Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 September 2022
This chapter focuses on the interactions of the Roman aristocracy – the members of the senatorial and equestrian orders – with the court, taking as its theme the interplay between routine and disruption. The scale of these interactions fluctuated over time, as did the methods by which emperors signalled their favour for particular aristocrats, thereby creating an (unstable) hierarchy of aristocrats at court. The amici principis (‘friends of the emperor’) formed their own subgroup, with an internal hierarchy; the emperor’s relationship with them was shaped by cultural expectations about amicitia. Some aristocrats were important advisers to the emperor, so the chapter examines advisers and the role of advisory councils (consilia). The chapter reflects on whether the relationship between the emperor and aristocratic courtiers should be characterized as one of ‘domestication’, arguing for an often-volatile situation in which attempts by emperors to control aristocrats (and vice versa) were ad hoc and short-lived.
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