Δημοκρατεῖσθαι or μοναρχεῖσθαι, That is the Question: Cassius Dio and the Senatorial Principate
Cassius Dio’s account of Caligula’s principate pivots on the divide between Caligula’s ‘democratic’ debut and his later decline into despotism. As Dio reports, the murder of the emperor in 41 CE polarised the Senate on the question of whether to abolish the Principate or to confirm it. It is likely that Dio’s interest in such a crucial passage depends on his own experience of the end of Commodus and the accession of Pertinax in 192-193 CE. The underpinning of his political thought is Stoic: when the relationship between the princeps and the Senate collapses, the solution is not so much ‘republicanism’ as a ‘republican spirit’, to be intended as a fruitful cooperation between the two.