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Frederik J. Vervaet

The High Command in the Roman Republic

The Principle of the summum imperium auspiciumque from 509 to 19 BCE

369 p.
hard cover
ISBN 978-3-515-10630-6


While the terminology has long been noted, the republican principle of the summum imperium auspiciumque, the high command and the prevailing auspices, has never been subject to comprehensive scrutiny. This enquiry for the first time identifies this principle as a coherent concept in Roman constitutional and administrative practice, being the senatorial oligarchy's foremost instrument to reconcile collegiate rule with the necessity of a unified high command. After defining the relevant terms and the scope of the high command both in Rome and in the field, a number of case studies yield striking new insights into the constitutional ramifications for the allocation of public triumphs, the position of the consuls in the provinces, and the official hierarchy in combined commands, highlighting the fascinating interplay between these largely customary rules of engagement and the nobility's own code of honour. This study also casts a provocative new light on how the high command was gradually monopolized by dynasts in the tumultuous period between Sulla's dictatorship and the emergence of the Augustan monarchy. Finally, a postscript addresses the vexed question of the lex curiata de imperio.

Awarded with the Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Melbourne.


"V.’s command of both sources and modern scholarship is remarkable. […] V. has produced a highly substantial and lucidly argued contribution to the understanding of Roman institutional history […]."
Wolfgang Havener, Journal of Roman Studies 107, 2017

"The thoroughness of the research and the detail of the argument are impressive throughout the monograph…"
Michael J. Taylor, The Classical Review 66, 2016/2

"… ein wichtiges Werk, das in die Diskussion über die Eigenschaften des Oberbefehls in der römischen Republik, […] wesentliche Gedanken und neue Erkenntnisse hineinbringt. Die überzeugenden Thesen wurden sorgfältig begründet."
Katarzyna Balbuza, Gymnasium 123, 2016/2

"...ein sehr interessantes und anregendes Werk zu einer zentralen Frage der Ordnung der römischen Republik […], das Forschenden, Lehrenden wie Studierenden dieser Epoche […] zur Lektüre empfohlen werden kann."
Simon Lentzsch, H-Soz-Kult, 22.09.2014

Dieser Band wurde außerdem rezensiert von:

Christopher Smith, Historische Zeitschrift 301, 2015

Raimund Schulz & Uwe Walter, GWU 67, 2016/1-2

Henri Etcheto, Revue des Études Anciennes 117, 2015/2

Nathan Rosenstein, Sehepunkte 15, 2015/4

Paul M. Martin, Revue des Études Latines 92, 2014


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