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The Caesar of Rome is the popularly and aristocratically recognized chief of state and head of government for the Imperium Romanum. A reigning caesar exercises the executive powers of the federal government of Rome, keeps legislation in line with public opinion, and internationally represents the state. He is the most powerful person in the Roman Empire, and some would say the human race, for the duration of his reign.
Modern Caesars are legitimized through a complex process of passing on titles delineated by the Constitution. Protocol requires a reigning Caesar to designate a successor prior to his death. This man may then accept the first citizenship upon his predecessor's death before being ceremonially recognized as Imperator by officers in the Legion and approved by the Senate and people of Rome. The most important of these steps is the last, without which a princeps cannot receive the honorific Caesar. Periods of civil war have seen this fail to happen, with order only restored upon approval of a new dynasty by the people of Rome.
Officially, caesar is not a hereditary position despite the illusion of non-autocratic rule being dropped millennia ago. Romans retain a cultural disdain for reges, whose governments they view as inevitably corrupt. The candidate for caesarship, the princeps juventatis, must be accepted by the Senate, military, and citizens of the capital and be selected by the previous holder of the title, on the ostensible basis of suitability, for him to come into office as the next Caesar. No one has ever taken the title without fulfilling these conditions. In this way, the Emperor of Rome can be justifiably regarded as a republican head of government.
A Caesar holds a number of titles collected over the millennia, many conferring powers unique to his office. They are not necessarily held by every Caesar, having distinct ceremonies or criteria.
- Caesar (also "Καίσαρ" or "Nobilissimus Caesar"), originally the cognomen of Octavianus Caesar - the first Emperor of Rome - it is now the primary title of a legitimate emperor, often as "Most Noble Caesar"
- Augustus (also "Αὔγουστος", "Venerable"), an honorific cognomen exclusive to the reigning emperor
- Custos Hominis ("Guardian of Mankind"), an honorific conferred by the Foedus Terrae on the Emperor of Rome for the Legion's defense of the Alliance in World War III
- Dictator Perpetuo ("Dictator for Life"), a title taken by Faustus Pertinax when he assumed the position of Caesar, reviving an old honorific given to Julius Caesar himself
- Dominus ("Lord"), manner of addressing an emperor in person, in public as "Our Lord Caesar"
- Episcopus Romae ("Bishop of Rome"), office of the head of the Apostolic See
- Imperator (also "Autokrator", "Supreme Commander"), victory title for a general, taken on recognition of an emperor by his armies
- Invictus ("Unconquered"), honorific for emperors following the civil war
- Pater Patriae ("Father of the Fatherland"), honorific title for a reigning emperor
- Pius Felix ("Pious and Blessed"), honorific title of religious significance
- Pontifex Maximus ("Pope" or "πάπα", literally "Greatest Bridgemaker"), office of the Roman Catholic papacy taken by emperors following the civil war, requires acceptance by the College of Cardinals
- Primus inter pares ("First among equals"), designation for the unique citizenship of a reigning Caesar
- Princeps Civitatis ("First Citizen of Rome"), official title equivalent to the term "emperor", taken by the chosen successor on the previous emperor's death
- Santissimus Pater ("Most Holy Father"), honorific or manner of address for the bearer of the papacy
- Tyrannos (also "τύραννος", "Praetor of Rome"), title taken on by Pertinax on his assumption to power as recognition of his absolute power over the city of Rome, now indicates an emperor's praetorship over Rome
- Vicarius Christi ("Vicar of God"), honorific of the earthly representative of God or Christ
Emperors of Rome are given certain local titles by their subjects.
- Basileus, from the people of Greece after being used contemptuously by separatists in the fifth century
- Pharaoh, from the people of Egypt after 996
- Melekh Ys'rael, from the people of Judaea in recognition of Aegranus as emperor
- Mansa, from the Mali people after offering their waning kingdom to Rome
- Raj, from the people of India to Caesar Alexander XIV on his visit to the Indian provinces
- Æðeling, from the Germanic peoples in 1872 after Martin Vaguobatte's speech praising Roman authority
The multitude of titles and offices demonstrates the diversity of the empire's populace and the history of its rule. No ruler has such venerable titles as a Roman emperor, though Japanese and Inca leaders come close, and it speaks volumes that many imperial titles are not nominally limited to indicating sovereignty over Rome. As some rulers are designated "emperor" or "king" "of [X]", a Roman princeps is simply "emperor".
In Political Theory
Moral philosophers in the Western tradition have long taken the government as Rome as their primary example or point of contrast for political theories. Indeed, its government is one of the few available examples and its state one of the only countries in the world. Their intense scrutiny of Roman politics has had a hand in crafting the present condition of Roman government, including the status of a Caesar.
The purpose of being subject to an emperor or king is, in the words of philosopher Lucius Janus Russus, for
- "the will of the people and the corporate will, the public force of the state and the private power of the government, to all respond to the same mover; the levers of the entire political machine are in the same hands and all act toward the same end. There are no conflicting movements that counteract one another and we cannot imagine any civil constitution where more action would be produced by less effort. An emperor is the Archimedes sitting quietly on the shore and effortlessly launching large ships; he governs a vast empire from his chambers and makes everything move while he himself seems motionless."
Nevertheless, Russus recognized that the same applied to a monarch and he was careful to distinguish the Roman princeps by his democratic election by the empire, through the Senate, and directly by the people of Rome.
As the role of a government is to execute the general will of the people, a Caesar is tasked with enacting those laws which his prudence deems suitable for the state. This requires that he is aware of the desires of the people and can discern which bill from the Senate would best satisfy the people's desires and needs. A Caesar enforces the will of the sovereign, an entity formed by the union of the people and their activity in preserving this union. By uniting the concerns of the people with a prudent will, his political decisions are those of SPQR.
Succession to the unique office of Caesar is strictly neither monarchical nor democratic. Its sole candidate is the princeps juventatis selected out of merit, not lineage, by the reigning Caesar. Ideally, this ensures that a wise ruler will be followed by another wise ruler, since a wise man can identify wisdom. In practice, the selected successor has his merits but there are times when he is only the most appropriate that could be found by the previous Caesar. For the last one and a half thousand years this political endorsement has been done by official ceremony, with the Caesar arguing his choice before the Senate. If the unsuitability of his candidate is obvious then the reingning emperor can be forced to find a new one.
Once a Caesar dies with a clear choice of successor, that man becomes princeps civitatis and primus inter pares with the passing of the citizenship of the emperor to him. However, this allocates none of the sovereign imperium and provides no more than his dignitas as the first citizen. With only one title, a new princeps will usually meet with a legate or the general of the 101st legion to receive his military honors and official recognition as Imperator of the armed forces. Next, he must attend a meeting of the Senate to seek their legislative approval by majority. For most emperors, this is the time for the empire's magistrates to offer their new leader a resounding applause. Last but most important of the criteria for the caesarship is awaiting the popular assembly of the people of Rome, where they will vote either for or against the princeps. If an imperator receives this second majority approval then he is designated Caesar and will be crowned with the laurel wreath by the Deydiakanos of the Catholic Church, who also announces the election, always in the affirmative, by the College of Cardinals of the emperor as Pope.
Powers and duties
The majority of a Caesar's powers are set forth in Proclamation 9 of the Constitution. These abilities cannot be further obstructed by any organ of government other than the Comitia Censoria and are therefore the emperor's absolute powers, in contrast with his minor powers granted by non-constitutional laws.
Overlapping these two categories is the split of an emperor's powers and duties into secular and religious ones. The latter are granted through the office of Pontifex Maximus, highest authority of the Catholic Church.
Primary sources for the powers of an emperor are his imperium maius (supreme executive power) and the auctoritas principis (highest legislative authority). Overall, the place of an emperor's powers and duties in the framework of Roman politics is best expressed through his roles in the Imperium.
When a bill has received majorities in both Congress and the Assembly, it passes on to the Palace for review by the Caesar. Here the emperor can sign the bill, bringing into force as a law (lex), or, at his discretion, veto the bill on the basis that it violates the sovereign will. While this power once reflected a Caesar's role as tribunus maior, it has since been fully assimilated by the imperial office. Few legislative authorities can override an imperial veto. An eighty percent majority in the Curiate Assembly or unanimous agreement within the Censorial Assembly are the only political forces which stand against possible despotic refusals.
In practice, the Caesar has the final choice in matters of legislation unless the democratic representatives of the public or the guardians of national morality regard his decision as opposed to the sovereign will. Overwhelming opposition from either of those bodies is taken as sufficient evidence that the emperor is wrong to declare the bill outside the best interest of the state. Nothing can stop the censors from blocking an emperor's veto but consensus of the Tribune and Consul of Italy with the emperor will override even unanimous agreement in the Senate.
The power which leaves the assent or dissent of laws in the hands of the Caesar is his auctoritas principis. This designates him the embodiment of the sovereign, whose personal will is the general will of the people.
Should an emperor fail to act on the senatus consultum that supports a bill within two weeks, the Senate has the power to promulgate it as a new law with a supermajority in both houses. This is permitted by the lex edictor vacante, an article of the Constitution designed to keep the state running during a forced absence of an emperor.
When the Assembly or Congress are not in session, the Caesar has the power to call their members together and when they are in session, he can dismiss them unless opposed formally opposed.
Appointing praeministra (ministers) is solely the power of the Caesar. Whenever a ministerial office is vacated, the emperor is responsible for selecting a skilled patrician for the position. His choice can be opposed by an eighty percent majority in the Assembly but is otherwise binding. It is not unusual for incoming emperors to replace the entire administration of his predecessor, since it is also in his power to dismiss praeministra. While ministers perform most of the functions of the government, their imperium (executive power) is solely derived from the Caesar; they are obliged to acquiesce to his commands. In the absence of specific orders, an appointed minister may execute whatever actions he desires, within his jurisdiction. On the flip side, an emperor obviously possesses the imperium of all those ministers who derive political power from him. The nearly limitless executive power of the Caesar is his imperium maius. Nevertheless, the Senate once again has the ability to legally oppose these appointments by a supermajority.
Aside from appointing ministers and commanders, the emperor has the responsibility to appoint diplomatic and provincial officials. The need for appropriate choices only magnifies the weight on his shoulders. Contemporaries compared the duties of Caesar Alexander XIV with the task of Atlas - to bear the whole world so that it might not fall - earning him the nickname Alexander Telamon, "enduring Alexander".
In executing the sovereign will, the Senate possesses the power to tax the population to support its finances. However, the treasury generated from taxation and public guilds is under the control of the entire government, that is the Senate, the Ministries, and the Caesar.
Public spending requires the presence of an aedile, a magistrate with access to government funds. Neither the Senate nor Caesar can appropriate the public wealth without one. While the aediles are vested with the authority for spending money, they lack the imperium to actually spend anything. The Senate can spend on whatever the Comitia Curiata chooses, the ministers can spend within their jurisdiction, and the Caesar can spend at his whim. Prudentially, all three groups discuss projected finances for a year before it starts. However, this can be a tenuous agreement since any of them can break from the budget whenever they please. Generally, emperors are the patrons of public works. All great monuments and statues in Italy, Greece, and Egypt - built under the Imperium - were the vision of a Caesar, with notable historic exceptions like the Turra Volta. Other national construction projects like the Kilema Skyhook, Magneuropa Project, or Garden of Eden have been funded under the orders of a Caesar; emperors tend to enjoy attaching their names to such magnificent works.
Emperors are generally aware of legal proceedings which happen in the Supreme Court. If the emperor has reason to believe in the innocence or guilt of a person in court he may prosecute or acquit that person, after a review of the available evidence, without due process. However, this ruling cannot apply to himself. Only the censors are in a legal position to oppose such an action; one censor alone can render it void.
Other than this unusual power, a Caesar is completely uninvolved in the interpretation of the law. All judges and members of the judiciary are chosen independently of the emperor's will.
A Caesar is the peak of the pyramidis imperia command structure for the armed forces of Rome. He can issue orders to any officers in the army, navy, air force, and praetorian guard. High ranking military commanders such as legates and Generalissimus can only be appointed or dismissed by the emperor. This is perhaps the most important display of his military authority.
As Imperator, an emperor has the imperium to
- declare war against a foreign power without parliamentary permission.
- plan the Legion's military strategy - in both general and specific maneuvers.
- issue direct orders to a soldier in any branch of the armed forces or an officer of any rank.
- raise legions, fleets or squadrons either temporarily or permanently.
- force the launch of military satellites and the construction of forts, walls, and other defensive structures
A consequence of this much power is the personal responsibility for the successes and failures of Rome's military. The people will always direct their discontent for the latter towards the palace. As such, the emperor has a duty to appoint competent commanders if he is not an adequate military leader.
First among the citizens, a Caesar receives privileges in his normal and political life. It is socially unacceptable to refuse the minor requests of an emperor such as being his host or guest at dinner parties, yielding to him on the street, bringing something to him, or engaging him in conversation. While many would acquiesce to such requests simply out of nervousness from being asked something by the most powerful man in the world, there is a certain social pressure to accept anyway out of respect for the emperor's supreme dignitas (social standing).
On this basis, emperors frequently attend the parties of the rich and famous, and enjoy the company of celebrities and intellectuals across the globe. Few people will have as varied experiences as an Emperor of Rome.
A Caesar occupies the highest social ranking according to constitutional laws segregating citizens into ordones. While a patrician according to normal standards, the emperor and his immediate relatives are collectively referred to as the imperial family and afforded extra dignitas and social recognition for this reason. The modern imperial family consists of about 177 members, of only one adopted young man is currently the successor.
Emperors do not receive a salary at the public expense but agree with the Senate on a private purse every year. This year, Caesar Cicero predicted 10 million Dn of personal spending. It is not unusual for an emperor to overstep his expected finances. However, remaining within their bounds often brings good press.
The Palace of the Imperials in Rome serves as the personal residence of the Caesar for the duration of his reign. This stunning villa in the heart of the Eternal City has been passed down from one generation to the next since before the Imperial Civil War. Over sixty private rooms are furnished for family and guests to stay in the palace. Another major residential place of the emperor is the Island of Capri. All 10.4 sq km of Capri has been converted into an agglomeration of beautiful villas, gardens, baths, and beaches for the emperor and whomever he pleases to offer a place to live on the island. Some other homes owned by the Caesar are the Palatia Constantina in Constantinople; the Villa Cleopatra, his personal harem near Alexandria on the Nile; the Villa Livia by Florentia; the Palatia Columbia in Nova Roma; the Hortum Cericum in the African grasslands; and the Castrum Italium, as a secure facility in the event of an emergency.
There is little that the public knows of its enigmatic latest emperor. Everyone knew before his election that he was educated in science and philosophy at the Academia Parisia, receiving doctorates in Ethics and Physics. No associates or friends of his from university have ever approached the media. He is also known to have been privately instructed by former legate Gaius Garus Priscanus in the art of war. Although his knowledge of science is unusual, he is believed to have been inspired to pursue such an education by his similarly scientifically-minded father, Caesar Raphael. As a requirement for the role of Pope, the young Janus Antoninus was taught theology and Christian doctrine by cardinals of the College.
Other than what was made public before the election, the people of Rome are largely in the dark about the lifestyle, interests, and social life of Cicero.