III
THE ACCESSION OF TIBERIUS

As the principate of Augustus was a new form of government, the death of its founder created a situation without precedent. Although there was no doubt as to who his successor would be, it was far from clear by what precise steps he should be placed upon the throne. It might even be argued that, since Tiberius already held the proconsular imperium and the tribunician power independently of, though in subordination to, Augustus, the death of the latter left Tiberius the reigning emperor, and that he had merely to go on governing the Roman world, only now in his own name instead of in that of Augustus. If this view were adopted all that Tiberius need do was to summon the senate and ask it to grant him such honorary distinctions as he desired and such of the special prerogatives of his predecessor as he thought it convenient to possess. But while this course would have been legal it would have violated the whole theory of the principate, by which the office of emperor was regarded as a temporary one, created especially for Augustus, after whose death the senate and people might confer it upon any person whom they pleased or abolish it altogether.1 If Tiberius wished to respect this theory, he could not openly assume that he would succeed Augustus, or that, if he did, he would be given the same powers; he must leave to the senate the appearance of perfect freedom, and this necessity forced him to play a part in a comedy. The senators can have felt no doubt that Tiberius intended to mount the throne, and to give their recognition of him the semblance of an election it was necessary for him to feign reluctance and to yield only to their earnest solicitation. In this there was no. real hypocrisy but only an observance of constitutional fictions. Tiberius wished to reign as the choice of the senate rather than as the nominee of Augustus, and probably the senate preferred that, if he became emperor, it should be in this fashion. Whether

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1
It They might be held to have settled the matter when they conferred the proconsular imperium and the tribunician power on Tiberius. Nevertheless, since his powers had been subordinate to those of Augustus, it was theoretically possible for them to prefer some one else as the actual head of the government.

-45-

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The Reign of Tiberius
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Tiberius and His Historians 1
  • II - The Legacy of Augustus 16
  • III - The Accession of Tiberius 45
  • IV - Germanicus 69
  • V - The Early Government of Tiberius in Rome 105
  • VI - Tiberius and the Empire 134
  • VII - The Struggle for the Succession 160
  • VIII - The Close of the Reign 200
  • Appendixes 231
  • List of Works Referred to in the Notes 311
  • Index 318
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