Pertinax

The Battle of Lugdunum. February 19, 197.

After the murder of Emperor Pertinax (193), a struggle began for the succession to the throne, the so-called Year of the Five Emperors. The new self-proclaimed Emperor in Rome, Didius Julianus, had to face the commander of the Pannonian legions, Septimius Severus. Before moving on Rome, Severus made an alliance with the powerful commander of the legions in Britannia, Clodius Albinus, recognizing him as Caesar. After eliminating Didius that same year and then defeating the governor of Syria in 194, Severus launched a successful campaign in the East in 195. Severus then tried to legitimize his power, connecting himself with Marcus Aurelius, and raising his own son to the rank of Caesar. This last act broke Severus’ alliance with Albinus, who was declared a public enemy by the Senate. I...

This Week In History – Commodus Imperator. 27 November 177 AD.

On November 27, 177, Emperor Marcus Aurelius granted his son Commodus the rank of “Imperator” and makes him Supreme Commander of the Roman legions. This marked the start of Commodus´ rule, first as co-emperor with his father, and solely after his father´s death in 180. His accession was the first time a son had succeeded his biological father since Titus succeeded Vespasian in 79. He was also the first emperor to have both a father and grandfather (who had adopted his father) as the two preceding emperors. During his solo reign, the Empire enjoyed a period of peace and reduced military conflict compared to his father´s reign but intrigues and conspiracies abounded, leading Commodus to an increasingly dictatorial style of leadership that culminated in a God-like personality cult...

Didius Julianus – January 30, 133 AD

According to Cassius Dio, Marcus Didius Severus Julianus was born in Milan on January 30, 133 AD to Quintus Petronius Didius Severus and Aemilia Clara. His father hailed from a prominent Milanese family and his North African mother from a family of rank of consuls. This well-connected parentage afforded him the opportunity to be raised in the house of Domitia Lucilla, the mother of emperor Marcus Aurelius. Domitia helped Julianus attain his first appointment at an early age – a member of the vigintivirate, a college of twenty minor magistrates in charge of everything from lawsuits to road maintenance to casting and striking coins. This college was often a stepping-stone of the sons of senators to begin their public careers and even Julius Caesar served in it as curator viarum. While in off...

Pertinax Declared Emperor – January 1, 193 AD

The Roman emperor, Commodus, was murdered on December 31, 192 AD by Praetorian prefect Quintus Aemilius Laetus, Commodus’s mistress Marcia and chamberlain Eclectus. At the time, Publius Helvius Pertinax was the urban prefect and was rushed to the Praetorian camp and declared emperor on January 1, 193. Upon ascending to the throne, Pertinax immediately ran into issues with the Praetorians, who suspected he was part of the conspiracy to rid the world of Commodus and expected to be rewarded in helping him gain his new title. This is a category of  Denarius. Pertinax felt the military needed stricter discipline as they were getting too accustom to a licentious living, and instituted reforms, which they resisted and hated him for it. He also did not want to pay the Praetorians the donative they...

The Gladiator Emperor – December 31, 192

Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus was born in 161 AD, at Lanuvium, to the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Junior. Even though the practice of naming genetic offspring as the next ruler had fallen out of fashion with end of the Flavian Era, Commodus and his younger brother, Annius Verus, were made co-Caesar when they were both elevated at 5 or 6 years old and 3 respectively. Only Commodus lived to adulthood, however – Annius Verus died around six years old. Commodus accompanied Marcus Aurelius on campaigns during his early adolescent years, where he began his training. When Commodus was 15, his father elevated him to co-Augustus and he married Crispina. Marcus Aurelius died only three years later and Commodus abandoned pretty much everything his father worked to achieve on...

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