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Roman sesterce of Emperor Titus with the inscription T CAESAR VESPASIAN (Titus Caesar Vespasianus) IMP IIII (Imperator Quartum) PON (Pontifex) TR POT II (Tribunicia Potestate Secundum) COS II (Consul Secundum). IMP IIII points to four great victories by Titus and the associated fourth acclamation as emperor.

Imperator ( Latin for "commander, master") originally referred to the bearer of military power ( imperium ) in the Roman Republic . From the late 3rd century BC BC ( Scipio Africanus ), however, the term was increasingly used specifically for a military commander whom his soldiers had proclaimed emperor after a victory ( acclamation ). This honorary title expired when the emperor returned to Rome and crossed the Pomerium . As a rule, this took place in a solemn triumphal procession to which the imperator title justified. Many Roman generals referred to themselves as emperors in their provinces without having been proclaimed to do so.

Octavian, the later Augustus , took about 39/38 BC. Chr. Imperator instead of his original name Gaius as a first name (praenomen imperatoris) . The subsequent emperors initially renounced it, but from Nero onwards , the imperator was again a fixed beginning of the imperial title , usually abbreviated to Imp. And immediately followed by the title Caesar , then the individual components of the name and the title Augustus (example: Imp. Caesar M. Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus ). In the event of a military success of their legions , the emperors continued to receive the imperial acclamation, even if they were not personally involved, which also appeared in the title with their count ( imp. III , i.e. for the third time). Until the end of late antiquity , Imperator remained part of the imperial title; so called Justinian I. Imperator Caesar Flavius ​​Iustinianus Augustus . It was not until Herakleios that the title of imperator (Greek autocrator ) was dropped around 625 .

In many languages, for example in English (emperor) and French (empereur) , the term for an emperor or the term for his empire (empire) emerged from the title Imperator . The title Kaiser, however, arose from the second part of the title, Caesar , like the title Tsar , which was widespread in the Slavonic region .


  • Robert Combès: Imperator. (Recherches sur l'emploi et la signification du titre d'Imperator dans la Rome républicaine) (= Publications de la Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de l'Université de Montpellier. 26, ISSN  0544-9634 ). Presses universitaires de France, Paris 1966.


  1. Emperor Titus was acclaimed emperor a total of 17 times. See u. a. Brian W. Jones: The emperor Titus. London 1984, pp. 80f.

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Wiktionary: imperator  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations