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Addressing the Emperor
(03-30-2016, 03:20 PM)Lord Hobbers Wrote: emperors of the early Third Century - Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus etc.

The Historia Augusta was most probably a late 4th-century forgery, but still contains a lot of useful detail that may genuinely relate to an earlier era.

The chapter on Severus Alexander contains the following, on the senatorial acclamation of the new emperor (supposedly quoted from the Acta Urbis):

"Augustus, free from all guilt, may the gods keep you! Alexander, our Emperor, may the gods keep you! The gods have given you to us, may the gods preserve you! ... Happy are we in your rule, happy too is the state... May the gods in Heaven grant long life to Alexander! Thus are the judgments of the gods revealed... Antoninus Alexander, may the gods keep you! Aurelius Antoninus, may the gods keep you!" (H.A Sev Alex 6.1)

(Auguste innocens, di te servent. Alexander imperator, di te servent. di te nobis dederunt, di conservent... felices nos imperio tuo, felicem rem publicam... di immortales Alexandro vitam. iudicia deorum hinc apparent... Antonine Alexander, di te servent. Antonine Aureli, di te servent. Antonine Pie, di te servent)

There's plenty more like that. As Evan says, massed repeated chanting was a feature of the late Roman political scene, as it has been in totalitarian states more recently. But the important point is that the senate address the emperor as Alexander Imperator and Augustus.

Earlier in the same account (4.1) we learn of Alexander that "He forbade men to call him Lord (Domine), and he gave orders that people should write to him as they would to a commoner, retaining only the title Imperator." And later: "In greeting him at his levees it was customary to address him by his name only, that is, "Ave, Alexander."

This is pretty good evidence that Dominus/Domine was the usual way to address emperors by this point in the third century, and probably had been for a long time beforehand, but a simple Imperator could be acceptable as well.

You can read the Historia Augusta in full at Bill Thayer's Lacus Curtius site.
Nathan Ross
Huzzah! Thank you. I have read snippets of the Historia Augusta here and there, but haven't tried to read the whole thing lineally. Perhaps I ought to have!

I think, in light of all the evidence, I might just relent and use the phrase 'My Lord' since that does seem to be the historically accurate form of address. I think I'll use 'Imperator' for when the emperor is addressed by a soldier, or 'My Lord' for anyone else (unless they are close family when perhaps a name would be more appropriate). 

As you say there seems to be an awful lot of fawning repetition/chanting. I bet that could get a little tiresome!

Once again the knowledge on this board doesn't cease to amaze me.

Many thanks
David Hobday

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