The Development of Roman Imperial Titles from Julius Caesar to Trajan and its implications
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This thesis explores the four terms most closely associated with what modern historians would call the emperorship, to determine Roman perspectives on who ruled the Roman world. The terms imperator, princeps, Augustus and Caesar are analysed, both in their official usage on coins and inscriptions and their unofficial use in works of literature. The focus in the analysis lies on the nature of the term - whether it is used as a title, a general term, or a name - and the meaning of the term in its particular context. This approach has been chosen to take into account both how the government presented itself and how it was viewed by its upper-class subjects. Furthermore, by tracking the linguistic evolution of these terms chronologically, it is possible to relate their development to the development of Roman rulership. In fact, using these methods it is possible to demonstrate a relationship between the development of Roman absolute rulership, known in modern historiography as emperorship, and the development of these terms into titles. As this thesis shows, the transition between Republic and Empire was a process that took long enough for contemporaries not to grasp the extent of change that for us is now evident. Not only that, the linguistic evolution, especially of the terms imperator and princeps, can be used to show that Roman rulership underwent great development during the first century. This evidence can then also be used to argue, that the term emperor has perhaps outlived its usefulness as an umbrella term, and that we need to be more sensitive to Roman perspectives on their own leadership.