et ce n'est qu'en 367 av. Sextius, est ainsi élu l'année suivante. Les historiens modernes ont remis en question le récit traditionnel de l'émancipation plébéienne au cours de la Première République (voir Conflit des ordres), notant par exemple qu'environ trente pour cent des consuls avant Sextius avaient des noms plébéiens et non patriciens, probablement seule la chronologie a été déformée.

En temps de guerre, le critère principal pour le consul était la compétence et la réputation militaires, mais à tout moment la sélection était politiquement chargée. Au fil du temps, le consulat est devenu le point final normal du cursus honorum, la séquence des fonctions poursuivies par l'ambitieux romain.

À partir de la fin de la République, après avoir terminé une année consulaire, un ancien consul remplissait généralement un mandat lucratif en tant que proconsul, le gouverneur romain de l'une des provinces (sénatoriales).

Quand Auguste a établi le Principat, il a changé la nature politique du bureau, le dépouillant de la plupart de ses pouvoirs. Bien que toujours un grand honneur - en fait invariablement le chef de l'État constitutionnel, donc éponyme - et une exigence pour d'autres fonctions, de nombreux consuls démissionneraient en cours d'année pour permettre à d'autres hommes de terminer leur mandat en tant que suffects. Ceux qui exerçaient la fonction le 1er janvier, connus sous le nom de consules ordinarii, ont eu l'honneur d'associer leur nom à cette année-là. En conséquence, environ la moitié des hommes qui détenaient le grade de préteur pouvaient également accéder au consulat. Parfois ces consuls suffects démissionnaient à leur tour, et un autre suffect était nommé. Cela a atteint son extrémité sous Commode, quand en 190 vingt-cinq hommes ont occupé le consulat.

Les empereurs se nommaient fréquemment eux-mêmes, protégés ou consuls de leurs proches, même sans tenir compte des exigences d'âge. Par exemple, l'empereur Honorius a reçu le consulat à la naissance.

Tenir le consulat était un grand honneur et le bureau était le symbole majeur de la constitution encore républicaine. Probablement dans le cadre d'une recherche de légitimité formelle, l'Empire gaulois séparatiste a eu ses propres paires de consuls au cours de son existence (260-274). La liste des consuls de cet état est incomplète, tirée d'inscriptions et de monnaies,

L'une des réformes de Constantin Ier fut d'affecter l'un des consuls à la ville de Rome et l'autre à Constantinople. Par conséquent, lorsque l'Empire romain a été divisé en deux moitiés à la mort de Théodose Ier, l'empereur de chaque moitié a acquis le droit de nommer l'un des consuls, bien qu'un empereur ait autorisé son collègue à nommer les deux consuls pour diverses raisons. En conséquence, après la fin officielle de l'Empire romain en Occident, de nombreuses années ne seraient nommées que pour un seul consul. Ce rang a finalement été abandonné sous le règne de Justinien Ier : d'abord avec le consul de Rome en 534, Decius Paulinus, puis le consul de Constantinople en 541, Flavius ​​Basilius Junior.

Les plus hauts magistrats étaient éponymes, c'est-à-dire que chaque année était officiellement identifiée (comme une année de règne dans une monarchie) par les noms des deux Consuls, bien qu'il existait une datation numérique plus pratique ab urbe condita (c'est-à-dire par l'époque commençant par l'année mythique de fondation). de Rome). Par exemple, l'année 59 av. à fond cette année-là qu'il a été appelé en plaisantant "le consulat de Gaius et Julius".

En latin, la construction absolue ablative est fréquemment utilisée pour exprimer la date, comme "M. Messalla et M. Pupio Pisone consulibus", traduit littéralement par "Marcus Messalla et Marcus Pupio Piso étant Consuls", qui apparaît dans le De Bello Gallico de César. .

Les élections consulaires ont généralement eu lieu en juillet, mais parfois reportées ou tenues plus tôt dans des circonstances particulières. Les consuls désignés se prépareraient à prendre leurs fonctions pendant le reste de l'année et prendraient finalement leurs fonctions début janvier. Ainsi, leur accession au pouvoir marquait le début de chaque année éponyme.


Consuls seniors et juniors dans la Rome antique

J'ai lu le livre de Colleen McCullough Le cheval d'octobre, où elle fait fréquemment référence aux consuls "junior" et "senior". Quelle est la différence entre eux ? J'ai toujours pensé qu'il n'y avait qu'un seul titre : consul.

Il n'y avait pas vraiment de différence entre eux, ils détenaient les mêmes pouvoirs. Le consul principal a été le premier élu, selon Cicéron, ce qui signifie également qu'il a obtenu plus de voix en raison de la façon dont les élections au sein des comices centuriata ont mis fin au vote une fois la majorité atteinte. La seule vraie différence entre eux était de décider qui présidait le Sénat pour chaque mois donné (le consul principal prenait janvier, si je me souviens bien, et l'avait tous les deux mois) et, si je me souviens bien, Cicéron mentionne certaines pratiques concernant l'ordre des orateurs consulaires au sein du sénat, mais je dois parcourir ses discours pour le trouver. Dans la pratique, le consul principal était d'habitude, mais pas toujours, le candidat ayant le plus d'influence (ce qui n'est pas surprenant, s'il est celui qui obtient le plus de voix). La seule autre différence à laquelle je peux penser est que pendant le consulat de Marius, son consul principal a dirigé la première armée consulaire et Marius n'a levé une force en tant que consul junior que lorsque l'armée consulaire principale s'est avérée inadéquate face aux menaces auxquelles Rome faisait face ailleurs.


Pouvoirs et responsabilités

Devoirs républicains

Après l'expulsion des rois et l'instauration de la République, tous les pouvoirs qui avaient appartenu aux rois furent transférés à deux offices : celui des consuls et celui du Rex Sacrorum. Alors que le Rex Sacrorum héritait de la position des rois en tant que grand prêtre de l'État, les consuls se sont vu confier les responsabilités civiles et militaires (imperium). Cependant, pour éviter les abus du pouvoir royal, l'imperium était partagé par deux consuls, chacun pouvant opposer son veto aux actions de l'autre.

Les consuls étaient investis du pouvoir exécutif de l'État et dirigeaient le gouvernement de la République. Initialement, les consuls détenaient un vaste pouvoir exécutif et judiciaire. Dans le développement progressif du système juridique romain, cependant, certaines fonctions importantes ont été détachées du consulat et attribuées à de nouveaux officiers. Ainsi, en 443 av. La seconde fonction prise au consulat était leur pouvoir judiciaire. Leur position en tant que juges en chef a été transférée aux préteurs en 366 av. Passé ce délai, le consul n'exercerait les fonctions de juge que dans les affaires pénales extraordinaires et uniquement lorsqu'il était appelé par décret du Sénat.

Sphère civile

Pour l'essentiel, le pouvoir était divisé entre les sphères civiles et militaires. Tant que les consuls étaient dans le pomerium (la ville de Rome), ils étaient à la tête du gouvernement, et tous les autres magistrats, à l'exception des tribuns de la plèbe, leur étaient subordonnés, mais conservaient l'indépendance de leurs fonctions. . L'appareil intérieur de la république était sous la surveillance des consuls. Afin de donner aux consuls une plus grande autorité dans l'exécution des lois, les consuls avaient le droit de citation et d'arrestation, qui n'était limité que par le droit d'appel de leur jugement. Ce pouvoir de punition s'étendait même aux magistrats inférieurs.

Dans le cadre de leurs fonctions exécutives, les consuls étaient chargés de l'exécution des décrets du Sénat et des lois des assemblées. Parfois, dans de grandes situations d'urgence, ils peuvent même agir sous leur propre autorité et responsabilité. Les consuls servaient également de diplomate en chef de l'État romain. Avant que les ambassadeurs étrangers n'atteignent le Sénat, ils ont rencontré les consuls. Le consul introduirait des ambassadeurs au Sénat, et eux seuls menaient les négociations entre le Sénat et les États étrangers.

Les consuls pouvaient convoquer le Sénat et présider ses séances. Chaque consul a été président du Sénat pendant un mois. Ils pouvaient également convoquer l'une des trois assemblées romaines (Curiate, Centuriate et Tribal) et les présider. Ainsi, les consuls procédaient aux élections et soumettaient au vote les mesures législatives. Lorsqu'aucun des consuls n'était dans la ville, leurs devoirs civiques étaient assumés par le préteur urbanus.

Chaque consul était accompagné à chaque apparition publique de douze licteurs, qui déployaient la magnificence de la fonction et lui servaient de gardes du corps. Chaque licteur tenait un faisceau, un faisceau de tiges contenant une hache. Les bâtons symbolisaient le pouvoir de la flagellation et la hache le pouvoir de la peine capitale. A l'intérieur du pomerium, les licteurs enlevaient les haches des faisceaux pour montrer qu'un citoyen ne pouvait être exécuté sans procès. En entrant dans les Comitia Centuriata, les licteurs abaissaient les faisceaux pour montrer que les pouvoirs des consuls dérivent du peuple (populus romanus).

Sphère militaire

En dehors des murs de Rome, les pouvoirs des consuls étaient beaucoup plus étendus dans leur rôle de commandants en chef de toutes les légions romaines. C'était dans cette fonction que les consuls étaient investis du plein imperium. Lorsque les légions étaient ordonnées par décret du Sénat, les consuls procédaient à la levée dans le Campus Martius. En entrant dans l'armée, tous les soldats devaient prêter serment d'allégeance aux consuls. Les consuls ont également supervisé le rassemblement des troupes fournies par les alliés de Rome. [8]

Dans la ville, un consul pouvait punir et arrêter un citoyen, mais n'avait pas le pouvoir d'infliger la peine capitale. Lorsqu'il était en campagne, cependant, un consul pouvait infliger n'importe quelle punition qu'il jugeait appropriée à n'importe quel soldat, officier, citoyen ou allié.

Chaque consul commandait une armée, généralement forte de deux légions, avec l'aide de tribuns militaires et d'un questeur qui avait des devoirs financiers. Dans les rares cas où les deux consuls marchaient ensemble, chacun détenait le commandement pendant une journée respectivement. Une armée consulaire typique comptait environ 20 000 hommes et se composait de deux citoyens et de deux légions alliées. Dans les premières années de la république, les ennemis de Rome étaient situés dans le centre de l'Italie, les campagnes duraient donc quelques mois. Au fur et à mesure que les frontières de Rome s'étendaient, au IIe siècle av. J.-C., les campagnes s'allongeaient. Rome était une société guerrière, et très rarement ne faisait pas la guerre. [9] Ainsi, dès son entrée en fonction, le consul était attendu par le Sénat et le peuple pour faire marcher son armée contre les ennemis de Rome et étendre les frontières romaines. Ses soldats s'attendaient à rentrer chez eux après la campagne avec le butin. Si le consul remportait une victoire écrasante, il était salué comme imperator par ses troupes et pouvait demander à obtenir un triomphe.

Le consul pouvait mener la campagne comme il l'entendait et avait des pouvoirs illimités. Cependant, après la campagne, il pourrait être poursuivi pour ses méfaits (par exemple pour avoir abusé des provinces, ou gaspillé de l'argent public, comme Scipion l'Africain a été accusé par Caton en 205 avant JC).

Prévention des abus

L'abus de pouvoir consulaire a été empêché avec chaque consul étant donné le droit de veto à son collègue. Par conséquent, sauf dans les provinces en tant que commandants en chef où le pouvoir de chaque consul était suprême, les consuls ne pouvaient agir qu'à l'unisson, ou, du moins, pas contre la volonté déterminée de l'autre. Contre la condamnation d'un consul, un appel pouvait être formé devant son collègue qui, en cas de succès, verrait la condamnation annulée. Afin d'éviter des conflits inutiles, un seul consul exercerait réellement les fonctions du bureau chaque mois. Cela ne veut pas dire que l'autre consul n'avait aucun pouvoir mais qu'il autorisait simplement le premier consul à agir sans ingérence directe. Puis, le mois suivant, les consuls changeraient de rôle les uns avec les autres. Cela se poursuivrait jusqu'à la fin du mandat consulaire.

Un autre point qui servait de frein aux consuls était la certitude qu'après la fin de leur mandat, ils seraient appelés à rendre compte de leurs actes pendant leur mandat.

Il y avait aussi trois autres restrictions au pouvoir consulaire. Leur mandat était court (un an), leurs fonctions étaient décidées à l'avance par le Sénat et ils ne pouvaient pas se représenter immédiatement après la fin de leur mandat. Habituellement, une période de dix ans était prévue entre chaque consulat.

Gouvernance

Après avoir quitté leurs fonctions, les consuls ont été affectés par le Sénat à une province à administrer en tant que gouverneur. Les provinces assignées à chaque consul étaient tirées au sort et déterminées avant la fin de son consulat. Transférant son imperium consulaire à l'Imperium proconsulaire, le consul deviendrait proconsul et gouverneur d'une (ou plusieurs) des nombreuses provinces de Rome. En tant que proconsul, son imperium était limité à une province déterminée et non à l'ensemble de la République. Tout exercice de l'imperium proconsulaire dans toute autre province était illégal. Aussi, un proconsul n'était pas autorisé à quitter sa province avant la fin de son mandat ou avant l'arrivée de son successeur. Des exceptions n'étaient accordées que sur autorisation spéciale du Sénat. La plupart des mandats de gouverneur ont duré entre un et cinq ans.

Nomination du dictateur

En temps de crise, généralement lorsque le territoire de Rome était en danger immédiat, un dictateur était nommé par les consuls pour une durée ne dépassant pas six mois, sur proposition du Sénat. [10] Pendant que le dictateur exerçait ses fonctions, l'imperium des consuls était suspendu.

Devoirs impériaux

Après qu'Auguste soit devenu le premier empereur romain en 27 avant JC avec l'établissement du principat, les consuls ont perdu la plupart de leurs pouvoirs et responsabilités sous l'Empire romain. Bien que toujours officiellement la plus haute fonction de l'État, avec l'imperium supérieur de l'empereur, ils n'étaient qu'un symbole de l'héritage républicain de Rome. La position consulaire était souvent occupée par les empereurs eux-mêmes et est finalement devenue réservée uniquement à l'empereur. Cependant, les consuls impériaux conservaient toujours le droit de présider les séances du Sénat, exerçant ce droit au bon vouloir de l'empereur [citation requise] . Ils administraient partiellement la justice dans les cas extraordinaires, et présentaient à leurs frais des jeux dans le Circus Maximus et toutes les solennités publiques en l'honneur de l'empereur. Après l'expiration de leurs fonctions, les ex-consuls (proconsuls) [citation requise] a continué à gouverner l'une des provinces qui étaient administrées par le Sénat. Ils remplissaient généralement des mandats de trois à cinq ans.


What would happen if a Roman consul died mid term?

This seems like a really dumb question, but I can’t find an answer for it. Would the other consul take over? Would they have a re-election? Ce qui se passerait?

Until the 80s the consuls were military commanders first and foremost, and spent almost all of their time outside the city. This can be seen in lots of the circumstances surrounding the office. For example, the revision of the calendar by shifting the beginning of consular office by adding two extra months before March may be in part a political gesture, to extend the brief time that consuls spent in the city between taking office (originally March 15, then January 1) and going off on campaign. Consular office did not have an age limit until the lex Villia in 180, and extraordinarily young consuls were occasionally elected (e.g. Scipio). But the norm was for consuls to be, shall we say, mature leaders. This, combined with the military aspect of the consulship, made it virtually certain that some consuls--and other magistrates, naturally--were likely to die in office eventually.

In consulship was a particularly knotty problem in that the consuls were the possessors of the auspices, and by religious custom these had to be passed on in an unbroken sequence. Consuls presided over the elections of their successors, and at the end of the year the former consuls laid down the auspices, which were taken up by their successors. Moreover, the auspices were required for the holding of consular elections to begin with. The death of a sitting consul therefore raised not only political and procedural problems, but religious ones as well. In ordinary cases, with the death of a single consul, the surviving consul assumed his auspices and presided over the special election (for which the consul's own auspices would suffice) of a suffect consul, who would take the deceased's position for the remainder of the year. This could cause some issues, such as the need for the surviving consul to return from campaign to elect a suffect, but usually it wasn't too big a deal. In the unfortunate event that both consuls were either killed or incapacitated, which did happen sometimes, the auspices were assumed by an interrex. Les interrex, one of the handful of magistracies still exclusive to patricians by the historical period, had no colleague and was, almost uniquely, chosen by the senate from is own ranks, to which he returned after the completion of his duties. Les interrex had five days to take the auspices and hold consular elections. If the auspices were bad and forbade the elections, or for some other reason he was unable to complete the elections, after five days the interrex named a successor, who likewise held the position for five days, and so on until the consular elections were held. Normally this action was carried out in an orderly fashion, and only when neither consul could preside over the elections. Towards the end of the Republic this could be an issue, however, as elections frequently became postponed to mere days before the assumption of office and turmoil disrupted normal political procedure. Interreges presided over the elections of Crassus and Pompey for the consulship of 54, and interreges presided over the elections in 53 and 52 as well. Prior to Sulla (elected to the dictatorship with an interrex presiding) interreges had not been appointed since the late third century, after which point consular elections that could not be carried out by either consul were usually handled by briefly-serving dictators who handled the auspices. The last interregnum, in 52, was caused by the rioting that occurred after Clodius' murder by Milo, which prevented the elections from occurring. After fifteen interreges eventually Pompey was made sole consul without election.

This last case is not unimportant, because the conditions under which suffect consuls were supposed to be elected were not always entirely clear. The death of a consul was obvious enough. The death of both consuls clearly necessitated some sort of special action to preserve the auspices, whether interregnum or the appointment of a dictator to preside over the elections--of course, in the most famous example of such a calamity, Octavian assumed an extraordinary magistracy immediately after the deaths of both consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, at Mutina, without resorting to either measure (the dictatorship had been outlawed by Antony recently anyway). But what if a consul was simply no longer a consul? This problem arose in 87, when Cinna was driven from the city and deprived of his consulship by senatorial decree. Under normal circumstances consular office could be revoked, but only by a vote of the people in the centuriate assembly, which was to elect a new consul to replace him. Cinna, Appian tells us, went to the army at Nola (which was not his army, but App. Claudius's, which sort of seems to sink any argument for "client armies" as the cause for civil warfare in the first century) and appealed to them, stating that they, as citizens, had granted him consular office (a common oratorical formula) and that only they had the right to take it away. The senate's actions were therefore, Appian's Cinna says, not only an insult to him but a direct assault on the power of the people to elect the magistrates. The appeal to an army particularly was more than practical, it was symbolic: the consul, as a traditionally military leader, was elected by the centuriate assembly, symbolically the Roman people in their guise as a citizen militia electing its own leaders. Cinna's further argument, that the senate by this move would (if it was allowed to stand as a precedent) legitimize the ignoring of the voting assemblies and take the state for themselves, was clearly effective, and probably was quite a real fear. The language of the texts is somewhat unclear. Appian says the senate (singular, βουλή) outlawed Cinna and that they (ἐχειροτόνησαν, plural) elected Merula as suffect consul. The switch from singular to plural might be Plutarch's expansion of the senate to the body of individual senators (particularly appropriate in an electoral context) or it might be Plutarch switching the subject to the Roman people, who are not explicitly mentioned. Likewise, the verb might mean that the senate itself elected him or that an election (presumably a normal one) was held. It's hard to say--depending on what we think, the election of the suffect consul might have suffered a serious misuse.

In the Principate the suffect consulship gained a new character. The end of free elections (originally still held as a formality, but ultimately abolished entirely) and the primacy of the emperor made the consulship more a mark of formal prestige and imperial favor than anything else. Two consuls were still created (in many years, and often in succession, including the emperor himself), but in addition to these several sets of suffect consuls were created. Initially these pairs took up consular duties for four months each, but eventually this time narrowed to only one month: in some years honorary suffect consuls, who had no actual duties, were also named. Consuls might still die, of course--but in such circumstances not only did it not matter, but they could be replaced easily anyway!


The Roman Principate (27 BC - 284 AD)

The first period of the Roman Empire is called the Roman Principate. During this period, emperors tried to give the illusion of a functioning republic when in fact they had full powers. Rome remained in theory a republic but emperors gradually destroyed all republican values. The Roman Principate was a happy period though. It was actually happier than the Roman Republic, more stable and safer, and. more glorious.

Click on any of the boxes below pertaining to each dynasty:

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The first Roman Principate dynasty: the Julio-Claudian dynasty (27 BC- 14 AD)

Emperor Augustus statue in Rome

Despite this, the Roman Principate period under Augustus' rule was more peaceful than the Second Triumvirate and the economy was thriving. Augustus brought what we call the Pax Augusta. Because a lot of people were becoming richer, most of the upper class in Rome supported the emperor. Augustus was also conquering new lands: Cantabria Aquitania, Raetia, Dalmatia, Illyricum and Pannonia. Some of his generals became very popular including Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Nero Claudius Drusus and Germanicus.

Augustus' reign was also rich in literature with authors that are known to this day including poets such Vergil, Ovid and Horace and historians such as Livy. Furthermore, August changed the Roman calendar and introduced the month of August.

Tiberius (reign: 14 AD - 37 AD)
Augustus had a wife called Livia Drusilla. Livia had a son from a previous marriage called Tiberius. She pressured Augustus to have her son named as his heir. The Senate agreed and Tiberius received all the honors and held the title of princeps.

Tiberius had no interest in politics though. He retired to the island of Capri as soon as 26 AD (after getting the approval of the Senate). The city of Rome was now under the control of Sejanus and later Macro (both praetorian prefects) from 26 to 31 A.D. and from 31 A.D. to 37 A.D. respectively. Many Romans considered Tiberius as an evil emperor. They suspected him of killing his own relatives, General Germanicus (who, as we previously pointed out, was one of the very popular generals) and even his own son Drusus Julius Caesar!

Tiberius died of old age in 37 AD even though historian Tacitus gives us another account: Romans first rejoiced when news spread of Tiberius' death (from natural causes) but they became quiet upon hearing that he had recovered from his illness. Caligula and Macro then choked him to death and Romans rejoiced again.

Caligula (reign: 37 AD - 41 AD)
Caligula was Tiberius' grand nephew. There was no male in Tiberius' bloodline old enough to rule the Empire, therefore Caligula was chosen. Even today the name Caligula brings to mind the image of a mad and cruel emperor. But Caligula was actually quite popular at the beginning of his reign. It is only two years into his reign that he became mad. Historians of the time state that he organized orgies, had sexual relationships with his sisters, killed men for fun and even named a horse consul. Caligula didn't last long though. 4 years into his reign he was killed by the Praetorian Guard.

Claudius (reign: 41 AD - 54 AD)
The Praetorian Guard proclaimed Claudius as the new emperor with the full approval of the Senate. Claudius was Tiberius' nephew. Nobody could have ever imagined that he would one day become emperor. He didn't have the charisma, he was limping and was even slightly deaf. But he was the only man belonging to the Claudian family alive following Caligula's assassination.

Claudius turned out to be a decent emperor in the Roman Principate. His reign lasted 13 years. He wasn't as cruel as his predecessors. He managed the empire efficiently. He built many new roads, canals and aqueducts. He also conquered Thrace, Lycia and Judaea, and even started the conquest of Britain.

Nero (reign: 54 AD - 68 AD)
Claudius's reign ended when his wife Agrippina the younger poisoned him in 54 AD. Agrippina had a son from a previous marriage called Nero whom she wanted to become emperor and Nero was proclaimed emperor upon Claudius' death.

Nero is remembered to this day as a cruel and brutal emperor of the Roman Principate. Many Romans suspected him of being behind the Great Fire of Rome during the Roman Principate(according to legend, Nero was fiddling as Rome was burning). He is also known for executing many Christians. Nero faced many revolts that he squashed including the Jewish revolt also known as the First Jewish-Roman War. Eventually many in the Roman aristocracy turned against him including the entire Senate and Nero committed suicide.

Flavian dynasty (69 - 96 AD)

Year of the Four Emperors
Nero's death in 68 A.D. was followed by a brief civil war and what we call the Year of the Four Emperors during the Roman Principate. The year between 68 and 69 A.D. saw four emperors: Galba, then Otho, then Vitellius, and then Vespasian.

Vespasian (reign: 69 AD - 79 AD)
In July 69 A.D. Vespasian was the first emperor of the Flavian Dynasty in the Roman Principate. Vespasian was a general under Claudius and Nero and during the First Jewish-Roman war. Vespasian was overall a good emperor, known for rebuilding many buildings in Rome following the Great Fire of Rome, and building many new ones including the Flavian Amphitheater known today as the Colosseum which was built with the wealth acquired during the First Jewish-Roman War!

Titus (reign: 79 AD - 81 AD)
Titus was Vespasian's son and he had fought with his father during the First Jewish-Roman War. His reign was pretty short as he died from an illness (a severe fever) in 81 A.D.. Titus completed the construction of the Colosseum and organized games that lasted for one hundred days. These games actually celebrated the victory over the Jews and re-enacted battles, including naval battles inside the giant Colosseum. Gladiators fought to death and there were also impressive chariot races. Titus built many roads throughout the empire and fortifications in what is today Germany and Northern England.

Domitian (81 - 96 AD)
Dominitian was a totalitarian emperor during the Roman Principate who wanted to become the new Augustus. He wanted to establish the cult of himself, by comparing him to the Gods. He wanted to be called Dominus et Deus which means Master and God in latin. The Roman aristocracy didn't like him and he eventually was murdered by a conspiracy.

Nerva–Antonine dynasty (96-192 AD)

Aperçu
The Nerva-Antonine dynasty was a good period for Rome during the Roman Principate. It was a stable period with no civil wars and no military defeats abroad. During this period, the Roman Empire reached its apex in terms of territory and its economy was thriving. The provinces in the Empire were more united. Emperors were selected based on their qualities and not their bloodline which is remarkable for that time. Also the constitution was respected and reverred and the Senate had more authority.

Nerva (reign: 96- 98 AD)
Nerva was selected and appointed by the Senate. Nerva was of noble ancestry. He had previously been an advisor during Nero's reign and the Flavian dynasty. Nerva restored many of the freedoms that were supressed by Dominitian and Rome's economy was thriving under his rule.

Trajan (reign: 98 - 117 AD)
Nerva had named general Trajan as his heir. Trajan was a popular general in the Roman Principate. He became the first emperor of non-Italian descent. His family was from Hispania and was not patrician. Romans were very enthusiastic about Trajan in part because of his victories as a general.

Trajan turned out to be a good emperor. He followed on Nerva's policy by reinstoring many of the freedoms lost under Domitian. Many people were freed, private property that had been confiscated during Domitian's reign was returned. Trajan is also remembered for all the construction works under his reign, for example: the Trajan Market, the Trajan Forum and Trajan's column, noting that all these buildings dating from the Roman Principate can be seen today. He also built a large bridge over the Danube in Dacia.

Trajan Market in Rome

Trajan managed to conquer Dacia, a kingdom which had humiliated Domitian in the past. There were two Dacian wars: in the First Dacian War (101-102 AD) Dacia became a client state in the Second Dacian War (105-106 AD) the Dacian army was completely destroyed and Dacia became part of the Roman Empire. Trajan also integrated another client state to the Empire: the state of Nabatea (located in today's southern Syria and northern Jordan). He also conquered Parthia (located in today's north-eastern Iran). Trajan went to war with Parthia over Armenia. Rome and Parthia shared control of Armenia. Parthia appointed a king that Rome did not like and as a result Trajan declared war. In 113, Roman troops entered Armenia and removed the king. In 115, Trajan entered Mesopotamia and conquered the cities of Nisibis ad Batnae. In 116, he conquered Seleucia and then Ctesiphon which was the capital of Parthia. In 117, Trajan died of an illness.

Hadrian (reign: 117 - 138 AD)
Trajan named Hadrian as his heir. One of the first initiatives that Hadrian took was to remove the Roman troops from Parthia and Mesopotamia and therefore loose these conquests.

The Roman economy continued to thrive under Hadrian during the Roman Principate. But Hadrian did not conquer new lands. He was a rather peaceful emperor and a humanitarian. He is known for his defensive strategies including Hadrian's Wall in northern England. He would travel to every province in the Empire to check on the military and its defenses.

He also introduced laws against torture which is quite remarkable for his day. Hadrian loved Greek culture. The Hadrian's Arch in Athens can still be admired today. He built libraries, theaters and a lot of infrastructure including many public baths and aqueducts.

Antoninus Pius (reign: 138 - 161 AD)
Antonius continued Hadrian's policies. He maintained his humanitarian laws and promoted culture and knowledge. For example, he built theaters, set up financial rewards for teachers of philosophy. He also expanded the empire in England by conquering southern Scotland and building the Antonine Wall.

Marcus Aurelius (reign: 161 - 180 AD)
Marcus Aurelius was known as the Philosopher and even wrote a philosophy book called Meditations. He ruled the Empire during this period of the Roman Principate with a co-Emperor called Lucius Verus. He fought the Marcomannic wars against the Parthian Empire. During his reign, the Empire was affected by the Antonine Plague a pandemic which killed close to 5 million people.

Commodus (reign: 180 - 192 AD)
Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius thereby breaking with the tradition of having a new emperor chosen based on his qualities. All the previous emperors of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty were known as the Five Good Emperors. However, Commodus was not one of them. He was very different from his predecessors. For example, he executed many Roman citizens, he participated in gladiatorial combats. He was also a decadent in his personal life.

The Severan dynasty (192-235 AD)

Commodus was eventually killed by a conspiracy organized by Quintus Aemilius Laetus and his wife. The next year was a year of turmoil with Roman generals fighting for power. Eventually after many battles (including one in Gaul) General Septimius Severus became the new emperor.

Septimius Severus (reign: 192 - 211 AD)
Severus is not remembered as good emperor either. He actually wanted to restore a totalitarian state and he admired Marius and Sulla (both also known for their cruelty). In a speech in the Senate, he praised Sulla which had many senators worried.

Septimius Severus had the support of the legions. But he also paid the legions comfortably for this support. Eventually military expenditures became very high and a financial crisis emerged at the beginning of the 3rd century.

Severus was known for his fierceness and brutality on the battlefield. When Parthia entered Roman territory, Severus attacked and looted many Parthian cities including Babylon, Seleucia, Nisibis and the Parthian capital Ctesiphon. Many people were captured and executed. However the invasion of Parthia didn't end well. Many of his legions starved to death and eventually Severus had to withdraw.

Severus also intended to complete the conquest of Britain. He went to war with the Caledonians. However his army suffered a lot of casualties: the terrain was difficult and the barbarians there used the equivalent of guerilla warfare. The ferocious Severus fought himself on the battlefield but was struck down by illness and died in 211 AD.

Caracalla (reign: 211 - 217 AD)
Severus had two sons: Caracalla and Geta. Both became emperors upon his death but Caracalla quickly removed his brother. Caracalla resembled his father: he was a man of war and he was cruel. He executed many people including people close to him like his tutor or a close friend of his father. However he had the respect of the legions.

The best example of Caracalla's cruelty is the killing of most inhabitants of Alexandria. Caracalla knew that most people in Alexandria didn't like him. So he travelled to Alexandria. He had a banquet and invited Alexandria's high society. In the middle of the banquet his soldiers killed all the guests. Then Caracalla marched in Alexandria with his army and killed almost the entire city's population.

Caracalla is known for the Edict of Caracalla which gave Roman citizenship to all free men living in the Empire. He is also known for the baths of Caracalla in Rome which can still be seen today. Caracalla was killed by one of his soldiers during a campaign in Parthia in 217 A.D.. Actually the soldier just carried out an order from the Praetorian prefect Macrinus.

Elagabalus (reign: 218 - 222 AD)
Macrinus was in power for less than one year. Elagabalus who was a member of the Severi and fought against Macrinus with the support of the legions. Elagabalus was however incompetent as a ruler. He is also remembered for his extravagant lifestyle.

Alexander Severus (reign: 222 - 235 AD)
Alexander Severus was Elagabalus' cousin. Alexander had to face many conflicts during his reign. He had to fight a war with Persia and then another with invaders from Germania in Gaul. Alexander suffered great losses and many soldiers were displeased with him. Eventually he was killed by his very own soldiers during his campaign in Germania.

Crisis of the 3rd century

A period of political chaos ensued the death of Alexander Severus. There were in total 26 emperors in the ensuing 49 years of the last period of the Roman Principate. Most of these emperors became emperors through war and most did not belong to old noble Roman families.

A combination of very negative factors made things even worse towards the end of the Roman Principate: civil wars breaking out throughout the Empire, foreign invasions, a deep economic depression combined with hyperinflation and even pandemics spreading like fire (including the Plague of Cyprian in 250 AD). Actually the emperors were not concerned about the economy or defending the borders of the Empire but only about staying in power. Roman people gradually started loosing faith in their old religions and values and increasing turned to Christianity and the cult of Mithra.

In 260 AD the provinces of Egypt, Palaestina, Syria and Asia Minor separated from the Empire and formed the Palmyrene Empire ruled by Queen Zenobia from Palmyra in Syria. In that very same year, Britain and Gaul broke out too and formed the Gallic Empire. Rome lost its importance in the Empire. It is only during the reign of Aurelian (reign: 271 - 275 AD) that the Gallic and Palmyrene Empire were reconquered. The crisis totally ended during the reign of Diocletian at the end of the Roman Principate.


What exactly did consuls do during the Roman Empire?

I have a few questions all rolled into one, so I'm going to bullet them for ease of reading:

Did consuls (particularly those that weren't also part of the imperial family) continue to have substantive responsibilities during the Empire, and if so, what were they? And did a consulship under Augustus look different than, say, a consulship under Aurelian or Diocletian?

As the Republic transitioned to the Principate, was it more or less immediately apparent that the consulate was now effectively a figurehead position doled out by the emperor, or was it still seen as a prestigious and influential role?

Did Romans continue to use consular dating during the Empire ("in the year of the consulship of X and Y"), or was that replaced by dating events by the year of an emperor's reign?

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Consuls had very little real power in the principate, although they did fulfill certain ceremonial and religious functions. During the empire, most consuls did not actually serve for very long: the ordinary consuls, who still technically gave their names to the year (although dating by emperors tribunician powers quickly became the most common form of year dating), took office and then usually stepped down after 2-6 months. This allowed for new suffect consuls to be elected these in turn might only serve a few months. It was therefore not uncommon in any given year for more than six men to be consul, thus spreading the honor around. Obviously, being an ordinary consul was more prestigious than being a suffect, although often an ordinary consul had previously served as suffect.

The consulship in the empire was therefore less a practical office than an honor and a status. But while consuls were basically ceremonial, consular men were very important people in the empire and its administration, and were eligible for the most important provincial governorships, either as legati Augusti (the emperor's lieutenants commanding provinces with military forces) in key provinces or the few proconsular governorships, with the proconsular positions in either Africa or Asia generally seen as the pinnacle of a senatorial career.

So Imperial consuls in their *very* short term in office didn't do much. But generally they had done quite a bit to warrant the honor, which marked them out for even more important assignments afterwards.


Augustus & The Founding Of The Principate

Governors in senatorial provinces would be recalled and tried before the senate
Augustus improved the road network throughout the empire to aid communications - news of unacceptable behaviour in the provinces would reach him more quickly

Augustus also extended the imperial post to the provinces, again to aid communication
Provincial Councils were established to promote the imperial cult (i.e. worship of the emperor) these were made up of men representing the different areas in a province they helped unify the empire behind Augustus they could voice complaints against a governor and were a useful check on his power.

Augustus established numerous military colonies throughout the empire these were settlements of veteran soldiers military colonies encouraged the spread of Romanization and the stability of the empire.

Local communities within the empire often had a high degree of self-government - the local elite were allowed to rule as they had done in the past, so long as this didn't damage Roman interests.


Sulla's Reforms as Dictator

Lucius Cornelius Sulla (l. 138 - 78 BCE) enacted his constitutional reforms (81 BCE) as dictator to strengthen the Roman Senate's power. Sulla was born in a very turbulent era of Rome's history, which has often been described as the beginning of the fall of the Roman Republic. The political climate was marked by civil discord and rampant political violence where voting in the Assembly was sometimes settled by armed gangs. There were two primary opposing factions in Roman politics: the Optimates who emphasized the leadership and prominent role of the Senate, and the Populaires who generally advocated for the rights of the people.

During this era, senatorial power was curbed and significant progress was made for the rights of the common folk, particularly the magistracy of tribune of the plebs, which was specifically created to be a guardian of the people. Sulla was an Optimate and after his rise to power, he declared himself dictator and passed several reforms to the constitution to revitalize and restore senatorial power to what it once was. Although his reforms did not last very long, his legacy greatly influenced Roman politics in the final years of the Republic until it fell in 27 BCE.

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Sulla & the Late Roman Republic

Sulla was born into an ancient patrician family and so could trace his ancestry back to the original senators appointed by Romulus, the founder of Rome. Partie de la cursus honorum, the unspoken but accepted career ladder of public office, was to first serve as a military officer before being able to run for public office. Sulla, by way of his patrician rank, skipped military service and was elected to the junior magistracy of quaestor in 108 BCE. He quickly made a name for himself as an excellent commander and negotiator serving under consul Gaius Marius (l. 157 - 86 BCE) - a Populare who served an extraordinary five consecutive consulships from 104 - 100 BCE - in the Jugurthine War (112 - 106 BCE). A disagreement between Marius and Sulla over who was truly responsible for Jugurtha's capture was the first seed of hatred between the two which would lead to Rome's first major civil war.

Sulla was elected praetor urbanus in 97 BCE and was governor of the province of Cilicia in Asia Minor the following year. The Senate ordered Sulla to reinstate King Ariobarzanes - a friend of Rome - back on the Cappadocian throne because he had been ousted by King Mithridates VI of Pontus (r. 120-63 BCE) who wanted to insert his son as the Cappadocian king. Sulla proved successful and was even hailed by his soldiers as imperator, or victorious commander.

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In the Late Republic, Italians had long desired Roman citizenship and equal say in politics and power. The Romans had a knack for teasing the Italians with citizenship but never going the full distance in actually passing a law granting the Italians what they wanted. This civil discord reached a critical point in 91 BCE, the start of the Social War, between Rome and Italians who were eventually granted citizenship in 89 BCE after massive casualties on both sides. During the Social War, Sulla had independent command over legions in Southern Italy where he laid siege to the Italian city of Pompeii and successfully fended off armies attempting to aid Pompeii. He fought valiantly and his soldiers awarded him with the Grass Crown (corona graminea), the highest military honor. This military success made him immensely popular back in Rome and won him the consulship of 88 BCE.

Marius vs. Sulla

During his consulship, he was given eastern command of the legions to face King Mithridates VI of Pontus, one of Rome's most formidable enemies, who was wreaking havoc in the east. Mithridates VI had amassed an empire and surrounded himself with allies, and during Sulla's consulship, he ordered all cities in his Asian territories to murder all Romans and Italians. Not even women and children were spared. But before Sulla could embark on his trip to the east and defeat Mithridates VI, Marius and his ally, Sulpicius, using armed gangs and 600 equestrians as a bodyguard had 'convinced' the Assembly to remove Sulla's eastern command and had it transferred it to Marius. Marius then deployed two military tribunes to assume command of Sulla's army.

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In one of the crucial turning points in Rome's history, Sulla then gave not a military speech to his soldiers, but a political one, in which he roused his 35,000 legionaries and riled them up about the wrongs done to him and them. The east was known for its endless riches and Marius was now robbing them of the bountiful eastern plunder that would have been theirs. Sulla's stirring speech was successful, and his legions were now loyal to Sulla alone. When Marius' tribunes finally arrived, Sulla's soldiers murdered them. They then commenced their march on Rome to take back what was rightfully theirs. When asked why he would march soldiers against his own country, he replied, “to deliver her from tyrants”. Sulla, the first person to conquer Rome, then overturned Marius and Sulpicius' actions and reinstated himself as consul. Sulla and his legions had the coveted eastern command once again and Marius was forced to flee Rome.

While Sulla was in the East, his strategy was to remove Mithridates VI's control over Greece so he laid siege to Athens in the winter of 87-86 BCE. It was during this time he heard the news that Marius and his faction had returned and captured Rome, passing a decree which declared Sulla an enemy of the state. Marius then cut off money from Sulla's campaign, so he was forced to tax the local Greeks to fund his campaign. Suddenly, back in Rome, Marius died from pneumonia in 86 BCE. Sulla continued his business in the east, finally capturing Athens, successfully winning the Battle of Chaeronea (86 BCE) and the Battle of Orchomenus (85 BCE), convincingly ousting Mithridates' presence, and reinstating Roman authority in Greece. He then spent his time settling and organizing the province of Asia until he finally returned to Italy in 83 BCE to confront Marius' faction in Rome's first civil war.

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Sulla and his veteran legions swept through Italy, persuading enemy legions to defect to his side and defeating in battle those who did not. He demonstrated great clemency in forgiving people and cities who decided to change sides. However, once he arrived victorious in Rome, he shed the merciful persona and proscribed (proscriptio) his enemies. The proscriptions were tablets with the names of people who were to be killed for bounty and their land confiscated. In the end, about a hundred senators and over a thousand equestrians perished.

Now that Sulla was wholly unopposed, the remaining Senate annulled the decree which made him an enemy of the state and ordered a statue of Sulla to be put up in front of the Forum Romanum. In order to legitimize his authority, Sulla then suggested that they revive the ancient office of dictateur. It had been 120 years since Rome last had a dictator. The Senate, devoid of opposition, was forced to comply with his suggestion, appointing him as dictator to create laws and settle the constitution. Dictators were only appointed in times of great emergency when there was no other option but to entrust all authority and power to one person to save Rome. In the past, a dictator's term was for six months and their powers were essentially limitless. They had power over life and death and could declare war and peace, appoint and remove senators, as well as the power to found and demolish cities. Sulla, however, had no time limit imposed on his dictatorship and therefore could take as long as he needed to settle the constitution.

Reforms to the Constitution

Sulla, now dictator, appeared before the Senate with the powers of a king. 24 fasces were held in front of him as dictator, the same amount that was held before the ancient kings. As perhaps Sulla's most important reform as dictator, he severely diminished the power and prestige of the tribunes of the plebs. Tribunes were originally created to be guardians of the people. Their legal power (potestas) was vast, and because of the progress and precedents made by Populare tribunes, such as Tiberius Gracchus in 131 BCE, when he bypassed the Senate and presented his land reform laws directly to the Assembly, their power grew even stronger.

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Sulla sought to undo these advancements, so he required that a tribune must seek permission from the Senate before introducing a law. Furthermore, he got rid of the tribune's all-important veto power. Sulla also stripped the office of its lure and prestige. He decreed that anyone who held the magistracy of tribune should never hold any other magistracy afterward. Understandably, the position was shunned by anyone who wanted to make a name for themselves in politics. The once-great office of tribune with its storied background as protector of the people was now just a shadow of what it once was.

Sulla also formalized the cursus honorum. He forbade anyone to hold the magistracy of praetor until after he had first been a quaestor or to be elected consul before he had been a praetor. He also prohibited any man from holding the same magistracy consecutively. Instead, he would have to wait ten years until he could hold the same office again. Furthermore, he decreed that two years must pass in between magistracies. He also expanded the number of quaestors to twenty and praetors to eight. This growing number of magistrates were needed to govern and administrate an ever-expanding empire.

Another Sullan reform saw that provincial governors would not overstay their welcome in their provinces, greatly reducing their chance to build a personal army to lead against political rivals or Rome itself, as Sulla had done. Because there were a greater number of magistrates under Sulla's reforms, this led to governors not needing to stay in their province long because there were now ample magistrates to fill a vacancy in a province after his one-year term ended. Furthermore, if a governor were to abuse or exceed his powers, they would be tried in the Treason Court (maiestas).

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Because the Senate had been significantly thinned out by war, not to mention by Sulla's own proscriptions, he doubled the roll of the Senate from 300 to 600. The Senate had whittled down to a couple of hundred members after his proscriptions, so there were 400 empty spots to fill. As dictator, Sulla himself appointed many of the new Senators from a group of equestrians that he deemed worthy to be promoted to the rank of senator. For the remaining spots, he took recommendations from different people and created a large group of grateful senators thankful for their promotion in rank. The Senate was gaining power as well as strength in numbers.

In one of his most important reforms, Sulla reinstated senatorial power into the courts. Court juries were wielded as an extremely powerful tool at the time. UNE Populare wanted the jury to be made up of equestrians and an Optimate wanted a jury of senators. If a jury was filled with senators, then as one could expect, they rarely found their senatorial colleagues guilty, but a jury comprised of equestrians would lose very little sleep over convicting a senator accused of corruption. Populaires et Optimates constantly fought each other on this. Sulla's reform reversed the tribune Gaius Gracchus' reform to the Extortion Court when he barred senators from being jurors. Sulla then set up seven new permanent courts for murder, counterfeiting and forgery, electoral fraud, embezzlement, treason, personal injury, and provincial extortion.

Sulla cast a long shadow over the Republic in these years. The Senate was very much his creation, purged of all his opponents who had failed to defect to him in time, and packed with his partisans. As a body he had strengthened the Senate's position, restoring the senatorial monopoly over juries in the courts and severely limiting the power of the tribunate. Other legislation, for instance a law restricting the behavior of provincial governors, was intended to prevent any other general from following the dictator's own example and turning the legions against the State. (Goldsworthy, Caesar, 92)

In addition to his reforms, Sulla used his powers as dictator to enact vengeance not just in Rome, but across the Italian regions that opposed him. Among the forms of punishment were massacre, exile, and confiscation for those who obeyed his enemies during the civil war. Their crime could be as little as housing his enemy, lending them money, or doing them any kind of kindness. When charges against individuals were not successful, Sulla took revenge on entire towns. He punished some by destroying their citadels or tearing down their walls, or by imposing fines and suffocating them with heavy taxes and tributes. Sulla set up his troops in colonies in the land and houses of the cities that he took revenge on.

Héritage

Once he settled the constitution, he laid down the dictatorship. The following year in 80 BCE he was elected consul. In 79 BCE he retired from Roman politics altogether and went to live in his country house in Campania where he could try to finish writing his memoirs. According to Plutarch, Sulla foresaw his death in a dream and he stopped writing his memoirs two days before he died in 78 BCE.

Although Sulla's constitution was obediently followed by other Optimates such as Pompey (l. 106 - 48 BCE) and Crassus (l. 115/112 - 53 BCE) - Sulla's reforms would ultimately not endure. He sought to remedy the problems that plagued the Republic, but his solution to the problem was one-sided and only strengthened senatorial power while severely curbing the power of the tribune of the plebs and non-senatorial ranks.

Julius Caesar (l. 100 - 44 BCE) during his time as military tribune spoke out in favor of restoring the powers of tribune which Sulla had thoroughly dismantled. In 75 BCE, Caesar had his uncle, Caius Aurelius Cotta who was consul that year, to pass a bill that allowed former tribunes to seek other magistracies. This was a very important undoing of one of Sulla's key reforms because now the tribunate was no longer a dead-end magistracy, paving the way for ambitious politicians to seek the office once again.

Caesar also reformed and improved another Sullan reform. He had long held interest in the administration of the provinces and his most renowned court appearances were prosecutions of corrupt and oppressive governors. His reforms on the role and behavior of Roman provincial governors would be the standard for centuries to come. Cicero later described Caesar's reform as an “excellent law”. Lastly, Sulla's law of permitting only senators on juries was overturned when praetor Lucius Aurelius Cotta allowed juries to be comprised of both senators and equestrians, leveling the power balance.


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