This Week In History

Claudius Poisioned – October 13, 54 AD

Upon the murder of Caligula by the praetorian guards on January 24, 41 AD, there were only three surviving males in the Julio-Claudian dynasty that had been ruling the Roman Empire – Claudius (50, son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia); Nero (4, son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina Junior); and Brittanicus (1, son of Claudius and Valeria Messalina). While Caligula was being relieved of his mortal coil, Claudius hid behind some curtains in the palace. The praetorians found him and led him to their camp. To his great surprise, he was there elevated to emperor for two likely reasons – the Senate was debating possibly turning from the Empire model and back to the old Republican one; and the praetorians likely expected they could easily control Claudius because of his impaired con...

Constantine vs. Licinius – October 8, 316 AD

After Licinius defeated Maximinus Daia in 313, and added Asia and Egypt to all of his Balkan territories, he and Constantine the Great were the two remaining rulers of the Roman Empire. At first, they tried to cooperate and rule the empire with Licinius in the East and Constantine in the West, but the agreement they had was merely out of convenience and not because they truly wanted to co-rule. This is a category of  Constantine coin. Tensions began immediately and both decided to create essentially a buffer zone in Rhaetia and Pannonia, managed by Bassianus, who was married to the sister of the wife of Licinius, and was also the half-brother-in-law to Constantine. Both saw this as fair, since his loyalty should be split evenly between the two emperors. However, Licinius managed to convinc...

Augustus Born – 23 September 63 BC

“Caesar Augustus” was born on September 23, 63 BC to Gaius Octavius and Atia. As was common in Roman culture, Augustus’s birth name was the same as his father and was called Octavian. He had an older sister named Octavia, who would later wed Gaius Claudius Marcellus, and after his death, Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony). This is a category of  Augustus coins. Octavian’s father died when he was only 4 years old as was raised by his mother. However, his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, helped Atia look after her only son and personally introduced him to society. Throughout his lifetime, Octavian acquired many titles, beginning with pontifex (Priest) and Praefectus Urbi (City Prefect of Rome) in 47 BC. Although never of excellent health, he lived a long and very active life. Octavian campaigned with ...

Domitian Murdered – September 18, 96 AD

The Roman Emperor, Vespasian, had two sons – Titus and Domitian. After Vespasian’s death in 79 AD, Titus, being the elder brother, was elevated from Caesar to Augustus. Domitian, while Caesar, played a minor role in government during the reigns of his father and brother, but wasted no time while Titus was on his death bed at their family villa to travel to Rome more than 40 miles away so the praetorian guard could proclaim him as Augustus. Although capable and talented, historians are unkind to Domitian for good reason – his reign began, and continued to be, relatively smooth. He has some troubles in the Danubian region, but the revolt by Saturninus in Upper Germany began his undoing. The revolt of Saturninus, even though a failure, caused Domitian to become very suspicious of other plots....

Sibling Rivalry – September 9th, 337 AD

During the first few months after the death of the Roman emperor, Constantine I (the Great), his three sons – Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans – conspired to purge most the remaining members of their family and consolidate their power. They murdered their half-cousins – Hanniballianus and Delmatius – as Constantine I had elevated them to Caesar along with his three sons, and on September 9, 337 AD, the three jointly claimed the title of Augustus. After the purge, the Roman Empire was divided between the three Augusti: Constantine II took the territories in the West (Gaul, Britain, Spain and the westernmost part of North Africa). Constantius II ruled over Asia Minor, and annexed Pontus and Armenia that were led by Hanniballianus. Constans, the youngest of ...

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