Septimius Severus

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...

The death of Septimius Severus. February 4, 211.

By 210, Septimius Severus‘ campaigning had made significant gains in Britain, despite Caledonian guerrilla tactics and heavy Roman casualties. The Caledonians sued for peace, which Severus granted on condition they gave up control of the Central Lowlands. The Caledonians, short on supplies and feeling their position was becoming desperate, revolted later that year along with the Maeatae. Severus prepared for another protracted campaign within Caledonia. He was now intent on exterminating the Caledonians, telling his soldiers: “Let no-one escape sheer destruction, no-one our hands, not even the babe in the womb of the mother, if it be male; let it nevertheless not escape sheer destruction”. Severus’ campaign was cut short when he fell fatally ill. He withdrew to Eboracum a...

Caracalla and Geta. December 19, 211 AD.

Caracalla’s father, Septimius Severus, died on 4 February 211 at Eboracum while on campaign in Caledonia, north of the Roman Britannia. Caracalla and his brother, Geta, jointly inherited the throne upon their father’s death. Caracalla and Geta ended the campaign in Caledonia after concluding a peace with the Caledonians that returned the border of Roman Britain to the line demarcated by Hadrian’s Wall. During the journey back to Rome with their father’s ashes, Caracalla and his brother continuously argued with one another, their relations growing increasingly hostile. Caracalla and Geta considered dividing the empire in half along the Bosphorus to make their co-rule less hostile. Caracalla was to rule in the west and Geta was to rule in the east. They were persuaded...

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...

Family Ties – June 8, 218 AD

Marcus Opellius Macrinus was born c.165 AD in Mauretania-Caesarea to parents in the Roman equestrian class. His education allowed him to eventually join the senatorial class. He was a respected lawyer and enjoyed becoming an important bureaucrat under Septimius Severus. Under Caracalla, he was appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard. Caracalla clearly trusted Macrinus to a great extent, but began to make changes when it was rumored a prophesy told that Macrinus would depose the emperor and take the position for himself. Caracalla reassigned some of the staff of Macrinus, but must not have been aware of the full prophecy, since Macrinus still held his position. In 217, Caracalla, Macrinus and the Praetorian Guard were in the eastern provinces, preparing to campaign against the Parthians. ...

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...

Jovian Elevated – October 22, 363 AD

Upon the death of Julian II, in battle near Phrygia against the Persians around June 26, 363, the position of ruling the Roman Empire suddenly became available. The armies offered to elevate Saturninus Secundus Salutius, a praetorian prefect, but he declined because of his age. Next in line was Flavius Jovianus, the militarily accomplished son of General Varronianus. Jovian accepted and shortly thereafter signed an unfavorable treaty of peace with the Sassanian King, Shapur II, to get the beleaguered and starving Roman army back into friendly territory. This retreat cost the Romans all of their territory east of the Tigris River, part of Armenia, and the cities of Nisibis and Singara in Mesopotamia – all territories won under Septimius Severus and Galerius. Julian II is often referred to a...

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