Thursday, 27 December 2012

How to Build an Emperor

Having neglected the classics somewhat in recent months, the festive season seems as good an opportunity as any to publish some more of my university work.

Dealing once again with the theory of imperial power, this short essay examines how the idea of the "Emperor" came to be developed at the beginning of the Roman Empire by an individual damned by history: the Emperor Nero.

Having lived under the continuous domination of a single dynasty, with the death of Nero the Roman people came to learn that imperial power was not something to be wielded only by a single great man and his descendants, but that it could somehow outlive those who created it and come to rest at the feet of anyone capable of successfully understanding and manipulating its many complexities.

This is made possible by the simple fact that, within its outward illusion of stability, absolute power is something that is really fundamentally amorphous and mutable. Changing at the hands of all who possess it, with each holder struggling to outdo the last, it eventually comes to take on a life of its own, with the role of "Emperor" coming to exist alongside whomever the individual "emperor" might be at a particular time. Used well, this knowledge can invigorate leaders with understanding of the ideological might their positions loan to them; employed poorly, it results in the confusion, disconnection and irrelevance warned about in a previous article.