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Marmoream relinquo, quam latericiam accepi. The Julio-Claudian Emperors. From Republic to Empire. Imperial expansion brought wealth to Rome, but the wealth was unequally distributed which aggravated class tensions Conflicts arose over political and social policies Optimates and Populares

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from republic to empire
From Republic to Empire
  • Imperial expansion brought wealth to Rome, but the wealth was unequally distributed which aggravated class tensions
    • Conflicts arose over political and social policies
    • Optimates and Populares
    • During the 1st Century B.C. and the 1st Century A.D., Roman civil and military leaders will gradually dismantle the republican constitution and replace it with a centralized imperial form of government
      • Marius, Sulla, 1st Triumvirate, 2nd Triumvirate
julius caesar
Julius Caesar
  • Caesar centralized military and political functions and brought them under his control
  • He confiscated property from conservatives and distributed it among veterans of his

army and other supporters

  • He launched large scale building

projects to provide employment for

the poor

  • He extended Roman citizenship

to people in the imperial provinces

julius caesar1
Julius Caesar
  • But Caesar’s reforms alienated many of Rome’s elite who considered him a tyrant
    • In 44 B.C. they assassinated him
  • However it was too late to return to the old conservative ways and a new round of civil crisis ensued for thirteen years
    • Octavian emerged in power
  • Octavian was a nephew, protégé, and adopted son of Julius Caesar
  • He defeated his principal rival, Mark Anthony, and Anthony’s ally Cleopatra at Actium, Greece in 31 B.C.

Anthony and Cleopatra by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

  • Octavian centralized political and military power like Julius Caesar did,
  • but he was careful to preserve traditional republican offices and forms of government
  • and included members of the Roman elite in his government
  • Octavian called himself "princeps," or "first"
    • (from which we get the word, "prince");
    • his full title that he assumed was "first among equals."
    • So, in language at least, nothing had really changed in Roman freedom and equality.
  • His successors, however, would name themselves after their power,
    • the "imperium,"
    • and called themselves "imperator."
      • Where we get Emperor.
government under octavian
Government under Octavian
  • He radically reformed the government
    • to curb corruption and ambition;
    • he also extended Roman citizenship to all Italians.
    • he allowed elections to public office,
      • he rigged those elections so that only the best candidates would fill the office,
      • and so many members of the lower classes entered into government.
  • Octavian built massive roads bridges, government buildings, and huge public baths.
  • He said, Marmoream relinquo, quam latericiam accepi
    • “I left Rome a city of marble, though I found it a city of bricks.”
  • The Roman people awarded Octavian with the title Augustus,
    • “respected one.”
  • Many Romans deified Augustus after his death.
    • This means they worshipped him as a god.
pax romana
Pax Romana
  • By stopping the civil wars, Augustus inaugurated an era known as pax romana (“Roman peace”) which greatly facilitated trade and communication
    • Lasted from 27 B.C. to 180 A.D.
  • Also included applying standards of justice and a basic code of law throughout the empire
augustus 31 b c 14 a d
AUGUSTUS (31 B.C. - 14 A.D.)
  • Augustus is arguably the single most important figure in Roman history.
  • Augustus ruled Rome for 41 years,
    • though he did not call himself an emperor.
    • He was careful to not meet the same fate as his great uncle.
  • Augustus was very respectful to the senators,
    • but the Senate knew he controlled the army
    • and could do as he pleased.
tiberius 14 37 a d
Tiberius 14-37 A.D.
  • The reign of Tiberius is important because it was the first occasion when the powers designed for Augustus alone were exercised by somebody else
  • His reign abounds in contradictions.
  • Despite his keen intelligence,
    • he allowed himself to come under the influence of unscrupulous men who, as much as any actions of his own, ensured that Tiberius's reputation would be unfavorable;
  • Despite his vast military experience,
    • he oversaw the conquest of no new region for the empire;
  • despite his administrative abilities
    • he showed such reluctance in running the state as to retire entirely from Rome and live out his last years in isolation on the island of Capri.
gaius caligula caesar a d 37 41
Gaius 'Caligula' Caesar(A.D. 37-41)
  • Son of the deceased Germanicus
    • Appointed heir of Tiberius by Augustus
  • As a baby he accompanied his parents on military campaigns in the north and was shown to the troops wearing a miniature soldier's outfit,
    • including the hob-nailed sandal called caliga, whence the nickname by which posterity remembers him.
    • Loosely translated as “Little Boots”
    • 25 years old when he takes power
    • Initially, the young Emperor's rule was very promising.
  • 'Gaius' was initially welcomed with great joy by both the masses and the Senate.
    • Being the son of the once revered Germanicus also brought the support of the Legions, an all important factor to consider in imperial politics.
  • His popularity, along with the now defined tradition of Imperial rule, granted him freedom of governing not known by either of his predecessors.
    • Caligula had the deepest admiration of the Roman world, and faced little political adversity.
  • Yet within four years he lay in a bloody heap in a palace corridor, murdered by officers of the very guard entrusted to protect him.
    • The Praetorian Guard
  • What Went Wrong?
the ancient sources are practically unanimous as to the cause of gaius s downfall he was insane
The ancient sources are practically unanimous as to the cause of Gaius's downfall: he was insane.
  • The sources describe spending massive amounts of the royal treasury on opulence and foolish endevers
    • the building of a pontoon bridge across the Bay at Baiae – so he could ride across it!
      • the entire reason for this grand display was that an astrologer once said, "Gaius (Caligula) had no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding about over the gulf of Baiae with horses."
    • the plan to make his horse a consul.
  • Caligula apparently shifted his focus to Britain.
    • But rather than actually cross to Britain to achieve his goals of conquest he simply marched the legions to shore in some sort of show of strength.
    • "Finally, as if he intended to bring the war to an end, he drew up a line of battle on the shore of the Ocean, arranging his ballistas and other artillery; and when no one knew or could imagine what he was going to do, he suddenly bade them gather shells and fill their helmets and the folds of their gowns, calling them "spoils from the Ocean".
    • Despite this complete waste of time and resources, Caligula demanded a triumph from the Senate, which of course was awarded. Included in the complete mockery were Gauls dressed as Germans and the spoils taken from the shore.
  • His reign highlighted an inherent weakness in the Augustan Principate, now openly revealed for what it was
    • -- a raw monarchy in which only the self-discipline of the incumbent acted as a restraint on his behavior.
  • That the only means of retiring the wayward princeps was murder marked another important revelation:
    • Roman emperors could not relinquish their powers without simultaneously relinquishing their lives.
claudius caesar augustus 41 54 a d
Claudius Caesar Augustus. (41-54 A.D.)
  • In an age that despised weakness, Claudius was unfortunate enough to have been born with defects.
    • He limped, he drooled, he stuttered and was constantly ill.
    • His family members mistook these physical debilities as reflective of mental infirmity and generally kept him out of the public eye as an embarrassment.
    • Caligula, it seems, liked to use his bookish, frail uncle as the butt of cruel jokes and, in keeping with this pattern of behavior, promoted him to a suffect consulship to be heir on 1 July 37 A.D
  • while the Senate perhaps sought a Republican return, Claudius was taken to the safety of the Praetorian camp.
    • Whatever intentions the Senate may have had, without the loyalty of the legions and the Praetorians, their cause was doomed.
    • They had no choice but to hail Claudius as the next 'Caesar'.
  • Claudius's reign was a mixture of successes and failures that leads into the last phase of the Julio-Claudian line.
  • During his reign he promoted administrators who did not belong to the senatorial or equestrian classes, and was later vilified by authors who did.
expansion 38 43 ad ce
Expansion: 38 – 43 AD/CE
  • He followed Caesar in carrying Roman arms across the English Channel into Britain
  • but, unlike his predecessor, he initiated the full-scale annexation of Britain as a province,
    • which remains today the most closely studied corner of the Roman Empire.
  • His relationships with his wives and children provide detailed insights into the perennial difficulties of the succession problem faced by all Roman Emperors.
    • His 4th wife was the emperor's ambitious niece, Agrippina the younger, sister of Caligula.
    • She persuaded Claudius to adopt her son Nero as his own.
  • Claudius resisted the final steps to secure Nero as heir,
    • and Agrippina, rather than wait him out, decided to take matters into her own hands.
    • On October 13, AD 54, Claudius died while attending a feast.
    • Though the reports are conflicting all indicate that he was poisoned by tainted mushrooms
    • Nero, his step-son, and Britannicus, His son, succeeded him.
nero claudius caesar 54 68 a d
Nero Claudius Caesar (54-68 A.D.)
  • Nero was perhaps the most notorious emperor in Roman history.
  • Nero was only 16, when he ascended to the throne, and his mother Agrippina controlled politics through him (because women could not be tribunes or senators), until Nero was in his mid-20's.
    • But then he decided he would rather rule on his own, and had his step-brother and mother killed.
  • Nero ruled the empire by day, but at night he prowled the streets of Rome assaulting women.
  • Nero took less interest in the governing of the Empire but seemed more interested in the pursuance of the arts.
    • singing, acting and playing the harp. indulgences that were considered fit for slaves.
    • He believed himself to be the greatest artist in the empire. Never before had a Roman Emperor appeared on a stage.
    • Many Roman nobles considered his performances outrageous, but no one would risk torture or death by criticizing him.
Nero may be best known for how he handled the Great Fire at Rome in 64 AD.
  • Some of the Romans said that Nero had started the fire and had prevented it from being put out.
  • Most of the six days during which the fire lasted he spent in a high tower, enjoying the sight.
    • He played on his harp, sang merry songs, and recited verses about the burning of the ancient city of Troy.
  • People were blaming him for the fire,
    • so he rounded up a lot of Christians and had them burned alive as if the fire was their fault.
    • Nero was also in charge for the executions of St. Peter and St. Paul (leading founders of Christianity).
  • In AD67 he left Rome not to review his troops but to compete in Greek games,
    • and as a further slight had left a freedman, Helius, in his place at Rome to govern in his absence.,
    • As Nero toured Greece. He participated in many games and contests, always finishing first.
As Nero devoted himself to his artistic pursuits, he lost power. In AD68, Nero faced a revolt from his soldiers.
  • In June, the Senate took the initiative to rid itself of Nero, declaring him persona non grata.
  • The governor of Spain, Galba, revolted against him and marched his army toward Rome.
    • Galba was recognized as emperor and welcomed into the city at the head of his legions
  • His guard claimed Nero lamented, “What an artist the world is losing,” then stabbed himself in the neck.
69 ad year of the 4 emperors
69 AD…Year of the 4 Emperors
  • January 1 – The Rhine legions refuse to swear loyalty to Galba
  • January 2 – Vitellius acclaimed emperor by the Rhine
  • January 15 – Galba killed by the Praetorian Guard; in the same day, the senate recognizes Otho as emperor
  • April 14 – Vitellius defeats Otho
  • April 16 – Otho commits suicide; Vitellius recognized emperor
  • July 1 – Vespasian, commander of the Roman army in Judea, proclaimed emperor
  • August – The Danubian legions announce support to Vespasian (in Syria) and invade Italy in September on his behalf
  • October – The Danube army defeats Vitellius and Vespasian occupies Egypt
  • December 20 –Vitellius killed by soldiers in the Imperial Palace
  • December 21 – Vespasian recognized emperor
vespasian 69 79 ad
Vespasian was popular because he lived very simply,

didn't throw big parties or spend a lot of money like the Julio-Claudian emperors.

If he were alive today he would rather watch a football game today than an opera

So the empire had a lot of money in the treasury. He was emperor ten years, until he died in bed in 79 A.D.

Vespasian 69-79 AD


flavian amphitheater
Flavian Amphitheater
  • The construction started in 72 AD under the rule of the Emperor Vespasian of the Favian dynasty and hence was originally named Flavian Amphitheater.
  • The construction was finally completed in 80 AD under Emperor Titus. It got the name Colossium thanks to the colossal statue of Emperor Nero next to it
  • When Vespasian died, his older son Titus took over.
    • Everyone seemed to have been happy to avoid another civil war.
    • Titus is negatively remembered for how he crushed a Jewish revolt in Israel
      • destroyed the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem,
      • And dispersed the population of Judea throughout the empire.
      • which he reminded Romans about with a big stone triumphal arch.
  • Still he is mostly remembered as a good emperor. He died of a brain tumor in 81 AD, after ruling less than three years.



Only one month after Titus' accession though a disaster should strike which should overshadow his reign. The eruption of the Mount Vesuvius volcano overwhelmed the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and Oplontis.

  • The inhabitants of Pompeii, as those of the area today, had long been used to minor tremors and wisps of gas from Mt. Vesuvius, and in 62 AD there had been a series of earthquakes serious enough to cause structural damage to houses in town.
  • In early August of 79, all the town's wells dried up, but the warnings were not sharp enough, and the Roman world was stunned when on the mild afternoon of August 24, a catastrophic eruption of the volcano obscured the sun and buried the city. Coincidentally, the date was that of the Vulcanalia, the festival of the Roman god of fire.
  • The only reliable eyewitness account of the event was recorded by Pliny the Younger in a letter to the historian Tacitus. Pliny saw a remarkable phenomenon occurring over Mt. Vesuvius: a large dark cloud shaped rather like a pine tree emanating from the mouth of the mountain. After some time the cloud rushed down the flanks of the mountain and covered everything around it, including the surrounding sea.
  • Titus visited the stricken area, announced a state of emergency, set up a relief fund into which was put any property of victims who died with no heirs, offered ssistance in rehousing survivors, and organized a senatorial commission to provide whatever help it could.
    • Yet this disaster should tarnish Titus' memory until this day, many describing the outbreak of the volcano as divine punishment for the destruction of the Great Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Then Titus' younger brother Domitian became emperor. Domitian was a very different sort of man.
    • He had always felt that his father, Vespasian, liked Titus better, and this feeling made him angry and mean.
    • He even tried to organize revolts against Titus when Titus was emperor.
    • As emperor, Domitian was convinced that everyone was plotting to kill him,
      • and he had many senators and other people killed because he suspected them.
    • He also may have persecuted some early Christians.
    • He also made people call him "Lord and God" (Dominus et Deus).
    • In the end people couldn't stand this sort of behavior, and he was assassinated in 96 AD.

And he looks a lot like Bobby Flay of the Food Network...

5 good emperors
5 Good Emperors

5 Good Emperors

five good emperors
Five Good Emperors
  • Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, known as the Five Good Emperors, were a series of excellent emperors who ruled in Rome from 96-180 AD. following the Flavian Dynasty. They were so called because they succeeded in winning the support and cooperation of the senate, which is something their predecessors had failed to accomplish.
  • All of these emperors died without passing the succession on (except Marcus Aurelius), so each of these emperors were elected by the Senate from within its own ranks. This period was the period of the greatest political stability in Imperial Rome after the age of Augustus; when Marcus Aurelius broke the pattern and was succeeded by his son, Commodus (180-192), all hell broke loose again.
  •    This period saw the widespread exporting of Roman culture, government, and law. The Romans actively built up large urban centers throughout the Empire and granted these cities all the rights and privileges granted to Romans. At the same time, Rome began to exercise more control over these municipalities; unlike earlier empires which were more or less loose confederacies, the Roman Empire was converted into what amounted as a single state under the centralized control of a Roman bureaucracy.