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Tacitus on empire and republic

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The advent of imperial rule in ancient Rome represented the subordination of the civitas to the dynastic struggle for potentia, first by introducing force and violence (the military) into the public-political arena, and second by the appropriation of the victorious general of all the relevant political space, so that glory and public office were no longer the products of the political competition among equals, but were rather contingent upon the gratia of the emperor, who embodied in his person the public space of the entire polity. Caesar was no longer one actor contending against others within a well-defined political arena based upon the opposing poles of senate and people. Rather, this arena itself was now the property (the dominium) of Caesar, and the res publica had become a res privata.
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Keywords: competition; conflict; dissension; domination; empire; force; imperium domi; imperium militiae; liberty; opposition; oratory; order; peace; power (constitutional and unconstitutional); republic; speech; strife; violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The City University Of New York. Email:[email protected]

Publication date: 1993-01-01

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