Project #28233 - The Roman Empire- The Severans

Week 5- The Severans

Answer the following question and then respond to two other posts:

Question:

This is our fourth dynasty so far. See any pattern(s) emerging about how power shifted in the Roman Empire? What seem to be the necessary ingredients for a change of dynasty? And just for fun: Every step of the way, I seem to keep coming up against the same question: How did the Empire survive? Have the reasons for its survival remained the same since the first time I asked this? Or have they changed? I still ask it! How on earth did the Empire survive this twist?

Your Answer:

Victoria’s Post:

It seems to me that the Empire gets into trouble when a bad emperor doesn't leave behind a good successor.  After Commodus was assassinated it was kind of like an "every man for himself" fight for the throne.  Severus eventually won out but it took him some time and some pretty drastic means (mostly military related).  Of course not all of the named successors were good emperors (many weren't) but at least they didn't have an entire year of in-fighting with 3 or 4 different people trying to lay claim to being emperor.  Severus made some pretty major changes too.  Under him it seems that politics in Rome took the turn towards the emperor being the official head of power.  He pretty effectively weakened the Senate and became where laws come from.  How did the Empire survive?  Who knows!  At this point, I'd say sheer force of will.  Or possibly ignoring most of what was going on in Rome and living their own lives away from the turmoil.  Caracalla did make the move to make everyone in the Empire a Roman citizen.  It was a nice uniting gesture that probably resulted in more tax revenue and economic means and made everyone feel like a part of the great big whole.  Although it did say in the book that there were religious motivations as well.

Your Response:

Susan’s Post:

It seems that imperial change jumps a dynasty or two. The Julio-Claudians and Flavians were mostly hereditary successors, and then the Antonines chose the best leader they could for succession, and now the African and Syrian Emperors are back to hereditary succession again. The constant theme I see is the praetorians. Those guys assassinated or murdered whomever they felt like. In return, an emperor or two later would then associate themselves with the assassinated previous emperor and murder everyone associated with the killing. It was madness. Power seemed to shift on the whims of the praetorians.

The necessary ingredients for a change of dynasty seem to be a horrible ruler, the last of a bloodline, getting assassinated. In addition, culture shifted and grew each time, and the political policies of a reigning dynasty would start to become irrelevant or even intolerant of current issues.

I have no idea how the empire survived. I would maybe give credit to the administration put in place by Augustus in the beginning. The framework that was built allowed the empire to survive despite the revolving door of emperors. I think during the period we are studying this week, you can really see the empire start to crack or unravel. The sheer numbers of people that have been elevated to administrative positions mean more people vying for power. Now, thanks to the career paths outlined and developed over four dynasties, more people have the means to elevate to a position where they can grasp power.

 

Your Response:

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