The term "tetrarchy" describes any form of government where power is divided among four individuals, but in modern usage refers to the system instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293, marking the end of the Crisis of the Third Century and the recovery of the Roman Empire. This tetrarchy lasted until c. 313, when mutually destructive civil wars eliminated most of the claimants to power, leaving Constantine in control of the western half of the empire, Licinius in control of the eastern half. Although the term "tetrarch" was current in antiquity, it was never used of the imperial college under Diocletian. Instead, the term was used to describe independent portions of a kingdom that were ruled under separate leaders; the tetrarchy of Judaea, established after the death of Herod the Great, is the most famous example of the antique tetrarchy. The term was understood in the Latin world as well, where Pliny the Elder glossed it as follows: "each is the equivalent of a kingdom, part of one"; as used by the ancients, the term describes not only different governments, but a different system of government from the Diocletianic arrangements.
The Judaean tetrarchy was a set of four independent and distinct states, where each tetrarch ruled a quarter of a kingdom as they saw fit. When authors described the period, this is what they emphasized: Ammianus had Constantius II admonish Gallus for disobedience by appealing to the example in submission set by Diocletian's lesser colleagues. Only Lactantius, a contemporary of Diocletian and a deep ideological opponent of the Diocletianic state, referred to the tetrarchs as a simple multiplicity of rulers. Much modern scholarship was written without the term. Although Edward Gibbon pioneered the description of the Diocletianic government as a "New Empire", he never used the term "tetrarchy", it did not appear in the literature until used in 1887 by schoolmaster Hermann Schiller in a two-volume handbook on the Roman Empire, to wit: "die diokletianische Tetrarchie". So, the term did not catch on in the literature until Otto Seeck used it in 1897; the first phase, sometimes referred to as the diarchy, involved the designation of the general Maximian as co-emperor—firstly as Caesar in 285, followed by his promotion to Augustus in 286.
Diocletian took care of matters in the eastern regions of the empire while Maximian took charge of the western regions. In 293, Diocletian thought that more focus was needed on both civic and military problems, so with Maximian's consent, he expanded the imperial college by appointing two Caesars —Galerius and Constantius Chlorus. In 305, the senior emperors jointly abdicated and retired, allowing Constantius and Galerius to be elevated in rank to Augustus, they in turn appointed two new Caesars—Severus II in the west under Constantius, Maximinus in the east under Galerius—thereby creating the second Tetrarchy. The four tetrarchs based themselves not at Rome but in other cities closer to the frontiers intended as headquarters for the defence of the empire against bordering rivals and barbarians at the Rhine and Danube; these centres are known as the tetrarchic capitals. Although Rome ceased to be an operational capital, Rome continued to be nominal capital of the entire Roman Empire, not reduced to the status of a province but under its own, unique Prefect of the City.
The four tetrarchic capitals were: Nicomedia in northwestern Asia Minor, a base for defence against invasion from the Balkans and Persia's Sassanids was the capital of Diocletian, the eastern Augustus. Sirmium was the capital of the eastern Caesar. Mediolanum was the capital of the western Augustus. Augusta Treverorum was the capital of Constantius Chlorus, the western Caesar, near the strategic Rhine border; this quarter became the prefecture Galliae. Aquileia, a port on the Adriatic coast, Eboracum, were significant centres for Maximian and Constantius respectively. In terms of regional jurisdiction there was no precise division among the four tetrarchs, this period did not see the Roman state split up into four distinct sub-empires; each emperor had his zone of influence within the Roman Empire, but little more high command in a'war theater'. Each tetrarch was himself in the field, while delegating most of the administration to the hierarchic bureaucracy headed by his respective Pretorian Prefect, each supervising several Vicarii, the governors-general in charge of another, lasting new administrative level, the civi
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables, to the Corpus Juris Civilis ordered by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. Roman law forms the basic framework for civil law, the most used legal system today, the terms are sometimes used synonymously; the historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law. After the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, the Roman law remained in effect in the Eastern Roman Empire. From the 7th century onward, the legal language in the East was Greek. Roman law denoted the legal system applied in most of Western Europe until the end of the 18th century. In Germany, Roman law practice remained in place longer under the Holy Roman Empire. Roman law thus served as a basis for legal practice throughout Western continental Europe, as well as in most former colonies of these European nations, including Latin America, in Ethiopia.
English and Anglo-American common law were influenced by Roman law, notably in their Latinate legal glossary. Eastern Europe was influenced by the jurisprudence of the Corpus Juris Civilis in countries such as medieval Romania which created a new system, a mixture of Roman and local law. Eastern European law was influenced by the "Farmer's Law" of the medieval Byzantine legal system. Before the Twelve Tables, private law comprised the Roman civil law that applied only to Roman citizens, was bonded to religion; the jurist Sextus Pomponius said, "At the beginning of our city, the people began their first activities without any fixed law, without any fixed rights: all things were ruled despotically, by kings". It is believed that Roman Law is rooted in the Etruscan religion; the first legal text is the Law of the Twelve Tables, dating from the mid-5th century BC. The plebeian tribune, C. Terentilius Arsa, proposed that the law should be written, in order to prevent magistrates from applying the law arbitrarily.
After eight years of political struggle, the plebeian social class convinced the patricians to send a delegation to Athens, to copy the Laws of Solon. In 451 BC, according to the traditional story, ten Roman citizens were chosen to record the laws. While they were performing this task, they were given supreme political power, whereas the power of the magistrates was restricted. In 450 BC, the decemviri produced the laws on ten tablets, but these laws were regarded as unsatisfactory by the plebeians. A second decemvirate is said to have added two further tablets in 449 BC; the new Law of the Twelve Tables was approved by the people's assembly. Modern scholars tend to challenge the accuracy of Roman historians, they do not believe that a second decemvirate took place. The decemvirate of 451 is believed to have included the most controversial points of customary law, to have assumed the leading functions in Rome. Furthermore, the question on the Greek influence found in the early Roman Law is still much discussed.
Many scholars consider it unlikely that the patricians sent an official delegation to Greece, as the Roman historians believed. Instead, those scholars suggest, the Romans acquired Greek legislations from the Greek cities of Magna Graecia, the main portal between the Roman and Greek worlds; the original text of the Twelve Tables has not been preserved. The tablets were destroyed when Rome was conquered and burned by the Gauls in 387 BC; the fragments which did survive show. It did not provide a complete and coherent system of all applicable rules or give legal solutions for all possible cases. Rather, the tables contained specific provisions designed to change the then-existing customary law. Although the provisions pertain to all areas of law, the largest part is dedicated to private law and civil procedure. Many laws include Lex Canuleia, Leges Licinae Sextiae, Lex Ogulnia, Lex Hortensia. Another important statute from the Republican era is the Lex Aquilia of 286 BC, which may be regarded as the root of modern tort law.
However, Rome's most important contribution to European legal culture was not the enactment of well-drafted statutes, but the emergence of a class of professional jurists and of a legal science. This was achieved in a gradual process of applying the scientific methods of Greek philosophy to the subject of law, a subject which the Greeks themselves never treated as a science. Traditionally, the origins of Roman legal science are connected to Gnaeus Flavius. Flavius is said to have published around the year 300 BC the formularies containing the words which had to be spoken in court to begin a legal action. Before the time of Flavius, these formularies are said to have been secret and known only to the priests, their publication made it possible for non-priests to explore the mea
Senatus consultum ultimum
Senatus consultum ultimum, more properly senatus consultum de re publica defendenda is the modern term given to a decree of the Roman Senate during the late Roman Republic passed in times of emergency. The form was consules darent operam ne quid detrimenti res publica caperet or videant consules ne quid res publica detrimenti capiat, it was first decreed prior to the fall of Gaius Gracchus in 121 BC, subsequently at several other points, including during Lepidus' march on Rome in 77 BC, the Conspiracy of Catiline in 63 BC, before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC. The senatus consultum ultimum replaced the disused dictatorship, by removing limitations on the magistrates' powers to preserve the state. After the rise of the Principate, there was little need for the Senate to issue the decree again. From around the year 500 BC, the dictatorship was the main measure of emergency power in the Roman Republic. In a senatus consultum, the Roman Senate would authorize the consuls to nominate a dictator who received imperium magnum, great power to act in a time of emergency until the crisis was over.
The dictatorship marked the sole exception from the rules of collegiality and responsibility, meaning the dictator was not liable for official actions. This changed around the year 300 BC, against its nature, the dictatorship was placed under the public provocatio, meaning that the Plebeian Council could be called to counter-act executive actions of the dictator; as a result, the practice was altered and dropped altogether after 202 BC. The senatus consultum ultimum, which replaced the dictatorship in the late 2nd century, does not have a specific name in the sources, where it is mentioned "by quoting what was its opening advisory statements to the magistrate who had it passed", it is by that specific phrase. Its short name in research literature derives from a section in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Civili, where he writes: decurritur ad illud extremum atque ultimum senatus consultum. Since this is the shortest mention of the decree available, "the label seems to have stuck"; the actual wording of the decree was however longer, Gerhard Plaumann gives it as "de ea re ita censuere: uti rem publicam defendant operamque dent ne quid res publica detrimenti capiat", having distilled this from a number of sources writing about the decree.
He therefore argues that senatus consultum de re publica defendenda or "quasi-dictatorship" would be more fitting terms. It is the vague nature of the phrase; the word ultimum does not indicate it to be the last decree passed by a senate or that it constituted an ultimatum, but rather that the decree was viewed only as a "last resort". In reaction to the redundancy of the dictatorship, the senate party were in need of a new emergency power that would not fall under the public rights of provocatio and intercessio; the populares under Tiberius Gracchus had challenged the power of the senate and began with a program of land reform. Because he was a Tribune of the Plebs, the senate needed extraordinary power to stop him, since Gracchus was able to appeal his demands directly to the people and bring them into law. After Tiberius Gracchus had won re-election as tribune, rumour spread. Upon hearing this the senate was in uproar, with a majority favoring to intervene with violent measures, while one of the incumbent consuls, Publius Mucius Scaevola fought against it, doubting such a step would be constitutional.
The senate passed the final decree. Scaevola refused to carry out any violent steps before Gracchus and his followers resorted to violence first. To this, Gracchus' cousin, Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica, the Pontifex Maximus, reacted by shouting "qui rem publicam salvam esse vult, me sequatur" and led the senators against Tiberius, killed in the resulting confrontation; some researchers, such as Golden and Lintott/Momigliano, have doubted that the example of 133 BC constitutes a SCU, since the highest magistrate, the consul, addressed by the decree, did not act upon it. Plaumann has argued that this follows the false logic that the decree would only be valid once the magistrate carries it out, while in his opinion a reluctance to abide by it is possible; the killing of Tiberius Gracchus was in this case not covered by the SCU since it was not the consul who carried it out. Chen Kefeng has pointed out that "in comparison with the ones, was uncommon and in inconformity to the orthodox formula due to the un-cooperation of the highest magistrate".
Following the precedent set in 133, several attempts were made by people associated with the populares party to protect the public rights of provocatio against executive power. Following the example of the leges Porciae from the beginning of the century, the lex Sempronia de capite civis, initiated by Tiberius' brother Gaius Gracchus following his election to the post of Tribune of the Plebs in 123 BC, made it impossible to carry out capital punishment only ratified by the senate; the lex Sempronia can be seen as a direct reaction to the fate of Tiberius Gracchus and his followers, who were tried and sentenced in a special tribunal with powers of
The Pontifex Maximus or pontifex maximus was the chief high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post. A distinctly religious office under the early Roman Republic, it became politicized until, beginning with Augustus, it was subsumed into the Imperial office, its last use with reference to the emperors is in inscriptions of Gratian who, however decided to omit the words "pontifex maximus" from his title. Although in fact the most powerful office of Roman priesthood, the pontifex maximus was ranked fifth in the ranking of the highest Roman priests, behind the rex sacrorum and the flamines maiores; the word "pontifex" and its derivative "pontiff" became terms used for Catholic bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, the title of "Pontifex Maximus" was applied within the Catholic Church to the Pope as its chief bishop and appears on buildings and coins of popes of Renaissance and modern times.
The official list of titles of the Pope given in the Annuario Pontificio includes "Supreme Pontiff" as the fourth title, the first being "Bishop of Rome".. The etymology of "pontifex" is uncertain, has been since Roman times; the word appears to consist of the Latin word for "bridge" and the suffix for "maker". However, there is a possibility that this definition is a folk etymology for an Etruscan term, since Roman religion was influenced by Etruscan religion, little is known about the Etruscan language, not Indo-European. According to the common interpretation, the term pontifex means "bridge-builder"; this was originally meant in a literal sense: the position of bridge-builder was indeed an important one in Rome, where the major bridges were over the Tiber, the sacred river: only prestigious authorities with sacral functions could be allowed to "disturb" it with mechanical additions. However, it was always understood in its symbolic sense as well: the pontifices were the ones who smoothed the "bridge" between gods and men.
The interpretation of the word pontifex as "bridge-builder" was that of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Marcus Terentius Varro. Plutarch pointed out that the term existed before there were any bridges in Rome and derived the word from Old Latin pontis meaning a powerful or absolute master, while others derived it from potis facere in the sense of "able to sacrifice"; the last derivation is mentioned by Varro, who rejected it, but it was the view of Pontifex Maximus Quintus Scaevola. Others have held that the word was pompifex; the word pons meant "way" and pontifex would thus mean "maker of roads and bridges". Another opinion is that the word is a corruption of a similar-sounding but etymologically unrelated Etruscan word, yet another hypothesis considers the word as a loan from the Sabine language, in which it would mean a member of a college of five, from Osco-Umbrian ponte, five. This explanation takes into account the fact that the college was established by Sabine king Numa Pompilius and the institution is Italic: the expressions pontis and pomperias found in the Iguvine Tablets may denote a group or division of five or by five.
The pontifex would thence be a member of a sacrificial college known as pomperia. The Roman title "Pontifex Maximus" was rendered in Greek inscriptions and literature of the time as "ἀρχιερεύς" or by a more literal translation and order of words as "ἀρχιερεὺς μέγιστος" (literally, "greatest high priest"; the term "ἀρχιερεύς" is used in the Septuagint text of the Old Testament and in the New Testament to refer to the Jewish high priest in 2Mac 4, 7. The Collegium Pontificum was the most important priesthood of ancient Rome; the foundation of this sacred college and the office of Pontifex Maximus is attributed to the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius. Much of what is known about the Regal period in Roman history is mythical; the Collegium acted as advisers to the rex in religious matters. The collegium was headed by the pontifex maximus, all the pontifices held their office for life, but the pontifical records of early Rome were most destroyed when the city was sacked by the Gauls in 387 BCE, the earliest accounts of Archaic Rome come from the literature of the Republic, most of it from the 1st century BC and later.
According to the Augustan-era historian Livy, Numa Pompilius, a Sabine, devised Rome's system of religious rites, including the manner and timing of sacrifices, the supervision of religious funds, authority over all public and private religious institutions, instruction of the populace in the celestial and funerary rites including appeasing the dead, expiation of prodigies. Numa is said to have founded Roman religion after dedicating an altar on the Aventine Hill to Jupiter Elicius and consulting the gods by means of augury. Numa wrote down and sealed these religious instructions, gave them to the first Pontifex Maximus, Numa Marcius. In the Roman Republic, the Pontifex Maximus was the highest office in the state religion of ancient Rome and directed the College of Pontiffs. According to Livy, after the overthrow of the monarchy, the Romans created the priesthood of the rex sacrorum, or "king of sacred rites," to carry out certain religious duties and rituals performed by the king; the rex sacrorum was explicitly deprived of military and political power, but the pontifices were permi
In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed; the Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117. In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and to an autocratic semi-elective empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it dominated the North African coast and most of Western Europe, the Balkans and much of the Middle East.
It is grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world. Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, society, law, government, art, literature and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France, it achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments and public facilities. The Punic Wars with Carthage were decisive in establishing Rome as a world power. In this series of wars Rome gained control of the strategic islands of Corsica and Sicily. By the end of the Republic, Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa.
The Roman Empire emerged with the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. 721 years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in human history, have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires. Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak, it stretched from the entire Mediterranean Basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire broke up into independent "barbarian" kingdoms in the 5th century; this splintering is a landmark historians use to divide the ancient period of universal history from the pre-medieval "Dark Ages" of Europe.
The eastern part of the empire endured through the 5th century and remained a power throughout the "Dark Ages" and medieval times until its fall in 1453 AD. Although the citizens of the empire made no distinction, the empire is most referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" by modern historians during the Middle Ages to differentiate between the state of antiquity and the nation it grew into. According to the founding myth of Rome, the city was founded on 21 April 753 BC on the banks of the river Tiber in central Italy, by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, who descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas, who were grandsons of the Latin King Numitor of Alba Longa. King Numitor was deposed by his brother, while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth to the twins. Since Rhea Silvia had been raped and impregnated by Mars, the Roman god of war, the twins were considered half-divine; the new king, feared Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so he ordered them to be drowned. A she-wolf saved and raised them, when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor.
The twins founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over the location of the Roman Kingdom, though some sources state the quarrel was about, going to rule or give his name to the city. Romulus became the source of the city's name. In order to attract people to the city, Rome became a sanctuary for the indigent and unwanted; this caused a problem, in that Rome was bereft of women. Romulus visited neighboring towns and tribes and attempted to secure marriage rights, but as Rome was so full of undesirables he was refused. Legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins with the Sabines. Another legend, recorded by Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, says that Prince Aeneas led a group of Trojans on a sea voyage to found a new Troy, since the original was destroyed at the end of the Trojan War. After a long time in rough seas, they landed on the banks of the Tiber River. Not long after they landed, the men wanted to take to the sea again, but the women who were traveling with them did not want to leave.
One woman, named Roma, suggested that the women burn the ships out at sea to prevent their leaving
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome; the Roman Empire was ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and Ravenna, an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Roman Senate sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople; the fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict.
In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC; the following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus making him the first emperor; the first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan. A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West.
Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, the Western Roman Empire collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD; the Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453. Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, architecture, philosophy and forms of government in the territory it governed Europe; the Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of republics such as the United States and France; the corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian peninsula until the 3rd century BC, it was an "empire" long before it had an emperor. The Roman Republic was not a nation-state in the modern sense, but a network of towns left to rule themselves and provinces administered by military commanders, it was ruled, not by annually elected magistrates in conjunction with the senate. For various reasons, the 1st century BC was a time of political and military upheaval, which led to rule by emperors.
The consuls' military power rested in the Roman legal concept of imperium, which means "command". Successful consuls were given the honorary title imperator, this is the origin of the word emperor since this title was always bestowed to the early emperors upon their accession. Rome suffered a long series of internal conflicts and civil wars from the late second century BC onward, while extending its power beyond Italy; this was the period of the Crisis of the Roman Republic. Towards the end of this era, in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was perpetual dictator before being assassinated; the faction of his assassins was driven from Rome and defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC by an army led by Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavian. Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, ending the Final War of the Roman Republic. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian princeps ("first citi
A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic, ancient Romans considered the consulship the highest level of the cursus honorum. Each year, the citizens of Rome elected two consuls to serve jointly for a one-year term; the consuls alternated in holding imperium each month, a consul's imperium extended over Rome and the provinces. However, after the establishment of the Empire, the consuls became mere symbolic representatives of Rome's republican heritage and held little power and authority, with the Emperor acting as the supreme authority. After the legendary expulsion of the last Etruscan King, Tarquin the Proud, a harsh ruler at the end of the Roman Kingdom, most of the powers and authority of the king were ostensibly given to the newly instituted consulship; this change in leadership came about when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, raped the wife and daughter of powerful Roman nobles. A group of nobles led by Lucius Junius Brutus, with the support of the Roman Army, expelled Tarquinius and his family from Rome in 509 BC.
Consuls were called praetors, referring to their duties as the chief military commanders. By at least 300 BC the title of Consul became used. Ancient writers derive the title consul from the Latin verb consulere, "to take counsel", but this is most a gloss of the term, which derives—in view of the joint nature of the office—from con- and sal-, "get together" or from con- and sell-/sedl-, "sit down together with" or "next to". In Greek, the title was rendered as στρατηγὸς ὕπατος, strategos hypatos, simply as ὕπατος; the consul was believed by the Romans to date back to the traditional establishment of the Republic in 509 BC, but the succession of consuls was not continuous in the 5th century BC. During the 440s, the office was quite replaced with the establishment of the Consular Tribunes, who were elected whenever the military needs of the state were significant enough to warrant the election of more than the two usual consuls; these remained in place until the office was abolished in 367/366 BC and the consulship was reintroduced.
Consuls had extensive powers in peacetime, in wartime held the highest military command. Additional religious duties included certain rites which, as a sign of their formal importance, could only be carried out by the highest state officials. Consuls read auguries, an essential step before leading armies into the field. Two consuls were elected each year, serving together, each with veto power over the other's actions, a normal principle for magistracies, it is thought that only patricians were eligible for the consulship. Consuls were elected by the Comitia Centuriata, which had an aristocratic bias in its voting structure which only increased over the years from its foundation. However, they formally assumed powers only after the ratification of their election in the older Comitia Curiata, which granted the consuls their imperium by enacting a law, the "lex curiata de imperio". If a consul died during his term or was removed from office, another would be elected by the Comitia Centuriata to serve the remainder of the term as consul suffectus.
A consul elected to start the year - called a consul ordinarius - held more prestige than a suffect consul because the year would be named for ordinary consuls. According to tradition, the consulship was reserved for patricians and only in 367 BC did plebeians win the right to stand for this supreme office, when the Lex Licinia Sextia provided that at least one consul each year should be plebeian; the first plebeian consul, Lucius Sextius, was elected the following year. The office remained in the hands of a few families as, according to Gelzer, only fifteen novi homines - "new men" with no consular background - were elected to the consulship until the election of Cicero in 63 BC. Modern historians have questioned the traditional account of plebeian emancipation during the early Republic, noting for instance that about thirty percent of the consuls prior to Sextius had plebeian, not patrician, names, it is possible that only the chronology has been distorted, but it seems that one of the first consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus, came from a plebeian family.
Another possible explanation is that during the 5th century social struggles, the office of consul was monopolized by a patrician elite. During times of war, the primary qualification for consul was military skill and reputation, but at all times the selection was politically charged. With the passage of time, the consulship became the normal endpoint of the cursus honorum, the sequence of offices pursued by the ambitious Roman who chose to pursue political power and influence; when Lucius Cornelius Sulla regulated the cursus by law, the minimum age of election to consul became, in effect, 41 years of age. Beginning in the late Republic, after finishing a consular year, a former consul would serve a lucrative term as a proconsul, the Roman Governor of one of the provinces; the most chosen province for the proconsulship was Cisalpine Gaul. Although throughout the early years of the Principate, the consuls were still formally elected by the Comitia Centuriata, they were in fact nominated by the princeps.
As the years progressed, the distinction between the Comitia Centuriata and the Comitia Tributa appears to have disappeared, so for the purposes of the consular