- Tribunician Power (but not the actual office) the powers and immunities which went with being an official of the Plebs: right to veto the acts of magistrates of the state inside the city limits (i.e. negative control of the central government)
- The power of a provincial governor (`proconsular imperium') Augustus got himself assigned a `province' ("sphere of activity") which was larger in size geographically than all the provinces of the other senatorial governors combined. Augustus' province happened to include all the areas where active military operations were in progress or contemplated. The IMPERIUM (`right to command') of Augustus was of a special kind, allowing him to interfere whenever he wanted in the provinces of other (senatorial) governors (`imperium maius proconsulare')
- Army: 22 or 23 of the 27 legions which were kept were under the control of the Emperor. Thus real military power was in his hands alone. In 6 A.D. Augustus set up a special treasury to grant discharge bonuses (`aerarium militare', the `Military Treasury'). This got the soldiers out of politics to a large degree, since their futures were made certain; this treasury was kept full with a 5% tax on the estates of Roman citizens (an inheritance tax) and a 1% general sales tax. Appearances of constitutionality were preserved by making senior Roman senators the Commissioners of The Military Treasury--but the Emperor always took care to choose and recommend reliable and cooperative senators (ex-praetors) to the job.
The Army was always stationed in areas remote from Italy and the city of Rome. Forces were reduced to the absolute minimum necessary for border defense. Terms of enlistment were regularized: 16 years for the Praetorian Guard; 20 years for a citizen legionary soldier; 26 years for allied soldiers and navy personnel. Pay was stabilized and guaranteed (225 denarii = 900 HS per annum for simple legionaries, with a discharge bonus of a minimum of 3000 denarii = 12,000 HS , nearly 13 years' pay).
- Special individual grants: right to speak first in the Senate, a seat on the consuls' platform in the Senate, the right to retain imperium even when in the City.
Legally, there was no throne; the Emperor was only a magistrate with very wide special grants of traditional powers, and every time a new emperor came to power the Senate and People had to pass a special law, authorizing new grants of power (a lex de imperio). This meant that legally there was no such thing as hereditary succession in a family to the Emperorship, though somebody inevitably did inherit the private wealth of the old emperor and the patronage that went with it. In fact, the Roman Emperor had become the Universal Patron of the entire Roman Empire. Tiberius was the heir of Augustus only in private law, though he already (at the time of Augustus' death) shared by legal votes in all of Augustus' powers as a magistrate.
Succession to the Throne:
-Christianity is an illegal cult, not registered with the government or under the administration of a city. Its `secret' meetings were legally considered subversion.
-Christians refuse to participate in `pagan' religion, including the patriotic worship of the emperors (Imperial Cult). Therefore Christians are suspicious persons: they will not serve as soldiers, public officials, contributors to gymnasiums, theaters, temples, imperial festivals, etc. The impression grows that Christians do not pull their weight in society.
-"Catch 22": In trials before Roman officials, the bottom line is always reached when a provincial governor orders Christians (through his imperium) to sacrifice to the Roman gods and emperors. When Christians refuse, they are considered to be in defiance of the government (legally called contumacia), which is itself a capital crime. Their deaths, then, are always legally correct and justified.
[This system was not going to divide the Empire in half: whatever decisions one Augustus or Caesar made would be ratified and extended by the others, and would be considered valid only when both groups did so.]
John Paul Adams, CSUN