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  •  Ironically it was Claudius, who claimed to be (3+ / 0-)
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    Hammerhand, Mark Sumner, wxorknot

    a Republican, that cemented the authority of the Emperors in the minds of the Roman people.  

    Augustus was viewed as exceptional--the type of leader who comes along once every few centuries that has the gifts necessary to rule absolutely and yet with fairness, advancing the public good.  His stepson and successor Tiberius was in many ways his antithesis, and by the end of his reign was almost universally despised by all Romans.  Tiberius's heir Caligula was short-lived, but his insane excesses while in power turned many against the rule of an emperor.

    So when the studious and ostensibly gentle Claudius was put on the throne by the Praetorians, those who advocated a return to the Republic believed they had their chance in him.  He was, after all, a scholar and historian who vocally cherished the days of the Republic.

    However, Claudius took the path of absolute authoritarianism, in no small part due to the conspiracies against him that led him to paranoia (the most famous one led by his third wife, Messalina).  But the greater damage may be that, at least for the majority of his reign, he was a supremely able and competent administrator.  While he was no Augustus, he gave Romans the idea that an Emperor could rule effectively.  So it is perhaps a bitter irony that Claudius inculcated Romans to the rule of the emperors by being good at it.

    •  That's Robert Graves' fiction. (1+ / 0-)
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      He even fantasized that Augustus was a Republican.
      The Republic was a mess and was not popular. The Empire was considered an improvement over the Republic.

      •  No. nothing to do with Graves. (1+ / 0-)
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        enemy of the people

        That's from Seutonius.

        It's also supported by the actions of the Flavian emperors, like Vespasian, who went to lengths to align themselves with Claudius as an example of capable administration that vindicated Imperial Rule.

        And I would never dispute your depiction of the late Republic versus the early Imperial age.  Rome had become an oligarchy and the Emperors were more often than not populist, that is true.

        •  Claudius had the 'common touch' and was better (0+ / 0-)

          than Tiberius, Caligula and Nero but that's not saying much.
          He's considered an undignified fool by Tacitus, he was a cuckold, married his niece, disinherited his son and married his daughter to Nero. He conquered Britain and built up Ostia.
          His administration consisted of his personal slaves Narcissus and Pallas rather than any system.
          Rome was more like 19th century classbound Britain than America. It was held up by later historians as an argument in favor of monarchy over republics. Similarly the French prefer the glory days of Napoleon versus the anarchy of the First Republic or the Directory.

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