The repute and reality of being a Roman emperor
The repute and reality of being a Roman emperor

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The repute and reality of being a Roman emperor

2.2 Personal contact

Remember that although the city was important to him the emperor did not have to pass all his time in Rome, and many emperors visited other parts of the empire. Such mobility was often associated with military campaigns. For instance, there were a significant number of campaigns undertaken during the reign of Augustus, and these were generally headed by the emperor or members of his family. Emperors such as Gaius, Claudius, Domitian, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius also campaigned on the edges of the empire, which meant that they had to pass through and stay in many provincial towns. The emperor Hadrian is also known to have travelled the empire extensively, viewing and exploring his domain (see Lewis and Reinhold, pp. 460–2). It is also worth remembering that many emperors had family connections with certain provinces and cities. The family of Trajan, for example, was from Spain and the emperor Septimius Severus came from north Africa. Even if the emperor could not visit all parts of the empire, he could maintain personal contact through intermediaries (see Section 2.3). In addition the representatives of the provinces could come to Rome. Towns and settlements could send ambassadors to Rome to represent their viewpoints, and in addition every Roman citizen had the right to appeal to the emperor for a fair trial. (For references to embassies see Lewis and Reinhold, pp. 9, 274, 287, 522.) This is not to say that all provincials had close contact with the emperor, but it was important for the emperor to appear accessible and not to allow communications to be hindered by the size of the empire.

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