Who was the greatest Roman Emperor - Quora.html

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Who was the greatest Roman Emperor? UpdateCancel Answer Wiki 22 Answers
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Dan Holliday , I read. Updated Nov 3, 2016 My vote is for Augustus. The first and longest reigning emperor. I hate that we give him a retronym “emperor” (though, I confess that “Prince” doesn’t quite ring true and “Dictator” doesn’t fit either). He was more like a benevolent military dictator. Certainly, the ancient Romans didn’t speak English and we need our words to describe their positions. This is where a bit of my pedantry comes in and I have to belabor the point a bit. The title “imperator” (from which we get our word “emperor”) is a military and honorary title meaning “vanquishing general”. Of course, Augustus was an “imperator”. But he didn’t come in on his steamroller, destroying the Republic crowning himself Emperor — he wasn’t called that. The title people called him was “Caesar” (from which Eastern Europe gets its word for emperor : “czar”, “tsar”, “kaiser”) or more appropriately, “Princeps” (pronounced prin-keps : “first citizen” — from which we get our word “prince”). But even then, his authority was personal†. He certainly held the official title of consul on-and-off during his life —and was granted tribunate powers in perpetuity, person fiefdom over Gaul [France], Spain, Syria and Egypt— but the Res Pvblica (literally “public thing” or more appropriately, commonwealth ), continued existing. He was its first citizen and his power over the Roman Republic existed apart from its government institutions. His greatest trick was in fooling the people of Rome that they held all the power and that he was just looking out for them. And as tricks go, it was a damned good one. He may have been a despot, but he was a despot who acted the part of benevolent father so totally that, no matter what he was on the inside, he really was a great leader on the outside. The Republic continued parallel to his “reign”. He began the principate (better than calling it the “Empire” because Rome was an empire for centuries before Augustus). It was the official/unofficial position of power that the Caesars held after him, “the period of hereditary supreme authority of one autocrat, frequently hereditary, but frequently not”. During his life, he obsessed over not acting like a king of Rome but a guardian of the Republic.
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At no point in time am I waving away the brutal things he did as Triumvir, the proscriptions and the mass murders. But if we draw a line between the time of Octavius and the time of Augustus, he really does become a different man. Pompous and stubborn throughout his life, once he had power, and sensed no threat to it, he was magnanimous and loving (refusing to seize land even from peasants —even if he paid them— to build public works). There is a veritable encyclopedia of his largesse. One example being, he
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