BCE 27 - CE 14 AUGUSTUS - ôgsīts, gsī (Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus - b. BCE 63) The first sole Roman Emperor, emerged out of The Second Triumvirate, a grandson of the sister of Julius Caesar. Named at first Caius Octavius, he became on adoption by the Julian gens (ca. BCE 44) Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian); Augustus was a title of honor granted (ca. BCE 27) by the senate. Augustus reforms fostered a revival of profoundly pagan Roman religious and cultural traditions.
Augustus is arguably the single most important figure in Roman history. In the course of his long and spectacular career, he put an end to the advancing decay of the Republic and established a new basis for Roman government that was to stand for three centuries. This system, termed the "Principate," provided the Roman Empire with a series of rulers who presided over the longest period of unity, peace, and prosperity that Western Europe, the Middle East and the North African seaboard have known in their entire recorded history.
Augustus (Octavian) was emperor when Christ Jesus was born, BCE 4.
Knowing that durable all-weather roads were the major commercial and military arteries of the empire, over the span of 4 decades he lavished great expenditures, extending them to all frontiers. 50 thousand miles (80,000 km) of high-quality low-maintenance roads, all built or up-graded with a crown in the middle that forced water to drain from the roadway.
These fine roads were complimented with very sturdy Roman-arch-style stone bridges, great and small, that were from 2 to 6 lanes in width, so that bridges would not restrict land-based traffic as choke-points (bottle-necks) with long tail-backs (traffic-jams). Bridges with arches that were uniformly tall, with supports that were spaced wide enough to facilitate more widespread water-borne commercial and military traffic than that permitted by the older, fragile, narrow, much lower bridge structures, eventually removing or replacing all low-slung bridges over waterways.
No other single feature of Roman governance produced more unity, peace, and prosperity than did its excellent roads and bridges, they were the "Auto-Bahn" (Interstate Highways) of that age.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AUGUSTUS
CE 13 AUGUSTUS, entering his late seventies, became exceedingly infirm by mid-September, and displaying diminished lucidity was quietly declared incompetent to deal with the most paramount matters of state, deemed mentally unworthy to rule the empire in any official capacity beyond trivial and strictly personal matters.
CE 13 TIBERIUS, co-Emperor since CE 11, assumed complete control in mid-September. The reign of Tiberius, effectively, began at this time, although he was not coronated until the death of Augustus a year later.
CE 14 AUGUSTUS DIED, in mid-August. Tiberius, who already held both Tribunicia Potestas and Imperium Maius, and as co-Emperor since CE 11, succeeded, following approval of the Senate. While modern historians mark senatorial approval and official coronation as the beginning of the reign of Tiberius, historians of his own day and age marked his reign as beginning a year earlier in mid-September, CE 13.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TIBERIUS
CE 14 - 37 TIBERIUS - tiberīes (Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar - b. BCE 42) Officially became Emperor when the senate conferred on him the powers and titles of Augustus, but had already been Emperor-in-fact for 1 year by that time, and had been co-Emperor for the 3 years of Augustus final decline.
Tiberius was appointed Caesares in CE 13, but had not been designated Augusti, by the Senate, until CE 14.
This fact demands the dating of the beginning of the 15th year of Tiberius (when Christ Jesus was baptized) as being in mid-September, CE 28 - a little less than a week before Christ Jesus' 31st birthday. Tiberius was emperor when Christ Jesus was crucified, CE 31.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CONSTANTINE
CE 311 - 337 CONSTANTINE I, the Great - konīstnten,-tin (Flavius Valerius Constantinus b. 288?) While Constantine claimed to conquer by the sign of the cross (ca. 312), his conception of that symbol appears more like an X than a .
In 313, Constantine and his fellow (Eastern) Emperor, Licinius, met at Milan, and there issued the so-called Edict of Milan, confirming Galerius' edict of 309, which stated that Christianity would be tolerated throughout the empire.
The edict made Christianity a lawful religion, although it did not (as is often believed) make Christianity the official state religion at THAT time.
For it was only after various synods (ca. 314-ff) and councils (ca. 325-ff), when the somewhat Christianized religious beliefs and spiritual practices of the Eastern empire were utilized to inform the Western (thoroughly pagan, Roman) religious hierarchy, that a Romanized form of Christianity (a pagan/Christian amalgam) emerged and became the new "OFFICIAL" state religion of Rome.
As founder of the Christian empire, Constantine began a new era, even though he retained the old pagan religious title of all the former Emperors, Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff - Pope). Historians differ greatly in their assessments of Constantine's motives and the depth of his Christian conviction. The earliest Christian writers, during his lifetime, portray him as a devout convert. But that idle claim was nothing more than good public relations, because it was well known that Constantine's understanding of the Christian faith was quite superficial.
Modern historians see him as a political genius, expediently utilizing Christianity as a tool in the unification of his empire and keeping one foot firmly planted in Roman paganism while extending the other foot toward newly emerging, Eastern-influenced Christianity.
Intermediate historical interpretations reveal him as the consummate pagan, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mother (e.g. dedicating the rebuilt, renamed city of Constantinople to the Virgin). In his personal devotions he offered first to Mars and then increasingly to Apollo, reverenced as Sol Invictus (Mithraism). He gradually converted, piecemeal over time, to a newly Romanized form of religiosity that was reputed to be some-what or sort-of Christian-like.
While he was finally baptized on his deathbed it is far from certain it was at his own request; for both the Christian baptism and the pagan "Last Rites" were administered, more likely foisted-on an unresponsive, dying, old man by the competing religious influences attending him at death.
Constantine used the church as an instrument of imperial policy, imposed upon it his imperial ideology, and used his slowly evolving, so-called, Christianized belief(s) for personal ends, much as all earlier (devoutly pagan) Emperors had used the pre-Christian, Roman, universal (Catholic) imperial cult for their own personal ends up until the time of Constantine.
It was his mother, Helena (who became a Christian ca. 313), who mistakenly selected sites of significant Holy Land events at spurious and debatable locations. According to tradition, she claimed to have found a relic of the True Cross in Jerusalem, and she actually did mis-identify the locations of the Holy Sepulcher (tomb), Calvary and Mount Sinai (ca. 327), which erroneously identified locations continue to persist unto today.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GRATIAN
CE 375 - 383 GRATIAN - grīshn (Flavius Gratianus Augustus b. 349?) Emperor of the West, at Rome. He vigorously attacked paganism, ordered the removal of the ancient Altar Of Victory from the Senate Forum, withdrew state subsidies that funded many pagan activities, and decreed the confiscation of the treasury, jewels, revenues, and extensive properties of the vestal virgins. All this was a crucial blow to the last major groups which supported Rome's pagan heritage.
He refused to accept the pagan religious title of all former Emperors - "Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff)" - for there was the continuing equation of Christianity with the office of Emperor, exemplified by Gratian's rejection of the title of Pope. He permitted the pagan religious title of Pope to permanently pass down to the Bishop of Rome (Damasus I - CE 366-384), by default, when for the first time in Rome's history a non-Emperor became a Roman Catholic Pope. (ca. CE 382)
Any suggestion by today's Roman Catholics that the Apostle Peter was the first Pope is entirely delusional (a fable). And, the false claim that a succession of Roman Catholic Popes followed Peter is shown to be a lie by the facts of Rome's own history. For the inconvenient, troublesome and awkward fact is that in both the Bible and throughout all of secular history there is NO! indication the Apostle Peter ever traveled outside of eretz Israel.
During a period of more than 500 years, beginning from BCE 133, all Roman Potentates - the Rulers - Consuls, Tribunes, Caesars and Emperors were the only Popes that ever existed in Rome until after Emperor Gratian refused the pagan religious title of Pope in CE 382.
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