The Office of the Provincial Governor under the Roman Republic and Empire (to AD 235): Conception and Tradition

Drogula, Fred Kilday, Department of History, University of Virginia
Meyer, Elizabeth, Department of History, University of Virginia
Lendon, Jon, Department of History, University of Virginia
Talbert, R., University of Virginia
Woodman, Anthony, Department of Classics, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the institution of the Roman governor, that single individual who served as the essential link between Rome and the myriad different tribes, cities, and nations that lived under Roman dominion. The Roman imperial governorship was not a creation of the Early Empire, but rather was a direct descendent of its Republican predecessor, and therefore is examined herein for its adherence to, and deviation from, this traditional heritage. This study argues that the office of the Roman governor was the product of fundamental Republican concepts and assumptions that evolved gradually and steadily from the Early Republic down into the High Empire. These concepts are the subjects of the first three chapters, including the powers of the governor (potestas and imperium), his sphere of responsibility (provincial), and the nature of the office he held (magistratus prove magistrate). Although the original Republican notion of provincial governance was based entirely upon military command, the expansion of the Roman Republic and its annexation of conquered lands led commanders to begin exercising civilian administration over the provinces. This development in governors' activities took place within the preexisting understanding of the different types of powers invested in their office, and therefore the evolution of provincial governance was the product of the utilization and reinterpretation of the traditional concepts that had previously defined a governor.

Chapters Four and Five examine the activities of imperial provincial governors and argue that they continued to define their offices, powers, and prerogatives according to these same Republican concepts. The changes brought about by the establishment of the Principate caused aristocrats to transform the way these concepts were utilized, but this was accomplished by finding new methods for exercising the same traditional powers. Thus as emperors explicitly or implicitly limited governors' ability to utilize their military power (imperium), governors made increasing use of their civilian authority (potestas), to undertake desirable activities and to achieve their goals. The governance of the Roman provinces, therefore, should not be studied as a legal or bureaucratic construct, but as the product of the gradual and steady evolution of traditional Republican aristocratic concepts.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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