In the Roman Empire were the consuls the ones who had the most decision making power or was it the Emperor?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It was definitely the emperor who had the decision-making power during the Roman Empire.  The consuls became much less important, to the point where it was a largely ceremonial position.

During the Republic, the consuls had a great deal of power.  They were sort of like monarchs who reigned for only a set period of time.  When the imperial period began, this obviously became impossible.  You could not have consuls with the power of monarchs in a system where you also had a monarch.  Therefore, the emperor took most of the consuls's power to himself.  This extended to the point where the emperors typically gave the consulship out to favorites or relatives as a symbol of favor.  There were even times when children were consuls.  As can be seen from this, the consuls were in no way as powerful or important as the emperors.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team