Sunday, December 10, 2006

Studies of 3rd century papyri reveals emperors in crisis changed legitimization


Physorg.com:
Dutch researcher Janneke de Jong, who was analyzing about two-hundred Greek papyrus texts from a digital database containing 4500 documents including edicts, contracts, petitions, administrative correspondence and censuses, noticed a change, beginning in the third century, in the form of legitimisation the emperors used in their titles denoting their position of power. (In the third century, Greek was the administrative language in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.)

The emperors increasingly emphasized their dynastic position by referring to their sons and future successors in the titles. They also increasingly laid claim to godly support.

De Jong believes that the texts reflect a development in the emperor ideology that was a response to other events in the Roman Empire. The third century was a period of crisis and transformation in the history of the empire. The borders were threatened and there were monetary, socioeconomic and religious tensions. During the second half of the third century, in particular, there was a rapid succession of emperors during civil wars and revolts.

When the emperor Diocletian came to power in 284, he and his successors implemented a range of reforms in the governing system and the army. This included a change in the position of emperor who became more of an absolute monarch claiming to rule by the grace of god.

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