The Emperor and the Roman Elite from Commodus to Maximinus (A.D. 180-238)

Davenport, Caillan James Roderick (2006). The Emperor and the Roman Elite from Commodus to Maximinus (A.D. 180-238) MPhil Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Davenport, Caillan James Roderick
Thesis Title The Emperor and the Roman Elite from Commodus to Maximinus (A.D. 180-238)
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Total pages 147
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subjects L
430110 History - Classical Greek and Roman
780199 Other
210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
Abstract/Summary Rome had twelve masters between the years A.D. 180-238, eleven of whom were murdered or killed in battle. The age of the Antonines came to an end with the death of Commodus and four years of divisive civil war. The eventual victor, Septimius Severus, established a new dynasty, but it was short-lived, coming to an ignominious end in a camp on the Rhine. Thus began the era of the soldier emperors. This thesis will argue that the rapid turnover of emperors in these fifty-eight years precipitated a crisis among the Roman elite. Senators and equestrians competed with each other, and with less exalted members of society, such as freedmen, to become members of the emperor’s inner circle. Dio Cassius, a senator who began his Roman History during the reign of Septimius Severus, serves as an effective contemporary witness to the upheavals taking place at court and within society at large. Contrary to the views of scholars such as Crook and Syme, who place great emphasis on the continuity of policy provided by the emperor’s amici, this thesis will demonstrate that there was significant discontinuity at the imperial court. Imperial advisers were not a fixed group retained from reign to reign – instead, each new emperor chose to install his own supporters in key positions in order to put his own stamp on the administration of the empire. This has given rise to a tendency to label some rulers as ‘anti-senatorial’ and others as ‘pro-senatorial’. Even those emperors who executed large numbers of senators, such as Commodus and Septimius Severus, had amici from within the senate whom they trusted and relied upon. The favour bestowed on such senators who formed part of the emperors’ exclusive cabal was a source of continual tension among the Roman elite. The amici formed a heterogeneous group, whose only common link was that they had earned the favour of the emperor of the day.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 14:35:46 EST