Politics and Society in Imperial Rome

Winterling, Aloys
Date published: 
May 2009

During the early days of Imperial Rome, Augustus characterized himself as 'the restorer of the Res publica'. On the surface it appeared that the Roman Republic was indeed alive: Consuls were elected, tribunes legislated, and Senators engaged in heated debates in the Roman Curia. But the political integration of Roman society - with its deep social stratification marked by the pre-eminence of Senatorial nobility - was 'old'. And the role of the emperor and his patrimonial structure of imperial rule was 'new'. The consequences of these fundamentally incompatible structures and systems would have profound implications for the future of Imperial Rome. Using this fundamental contradiction between the political order of the republic and patrimonial-based imperial rule as a point of departure, Politics and Society in Imperial Rome offers fresh new interpretations of Rome's imperial era. The essays begin by replicating the paradoxes that were founded in the historical reality of Imperial Rome. Two case studies are then examined in the book's second section: the imperial court and political actions taken during Caligula's reign. Bold academic approaches of the classical historians Theodor Mommsen and Christian Meier are then explored in the book's final section. Original and thought-provoking, Politics and Society in Imperial Rome shines a bright new light on the complexities and contradictions of the glory that was Imperial Rome.