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Acceptance of the Title Pater Patriae in 2 BC*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2015

Tom Stevenson
Affiliation:
The University of Queensland, t.stevenson@uq.edu.au
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Extract

Some recent treatments of the Augustan Principate have discussed the title Pater Patriae (= PP) as the expression of a relatively detached and uncontroversial idea. In earlier papers on the significance of this title, however, I have tried to describe its political volatility for both Cicero and Caesar. Cicero's title was applied to him in the wake of his execution of the Catilinarian conspirators; it was meant to characterise him as Rome's saviour, rather than as a murderous tyrant and oppressor. Caesar's title was equally a counter to accusations of murderous tyranny; he did not take Roman lives through civil war, he saved them through the exercise of dementia. Caesar's honour, furthermore, was clearly decreed to him in the form Parens Patriae – parens being a widely used, positive term for a benefactor; Cicero is referred to as both pater and parens in the fractious discourse which followed his consulship. Given the ever-present dichotomy between the father and the tyrant, and the general environment of élite competition, it appears that the form of Caesar's honour implies a deliberate contrast with the claims of Cicero, viz. Caesar's paternal role was certainly about giving or enhancing life, rather than taking it.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Australasian Society for Classical Studies 2009

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Footnotes

*

For Charles, who is greatly missed.

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