Abstract and Keywords
The most significant and distinctive features of the period covered in this article, roughly the first two centuries CE, were the political stability of the Roman state and the territorial stability of the Roman Empire. The last century BCE, by contrast, was largely defined by acute internal violence, political volatility, and an explosive extension of Rome's overseas empire, while violent political conflict, military defeat, and territorial disintegration were all characteristic of the mid-third century CE and the period from the 370s onwards. The Mediterranean world of the first two centuries CE may thus be seen as a particular configuration of power in which interconnected networks of political, military, economic, and cultural/ideological power converged to produce what we call ‘the early Roman Empire’. The article examines how this configuration of power worked in practice. It surveys the formal apparatus of state and empire during this period, and explores some of the dynamic links between different sectors of this vast and complex realm. In particular, the article discusses the advent of monarchy and dynasty, centres, peripheries, networks, and hierarchies.
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