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Fighting for Rome: The Emperor as a military leader

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Chapter Summary

No phrase could illustrate more clearly the impact of empire (in the form of the emperor) on the armies, or indeed the impact of the armies on the empire. Emperors ruled through military force, even if many tried to disguise this. Where before various military leaders had divided the loyalty of troops, or indeed competed for it, from the reign of Augustus onwards the armies, in general, served their emperor, and him alone. The emperor was the military leader par excellence. One of the great impacts of the empire on the armies will have been the central role that emperors came to play. But to play that role well, emperors had to continuously show that they warranted their troops' loyalty. Many emperors chose to do so by emphasising that their interests and Rome's coincided. Fighting for a good emperor, thus, was fighting for Rome.

Keywords: armies; Augustus; emperor; military force; military leaders; Rome



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