University of Tasmania
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Imperial legitimacy in the Roman Empire of the third century : AD 193-337

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posted on 2023-05-26, 05:37 authored by Shaw, MK
Septimius Severus, according to Cassius Dio, told his sons to enrich the soldiers and look down on all other men (Cass. Dio 77.15.2). This recognised the perceived importance of the army in establishing and maintaining the legitimacy of an emperor. This thesis explores the role of the army in the legitimation of emperors. It also considers whether there were other groups, such as the Senate and people, which emperors needed to consider in order to establish and maintain their position as well as the methods they used to do so. Enriching the soldiers was not the only method used and not the only way an emperor could be successful. The rapid turn over of emperors after Septimius' death, however, suggests that legitimacy was proving difficult to maintain even though all emperors all tried to establish and maintain the legitimacy of their regime. The concept of legitimate authority is explained in relation to legitimacy theory put forward by Max Weber who was one of the earliest to espouse a theory of legitimacy and remains influential, although his work is not without its critics. There are three principles espoused by Weber which allowed emperors to establish and maintain their legitimacy. These are legally proclaimed authority, traditional authority and charismatic authority. By using these categories, the importance of each type to the emperors and how they sought to use them is discussed and conclusions reached about the importance of the army and other groups in the legitimation process.


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