Evolution of Imperial Rome
|Because of the long period of time that separated the beginning of the Roman Empire from its end, historians have had to break down the history of Rome into different periods. The history of Rome has been broken down into three basic categories, and these are the Eastern Roman Empire, the Western Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. The period from Diocletian until the fall of the Western Roman Empire is called the Dominate. |
Caesar Augustus and the period that followed his reign is commonly called the Principate. The primary difference between the Dominate and the Principate is the way that absolutism was shown to the people.
During the Principate, absolutism was hidden from the citizens, and the government officials worked hard to conceal it with what appeared to be a republic. During the Dominate, government officals made it clear to the citizens that absolutism was the way that government ruled. They made no attempts to hide it from the view of the people. Government officials would carry out a number of rituals that were imperial in nature. One of the biggest questions among historians who study the Roman empire is the identity of the first emperor. While this may sound strange to those who have not studied Roman history in detail, the reason this question is raised is because the title of emperor was not an original part of the Roman government system.
Julius Caesar was a "dictator for life." This in itself was a violation of Roman law, since no dictator was allowed to remain in office longer than six months. Julius Caesar was assassinated precisely because his followers felt that he would try to form a Monarchy. He was killed on March 15, 44 BC before this could happen. Because Julius Caesar was a dictator, many historians do not consider him to be the first emperor of Rome. Many historians have chosen to given this title to his nephew, who was known as Caesar Augustus, also known as Octavian. He learned from the mistakes of Julius Caesar and never proclaimed himself to be dictator.
By the time of the Dominate, Western Rome was in decline. By 476, the Empire was suffering constant barbarian raids, and it ceased to exist. The eastern portion of the empire continued to maintain a degree of power, and would eventually become the Byzantine Empire. Rome had a long and rich history, and its influence can still be felt today.
Original Authors: Stephen Palmer
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 02/02/2007