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TACITUS, ANNALS IV
V. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TITLE PRINCEPS
That the title princeps is merely princeps senaUis written
short is the view taken by Merivale, Bekker, Marquardt, and
most authorities. Pelham ^ urges that, if princeps is an abbre-
viation oi princeps senatus, the abbreviation must have taken
place remarkably early ; for no trace exists of the full title as
applied even to Augustus. So far as the evidence of literature
and inscriptions goes, the title is, from the first, princeps and
nothing more. Ovid and Horace use princeps, but with no
hint of an understood senatus.
It is extremely important (Pelham continues) to decide
whether Augustus posed before the Roman people as Father
of the Senate or as First Citizen, — in other words, as the
leader of the Roman nobility or as the elect of the Roman
peojjle. There is nothing in the inscriptions to suggest that
the title was ever anything but princeps. The employment
of the term by Republican writers is in favour of Pelham's view.
The use of princeps and principes applied to a citizen or citizens
holding a foremost place in the state is an almost literal
anticipation of the Augustan principatus. Men had already
grasped the idea of placing at the head of the republican
system a constitutional primate. Cicero introduced into his
sketch of an ideal polity (the de re puhlica) a novel figin-e,
that of a single moderator rei publicae, such no doubt as he
hoped Pomi)ey might prove himself.
In his letter ad fam. vi 6, Cicero says that Caesar might
have enjoyed the great position of First Citizen (not the
military despot he had since become) — esset hie quideni clarus
in toga et princeps.
The idea of simple primacy appears again in ad Att. viii 9
1 It will be seen that I have borrowed freely from his discussion
' Princeps or Princeps Senatus ? ' in his Essays on Roman History.

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