I had my final for my Ancient Rome class this past Thursday. Being an idiot, I didn’t bother to login to the classroom until the day it was due, only to discover that I needed a proctor. Hmmmm, this sounds strangly familiar. In may do me some good in the future to read the syllabus a little more carefully. But I probably won’t. Anyway, after scrambling Sunday evening and Monday morning, I was able to secure the good graces of my professor and my stand-by proctor and was allowed until this past Thursday to take the final. Here it is, complete with grade and feedback.
Question 1 (Worth 50 points)
In 200-300 words discuss how Augustus secured his hold over the institutions of Rome and established one man rule of the vast Roman Empire. Be sure to address how he neutralized the senate, gained control of the army, and promoted the arts and religion as allies in his quest for total control.
|ESSAY SUBMISSIONThe Senate was already weakening by the time Augustus came to power. Civil wars had sapped its political strength, though it still retained a great deal of prestige. Augustus realized that the appearance of a functional Senate was critical in keeping law and order and in legitimizing his power in the eyes of the people and so instituted policies that gave this impression, while maintaining its actual political impotence, subject to his control. The Senate was stripped of its power in foreign affairs, military policy and financial duties. He also added more regulation regarding who could be a senator, creating an order of property qualified members and their sons, including reducing the number of Senators to 600. Other symbolic measures were to forbid the wearing of the laticlave by the sons of knights, as this was to be reserved for Senators and their sons. These measures succeeded in keeping the Senate prestigious, but not politically strong enough to challenge the emperor.Augustus realized that to retain control of the Empire, he had to retain control of the army. Having distinguished himself on the battlefield in the days of the Second Triumvirate he had the bonus of being already revered by most in the army. Add to this that all soldiers swore the sacramentum to him alone and that he chose the legions’ legates and the provincial governors, he all but guaranteed himself the loyalty of the army. The authority he exercised made him the over-general, if you will, all battles being fought for him and in his name, thus all victories were his. In addition he made provision for his veterans by way of a pension.
Augustus also saw the value in religion to advance his quest for power. Though himself religious, and in fact a restorer of many of the traditional religious rites, he was not opposed to exploiting it for political gain. To at once restore the priesthoods and elevate himself, he took on the titles of all the notable ones. He was also not above associating his reforms with their similar religious counterpart. In all this, he paved the way for the imperial cult. He claimed to be the son of a deity, his adoptive father Julius Caesar had been deified, and building on Hellenistic influences only helped to proliferate the concept of the imperial cult.
He also rebuilt much of Rome, always gave command of large armies to relatives, maintained proconsular powers in all of the provinces that contained legions.
Points earned on this question: 48
Question 2 (Worth 50 points)Edward Gibbon believed that the Roman Empire reached its zenith under the Antonine Emperors. In 200-300 words express your opinion concerning the Antonines and Gibbon’s theory. Cite specific examples of successes and failures. Be sure to include the following elements: foreign and miliatry policy, the economy, the arts and domestic political policy.
|ESSAY SUBMISSIONEdward Gibbon is probably correct in his assessment of the Antonine Empire being the height of Rome. The Five Good Emperors’ rule was characterized, mostly, by peace and economic prosperity. Upon Commodus’ ascension to Emperor, a perceptible downward slope is evident.Under the Antonines, most provinces were prosperous economically. Agriculture had always been Rome’s greatest source of wealth, and still was under the Antonines, but the areas of industry and commerce also flourished. Mines and quarries were springing up all throughout the Empire. Manufacturing was also developing. Things like textiles, furniture, and glassware, among others began to be produced in relatively larger quantities. They were nothing on the order of the modern world, but beginning to grow. Commerce also expanded as trade routes to the east and Africa complemented those already extensively in place within the Empire.
The army at the time of the Antonines was a mostly defensive army. Its job was to protect the Empire from outside invasion. As such, it was often numerically smaller than at other times. This was partially offset by the high standards of training required and also by the use of forts, walls, and other defensive structures. There were in fact barbarians within the frontiers of the Empire, but these were to be integrated into the citizenry and protected thusly. Those barbarians outside the frontier were the enemy and must be kept at bay. Throughout the Antonine Empire this goal was attained. The threat of force by the Roman legions was as much an asset to defense, and peace, as the legions themselves were.
The Antonine Emperors saw themselves, for the most part, as the divinely guardians of Rome. They saw as their duty to protect and guide Rome. As such, they were absolutely confident that they alone were the ones to be in control. The Senate remained, but was more or less an administrative body and than a legislative one. The Emperor was in supreme control.
The great gift of the Antonines was that they solved the question of succession by adopting talented heirs. This avoided the curse of civil war and allowed the empire to prosper in peace.
Points earned on this question: 45