Saturday, December 12, 2009

Age of the Antonines (96 - 192 AD)

12. Nerva (Marcus Cocceius Nerva) 96 - 98 was born in the village of Narni, about 50 kilometers north of Rome on Nov 8, 30 AD - he had been faithful to the Julio-Claudian dynasty - he tried to bring about financial reform and restore the power of the senate - he was not able to assert his authority over the Praetorian guard - being childless, he adopted Trajan, a military leader and highly respected, as his heir and successor - he died of natural causes on Jan 25, 98.

13.  Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus) 98 - 117 was born in Italica (near Seville) in the southern province of Baetica (Andalusia) in Spain on Sept 18, 53 AD - although born in Spain, he was of Italian heritage - he is well known for his exploits in ancient Dacia, which is now Romania - Traian is a common Romanian name - in 106 he defeated King Decebalus and took the capital of Sarmizegethusa which is in Hunedoara county (near Timisoara) - he became somewhat overambitious in his eastern exploits and wanted to conquer all of Mesopotamia - it was during this time that he fell ill and died on Aug 8, 117.

14.  Hadrian (Publius Aelius Hadrianus) 117 - 138 was born in Italica, the same as Trajan, on Jan 24, 76 - he was of Italo-Hispano descent and adopted by Trajan to succeed him - Hadrian realized that it would not be good to keep on expanding and set the limits to the empire - he built Hadrian's wall in order to mark the end of the empire, along with the Rhine and Danube also being borders - he had a policy of peace through strength, even threat - he is known as the touristic emperor having covered all parts of the empire during his administration - he had a keen interest in architecture and the Pantheon was completed during his reign - he was a humanist and known as an Epicurean - he mitigated, but did not abolish slavery - humanized the legal code and forbade torture - built libraries, aqueducts, baths and theatres for the people - he fought the 2nd war against the Jews, seeing them as a constant source of rebellions in the empire - he died of heart failure on July 10, 138.

15. Antonius Pius (Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antonius) 138 - 161 was born on Sept. 19, 86 in N├«mes in southern Gaul, presently southern France - he was adopted by Hadrian to succeed as emperor on the condition that he adopt the nephew of Hadrian's wife, Marcus Annius Verus (Marcus Aurelius) and Lucius Verus, son of Aelius Verus - Antonius was not a military man but a scholar - his reign was one of relative peace, except a few minor disturbances in Mauritania, Judea and Britain - he died of fever at Lorium of Etruria, about 19 km from Rome, on March 7, 161.

16 a. Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Aurelius Antonius Augustus) 161 - 180 was born on April 26, 121 - his family originally was from Ucubi, a small town southeast of Cordoba in Andalusia in southern Spain - however, Marcus was probably born in Rome where he was raised - he was trained in oratory, and was fluent in Greek - known as a Stoic philosher, he became co-emperor with Lucius, but was effectively sole ruler - Lucius was the military ruler and led campaigns in Parthia, Antioch and Armenia - starting in the 160's, the Germanic tribes started crossing the Danube and moving into Roman territory - when Lucius returned from the frontier wars the army brought with them the Antonine plague - possibly small pox or the measles - which spread through the empire from 160 to 185 - both emperors succumbed to this plague, first Lucius in 169, and subsequently Marcus, who died in the city of Vindobona (now Vienna, Austria) on March 17, 180.

16 b. Lucius Verus (Lucius Aurelius Verus) 161 - 169 was born on Dec 15, 130 - he was the son of Lucius Aelius Caesar, the adopted son and intended successor of Hadrian - upon Lucius' untimely death, Hadrian adopted Antonius Pius on the condition that Antonius in turn adopted both Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus - he fell victim to the Antonine Plague and died in early 169.

17. Commodus (Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antonius) 180 - 192 was born on Aug 31, 161, the natural son of Marcus Aurelius and the last of the ruling Antonines - he was made co-emperor since 177, making it clear that he was to be the successor - at 19 he became the sole emperor - early in his reign there was a conspiracy engineered by his sister Lucilla, who was exiled to Capri - war broke out in Dacia and Britain, but the Roman armies prevailed - Commodus became a vain and cruel emperor, executing a number of senators, and finally taking to the arena himself - as gladiator, he enjoyed killing both human and animal - his excesses are said to have contributed to his final demise at the hands of the Praetorian guard - he was assassinated on Dec 31, 192.

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