Ancient Rome


THE MIGHTY EMPERORS OF POWERFUL ROME - A Collection of Humans and Not-So Human Fellows

Brilliant, stupid, brave, crazy and cowardly, enlightened, dazed, talented, crippled, insane. But always powerful.  Who were they? What caused them to "be as they were?"  They have captured our imaginations for centuries.  They each held an "impossible" job. To govern half of the then known world?  With hundreds of different peoples, languages, cultures, conditions, characteristics.  Most a comparative "thousands" of miles from the center.  A range of the conquered from passive to horrendously aggressive. Yet, some emperors performed with unbelievable ability.  Others with almost unimaginable incompetence.  The Roman Empire cannot be understood without "knowing" the Emperors.

Such a challenge is not easy, however.  The primary sources when in existence paint varied pictures; the scholars from their extensive research arrive at conflicting assessments.  It is helpful to observe that even with full records and a young and recent history, assessment of ability and impact of American presidents remains a controversial arena and a changing reality.  So readers, students, interested folks will surely have to make their own judgements while working through the conflicting "opinions" in the stories of the emperors.  Yet, no one can disagree with the emperors importance both in the growth and survival of the Empire and the weakening and disappearance of the Empire.

Emperor Worship
"While it is presumably true that those who engaged in activities honoring the emperor in some divine way saw themselves as engaging in a socially useful function, nonetheless it is hard to escape the notion that it was a lot of nonesense. 
De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors
The Imperial Index: The Rulers of the Roman Empire from Augustus. List and dates of every one. Good guide.
Encyclopedia of the Emperors - Excellent Vignettes
Famous Romans
Imperium Romanorum
Excellent list chronologically of Roman Emperors
Rome Project: Political Resources
Consuls, censors, emperors, online encyclopedia of emperors, the Constitution, law, many textual sources.
Map - Birthplaces of the Emperors
Robert Graves and the Twelve Caesars:  Interesting Article - Gore Vidal
The Roman Emperors, Imperators, and Caesars
Here they are, the rulers of the Roman world in all their craziness.  Probably the most useful summary..

JULIUS CAESAR     Not Quite an Emperor!

Julius Caesar:  An Annotated Guide to Online Resources
Primary Sources:  Tranquillas, Plutarch - several, Julius.
The Landings of Caesar in Britain, 55 and 54 BC
"Shoreline near Walmer Castle is probably in the area where Julius Caesar and his troops landed during the two Roman excursions to Britain of 55 and 54 BC.  Excellent summary.
House of the Caesars
"Genealogical guide to the Julio-Claudians. Lists known family members, includes descendants of Gaius Julius Caesar, to six generations; ancestors of Augustus and Livia; descendants of Augustus and Livia."
Caesar's Civil War: Rubicon to the Death of Pompey - Site Down
"Caesar and one legion began the Civil War of January, 49 B.C., by defying the Senate, crossing the Rubicon and marching on Rome. The legions of the Republic were now under Pompey's command. Caesar appears to have been aware that, by this act alone, he would forever attach a certain ignominy to his own reputation, which (as he often   said) was dearer to him than his life. This decision has, over the centuries, been the single most condemned or extenuated act of Caesar's life. The ensuing Civil War would effectively complete the destruction of the Roman Republic and deliver the state to one-man rule for the next five centuries. "
Life of Julius Caesar - By Plutarch
"But when Caesar's will was opened, and it was found that he had left a considerable legacy to each one of the Roman citizens, and when his body was seen carried through the market-place all mangled with wounds, the multitude could no longer contain themselves within the bounds of tranquillity and order, but heaped together a pile of benches, bars, and tables, which they placed the corpse on, and setting fire to it, burnt it on them. Then they took brands from the pile and ran some to fire the houses of the conspirators, others up and down the city, to find out the men and tear them to pieces, but met, however, with none of them, they having taken effectual care to secure themselves."  Read on.
Plutarch: The Assassination of Julius Caesar, from Marcus Brutus (excerpts)
One of the most influential political and military leaders in history, Gaius Julius Caesar helped establish the vast Roman empire. Caesar's triumph in a civil war in the 40s BC made him the absolute ruler of Rome, but political jealousies among his opponents led to his assassination. "Caesar snatching hold of the handle of the dagger, and crying out aloud in Latin, "Villain Casca, what do you?" he, calling in Greek to his brother, bade him come and help. And by this time, finding himself struck by a great many hands, and looking around about him to see if he could force his way out, when he saw Brutus with his dagger drawn against him, he let go Cascas hand, that he had hold of and covering his head with his robe, gave up his body to their blows. And they so eagerly pressed towards the body, and so many daggers were hacking together, that they cut one another; and all of them were besmeared with the blood."
Julius Caesar's War Commentaries
It is all here.  Fascinating reading. 
Julius Caesar:  Historical Background
Excellent summary of his lifec, actions, accomplishments.


ROME'S PIVOTAL EMPERORS - by Pat Southern:  Augustus, Hadrian, Vespasian, Marcus Aurelius, Constantine, Septimus Severus
Augustus:  A Brief Biography
"He subjected the whole wide earth to the rule of the Roman people."
And then move to the following policy and content articles.
Foreign Wars
The Augustan Settlement  and  Details 
Augustus - BBC
"In 27 BC, he restored control of the republic to the Senate, ostensibly reverting to the old order, with annually elected magistrates, the senators sharing responsibility for government, and no single individual with supreme power. But it was a republic in name only. The reality was that Octavian emerged with the honorary title 'Augustus' and the control, via his legates, of all the provinces with armies. Augustus converted the republican citizen levy into a standing army, established regular pay and terms of service for soldiers, and a pension scheme for veterans. Gradually by his authority and influence he became the principal fount of law, he controlled state finance, foreign policy and religion, and he shaped Roman society as the republic was transformed into the empire. In brief, he became the first emperor."
Augustus - PBS
"Adopted by Caesar, Augustus (c.62 BC – 14 AD / Reigned 31 BC – 14 AD) had to fight for his throne. His long rule saw a huge expansion in the Roman Empire and the beginnings of a dynasty that, over the next century, would transform Rome, for better and worse."
Caesar Augustus:   An Annotated Guide to Online Resources
Primary sources, background and images, modern essays and historical fiction.
Augustus and Tiberias: Beginning of the Roman Empire
Capsule summary of the efforts of these two "first" emperors. There, click to Michael Grant's summation of the career of Augustus.
The Personae of Augustus
"The Emperor Augustus, during his lifetime, 'wore many hats', that is, appeared to various people in different capacities at various times. One of the arcana imperii was certainly his ability to mix and match these personae as needed, to achieve the maximum political and social effect upon Romans and their subjects. These functions were often carried out through intermediaries."
Augustus Caesar
Excellent introductory essay.  "Augustus is arguably the single most important figure in Roman history. In the course of his long and spectacular career, he put an end to the advancing decay of the Republic and established a new basis for Roman government that was to stand for three centuries. This system, termed the "Principate," was far from flawless, but it provided the Roman Empire with a series of rulers who presided over the longest period of unity, peace, and prosperity that Western Europe, the Middle East and the North African seaboard have known in their entire recorded history. Even if the rulers themselves on occasion left much to be desired, the scale of Augustus's achievement in establishing the system cannot be overstated. Aside from the immense importance of Augustus's reign from the broad historical perspective, he himself is an intriguing figure: at once tolerant and implacable, ruthless and forgiving, brazen and tactful. Clearly a man of many facets, he underwent three major political reinventions in his lifetime and negotiated the stormy and dangerous seas of the last phase of the Roman Revolution with skill and foresight. With Augustus established in power and with the Principate firmly rooted, the internal machinations of the imperial household provide a fascinating glimpse into the one issue that painted this otherwise gifted organizer and politician into a corner from which he could find no easy exit: the problem of the succession."

        Tiberius -    Excellent Summary (scroll way down) 
"Opinions vary about him. He may have been something of a good administrator, but his salient characteristic was inertia. He hated to make decisions. For instance, as long as a governor was not actively incompetent, Tiberius left him in place. One man was appointed by Augustus in A.D. 12, reappointed in 15 and left in place until his death in 35. Such a tenure is unheard of in other reigns.  Whatever the merits of his administration, he was a lamentable failure as a human being. He allowed the situation in Rome to get out of control, both during the domination of Sejanus and during the terror that followed his downfall. And Tiberius' familial relations are appalling. While Augustus apparently could not bring himself to kill a relative during his lifetime, Tiberius did so several times under horrific circumstances. Tacitus' conception that Tiberius was evil from the start is simplistic, but there can be no doubt but that Tiberius was ill-suited to managing the delicate charade created by Augustus and starkly revealed the autocratic nature of the principate. He was also irresponsible in the arrangements he left for the succession."
Tiberius - PBS
"Never the preferred heir, Tiberius (42 BC – 37 AD / reigned 14 – 37 AD) soon showed why Augustus had wanted someone else. His political inability, poor judgment and jealousy led Rome into a dark age of political purges, murder and terror."
Tiberius (14BC-37AD)
"In 11 BC Augustus forced Tiberius to divorce his wife Vipsania and marry Julia, Augustus' daughter. In 6 BC, Tiberius abruptly retired to Rhodes. In 2 AD he returned to Rome and in 4 AD, with Augustus's grandsons both dead, Tiberius was adopted as Augustus's son. Tiberius in turn adopted his nephew Germanicus (great-nephew of Augustus). He then went on campaign in northern Germany, securing the frontier and returning to Rome a hero. Tiberius succeeded Augustus in 14 AD. Initially, his rule was positive. He improved the civil service and restored Rome's financial condition. However, Tiberius lacked Augustus' natural rapport with the Senate and he became increasingly unpopular. This contrasted strongly with the popularity of the charismatic Germanicus, his expected successor. When Germanicus died in 19 AD, it was widely believed that Tiberius had poisoned him in order that his own son, Drusus, should succeed but in 23 AD Drusus died, throwing wide open the question of the succession."
Emperor Tiberius
"The opening years of Tiberius' reign seem almost a model of wise rule. His laws and policies were both patient and far seeing. He did not attempt great new conquests and did not move armies about or change governors of provinces without reason. He stopped the waste of the imperial treasury, so that when he died he left behind 20 times the wealth he had inherited, and the power of Rome was never more secure. He strengthened the Roman navy."  Then he "retired" to the island of Capri:  "His intention appears to have been only to stay for a time on the island of Capri, but he never returned to Rome. The remaining decade of Tiberius' life has given rise to the legend of Tiberius the monster. It seems probable that Tiberius, never handsome, had become repulsively ugly. His skin broke out in blotches, and then his complexion became covered with pus-filled eruptions, exuding a bad smell and causing a good deal of pain. Even under the most favourable interpretation, he killed ferociously and almost at random. It is probable that by then his mind was disordered."
Tiberius Claudius
Excellent, solid article going through all stages of the life, mistakes, successes and contributions of Tiberius.
"Upon the death of Augustus, Tiberius Claudius Nero stood as the last logical choice in a long and tumultuous line of potential heirs. In 14 AD, at the age of 56, Tiberius ascended to Imperial power as a somewhat uncertain figure. The continuation and success of the newly created Principate rested squarely on the shoulders of a man who seemingly had only a partial interest in his own personal participation. For the first time the transfer of power from the greatness of Augustus was to be tested. The passing of this test would prove to be more a culmination of Augustus' long reign and establishment of precedent than the ability of Tiberius to fill the enormous sandals of his step-father."

         Caligula of Rome, a Crazy Caesar

Gaius Caligula
"All classical accounts of Gaius 'Caligula' agree that he possessed elements of madness, cruelty, viciousness, extravagance and megalomania. He is described as a coarse and cruel despot with an extraordinary passion for sadism and a fierce energy. He could get extremely excited and angry. Caligula was tall, spindly, pale and prematurely bald. He was so sensitive about his lack of hair that it was a capital crime for anyone to look down from a high place as Caligula passed by. Sometimes he ordered those with a fine head of hair to be shaved. He made up for lack of hair on his head by an abundance of body-hair. About this too he could be equally sensitive; even the mention of "hairy goats" in conversation was dangerous. He used to grimace, which he practised in front of a mirror, and he was an impressive orator. His great-uncle, the Emperor Tiberius , once said: 'There was never a better slave nor a worse master than Caligula.'
Caligula (AD 12 - 41) - BBC
"Caligula', more properly Gaius (Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus), was the third Roman emperor, in succession to Tiberius. He has gone down in history, perhaps unfairly, as Rome's most tyrannical emperor; but since we lack Tacitus' account of his short reign, it is impossible to know the truth behind the wilder stories."
Caligula - PBS
"Seen as a welcome breath of fresh air when he took the throne, Caligula’s (12 – 41 AD / Reigned 37 – 41 AD) eccentricities soon became terrifying and he was murdered after just five years in power.
Caligula From Suetonius
"He lived in habitual incest with all his sisters, and at a large banquet he placed each of them in turn below him, while his wife reclined above. Of these he is believed to have violated Drusilla when he was still a minor, and even to have been caught lying with her by his grandmother Antonia, at whose house they were brought up in company."
Caligula - Emperor A. D. 37 - 41
"Caius was loved by the soldiers from the time he was a little boy. He made many friends amongst the troops and even went with them on long marches. Their nickname for him was Caligula, meaning 'little boots.' He was hated and despised by the Senate because he brought back the treason trials in which many senators, both guilty and innocent, were condemned to death. Caligula was thought to have been mentally unbalanced by modern historians. He even scandalized the Roman citizens by nominating his horse as Consul, one of the two men at the head of the republican government in ancient Rome. Another story told about him is that he ordered several Roman legions onto the beaches of Gaul and made them gather sea shells in their helmets. He then proclaimed that he had won a great victory over the gods of the sea. Toward the end of his life, he became suspicious of everyone around him and had not only senators but rich men and others whom he didn't like or trust murdered. Finally having had their fill of him, he was murdered by some soldiers in A. D. 41."
Caligula:  A Play By Albert Camus
 "Indeed every incident and detail of Caligula's reign in Caligula is adapted from from Suetonius: Caligula's disturbing traits or symptoms of lunacy (his infatuation with distorting his own face in the mirror, a moon fetish, chronic insomnia, emotional fits, disgusting table manners); insane political policies (forcing Romans to disinherit their offspring and will their possessions to the State Treasury, opening a Public Brothel populated by wives of patricians and bestowing an Order of Merit to the most frequent customers, closing granaries and declaring famine); cruel and paranoid antics (murdering patricians' relatives arbitrarily, using banquets as occasions to rape patricians' wives and boast about it, poisoning patricians because Caligula thought they thought he was poisoning them); megalomania and exhibitionism (dressing up as Venus and declaring himself divine, writing a treatise on executions, performing dances in front of patricians, organizing bizarre poetry contests); and the circumstances of Caligula's death."
Camus, Suetonius, and the Caligula Myth
As one canadian historian wrote:  "For the bulk of the information we are compelled to fall back on Suetonius and Dio Cassius, and we do not possess (as we do for the three other Julio-Claudian Emperors) any of the books which Tacitus wrote on the reign. The lack must be emphasized, for it is very important: in studying the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius or Nero, we can usually rely on Tacitus to control the errors and generalisations of Suetonius and Dio, and so can assess them at their true worth. In spite of this many writers, in dealing with the four years of Gaius, behave as though by some kindly compensation of Nature, once Tacitus is missing Suetonius and Dio automatically become better authorities and their statements more worthy of credence. Such a frame of mind is uncritically optimistic, for it goes clean contrary to all experience of these authors elsewhere. . . J. Balsdon, author of a study of Caligula, is of the opinion that the incest stigma is a complete fabrication in the first place—'mud which in antiquity was thrown at any man who was unusually fond of his sister.' René Lugand argues that, if not actually a gross fabricator, Suetonius was at least guilty of partiality and elaboration. He examines two cases of allegedly outrageous conduct: the propitiation of Caligula by human sacrifices, and secondly his intention to award his horse Incitatus a Consulship. His conclusion is that, even if Suetonius is not exaggerating, as is frequently the case elsewhere, such conduct was not so very monstrous for those times. Suetonius was more of a propagandist than an historian:"

    The Claudius Page
Emperor Claudius
"Claudius Nero Germanicus (b. 10 BC, d. 54 A.D.; emperor, 41-54 A.D.) was the third emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His reign represents a turning point in the history of the Principate for a number of reasons, not the least for the manner of his accession and the implications it carried for the nature of the office. During his reign he promoted administrators who did not belong to the senatorial or equestrian classes, and was later vilified by authors. He followed Caesar in carrying Roman arms across the English Channel into Britain but, unlike his predecessor, he initiated the full-scale annexation of Britain as a province, which remains today the most closely studied corner of the Roman Empire. His relationships with his wives and children provide detailed insights into the perennial difficulties of the succession problem faced by all Roman Emperors. His final settlement in this regard was not lucky: he adopted his fourth wife's son, Nero, who was to reign catastrophically and bring the dynasty to an end. Claudius's reign, therefore, was a mixture of successes and failures that leads into the last phase of the Julio-Claudian line."  
Article's excellent conclusion? "Robert Graves' fictional characterization of Claudius as an essentially benign man with a keen intelligence has tended to dominate the wider public's view of this emperor. Close study of the sources, however, reveals a somewhat different kind of man. In addition to his scholarly and cautious nature, he had a cruel streak, as suggested by his addiction to gladiatorial games and his fondness for watching his defeated opponents executed. He conducted closed-door trials of leading citizens that frequently resulted in their ruin or deaths -- an unprecedented and tyrannical pattern of behavior. He had his wife Messalina executed, and he personally presided over a kangaroo court in the Praetorian Camp in which many of her hangers-on lost their lives. He abandoned his own son Britannicus to his fate and favored the advancement of Nero as his successor. While he cannot be blamed for the disastrous way Nero's rule turned out, he must take some responsibility for putting that most unsuitable youth on the throne.
At the same time, his reign was marked by some notable successes: the invasion of Britain, stability and good government in the provinces, and successful management of client kingdoms. Claudius, then, is a more enigmatic figure than the other Julio-Claudian emperors: at once careful, intelligent, aware and respectful of tradition, but given to bouts of rage and cruelty, willing to sacrifice precedent to expediency, and utterly ruthless in his treatment of those who crossed him. Augustus's suspicion that there was more to the timid Claudius than met the eye was more than fully borne out by the events of his unexpected reign."
Claudius - From PBS
"Disfigured, awkward and clumsy, Claudius (10 BC – 54 AD / Reigned 41 – 54 AD) was the black sheep of his family and an unlikely emperor. Once in place, he was fairly successful, but his poor taste in women would prove his undoing. . . . Left disfigured by a serious illness when he was very young, Claudius was also clumsy and coarse , and was the butt of his family’s jokes. When he dozed after dinner, guests pelted him with food and put slippers on his hands so that he’d rub his eyes with his shoes when he woke up.  Caligula’s murder in 41 AD changed everything for Claudius. Unexpectedly, the family fool had become emperor. Discovered trembling in the palace by one of his own soldiers, he was clearly reluctant and afraid."
Claudius (10 BC - 54 AD)-BBC
"Claudius had two children by his wife Messallina - Britannicus and Octavia. In 48 AD Messallina went through a marriage ceremony with the consul Silius as part of a plot against Claudius. Both were executed. Claudius then married his niece Agrippina the Younger who with her son Domitius, was the only surviving direct descendant of Augustus. Agrippina quickly appointed her own supporters to important positions and persuaded Claudius to adopt Domitius - who took the name Nero - as his son. Claudius died on 13 October 54 AD after being poisoned, probably on the orders of Agrippina who feared Claudius would appoint Britannicus his heir over her son Nero. Nero became Emperor."
"It was believed, prior to WWII, that Claudius had suffered from infantile paralysis. However, in recent years and after more thoughtful consideration it is believed that Claudius suffered from congenital cerebral palsy involving spasticity. He did not suffer from any mental retardation or epilepsy. When he was emperor, to see Claudius standing still or seated was to behold a figure of dignity.  He was well built and free from deformity. Upon closer observation it would be found that his head and hands shook slightly, and when walking he dragged his right leg. His right side was weak or stiff, which may have been responsible for the tremor."

   The Emperor Nero  
Nero Claudius Caesar - PBS
"Sensitive and handsome, Nero (37 – 68 AD / reigned 54 – 68 AD) started out well as emperor. But his early promise gave way to wild extravagance and murder. His rule ended as violently as it had begun."
Nero's Downfall

Nero - Assessment
"Nero has not received in modern historical scholarship the kind of revisionist apologies one finds for the other Julio-Claudian successors of Augustus (though some scholars of the literature of his reign look upon him favorably as a sort of Imperial Jack Kerouac). Perhaps this is because of his persecution of the Christians. He does not seem to have been any worse than Gaius. He succeeded to the throne at the age of seventeen, and in the beginning he was guided toward good government by various advisers. Gradually he came to assert himself and fell under the influence of 'bad' friends. Basically, Nero took little interest in government and seems not to have been an inherently bad person. He was, however, suspicious and susceptible to manipulation by those around him. Eventually, a number of conspiracies against him arose, and he finally fell from power through his own ineptitude. It was not so much that the dynsaty was deserted by the forces loyal to it as the other way around. By the time of his death, Nero had managed to eradicate all the remaining members of the dynasty, which thus came to an end." 
How Bad Was He?
The historical Nero was not as much a malevolent monster as his uncle, Caligula. In the end he alienated the Roman army & aristocracy not so much for his cruelty but for squandering the imperial wealth & posing as benefactor of those people whom Rome had spent centuries conquering & dominating.
Emperor Nero - BBC
Agrippina clearly wished to rule through Nero, and her portrait briefly appeared on the coins alongside his. But the new emperor paid more heed to his advisors Burrus and the philosopher Seneca, and the result was five years of exemplary government. Britannicus was poisoned by Nero a year into the new reign and in 59, he had his mother put to death too. In 62 Burrus died and Seneca retired, removing the restraining influences on Nero. He divorced his wife Octavia, who was later executed, and married his mistress Poppaea. Two years later, much of Rome was destroyed in a fire, for which Nero was blamed, although this is now regarded as unlikely. Nero diverted blame from himself by accusing the Christians - then a minor religious sect - of starting the fire, leading to a campaign of persecution. He provided help for Romans made homeless by the fire and set about the necessary rebuilding of the city, appropriating a large area for a new palace for himself.
Galba, Otho, Vitellius - 1 Year Wonders
Following Nero’s death, Rome was plunged into chaos. Warring generals jostled for power. In the space of just over a year, three men would lead Rome before each was brutally murdered. They were: Galba, Otho and Vitellius (ruled 68 – 69 AD).

Emperor Vespasian
"Titus Flavius Vespasianus (b. A.D. 9, d. A.D. 79, emperor A.D. 69-79) restored peace and stability to an empire in disarray following the death of Nero in A.D. 68. In the process he established the Flavian dynasty as the legitimate successor to the Imperial throne. Although we lack many details about the events and chronology of his reign, Vespasian provided practical leadership and a return to stable government - accomplishments which, when combined with his other achievements, make his emperorship particularly notable within the history of the Principate."  The article concludes: "A man of strict military discipline and simple tastes, Vespasian proved to be a conscientious and generally tolerant administrator. More importantly, following the upheavals of A.D. 68-69, his reign was welcome for its general tranquility and restoration of peace. In Vespasian Rome found a leader who made no great breaks with tradition, yet his ability ro rebuild the empire and especially his willingness to expand the composition of the governing class helped to establish a positive working model for the "good emperors" of the second century."
Vespasian - BBC
"Tradition was broken with Vespasian's accession. Since he was not related to any of Augustus's Julio-Claudian family, he could not inherit the imperial powers of his predecessors. A law was passed conferring authority on him (lex de imperio Vespasiani), providing important documentary evidence for historians. His 10-year reign was not pivotal in the sense of momentous turning points in history, but it was remarkable for long lasting peace, stabilisation of the imperial finances and attention to the provinces. Vespasian is one of the less remote emperors. He was down to earth with a sense of humour. 'Dear me,' he said when he was dying, 'I seem to be turning into a god.'"  And a longer summary
First Man to Improve After Becoming An Emperor
"Vespasians reign is also remembered for the crushing of the Jewish revolt in Palestine. Prior to becoming emperor, Vespasian had served in Palestine. Trouble stirred up again in 70 AD when a major Jewish revolt occurred. Vespasian sent his son ,Titus, to crush the revolt and ,after a long siege, the Romans led by Titus crushed Jerusalem. When the Romans entered the city, the completely leveled it. People who were not killed and treasures which were not destroyed were sent to Rome to be part of Titus's grand triumph."

"Perhaps Titus did nothing particularly noteworthy, but he seemed all the more appealing a personality compared to his unpleasant and unsuccessful successor."  He reigned two years.
"History has been kind to Titus, perhaps the most popular of all the emperors; but if Nero had died two years into his reign, he too would have enjoyed a similar reputation. Titus has also benefited from the contrast with his brother's reign. Like his father, he was posthumously deified."

      Domitian - Summary by Dr. Mackay
"As was usually the case with tyrants, Domitian died not at the hands of the senators he persecuted and humiliated but through assassination committed by members of his own household. Supposedly their act was motivated by their disgust at his persecution of the senate and his arrogance, but it had a more immediate cause. He not only had one of his freedman executed, but he also killed his heir, his cousin and the brother of the preceding heir. Although consul with Domitian in 95, he was soon executed, apparently for atheism associated with some sort of Jewish religious practice (this caused some even in antiquity to say that he was a Christian, but there is no serious reason for thinking this). Apparently, Domitian's paranoia was turning on those closest to him. And they decided to act."
Domitian:  The Emperor Who Tortured Flies
"Domitian was also notorious for his cruelty. He is supposed to have invented a new method of torture: burning the sexual organs of his victims. Domitian was capable of inviting an erring official to supper, dismissing him in such a way that the man retired happy and carefree. Nevertheless, the next day he was executed. Domitian also enjoyed asking senators to dinner-parties at which all the equipment was black, so that the guests were numb with fright. Like Vespasian, Domitian persecuted Stoic philosophers and Jews. He had all Jews, who claimed descent from King David, tracked down and killed. Very peculiar was Domitian's pleasure in catching flies, stabbing them with the point of a pen and tearing their wings out."
Domition of Rome
" His thigh was deformed as a result of being run over by a chariot driven by Caligua.By the time he became Emperor, Vitellius was a notorious glutton. He lived for food1; banqueting three or four times a day, routinely vomiting up his meals, using a long feather to induce the process, and starting over. Vitellius was especially fond of the rarest delicacies, like pike livers, pheasant brains and flamingo tongues. The Imperial Navy was given the task of searching the seas for rare ingredients. One of his banquets involved no fewer than 2000 fish and 7000 birds."
Titus Domitianus
"On 18 September, A.D. 96, Domitian was assassinated and was succeeded on the very same day by  a senator and one of his amici. The sources are unanimous in stressing that this was a palace plot, yet it is difficult to determine the level of culpability among the various potential conspirators. In many ways, Domitian is still a mystery - a lazy and licentious ruler by some accounts, an ambitious administrator and keeper of traditional Roman religion by others. As many of his economic, provincial, and military policies reveal, he was efficient and practical in much that he undertook, yet he also did nothing to hide the harsher despotic realities of his rule. This fact, combined with his solitary personality and frequent absences from Rome, guaranteed a harsh portrayal of his rule. The ultimate truths of his reign remain difficult to know."


After the period of the 12 Caesars and Flavians came a time when Rome was ruled by five good emperors in a row. Each emperor adopted his successor. The final emperor was Marcus Aurelius whose natural son followed him and broke the string of Roman luck.

       Nerva and Trajan
Domitian’s murder marked the end of the Flavian dynasty and changed the rules of succession. Nerva and Trajan (ruled 96 – 98 AD, 98 – 117 AD) were not born to rule, but were chosen for the job. The results were remarkably successful.
Roman Empire Under Trajan
Map dimensions at end of Trajan's reign.
Marcus Cocceius Nerva (AD 30 - AD98)
"Nerva, already in his sixties when he came to power, was an old man by Roman standards. He is said to have been frail and often ill, with a tendency to vomit up his food and a habit to overindulge with wine. He was a kindly and amiable ruler. And he was one of the very few, perhaps even the only emperor, who could could make this famous claim: 'I have done nothing as emperor that would prevent my laying down the imperial office and returning to private life in safety.' The senate acclaimed emperor by the senate on 18 September AD 96, on the very same day of Domitian's death. Once the hated emperor was gone, popular anger vented itself on Domitian's statues and arches which were all demolished. Domitian's extensive network of informers abandoned, some of the spies were even executed. Furthermore, an amnesty was granted to those who had been banished from Rome by Domitian and their properties were restored to them. In fact, Nerva's popularity among the senators earned him the title pater patriae (father of the country) at the beginning of his reign.  Though Nerva was a, if anything, a skilled politician. And he now made his most inspired move of all. As a childless emperor, his death would leave the throne vacant, unless Nerva should choose to adopt an heir. And in finding a popular heir, Nerva knew he could secure his own position.  And so Nerva selected as his heir, the governor of Upper Germany, Marcus Ulpius Trajanus. Nerva's died after a brief reign of only 16 months, on 28 January AD 98. In a fit of anger he suddenly began sweating profusely. Soon after this he developed into a fever, and he died shortly afterwards."
The Emperor Trajan and His Forum
"Trajan was formally adopted in AD 98 by Nerva, who then promptly died and left the not-so-young man (he was likely about 45) emperor. Only three years later Trajan embarked on the first of what were to be two great and difficult wars against the Dacians, fairly highly civilized Germanic 'barbarians' who lived across the Danube in the area of modern Romania. The Dacians were led by the intelligent and skilful Decebalus, who made the war hard for the Romans. Nonetheless, Trajan and his army were victorious, and he returned to Rome the next year to celebrate a fine triumph and to receive the award of the title "Dacicus."'
Trajan - Roman Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus
"Trajan was a soldier who spent most of his life involved in campaigns. When delivered the news that he was adopted by Roman Emperor Nerva, and even after Nerva died, Trajan remained in Germany until he had completed his campaign. Trajan's major campaigns as emperor were against the Dacians, in 106, which vastly increased the Roman imperial coffers, and against the Parthians, beginning in 113, which was not a clear and decisive victory. Trajan also built an artificial harbor at Ostia."
Marcus Ulpius Trajanus - (AD 52-AD117)
"Trajan was an educated but not an especially learned man, who no doubt was a powerful, very masculine figure. He loved hunting, ranging through forests and even climbing mountains. Further he possessed a true sense of dignity and humility which in the eyes of the Romans made him an emperor of true virtue. Thoughout Trajan's reign there was an ever-increasing programme of public works. The roads network in Italy was renovated, sections which passed through wetlands being paved or placed on embankments and many bridges were built. Also provisions for the poor were made, especially for children. Special imperial funds (alimenta) were created for their upkeep. (This system would still be in use 200 years later!) < style="font-weight: bold;"> But with all his virtues, emperor Trajan was not perfect. He tended to overindulge on wine and had a liking for young boys. More still he seemed to truly enjoy war. Much of his passion for war came from the simple fact that he was very good at it. He was a brilliant general, as shown by his military achievements. Quite naturally he was very popular with the troops, especially due to his willingness to share in the hardships of his soldiers. Trajan's most famous campaign is undoubtedly that against Dacia, a powerful kingdom north of the Danube in modern Romania."
Emperor Trajan
Trajan is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman emperors. Under his leadership the Empire reached its greatest extent and Romans prospered.  Read on.

   HADRIAN AND Hadrian's Wall
"Probably the most famous Roman remainS in England is Hadrian's Wall. It is not by any stretch the most northerly point of the Roman advance; they reached as far north as modern Aberdeen. It isn't even the most northerly wall built by the Romans in Britain. That honour goes to the Antonine Wall, an earthwork defense between the firths of Clyde and Forth. It is, however, an impressive engineering feat."
Images of the Wall from the BBC
"Hadrian's Wall was a Roman frontier built in the years AD 122-30 by order of the Emperor Hadrian. It was 73 miles long and ran from Wallsend-on-Tyne in the east to Bowness on the Solway Firth in the west.,. . . In addition to his artistic inclinations, Hadrian seems to have been a restless soul. He travelled extensively (more than half of his reign was spent outside of Italy), visiting places like Africa where no emperor had yet set foot. From 121 to 123 he toured the provinces of Western Europe, visiting Germany, Gaul, Britain and Spain. From Spain he crossed over to Mauretania, where he personally oversaw a revolt in this troublesome area. He spent the years 123 to 126 in the Greek East, spending the first two among the various provinces of Asia Minor and the last in Greece proper. On the way back to Rome in 126 he stopped to see Sicily, where he climbed to the top of Mt. Etna (nearly 11,000 ft.). . . It is not known whether the wall named after him was directly inspired by his visit, but one of the most last memorials to him is this great wall, built all the way across northern Britain, and still to some extent surviving. The exact purpose of the wall is not entirely clear. While it might seem to be  a wall to hold back invaders, modern scholars who study the Roman frontier are disinclined to believe this and see it either as a fortification of Roman lines of communication (though why laterally is not clear) or as an attempt to regulate internal movement. Such interpretations are certainly counter intuitive."
Hadrian (A.D. 117-138)
"Hadrian died invisus omnibus, according to the author of the Vita.[[34]] But his deification placed him in the list of "good" emperors, a worthy successor to the optimus princeps Trajan. Hadrian played a significant role both in developing the foreign policies of the empire and in its continuing centralization in administration. Few would disagree that he was one of the most remarkable men Rome ever produced, and that the empire was fortunate to have him as its head."
Hadrian - BBC
"Trajan's reign had been one of warfare and territorial expansion, when the empire reached its greatest extent. By contrast, Hadrian's reign was one of peace and consolidation, except for a serious revolt in Judaea in 132 AD. A cultured scholar, fond of all things Greek, Hadrian travelled all over the empire. He was attentive to the army and the provincials, and left behind him spectacular buildings such as the Pantheon in Rome and his villa at Tivoli. But his greatest legacy to the empire was his establishment of its frontiers, marking a halt to imperial expansion.  In Africa he built walls to control the transhumance routes, and in Germany he built a palisade with watch towers and small forts to delineate Roman-controlled territory. In Britain, he built the stone wall which bears his name, perhaps the most enduring of his frontier lines.  He was truly a pivotal emperor, in that he divided what was Roman from what was not. Apart from minor adjustments, no succeeding emperor reversed his policies."
    Antoninus Pius
"The long reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius is often described as a period of peace and quiet before the storm which followed and plagued his successor, Marcus Aurelius. In addition to the relative peacefulness, this emperor set the tone for a low-keyed imperial administration which differed markedly from those of his two immediate predecessors, Trajan and Hadrian. Antoninus managed to govern the empire capably and yet with such a gentle hand that he earned the respect, acclaim, and love of his subjects."  Although considered dull by some, scholar Weigel has a more "uplifiting" conclusion:  "In many ways Antoninus Pius was a model emperor who justifiably earned comparison with his own model, Numa Pompilius, and provided the Empire with a period of fortune, religious piety, and security perhaps unmatched in imperial annals."
The Emperor Antonius Pius
His conception of the duties of his office was high and noble, and his exercise of the almost unlimited power placed in his hands marked him as a man thoroughly devoted to the interests of humanity. In his private life and in the management of his court he followed true Stoic simplicity, entirely removed from excess or extravagance. His reign was unquestionably the most peaceful and the most prosperous in the history of Rome. No wars were undertaken, except those necessary to guard the frontiers of the Empire against invasion or to suppress insurrections. The conflicts with the Berbers in Africa and some of the German and Tauro-Scythinan tribes on the Danube were merely punitive expeditions to prevent further encroachments on Roman soil."
Antonius Pius Emperor
Antoninus restored the status of the senate without losing any of the imperial powers, improved and strengthen the great bureaucratic machinery of the Empire and was a great builder, especially in Italy. The whole world pressed on Antoninus with demands and petitions of every kind, and there was clear evidence that he satisfied many of them. Cities like Rome, and Ostia, Lanuvium and Tarquinii, Lorium and Caieta, Antinum and Terraccina, Capua and Puteoli and other places in Campania or South Italy, all owed buildings to him. He induced the rich to make benefactions, but he was also generous with his own resources. Antoninus believed the Empire needed no further conquests."
Who Was Antonius Pius?
"Antoninus Pius was one of the "five good emperors" of Rome, and was compared with the pious second king of Rome Numa Pompilius. Antoninus was praised for qualities of clemency, dutifulness, intelligence, and purity. He was the adoptive father of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the adopted son of Emperor Hadrian. He ruled from A.D. 138-161."

   Marcus Aurelius    
 " Whatever his plans were, they were cut short by his death, probably of plague, on March 17, 180. It is ironic that the first accession to the Imperial dignity by a natural son would turn out to be a disaster. Apparently, philosopher kings do not necessarily beget philosopher sons."
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
One interpretation focusing on Marcus as philosopher, thinker.
The Emperor Marcus Aurelius
"Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the Emperor of Rome from 161 until his death. He was adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius in 138, and married his daughter Annia Galeria Faustina a few years later. He succeeded to the throne without difficulty on Antoninus' death. Marcus Aurelius was educated by the best tutors in Rome and was a devotee of Stoicism. However, he felt with more religious fervour the communion of man in the unity of the universe than most other Stoics. In his later years he wrote the Meditations as a relief from his lonely office, in which he attempts to reconcile his Stoic philosophy of virtue and self-sacrifice with his role as emperor."
Marcus Aurelius
"The Vita of the emperor in the collection known as the Historia Augusta identifies him in its heading as Marcus Antoninus Philosophus, "Marcus Antoninus the Philosopher." Toward the end of the work, the following is reported about him, sententia Platonis semper in ore illius fuit, florere civitates si aut philosophi imperarent aut imperantes philosopharentur (27.7), "Plato's judgment was always on his lips, that states flourished if philosophers ruled or rulers were philosophers." It is this quality of Marcus' character which has made him a unique figure in Roman history, since he was the first emperor whose life was molded by, and devoted to, philosophy (Julian was the second and last). His reign was long and troubled, and in some ways showed the weaknesses of empire which ultimately led to the "Decline and Fall," yet his personal reputation, indeed his sanctity, have never failed of admirers."
Marcus Aurelius Quotes - 80 Great Quotes

                Commodus:  Nutty as a Fruitcake          !!!!!  :))))
"While the literary sources, especially Dio, Herodian, and the Historia Augusta, all ridicule the antics of his later career, they also give important insight into Commodus' relationship to the people.  His most important maneuver to solidify his claims as Hercules Romanus was to show himself as the god to the Roman people by taking part in spectacles in the amphitheater. Not only would Commodus fight and defeat the most skilled gladiators, he would also test his talents by encountering the most ferocious of the beasts. Commodus won all of his bouts against the gladiators. The slayer of wild beasts, Hercules, was the mythical symbol of Commodus' rule, as protector of the Empire. . .During his reign several attempts were made on Commodus' life.  After a few botched efforts, an orchestrated plot was carried out early in December 192, apparently including his mistress Marcia. An athlete named Narcissus strangled him in his bath, and the emperor's memory was cursed. This brought an end to the Antonine Dynasty."
Commodus in Short!
"It is unfortunate that the emperor Marcus Aurelius did not choose to adopt a capable man as his son to succeed him on the throne. He chose instead Commodus, the spoiled son of Aurelius and his wife, Faustina the Younger. The young Commodus was more fond of performing in the arena and drinking wine with his friends than governing the huge Roman Empire. It was a time when the empire very much needed a strong ruler to lead the armies against the ever increasing barbarian invasions from the North. . . . Commodus died on New Year's Eve, A. D. 192. He was to be proclaimed a consul on the following day, and planned to accept the greatest honor of the republic dressed as a gladiator. Doubtless, the Senate was relieved that they would be spared the indignity of having to witness this farce." 
A Murderer
According to Gibbon, the emperor Commodus spent the early years of his reign "in a seraglio of three hundred beautiful women and as many boys, of every rank and of every province.  "Later, adding bloodshed to his round of pleasures, he launched a career in murder, " Later, adding bloodshed to his round of pleasures, he launched a career in murder."
Who Was Commodus?
" Commodus began to dress like the god Hercules, wearing lion skins and carrying a club. Thus he appropriated the Antonines' traditional identification with Hercules, but even more aggressively. Commodus' complete identification with Hercules can be seen as an attempt to solidify his claim as new founder of Rome, which he now called the Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana. This was legitimized by his direct link to Hercules, son of Father Jupiter. He probably took the title of Hercules officially some time before mid-September 192."
"By all accounts Commodus was a handsome man, with curly blonde hair. But he appeared to possess a weak character and was easily influenced by others. But so too was he prone to cruelty and excessive behaviour. To an extent his behaviour was still held in check, when his father was still alive, although then too some believed to detect the signs of a new Nero in the young heir. Cassius' earlier rebellion, when he mistakenly thought Marcus Aurelius had died, might well have been inspired by a fear of what was to come if Commodus came to the throne.Commodus' accession to power, ended a spell of 80 years in Roman history which had brought men to the throne by merit rather than by birth. The last man to take the throne merely by right of birth had been Domitian."

There were five Severan emperors in the Severan Dynasty whose reigns were associated with the power and influence of the women in their lives, particularly Septimius Severus' sister-in-law Julia Maesa and Severus Alexander's mother, Julia Mamaea. The first of the Severan Emperors was also the first of the soldier emperors of Rome, Septimius Severus

       Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D)

"Septimius Severus restored stability to the Roman empire after the tumultuous reign of the emperor Commodus and the civil wars that erupted in the wake of Commodus' murder. However, by giving greater pay and benefits to soldiers and annexing the troublesome lands of northern Mesopotamia into the Roman empire, Severus brought increasing financial and military burdens to Rome's government. His prudent administration allowed these burdens to be met during his eighteen years on the throne, but his reign was not entirely sunny. The bloodiness with which he gained and maintained control of the empire tarnished his generally positive reputation."
Pivotal moment: Severus fostered the armies of the empire, but distanced himself from the dangers of assassination by making the imperial family sacrosanct, paving the way for the emperors of the later third century.
Septimius Severus:   First of the Soldier Emperors
"Severus' reputation changes with the times. Some consider him responsible for the Fall of Rome."
Septimius Severus - Outstanding Imperial Builder
Alexander Severus - "A Calm Before a Storm"
"When Alexander bought peace instead of fighting with the Germanice tribe of Allemani, his troops were outraged and killed Alexander Severus and his mother in 235. The troops then made Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus emperor."

Known for his cruelty and  and his legal order that bestowed citizenship on all in the Roman Empire except slaves, he died at age 29.  Yet, sitting in the Baths of Caracalla outside Rome and listening to a Verdi opera in the open air is magnificent. And here are the pictures.
Emperor Caracalla
"Caracalla's violent end seemed appropriate for an emperor who, early in his reign, had his own brother killed. Yet the moralizing about fratricide by both ancient and modern historians obscures the energetic, reformist and even intellectual character of Caracalla's reign. Some of the reforms, especially the pay raise for soldiers, would prove burdensome for future emperors, but the changes brought about in the little more than 5 years of Caracalla's rule would have long-lasting implications throughout the empire for generations to come."
Caracalla - Spoiled and Cruel
"It seems that an often recurring pattern with the emperors of Rome was that a spoiled, worthless, cruel, and corrupt son of a strong, and capable emperor would inherit the throne. This happened in the case of Marcus Aurelius' son Commodus and again in the case of Caracalla. Despite the efforts of Septimius Severus to teach both his sons the manly arts of war and government, and his earnest deathbed plea for them to embrace each other in brotherly love and rule together in peace, both his sons grew to hate each other. This hatred would not be resolved until Caracalla murdered his brother Geta in their mother Julia Domna's arms."

"His reign tragically demonstrated the difficulties of having a teenage emperor."  !

  Severus Alexander
"Military experience was the prime attribute of an emperor now, which Alexander did not have, and that lack ultimately cost him his life. Guided by his mother and employing the services of distinguished men, he returned dignity to the imperial household and to the state.   He did the best he could, but that best was not good enough in the early decades of the third century A.D., with the great threats from east and north challenging Rome's primacy and, indeed, existence."

"Gallienus was made co-emperor by his father Valerian I soon after he became emperor in A. D. 253. Both Gallienus and Valerian spent most of their reigns fighting Rome's enemies in Persia, Gaul, Egypt, Syria, and along the Danube. It was a time of great political and economic upheaval called the crisis of the Third Century from which the Roman Empire almost never recovered."

Gallienus and Valerian:  Valerian (A.D. 253-260) and Gallienus (A.D. 253-268)

            The Emperor Diocletian I

 " It can be stated that it was thanks to him that the Empire at least in the East, was rescued." Roman emperor (284-305), able soldier and energetic ruler, under whom a memorable persecution of Christians took place.

"Much of the evidence on the early life of Diocletian has been regarded with skepticism because of the poor credibility of early sources, and because of the false teachings presented by various historians.a What we do know about this Roman Emperor was that he spent much of his life in military camps and rose in the ranks of the Roman Army until he was connected with the co-emperors of Rome, Carinus and Numerian. Regardless of specific position, Diocletian rose to power through interesting circumstances!"
Diocletian:  Roman Emperor
"In A. D. 305, Diocletian stepped down as emperor and promoted his Caesar, Constantius Chlorus to Augustus in his place. The well-known story is told of this once powerful and ruthless emperor, now an old man, peacefully growing cabbages at his villa in the town of Split on the Adriatic coast in what is now Croatia. Diocletian compelled Maximianus to do the same, though Maximianus very much wanted to remain senior Augustus.  If Diocletian thought he had totally retired and left Roman politics for good, he was in for a surprise. In 308, he was asked to preside over a council at Carnumtum on the Danube to decide who would be the Augusti and who would be the Caesars when his squabbling successors could not work things out peacefully. The Tetrarchy that had worked so well for Diocletian and his colleagues only worked because the four men respected and were loyal to each other. The arrangement could not hold together and fell apart after Diocletian's abdication. "
Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus
"Then in AD 293 Diocletian took another huge step into the unknown by founding the 'Tetrarchy', the rule of four. This entirely new idea of imperial government, meant that four emperors should rule the empire. Two Augusti would rule as major emperors, one in teh east, the other in the west. Each Augustus would adopt as his son a junior emperor, a Caesar, who would help rule his half of the empire with him and who be his appointed successor.

  Constantine The Great
"The emperor Constantine has rightly been called the most important emperor of Late Antiquity. His powerful personality laid the foundations of post-classical European civilization; his reign was eventful and highly dramatic. His victory at the Milvian Bridge counts among the most decisive moments in world history, while his legalization and support of Christianity and his foundation of a 'New Rome' at Byzantium rank among the most momentous decisions ever made by a European ruler. The fact that ten Byzantine emperors after him bore his name may be seen as a measure of his importance and of the esteem in which he was held."
Constantine Biography
"Constantine did much for children, slaves and women, those weaker members of society  whom the old Roman Law had treated harshly. But in this he only continued what earlier emperors, under the influence of Stoicism, had begun before him, and he left to his successors the actual work of their emancipation. Thus some emperors who reigned before Constantine had forbidden the exposure of children, although without success, as exposed children or foundlings were readily adopted, because they could be used for many purposes. The Christians, especially exerted themselves to get possession of such foundlings, and consequentlyConstantine issued no direct prohibition of exposure, although the Christians regarded exposure as equal to murder; he commanded, instead, that foundlings should belong to the finder, and did not permit the parents to claim the children they had exposed."
The Christian Constantine
"Although Constantine lived more than a hundred years before the traditional beginning of the Middle Ages, he is included in this reference because of the significant and far-reaching impact he and his reign had on Christianity and society in Medieval Europe. Constantine was the first Christian Roman Emperor. He established the new capital of Rome at the old Greek town of Byzantium, which he renamed after himself (Constantinople) and which would be the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. He raised Christianity (which had not long been legal in the empire) to the status of a "permitted religion." He took a direct interest in matters of doctrine, setting a precedent for future emperors, and called the first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church (at Nicaea). Though the sincerity of his conversion has been debated, the impact of his actions on the subsequent history of the Church is undeniable."

The Julian Society - Emperor Julian
"In 360 A.D., the Emperor Julian became the last Pagan ruler of the Roman Empire. Known as "Julian the Apostate" because he had been raised a Christian but then later converted to Paganism, he worked to re-establish the worship of the ancient Goddesses and Gods and restore all forms of Pagan Religion."
  Theodosius  I - 379-395
"Theodosius was asked to take on an almost impossible task and fill Valens' shoes as Emperor in the East after one of the greatest disasters to befall the Romans in almost 600 years. The emperor Valens had been killed and his army destroyed at Adrianople in August, 378 A. D. The East was left defenseless."  
Theodosius I
"Theodosius is one of the sovereigns by universal consent called Great. He stamped out the last vestiges of paganism, put an end to the Arian heresy in the empire, pacified the Goths, left a famous example of penitence for a crime, and reigned as a just and mighty Catholic emperor."
     Theodosius II - 402-450
"Theodosius II fell from his horse while out riding one day in A. D. 450. The fall broke his back and the emperor later died from his injuries. Before he died, Theodosius II named Marcian, a former aide de camp to the powerful general Aspar. Theodosius II was the last surviving emperor of the family of his grandfather Theodosius I to reign in the East."

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