Talk:History of the Constitution of the Roman Empire

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Strangely limited scope[edit]

Why does this article stop at the accession of Diocletian (284 AD)? The earliest obvious stopping point would be when the succession arrangements for the Western and Eastern halves diverged. Although Diocletian's division of the empire implied such a divergence, Constantine I ("the Great") re-united the empire and then set up a similar "2+2" division of authority. I suggest the earliest reasonable stopping point would be either the death of Diocletian, with a description of his constitutional arrangements, or the death of Constantine I, with a description of his constitutional arrangements. Personally I'd go for Constantine I, and outline the history of the Empire up to the point where the split between Western and Eastern became permanent - and link to articles on the separate successor empires. However I notice that History of the Constitution of the Late Roman Empire mentions the "abolition of the Principate around 300 AD" (11 years before Diocletian's death), so an explanation of this change and its effects (i.e. why it marks the transition from the "the Roman Empire" to "the Late Roman Empire") might be a suitable stopping point. All of this material is covered any any decent book on the history of the Empire. BTW the current stopping point struck me as odd simply on the basis of my background knoweldge, without any research.

Diocletian should be linked.

OTOH congratulations on highlighting the importance of the succession issue. -- Philcha (talk) 12:33, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

The dividing line between the History of the Constitution of the Roman Empire and the History of the Constitution of the Late Roman Empire is the formation of the tetrarchy under Diocletian, which was also the approximate time that the Principate transformed into the Dominate. An article on the history of the Roman Empire might use Constantine as a dividing line, although this article is about the political history of the Roman Empire. Diocletian's formation of the tetrarchy, and his division of the empire into four administrative units, is more politically significant than, say, Constantine's army reuniting the empire (temporarily anyway). At best, Constantine’s political and administrative reforms were a restoration, or slight modification, of what Diocletian had left behind. The point of the entire Roman Constitution series is to discuss the political development of Rome, from the founding of the Roman Kingdom in 753 BC until the fall of the western Roman Empire in 476 AD. This political development is easy to distinguish from the ordinary history, throughout most of this time. After the early Principate, however, it becomes more difficult. RomanHistorian (talk) 04:14, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

History of the Roman Constitution[edit]

Are these two articles related? They seem to be on the same subject. —Mattisse (Talk) 21:56, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

And there's a lot of duplication of text. If you look at History of the Roman Constitution you'll also see that it refers to "main" articles on both "Constitution of the Roman Kingdom / Roman Republic / Roman Empire / Late Roman Empire"and "History of the Constitution of the Roman Kingdom / Roman Republic / Roman Empire / Late Roman Empire" - and the histories suggest these were all written by the same group of authors. I suggest some of them should explain this proliferation of articles. -- Philcha (talk) 22:27, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
They are related. History of the Roman Constitution is a summary of History of the Constitution of the Roman Kingdom, History of the Constitution of the Roman Republic, History of the Constitution of the Roman Empire, and History of the Constitution of the Late Roman Empire. History of the Roman Constitution is simply more condensed, and at a broader level, than those other articles. RomanHistorian (talk) 04:21, 12 November 2008 (UTC)


The article lists many sources at the end but every single footnote in the text goes to one book: Abbott, Frank Frost (1901). A History and Description of Roman Political Institutions, Elibron Classics. ISBN 0-543-92749-0. What material is drawn from the other sources? ·:· Will Beback ·:· 20:46, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:History of the Constitution of the Roman Empire/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Hello, I will be reviewing this article. MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 20:39, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Ok...I'm afraid it's a fail, for this primary reason: the article does not really focus enough on the "Constitution of the Roman Empire". It is basically a history of Roman Emperors under the Principate, with notes referring to constitutional changes. A substantial amount of the information which is described here is nothing to do with the constitution. For instance:

  • The first indication of a nationalist movement appeared in Gaul (modern France) in 68,[14] but this movement ended when its leader, C. Julius Vindex, was defeated by an army under L. Verginius Rufus. Rufus was the governor of Upper Germany, and while he was declared imperator by his soldiers, he decided not to use his support to march on Rome and make himself emperor. He did not decline this opportunity because he was loyal to the emperor Nero, but rather because of his own low birth, and his belief that his low birth might make it difficult for him to accomplish anything as emperor.[14] Shortly after Rufus had been declared imperator, Ser. Sulpicius Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, was proclaimed emperor by his troops.[14] In Rome, the emperor Nero quickly lost his supporters and committed suicide. Galba, however, did not prove to be a wise leader. He chose to punish Rufus' troops, and to antagonize the Praetorian Guard by not fulfilling promises which had been made to them.[14]

What does that have to do with the constitution?

Furthermore, is there such thing as the "Constitution of the Roman Empire"? As far as I'm aware, the constitution was essentially the same as the Republican consitution, albiet modified by subsequent emperors. Crucially, the office of 'Emperor' did not even legally exist! Whilst the drastic reforms of the Dominate probably do qualify that as a new constitution, I'm not sure the Romans during the Principate would have thought they were under a seperate 'imperial' constitution. Regardless, the article needs to focus much more on the actual changes (when, what, why); the surrounding history is not important in this article.

I don't really see that this subject requires a separate article from Constitution of the Roman Empire and History of the Roman Constitution; I think all the changes that are described in this article can quite happily be described elsewhere; there is an over-proliferation of articles here. I just don't think there is a lot to talk about here that isn't already discussed elsewhere. If this article is purged of irrelevant information, there won't be a lot of it left.

Anyway, besides these general questions, there are several major problems with the article.

  • All inline citations are from a single (old) source.
  • Many important statements unreferenced
  • The article just gives up at 192 AD with the statement "No further constitutional reforms were enacted during the Principate. The only development of any significance was the continuing slide towards monarchy..."
Surely the slide towards monarchy was incredibly significant?
What about when Caracalla made all residents of the Empire Citizens?
  • There are statements which are just not correct: e.g.

"176, Marcus Aurelius made his son, L. Aurelius Commodus, his new co-emperor. This arrangement was revived more than a century later, when the emperor Diocletian established the Tetrarchy"

What about when Septimius Severus made his sons Co-emperors?

"The most significant constitutional development that occurred during the reign of Marcus Aurelius was the revival of the republican principle of collegiality,[24] as he made his brother, L. Aelius, his co-emperor. Marcus Aurelius ruled the western half of the empire, while his brother ruled the eastern half of the empire"

Lucius Verus was not Marcus Aurelius's brother. They did not rule 'eastern' and 'western' halves of the empire.

And so on.

  • There are also several statements which are not written in an encyclopedic style. e.g.

"Domitian, ultimately, was a tyrant with the character which always makes tyranny repulsive,[21] and this derived in part from his own paranoia." (This also has nothing to do with the constitution)

Whilst the article is generally well written, I feel that this article needs a re-write so that it corresponds to its title. For that reason, I'm not going to put it on hold. If the article is modified as suggested, it will need a new review. MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 21:39, 11 December 2008 (UTC)