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The Roman Empire in the Civil War 49–45 BC

(2,080 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The causes and provocations of wars have been a constant subject of lively discussion since Thucydides, and the Civil War brought about by Caesar is no exception. One crucial cause of this war was probably the circumstance that Caesar ran the risk, in his confrontation with opponents in the Senate and with Pompey, of losing his political identity and with it his dignitas. However, the war was provoked by the senatus consultum ultimum issued by the Senate on 7 January 49 BC, which aimed at forcing the proconsul to relinquish his army. Caesar reacted to this as close …

The imperium Romanum in the reign of Septimius Severus (AD 193–211)

(1,418 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
As a ruler, Septimius Severus was profoundly shaped by his long struggle to gain the throne. Almost four years elapsed from his acclamation as emperor by the Pannonian legions at Carnuntum (where he had resided as legatus Augusti pro praetore of Pannonia superior since 191) in April 193 until his acceptance across the whole empire following his victory over Clodius Albinus at Lugdunum on 19 February 197. The lessons learned during this period made themselves felt in many of his governmental measures. We should always be on our guard …

The Germanic successor-states to the Western Roman Empire

(1,808 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
First and Second Burgundian kingdoms Around 413, the Burgundians settled around Borbetomagus/Worms. They retreated before the Huns into Belgica, where they were defeated in 436 by the Roman general Aetius with the help of Hunnic foederati. Aetius settled the survivors as foederati in Sapaudia (modern Savoy) between the Rhône and Lake Geneva in 438. They extended their kingdom into modern Burgundy, but were not in the end able to withstand the Franks. Their last king, Godomar, was defeated in 532 at Divio/Dijon and his realm incorporated into the Frankish kingdom. The Visigothic kingd…

The ‘Palmyrene Empire’ (AD 250–272)

(1,998 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The Greeks adopted an Egyptian term denoting a depression with fertile soil in the desert, calling it an oasis. Palmyra was such an Oasis. It lies in the heart of the so-called Fertile Crescent (a term coined by the Orientalist James Henry Breasted, 1865–1935), the zone of steppe in what is now Jordan, Israel, the Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, surrounded by highlands (Libanus, Antilibanus, Antitaurus, Zagrus) and suitable for rain-fed agriculture (i.e. without artificial irrigation). This zone forms a semicircular fringe around the northern …

The development of the Roman provinces in North Africa (146 BC – AD 395)/Rome’s war against Jugurtha (112–105 BC)

(1,743 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
146–46 BC After the destruction of the city of Carthage in the spring of 146 BC, P. Cornelius Scipio had the seventh Roman province defined by laying down a demarcation line to the Numidian kingdom. This Fossa regia, of which evidence survives in the form of boundary stones, ran from Thabraca in the north-west to Thenae in the south-east. The province was named Africa, probably after the Libyan Afri tribe from the lower reaches of the Muthul (cf. smaller map). The province’s administrative seat was at Utica. 46–40/39 BC After his victory at Thapsus in 46 BC, Caesar created a second …

The territorial development of the Imperium Romanum in the Republican Period

(2,575 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The map shows the development of the Roman Empire in 19 chronological steps, marked in the legend and commentary with the years in which the expansions took place. Date Province Sources 241 BC Sicilia, western part Pol. 3,27,2; App. Sic. 2,4; Oros. 4,11,2 237 Sardinia et Corsica Pol. 1,88,8–12; Liv. 21,1,5; 21,40,5; 22,54,11; Fest. 430,14–20 229 Illyrian protectorate App. Ill. 21 f. 210 Kingdom of Syracuse incorporated into the province of Sicilia Liv. 26,40 206 Hispaniae, all of Sicilia App. Ib. 152; Liv.25,31,5; 25,40,4; cf. 31,31,8 148 Macedonia Flor. Epit.1,30; 1,32 146 Achaea inco…

The development of the Roman provinces of Sardinia, Corsica and Sicilia (3rd cent. BC to 5th/6th cents. AD)

(2,004 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. Development of the Roman provinces of Sardinia and Corsica (237 BC – AD 534) Records from Sardinia are far more plentiful and informative. The smaller island of Corsica was always in the shadow of its neighbour. Sardinia was known for its fertility. With Africa, Sicily and Egypt, the island delivered the grain so important to the urban population of Rome. Sardinia was also of economic importance for its ore resources. Corsica, on the other hand, could offer only the products of its forests (timber, resin) a…

The organization of the Christian church after the Synod of Chalcedon (AD 451)

(1,697 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
In the 2nd cent., the Christian congregations had moved from collegial leadership by the presbyters – modelled on the structure of authority in the Jewish diaspora communities – to the sole authority of one representative of the congregation, a bishop, who held office by virtue of his auctoritas and dignitas in succession to the Apostles. His sphere of authority usually included a city and the villages and individual farmsteads in its territorium. The first ecumenical synod, at Nicaea (19 June – c. 25 August 325) already acknowledged what had developed since the end of the D…

The provinces of the Imperium Romanum from Augustus to Septimius Severus (27 BC to AD 211)

(1,639 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
At the Senate sitting of 13 January 27 BC, the future Augustus (he received this honorific title at the Senate sitting three days later) returned to the Senate and people of Rome all the extraordinary powers he had arrogated or been assigned during the preceding period of civil war. However, the Senate pressed him to reassume at least some of the imperial administration, which he finally consented to do (Cass. Dio 53,12,5–7; 53,13,1; Str. 17,3,25; Suet. Aug. 28; 47). On the basis of an imperium proconsulare, then, he took over the administration of the following nine provinces: 1. Cyprus, a…

The development of the Roman provinces in Egypt and Arabia (1st cent. BC – 6th cent. AD)

(1,396 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. Aegyptus The annexation of the Ptolemaic heartland as a Roman province took place after Roman forces occupied Alexandria on 1 August 30 BC. Augustus, at the time still bearing the name C. Iulius Caesar Divi filius, commanded this action in his capacity as consul IV and by authority of the oath obliging him to prosecute the war against Cleopatra on behalf of all Italy and the western provinces. Aegyptus was the first province he established, and the act was still, as it were, infused by the spir…

The Roman Empire in the Civil War, 44-30 BC

(2,080 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. On 27 November 43 BC, on the basis of the lex Titia, the proconsuls M. Aemilius Lepidus and M. Antonius (Mark Antony), with C. Julius Caesar Octavianus (‘Caesar the Younger’), who had been elected consul suffectus on 19 August of that year, were equipped with consular imperium for five years, i.e. until the end of 38 BC, and charged with the task of reconstituting the commonwealth ( triumviri rei publicae constituendae). In this function, they decreed sweeping proscriptions (to which Cicero was among those who fell victim, on 7 December 43), chose 18 Italian tow…

The Roman Social War (91 – 87 BC)

(1,591 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
This war grew out of a revolt within the Roman alliance system ( bellum Marsicum, bellum Italicum, bellum sociale). In the main, it was the Italic socii of central and southern Italy who fought the Romans, and their real purpose was to obtain Roman citizenship for all the Italic peoples. It is possible that some Italic groups were also striving for complete independence from Rome (according to Mouritsen, it was their intention to win more participation in the process of political governance). The conflict had long been brewing, fuelled by the Italic peoples’ gr…

The development of the Roman provinces in the southern Balkan Peninsula

(888 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
Some 80 years after establishing their protectorate over parts of Illyricum, the Romans successively established three provinces in the southern Balkans: Macedonia, Achaia and, briefly, Epirus. After the end of the 3rd Macedonian War (see Map Rome’s wars in the east I (214-129 BC)), in 167 BC, the senate charged a ten-man commission under the direction of the proconsul L. Aemilius Paullus with organizing the Macedonian heartlands into four res publicae (Greek merides). Livy (Liv. 45,29,5-9) describes the regional structure of these four merides in detail, but does not allow th…

Cultural developments in the regions of Germanic settlement

(1,339 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. Language The Germanic languages are defined as a group of Indo-European languages, distinct from other Indo-European languages by reason of peculiarities developed through the course of time. Such peculiarities include • phenomena arising from the First Germanic Sound Shift (Grimm’s Law; this sound shift has recently been dated not to 500 BC, but only to the 1st cent. BC) • the shift of accent to the first syllable • the reduction of end syllables • the expansion of the inherited vowel gradation system. Surviving linguistic evidence allows the inference of a lost Proto-Germa…

The growth of Christian congregations, 1st-4th cents. AD

(1,847 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. Mission From its very earliest beginnings, Christianity was a missionary religion, in accordance with the ‘Great Commission’ of the New Testament (Mt 28: 18–20; Mk 16: 15f.; Jo 20: 21). Paul already planned to expand his missionary activities to Spain (Rom 11,25f.). In the mid 40s, the so-called Convention of the Apostles took place at Jerusalem, and from it came important stimuli for the sending out of missionaries, including Paul (Acts 15; Gal 2: 1–10). However, this does not mean that the wo…

The Roman Empire under Justinian (527–565)

(1,887 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
Justin I (518-527) prepared his nephew Justinian well for government, and he duly acceded on his uncle’s death. Justinian (527–565) made the most of his long reign with energy and stamina. Justinian is one of many to suffer from the tendency of the Thucydidean historiographical tradition to focus on foreign policy and the military aspects of government, while doing insufficient justice to achievements in internal government. His efforts in pursuit of an orderly fiscal policy, administrative and legal reforms ( Corpus iuris civilis) and the unification of the Orthodox Church (…

The development of the Roman provinces in the northern Balkan Peninsula (1st cent. BC to 4th cent. AD)

(1,564 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. The Roman Danube frontier territory from the confluence with the Tisza to the Delta At Singidunum/Belgrade, the abundant Savus/Sava flows into the Danube’s middle reaches from the right and the Pathissus/Tisza from the left. The Danube then leaves the Great Hungarian Plain after the conflux with the Margus/Morava (right tributary) at the municipium of the same name. It now breaks through the barrier of the southern Carpathian Alps in a 130 km section of narrower, faster flow which culminates at the Iron Gates (Serbian Ðerdap, Romanian Porţile d…

Romans and Sassanids in the Soldier-Emperors period (3rd cent. AD)

(1,751 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
In the strictest sense, the term ‘Sassanids’ denotes the Iranian dynasty descended from Sassan, and in a wider sense the inhabitants of the territory ruled by the Sassanid dynasty (cf. list of kings p. 216). The Sassanid Ardashir I rose up aginst Parthian rule and annihilated the forces of the Arsacid King Artabanus IV (213–224) on 28 April AD 224 at Hormizdâgan (not localized) in Media; Artabanus IV fell in the battle. The Sassanids went on to take over the entire Parthian kingdom, with the exception of Armenia, in a very short time. In doing so, the Sassanids inherited the problem of …

Caesar’s proconsulship in Gaul (58–50 BC)

(2,345 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
Caesar held the office of proconsul for the provinces of Gallia citerior (Gallia cisalpina), Illyricum and Gallia ulterior (Gallia transalpina) from March 58 BC until 10/11 January 49 BC. This was the period through the course of which he laid the practical foundations for the further ascent of his career towards the position of dictator perpetuus. The numerous festivals of thanksgiving ( supplicationes) by which the Senate recognized his services to the Roman commonwealth could only add to his dignitas, drowning out the memory of the legal breaches he had committed during…

Imperium Galliarum – the ‘Gallic Empire’ (AD 260–274)

(1,054 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
Contemporaries had no conception of what we know as the ‘Gallic Empire’ or ‘Imperium Galliarum’ as a separate political entity. They saw the ‘emperors’ at Colonia Agrippinensis/Cologne and Augusta Treverorum/Trier as men who claimed dominion (with whatever, if any, justification) over the entire Roman Empire, but who were at present only able to implement this dominion in the western part of the Empire. The coins of Postumus, the founder of the ‘Gallic Empire’, make this claim with the correct i…
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