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Napoleon Bonaparte, Roman emperor or Roman wannabe?

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 4:29 pm
by Gaius Iulius Tabernarius
I was just watching a special about Napoleon and the thought occurred to me that he was from Corsica an Island with a strong Greco-roman tradition, and he did control Rome, and as an emperor he did claim the title of console.

So, does he count as a roman emperor, or do you simply view him like Mussolini as a roman wannabe who does more harm to the reputation of Rome than good?


PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 6:24 pm
by Aldus Marius
Salve, mi Tabernari!

Amice, could you add a little nuance to your poll questions? I, for one, would like to have voted in the Rome: Total War poll, but you did not have an option for "I've never played it".

Here, you are actually asking two separate questions: "Is Napoleon a Caesar wannabee?" and "Did he do Rome's rep more harm than good?" Arguments can be made for either side of both propositions. Somewhere in the Everyon there may be a Caesar wannabee who has done Rome's rep more good than harm.

In fide,

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 11:32 pm
by Gaius Iulius Tabernarius
Well basically my statement was, is him calling himself a roman, something you like or something you don't like?

I was also referring to the title of Caesar, not the actual person.

I guess I should have been more specific.

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 2:40 am
by Marcus Tullius Ioannes
Because of his many victories as a general in the field, Napoleon probably merited the military title "Imperator" more than most Roman emperors. And I think post-revolutionary France under him looked to ancient Rome as a model, in the creation of the consulate and then the empire. He was also from an Italian family. Also, he helped create a body of civil law which is still used in much of Europe (and even somewhat in Louisiana).

He would have been a great Roman, I think, but I think of him as more akin to the Italian condotierre like the Medici and the Borgias,who were closer to him in time.

Napoleon a Caesar?

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 2:51 am
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete -

I'm with my cousin, Tullius Ioannes - more of a mercenary, ultimately. Caesar, that is Gaius Iulius, seems to have been exemplary in politics and personal charm, as well as war. Napoleon seems to have been less canny in the personal and political realm. In both cases, they betrayed their governements to seize power for themselves.

In the military arena, Napoleon deserves the laurels. Caesar's luck was that he never faced the kind of massive coalition that Napoleon did; Vercingetorix's revolt lacked the increasing competence that was evident in the alliances that Napoloen faced. Perhaps we should compare Napoleon with Hannibal.


PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 3:02 am
by Marcus Tullius Ioannes
Well said, cousin. The comparison with Hannibal is quite appropriate. After all, Napoleon also descended from the Alps into Italy (twice) and won great victories there, which all came to nothing when he was finally defeated.

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2008 3:31 pm
by Gaius Iulius Tabernarius
Ahh. good point Hannibal is a better comparison. However we may be underestimating his political tact, considering the fact that he managed to escape exile I am inclined to believe he was at least competent in charm if not quite talented at it.

Its kind of hard for me to compare him with the Borgia's however, the scale of their victories was entirely different. Maybe someone like Charlemagne or Justinian.

One thing's for sure, ultimately he made the same mistake of many famous leaders, his ego grew disproportionate to his talents and he bit off way too much. Granted so did Alexander the great, but Alexander's talents are something that I don't think we can fairly measure.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:57 pm
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
It's probably very late, but I'm going to butt into this issue anyway.

It's an interesting question, but one that also raises the question of what we should consider a "Roman". Did Napoleon regard himself as a Roman? For sure, he drew a lot of inspiration from the Roman Republic/Empire, but following the line of reasoning, you can also state that the Holy Roman Empire was Roman, while the famous joke among historians goes that it was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor a true Empire.

I wouldn't really say he was a "wannabe". He clearly had his own agenda. He wasn't reenacting ancient Rome, he was tyring to tie its grandeur to his own budding empire, and sought ways to legitimate this. In terms of character and style, sure, there definitely were Roman elements, but he was a man of his time more than anything else.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:29 pm
by Gaius Iulius Tabernarius
Good point, a lot of individuals could be roman if we simply define it as acting roman, but then where does that leave us? I tend to think Napoleon was at least more roman than any of his contemporaries. He seamed to have a classicalist agenda. Just based off of his religious views, his choice of dress, and the way he conducted himself in Egypt, going on a major archeology spree. I guess we have to remember it was the age of enlightenment and there was a strong classical element to it. But something about that crown of his...


To add, I found a great documentary on him... its long but epic.