The Senate


Patronage of the Senate

  • Aug: SUETONIUS AUG tells us that if there werent enough candidates for senatorial ranks he made appointments from among knights,
  • TACITUS: talk of Poppaeus Sabinus a man who from modest origin received consulate and triumphal honours and had governed provinces - simply because he was adequete at his business. <- emperors helped promote men to these higher ranks
  • Gaius: DIO talks about how he enrolled people for the equestrian order and allowed them to wear senatorial dress before usually meant to. 
  • Claudius and his debate with senate over whether entry to senate should be extended to Gauls and he wins. TACITUS ANNALS
  • Claudius also allows freedmen to become senators as long as they are first adopted by a Roman knight. SUETONIUS CLAUD 24
  • Vespasian reviewed both senatorial and equestrian orders, expelling those who least deserved the honour and enrolling most distinguished italians and provincials SUETONIUS VESP 9
  • Vespasian also gave needy ex-consuls an annual stipend of fire hundred thousand sesterces SUETONIUS VESP 17
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Power of the Senate

  • Aug: wanted to enable more men to take part in administration of the senate so devised new offices. also increased number of praetors SUETONIUS AUG 37
  • Aug: decreed that the first rows of seats at public shows should be reserved for senators SUETONIUS AUG 44
  • Tib: SUETONIUS says that him, in paying respects to senators almost exceeded expectations of courtesy 'I have looked upon you as kind, just and indulgent masters' 
  • Tib: SUETONIUS - no business small or large that he did not consult senators about first
  • Tib: TACITUS ANNALS Poppaia Sabinus got consulship, governed important provinces etc. and he had quite modest origins.
  • Gaius: DIO enrolling men from outside Rome into the two orders - some people could wear senatorial togas before they were senators
  • Nero: upon accession he declared that the senate retain all its old privilages and rights as senators. TACITUS ANNALS
  • Dom: let senators have less power - SUETONIUS. he expelled an ex-questor from the senate for acting and dancing and condemned several men from both equestrian and senatorial order. 
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Disregard/Subservience of the Senate

  • undermining dignity of senate, taking away their power, persecution etc.
  • Aug: RES GESTAE try to give Aug honours but he declined - decreed sacrifices for him on account of things he'd done. 
  • Treason trials under Tib TACITUS reports eighty cases of treason trials 
  • SUETONIUS TIB - he asked for twenty of the leading men of the state to be advisors and of these he spared hardly two or three - destroyed them all in one way or another. 
  • Gaius: SUETONIUS describes how he made men of the highest offices run alongside his chariot for miles (damning dignity) and others he secrety put to death and continued to call for them finally saying they committed suicide 
  • Claudius: TACITUS ANNALS lets Gauls into Senate.could annoy senate as undermines them
  • Nero: SUETONIUS 'he showed neither discrimination nor moderation in putting to death whomsoever he pleased on any pretext whatsoever' and this included senators.
  • Nero: SUETONIUS talks about Nero's 'unmistakable hints' that he would one day blot out the entire senatorial order and hand over rule of provinces and command of armies to knights and his freedmen. 
  • Titus: SUETONIUS talks about the various duties he took on, many of which were senator duties. Anyone he considered suspicious he would subtlely get rid of e.g. Aulus Caecina who he invited to dinner and then ordered him to be stabbed.
  • Domitian: SUETONIUS 'put to death many senators, among them several ex consuls' goes on to give some names and reasons. 
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Opposition to the Emperors

  • Aug: Marcus Primus (Governer of Macedonia marches into Thrace without Senate's permission - at trial claims Augustus told him to do it - Augustus comes uninvited to trial to defend himself and Primus exiled.) Caepio and Murena (mentioned by DIO, PLINY and SUETONIUS - latter says Tib led the prosecution - sources dont say much else possibly such a serious conspiracy it was covered up - clearly quite serious if Tiberius was put in charge) Cornelius Gallus (governor of Egypt puts statues up of himself in Egypt and carves name on pyramids. executed for treason in 27BC otherwise he may have been threat to Aug so he puts a stop before it can happen - SUETONIUS AUG)  Lepidus the younger (senator launches plot to assassinate Augustus in 30BC but gets caught SUETONIUS and PATERCULUS) quote from TACITUS 'opposition did not exist'
  • Tib: TACITUS explains first treason trial in AD16 - Libo accused of subversive plotting. 
  • Tib: Cremutius, a senator who writes history - accused of writing about Caesar's assassins as heroes- he walks out of senate and starves himself to death TACTIUS ANNALS book 4
  • Gaius: Assassination led by Cassius Chaerea DIO.
  • Gaius: Lepidus (sexually involved with Gaius' sistesr) but Caligula discovered while in provinces, a political conspiracy - Lepidus was executed DIO
  • Claud: TACITUS and DIO: Scibonianus governor of Dalmatia who leads a revolt against Claudius but fails due to lack of support-interestingly at beginning of reign - less power?
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Opposition to the Emperors

  • Vesp: Helvidius Priscus (praetor) showed rudeness to the emperor on many occasion but Vespasian did not retalliate until he actually felt reduced to ranks by the insufferable rudeness and has him banished and executed (actually tried to send messengers to stop execution but it was too late) SUETONIUS VESP 15
  • Dom: SUETONIUS says he put many senators to death some of whom he accused of conspiracy - others were executed on trivial charges - Domitian quite paranoid etc. 
  • Dom: Lucius Antonius Saturninus led a revolt against him in 89AD but it was stopped and Domitian executed Saturninus along with many others, their heads displayed on the rostra at Rome. SUETONIUS LIFE OF DOM
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