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Date: 18.11.2017

Interlude in Venice (1966)

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Vitellius 69 The Roman Empire "officially" begins by tradition in 27 BC when Octavian receives the title "Augustus" -- which then becomes the name by which we know him. We might think that the Empire, Imperium, begins with Augustus becoming Emperor, Imperator, but that is not the case. Imperator simply means "commander," and this had long been in use with a specific meaning. An imperator was someone with a military command and imperium, which meant both military and civil authority in the area of his command.

This made Julius Caesar essentially the dictator of Gaul , once he had conquered it. That was dangerous, indeed fatal, for the Republic; but in those terms Julius Caesar began the creation of the Roman Empire already as an "emperor.

It accompanies the institutional changes that were effected or completed by Augustus. The institution thus created now gets called the "Principate," from Princeps, "Prince" literally, "comes first". The idea of the Principate is that the forms of the Republic are retained, and the Emperor superficially is simply still an official of the Republic. Augustus was not a king. He did not even hold the Republican office of Dictator, as Julius Caesar had.

But Augustus otherwise assembled offices and authority sufficient to explain the power that he had actually obtained by force.

In time, the Emperor came to be regarded as superior to any mere king, as the reach and authority of many Emperors was indeed great beyond precedent or local comparison. While it seems natural and obvious to take Augustus as the successor to Julius Caesar and his new Imperial government as the successor to the Roman Republic, there was another way of looking at this.

The astronomer Claudius Ptolemy c. It continues to the reign of Antoninus Pius. These particular connections occur because 1 the Babylonians had the most advanced astronomy of their age, 2 Babylonian records continued seamlessly into the Persian and Hellenistic periods, 3 elements of this, including considerable data, had been translated into Greek, and 4 Ptolemy himself operated in Alexandria, where these translated Babylonian records were freely available, where Greek astronomy itself reached maturity, and where Ptolemy had at hand the simplest calendar of the Ancient World, the Egyptian day year , which continued to be used in astronomy until the introduction of Julian Day Numbers.

Thus, we have the curious mixture of an astronomer whose name is in Latin and Greek, who lives in Egypt, and who uses the Era of a Babylonian King Nabonassar in conjunction with the Egyptian calendar.

Thus, Augustus may be seen as more than a Roman ruler, as, indeed, the successor to the universal equivalents of the eponymous archons the Athenian officials used for purposes of dating for all of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and European civilization. From Antoninus Pius, the Canon could easily be continued with Roman Emperors all the way to , using a clue of the numbering given by the Venerable Bede , who has Maurice as the 54th Emperor.

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Even the presence of the Latin Emperors present no anomaly, since Assyrian Kings were interpolated with Babylonian Kings. The last ephemeral Western Emperors , so important for the mythology of the "Fall" of Rome, were, of course, simply ignored by Bede. The Canon can then obviously be continued from with the Ottomans , who make for a succession in Constantinople in an even more seamless fashion than Augustus takes over from Cleopatra.

It is a moment, indeed, in the aftermath of World War I, when the idea of monarchy alone as a legitimate form of government, without popular and parliamentary qualifications, pretty much ends. This was built in the reign of Augustus, around 15 BC. The cartouches on the temple mostly just contain the hieroglyphs , "Pharaoh," which seems like a very perfunctory way of representing the Roman Emperor as King of Egypt.

High up on the gate, however, and around on the side, I have noticed more complete names, only parts of which I have been able to read, including , glyphs that clearly spell out "Caesar. Augustus is thus [p. These do not exactly match the versions on the temple, and it is not clear to me exactly what the first name in transcribing; but we get the idea.

For the titles with each name, see here. So there was an effort here, as with the Ptolemies, to Egyptianize foreign rule, and a final era of overlap between Ancient Egypt and the later civilizations that, through Christianity and then Islam, erase the ancient religion, culture, and then language of Egypt. What remains of all of those, with the Christian Copts, is under physical assault by Islamists in modern Egypt even as I write. This map, for the year of the death of Augustus, is the last in the series prepared for the Hellenistic Age , the period that Augustus himself had terminated in 30 BC.

Noteworthy are the surviving vassal kingdoms under Roman control: Edessa , at this point a Parthian vassal, will soon pass under Roman control. Palmyra will briefly play a signifiant role in Roman history in the Third Century.

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Armenia will often find itself pulled between Rome and Parthia, then Rome and Sassanid Persia , and subsequently several other larger political conflicts right down to our own day. Augustus originally wanted an Elbe-Danube frontier, but one of his armies of three legions was caught in a catastrophic ambush and destroyed.

The Romans gave up on the Elbe permanently. Only Charlemagne , by the conquest of Saxony, would secure what Augustus had wanted. The shadow of the Republic persisted during this period, and someone like Claudius could still dream of restoring full Republican government. The year 69 pretty much ended these dreams, since the first free-for-all scramble for the throne revealed that the army, and only the army, would determine who would be Emperor.

Strangely enough, despite the occasional anarchy, this would be a source of strength for the Empire, since the state always did the best with successful soldiers at its head. Unsuccessful soldiers faced the most merciless reality check whether killed by the enemy or by their own troops ; but purely civilian Emperors, like Honorius , could endure one disaster after another without their rule necessarily being endangered.

At some men each, this gives a full strength Army of , men. However, this does not count the Auxilia, units like cavalry and others that consisted of those who are not Roman citizens though they gained citizenship from service. The entire Army, therefore, was more like , men, less than half of what it would number in the Late Empire. The numbers of the lost Legions were never used again likewise with the Legions later disbanded for rebellion.

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All the Legions were originally simply numbered. Once they begin acquiring epithets cognomen, cognomina , like Legio X Fretensis, we start getting more than one Legion with the same number, but with different epithets, e. This is a little confusing. The logic of the matter is that eventually the legions begin to be numbered in relation to their cognomen, not in the absolute count of the Army. I suspect that he used "XXX" because 29 Legions already existed, despite the numbers used.

They can be examined on a popup page. The abbreviations used in the full names of the Emperors can be found elsewhere with the discussion of the tria nomina.

Emperors are commonly known by particular parts of their names, or by nicknames, e. Caligula, "little boot," or Caracalla, "little hood" -- both names given them as children in the army camps of their fathers Germanicus and Septimius Severus, respectively. The family of the Julio-Claudians seems like one of the most complicated in history. This chart eliminates many people in the family to focus on the descent and relation of the Emperors. Caligula and Nero are descendants of Augustus, through his daughter Julia from his first marriage ; but Claudius and Nero are also descendants of Mark Antony, who of course committed suicide, shortly before Cleopatra, rather than be captured after his defeat by Augustus.

The use of crowns to indicate the emperors is at this point anachronistic, but it is convenient. Indeed, not just Christians Emperors, but Empresses and their children are shown with halos.

This is not something that ones sees in Western Europe.