Imperial Bureaucracy In The Roman Empire

1541 Words 6 Pages
Throughout the fourth century, the Roman Empire saw many different changes to how its government functioned. As Christianity grew and steadily became interwoven into the empire, it influenced these changes. The imperial bureaucracy, the army, the emperor, and the concept of the empire all were shaped by the Christian religion. Christian doctrine helped to legitimize these different organizations and people while creating a firm foothold for itself within the empire.
The expansiveness of the empire by the fourth-century and the realities of joint emperorship meant that the armies of the Roman Empire played a large role in helping run the empire. The army was utilized in defending the borders from outside threats such as Sasanian Persia (Heather,
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Governing the vast empire, meant that a large, and reliable chain of people had to relay information to the emperor and his decisions to the citizens (Heather, 103). This meant that emperor had to have reliable bureaucrats if he wanted to ensure that his orders were being executed properly. Of course, not all of these imperial officials were reliable. This is demonstrated by the story of Palladius, who lied to Valentinian about the conduct of another official in North Africa (Heather, 100-102). Dishonest bureaucrats were a major problem in running the empire. Christian authors tried to put an end to this problem by exerting its influence over the emperor in order to hold the imperial bureaucracy to a higher standard of morality. Drawing upon the ideas of the fourth century, the Church Father, Agapetus, tried to guide the emperor, Justinian’s, decisions and cautioned the new emperor to “not employ wrong-doers in the management of affairs; for he who has given wrong-doers their power will owe and account to God for what they have wrongly done” (Maas, 6). Agapetus’ ideas concerning management of the empire indicate that the emperor should be blamed for any misconduct by bureaucrats; penalizing the emperors for their subordinates’ choices, would have given them a good reason to promote only well-meaning officials. Agapetus’ belief is based on the notion that God has given the emperor the divine authority to govern the empire (Heather 125). A failure to find able officials was a failure of the role assigned to the emperor and therefore, of his duty to God. One way the emperor would try to ensure that his bureaucrats were reliable was to promote those nearest him. Based on personal recommendation and patronage, it was advantageous to be the “friend” of an emperor (Heather, 102). As Christianity became more entrenched in the state, it was necessary for those who wanted to advance in the

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