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Worst Roman Emperors

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Poll Question: Who is the worst Roman emperor?
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
5 [13.51%]
14 [37.84%]
1 [2.70%]
2 [5.41%]
15 [40.54%]
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Winterhaze13 View Drop Down
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  Quote Winterhaze13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Worst Roman Emperors
    Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 15:53
Who is the worst Roman emperor?
Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.

-- Voltaire
French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist (1694 - 1778)
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  Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 16:50
Elagabalus and Valentinian III come to mind.
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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 17:32

There are several candidates and everytime this question is being raised,  the names of Calligula, Nero and Commodus mostly will pop up. I will pick Honorius from the point that his reign was one of the worst, Roman empire ever seen and himself was an incapable emperor. His desicions were disastrous and definitely he is in the list of the most unworthy emperors.

A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty.
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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 18:01

 I think Valentinian III is a definate candidate, I think he is the only Emperor to have ruled as long as he did (31 years) and do absolutely nothing of value whatsoever.

 Honorius was appalling to, 28 years of absolutely nothing so add that together since Honorius was the Emperor immediately prior to Valentinian III and you have 59 years where the western Roman empire effectively had no Emperor.

 You expect the odd lunatic to occupy the throne as some point, but the worst Emperors IMO were the ones who wernt necessarily brutal but just not interested in running the empire or to weak to assert their authority. Honorius and Valentinian III fit that. Throw in the eastern Emperor Arcadius aswell.

 I to (like contempories of Honorius/Arcadius) find it amazing that either were sons of Theodosius the great, Theodosius being a very capable Emperor and general his sons having absolutely no virtues whatsoever and totally unworthy of either throne.

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  Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 23:08
Caligula, Nero, and Commodus are probably the famous "bad emperors." But while Caligula and Nero were bad emperors, their reign was in no way detrimental to the Roman Empire in a significant way (which had been going with a pretty steady momentum after Augustus' reign). Commodus can make a case as having been a "bad influence" on Rome, as it marked the end of the Imperium's golden age, but the empire was still strong and was far from collapse. On the other hand, during the times of Honorius and Valentinian, the Empire was on the way of collapsing. Thus, Honorius and Valentinian were bad emperors when times were bad. Caligula and Nero were bad emperors when times were good.

Personality-wise, Elagabalus was pretty much a wacko. Unfortunately he isn't well-known enough.

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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 23:22

I voted for other, more specifically Elagabalus.  Commodus comes close to him in the magnitude of his vices and his total disregard for the well-being of the Empire and the Roman people.  However, I believe the Emperors on the poll, Commodus included, made some attempt to protect the Empire or to extend its influence through conquest.  The success of these attempts is questionable though.  However, Elagabalus was pretty much devoid of care for the Empire or its people.  As a person he was everything that was against traditional Roman values; his purpose as Emperor was to convert the Empire into an Eastern-styled despotate and to use the treasury for his own habits.

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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Nov-2005 at 04:42

 Ive only recently came across Elagabalus, he does seem to of been quite mad perhaps just another example of what can happen when somebody so young gains so much power so early. I dont know maybe he was already crazy.

http://www.roman-empire.net/decline/elagabalus-index.html

 I agree that although the likes of Caligula and Nero were bad/cruel Emperors, this didnt necessarily mean they caused major damage to the empire (except probably on the moral level), I suppose the year of 4 Emperors after Neros death didnt help the empire much.

 However any damage done by these two Emperors and other poor ones like Domitian was more than made up for by the 5 good Emperors that would see the empire reach its peak. Caligula and Nero seem to have come along at a good time to be useless, the empire was wealthy and its army was pretty much all powerful. It could therefore better afford an Emperor who wasnt really an Emperor at all.

 

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  Quote Degredado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2005 at 09:15

Heliogabulus.

Does Domitian deserve to be on that list? He was competent. His fault was just being dictatorial and life-threatening.



Edited by Degredado
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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Nov-2005 at 10:12

 Domitian seems to have been a pretty sound administrator and a decent commander, under him the empire did conquer more territory and defeat more enemies on the frontiers.

 However he was cruel and tyrannical, he was popular with the army for raising their pay and would of kept the support back home had he just restrained himself. His cruelty and paranoia (the treason trials etc) was wholly unnecessary, in the end his increasingly tyrannical rule could no longer be tolerated and he was rightfully removed.

A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Nov-2005 at 09:23
I think Domitian was not too bad, the Romans may not have liked that fact he was cruel to pro-consuls (provincial governors) who were corrupt and dishonest, but his hideous cruelty kept them running a tight and honest ship.

When you actually think about it, at least 80% of the time Rome had pretty capable leaders and managers running her much of the time. Quite often when the leader themself was not capable, responsibility for policy making and managing devolved to more capable subordinates (Nero is a good example of this).

All in all I pick Honorius. He had a safe, well governed Empire that he inherited from his capable father. He had some very capable military subordinates (Stilicho) and was in a good position to actually reconstruct the Empire. It was in his reign that the psychological supremacy of the Empire was dealt the blow that really destroyed it. The sack of Rome by Alaric might have confirmed the political and military realities of the day, but it also broke down that psychological invincibility of Rome in the eyes of her enemies. Only in Honorius's reign did the situation for the Western Empire turn from tenuous to terminal. Had he been half-capable, it need not have.
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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Nov-2005 at 16:52

I voted other, mainly Elagabalus and Honorius.

If only half of the things I have read about Elagabalus are true then he is the most sexually perverse of any emperor in history, even more so than the julio-claudians.  His lack of concern for the empire didn't help much either. 

Completely agree with Constantine XI in regards to Honorius.  Honorius was just a waste, he ruled for an incredibly long time for such an incompetent emperor (395-423).  He killed of his best general, Stilicho, and is pretty much solely responsible for Alaric invading Italy.  His reign drove the last nail into the coffin for the western roman empire.

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  Quote Infidel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Nov-2005 at 22:34

Nero and Caligula always appear as the bad guys. I think some unjustice is being made to them.

An nescite quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?
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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Nov-2005 at 16:17
 ^^^I think the only injustice is how Nero and Caligula are more commonly famous than Trajan, Aurelian and even Constantine
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  Quote Genghis Khan II Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Nov-2005 at 16:57

Nero. Even non christains admit he was bad (Plus he was the worst one I have heard of)

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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 00:11
Caligula actually started his reign pretty well, he was near Augustus in popularity.  Then 6 months into his reign he contracted some illness and "recovered" to become the Caligula everyone is familiar with.  Some think it was epilepsy (from Caesar?) or just a genetic disorder from inbreeding.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Nov-2005 at 00:14

Originally posted by Justinian

Caligula actually started his reign pretty well, he was near Augustus in popularity.  Then 6 months into his reign he contracted some illness and "recovered" to become the Caligula everyone is familiar with.  Some think it was epilepsy (from Caesar?) or just a genetic disorder from inbreeding.

I wouldn't be surprised with all that bloody inbreeding they did. In our lectures that was a constant source of jokes.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jul-2006 at 14:04
Time to revive an old topic. how about Caracalla? I mean, nero, Caligula, and even Commudus were embarrassments and Hornius was incapable, but the first 3 were simply embarrasements, while Hornius had a hopeless task. Caracalla's managed to mess it up, after his father had restored stability to the empire, that takes a lot of talent. Not to mention the sack of Alexandria.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jul-2006 at 14:06
And while we are at it, the Severun dynsaty was a distaster. Granted Sepitimus himself was one of Rome's greatest, but the rest were/are beyond redemption.
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  Quote LilLou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jul-2006 at 14:37
hands down caligula
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  Quote Hannibal the Great Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jul-2006 at 18:07
Commodus, he was more intrested in bashing slaves heads in than running a country and for that his father is to blame.
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