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Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becom ...
from 193 to 211. He was born in
Leptis Magna Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 ...

Leptis Magna
(present day
Al-Khums Al-Khums or Khoms ( ar, الخمس) is a city, port and the de jure In law and government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad ...
,
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
) in the Roman province of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...
. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoicism, Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Nicc ...

Marcus Aurelius
and
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor serving jointly with his father Marcus Aurelius from 176 until his father's death in 180, and solely until 192. His reign is commonly thought of as marking the end of a golden pe ...

Commodus
. Severus seized power after the death of the emperor
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of ...

Pertinax
in 193 during the
Year of the Five Emperors The Year of the Five Emperors was 193 AD, in which five men claimed the title of Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different ...

Year of the Five Emperors
. After deposing and killing the incumbent emperor
Didius Julianus Marcus Didius Julianus (; 29 January 133 or 137 – 2 June 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety ...
, Severus fought his rival claimants, the Roman generals
Pescennius Niger Gaius Pescennius Niger (c. 135 – 194) was Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a gi ...
and
Clodius Albinus Decimus Clodius Albinus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman general, senator and usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government ...

Clodius Albinus
. Niger was defeated in 194 at the
Battle of Issus The Battle of Issus (also Issos) occurred in southern Anatolia, on November 5, 333 BC between the League of Corinth, Hellenic League led by Alexander the Great and the Achaemenid Empire, led by Darius III of Persia, Darius III, in the second grea ...
in
Cilicia Cilicia (); el, Κιλικία, ''Kilikía''; Middle Persian: ''klkyʾy'' (''Klikiyā''), Parthian language, Parthian: ''kylkyʾ'' (''Kilikiyā''), tr, Kilikya). is a geo-cultural region in southern Turkey, extending inland from the northeastern ...
. Later that year Severus waged a short punitive campaign beyond the eastern frontier, annexing the
Kingdom of Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq ...

Kingdom of Osroene
as a new province. Severus defeated Albinus three years later at the
Battle of Lugdunum The Battle of Lugdunum, also called the Battle of Lyon, was fought on February 19, 197 at Lugdunum (modern Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ; it, Lione, ) is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, third-largest c ...
in
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
. After consolidating his rule over the western provinces, Severus waged another brief, more successful war in the east against the
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
, sacking their capital
Ctesiphon Ctesiphon ( ; Middle Persian: 𐭲𐭩𐭮𐭯𐭥𐭭 ''tyspwn'' or ''tysfwn''; fa, تیسفون; grc-gre, Κτησιφῶν, ; syr, ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢThomas A. Carlson et al., “Ctesiphon — ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢ ” in The Syriac Gazetteer last modi ...

Ctesiphon
in 197 and expanding the eastern frontier to the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
. He then enlarged and fortified the ''
Limes Arabicus The ''Limes Arabicus'' was a desert frontier of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ...
'' in
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Αραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province of ...

Arabia Petraea
. In 202, he campaigned in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...
and
Mauretania Mauretania (; ) is the Latin language, Latin name for a region in the ancient Maghreb. It stretched from central present-day Algeria westwards to the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, covering northern Morocco, and southward to the Atlas Mountains. Its ...

Mauretania
against the
Garamantes The Garamantes ( Berber: ''iɣerman'', "castles, cities") were an ancient civilisation based primarily in present day Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībīyā) is a ...
, capturing their capital Garama and expanding the ''
Limes Tripolitanus The ''Limes Tripolitanus'' was a frontier zone of defence of the Roman Empire, built in the south of what is now Tunisia and the northwest of Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا ...

Limes Tripolitanus
'' along the southern desert frontier of the empire. He proclaimed as ''
augusti 300px, Coin of the emperor Diocletian, marked ''Augustus'' (plural ''augusti''; , ; "majestic", "great" or "venerable") was an ancient Roman In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 ...
'' (co-emperors) his elder son
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Caracalla
in 198 and his younger son Geta in 209, both born of his second wife
Julia Domna Julia Domna (; – 217 AD) was Roman empress from 193 to 211 as the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus. She was born in Emesa (present-day Homs) in Roman Syria to an Arab family of priests of the deity Elagabalus (deity), Elagabalus. In 187, s ...

Julia Domna
. Severus travelled to
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
in 208, strengthening
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
and reoccupying the
Antonine Wall
Antonine Wall
. In AD 209 he invaded Caledonia (modern Scotland) with an army of 50,000 men but his ambitions were cut short when he fell fatally ill of an infectious disease in late 210. He died in early 211 at
Eboracum Eboracum () was a and later a in the of . In its prime it was the largest town in northern Britain and a provincial capital. The site remained occupied after the decline of the and ultimately developed into the present-day city , occupying ...
(today
York, England York is a cathedral city and unitary authority area, at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss, in England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales ...
), and was succeeded by his sons, who were advised by their mother and his powerful wife Julia Domna, thus founding the
Severan dynasty The Severan dynasty was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', s ...
. It was the last dynasty of the Roman Empire before the
Crisis of the Third Century The Crisis of the Third Century, also known as Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis (235–284 AD), was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed. It ended due to the military victories of Aurelian and with the ascension of Dioclet ...
.


Early life


Family and education

Born on 11 April 145 at
Leptis Magna Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 ...

Leptis Magna
(in present-day
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
) as the son of
Publius Septimius Geta Publius Septimius Geta (; 7 March 189 – 19/26 December 211) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout h ...
and Fulvia Pia, Septimius Severus came from a wealthy and distinguished family of
equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...
rank. He had
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...
Roman ancestry on his mother's side, and was descended from
Punic The Punic people or Western Phoenicians, were a group of Semitic people, Semitic peoples in the Western Mediterranean who traced their origins to the Phoenicians of the coasts of Western Asia. In modern scholarship, the term 'Punic' – the Lati ...
forebears on his father's side.Birley (1999), pp. 212–213. Due to his family background on his father's side he is considered the first provincial emperor as he was the first emperor not only born in the province but also in the provincial family of non-Italian origin. Severus' father, an obscure provincial, held no major political status, but he had two cousins, Publius Septimius Aper and Gaius Septimius Severus, who served as consuls under the emperor
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (; la, Antōnīnus Pius ; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emper ...

Antoninus Pius
. His mother's ancestors had moved from
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
to
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
; they belonged to the ''gens'' Fulvia, an
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...
patrician family that originated in
Tusculum Tusculum is a ruined Classical Rome, Roman city in the Alban Hills, in the Latium region of Italy. Tusculum was most famous in Roman times for the many great and luxurious patrician country villas sited close to the city, yet a comfortable distanc ...
. Septimius Severus had two siblings: an elder brother,
Publius Septimius Geta Publius Septimius Geta (; 7 March 189 – 19/26 December 211) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout h ...
; and a younger sister, Septimia Octavilla. Severus's maternal cousin was the
praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Itali ...
and consul
Gaius Fulvius Plautianus Gaius or Lucius Fulvius Plautianus (c. 150 – 22 January 205) was a member of the Roman ''gens'' Fulvia. Like Sejanus, Tigidius Perennis, Perennis and Marcus Aurelius Cleander, Cleande, as head of the Praetorian Guard, he was formally extraordin ...
.Birley (1999), pp. 216–217. Septimius Severus grew up in Leptis Magna. He spoke the local
Punic language The Punic language, also called Canaanite or Phoenicio-Punic, is an extinct variety of the Phoenician language Phoenician ( ) is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Gre ...
fluently, but he was also educated in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, which he spoke with a slight accent. Little else is known of the young Severus' education but, according to
Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (; ) or Dio Cassius ( ''Dion Kassios'')), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius Claudius Dio; alleged to have the ' (nickname) Cocceianus was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of the ...
, the boy had been eager for more education than he actually received. Presumably, Severus received lessons in
oratory Oratory is a type of public speaking. Oratory may also refer to: * Eloquence, fluent, forcible, elegant, or persuasive speaking * Rhetoric, the art of discourse Places * Oratory (worship), a public or private place of divine worship, akin to a c ...
: at the age of 17, he gave his first public speech.


Public service

Severus sought a public career in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
in around 162. At the recommendation of his relative Gaius Septimius Severus, the emperor
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoicism, Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Nicc ...

Marcus Aurelius
() granted him entry into the senatorial ranks. Membership in the senatorial order was a prerequisite to attain positions within the ''
cursus honorum The ''cursus honorum'' (; , or more colloquially 'ladder of offices') was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; ...
'' and to gain entry into the Roman Senate. Nevertheless, it appears that Severus' career during the 160s met with some difficulties.Birley (1999), p. 40. It is likely that he served as a '' vigintivir'' in Rome, overseeing road maintenance in or near the city, and he may have appeared in court as an advocate. At the time of Marcus Aurelius, he was the State Attorney (''Advocatus fisci''). However, he omitted the military tribunate from the ''cursus honorum'' and had to delay his
quaestor A ( , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome. The position served different functions depending on the period. In the Roman Kingdom, ' (quaestors with judicial powers) were appointed by the king to investigate and handle murders. ...
ship until he had reached the required minimum age of 25. To make matters worse, the
Antonine Plague The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 CE – /), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen and sometimes known ...
swept through the capital in 166.Birley (1999), p. 45. With his career at a halt, Severus decided to temporarily return to Leptis, where the climate was healthier. According to the ''
Historia Augusta The ''Historia Augusta'' (English: ''Augustan History'') is a late Roman collection of biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, r ...
'', a usually unreliable source, he was prosecuted for
adultery Adultery (from Latin ''adulterium'') is extramarital sex that is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds. Although the Human sexual activity, sexual activities that constitute adultery vary, as well as the social ...

adultery
during this time but the case was ultimately dismissed. At the end of 169, Severus was of the required age to become a quaestor and journeyed back to Rome. On 5December, he took office and was officially enrolled in the . Between 170 and 180 his activities went largely unrecorded, in spite of the fact that he occupied an impressive number of posts in quick succession. The
Antonine Plague The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 CE – /), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen and sometimes known ...
had thinned the senatorial ranks and, with capable men now in short supply, Severus' career advanced more steadily than it otherwise might have. The sudden death of his father necessitated another return to Leptis Magna to settle family affairs. Before he was able to leave Africa,
Mauri Mauri (from which derives the English term "Moors") was the Latin designation for the Berbers, Berber population of Mauretania. It was located in the part of Africa west of Numidia, an area coextensive with present-day Northern Morocco and northwe ...
tribesmen invaded southern Spain. Control of the province was handed over to the emperor, while the Senate gained temporary control of
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
as compensation. Thus, Septimius Severus spent the remainder of his second term as quaestor on the island of
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , ...

Sardinia
. In 173, Severus' kinsman Gaius Septimius Severus was appointed
proconsul A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose wo ...

proconsul
of the Province of Africa. The elder Severus chose his cousin as one of his two '''', a senior military appointment. Following the end of this term, Septimius Severus returned to Rome, taking up office as
tribune of the plebs #REDIRECT Tribune of the plebs#REDIRECT Tribune of the plebs Tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune ( la, tribunus plebis) was the first office of the Roman state that was open to the plebeians, and was, throughout the his ...
, a senior legislative position, with the distinction of being the ''candidatus'' of the emperor.Birley (1999), p. 52.


Marriages

About 175, Septimius Severus, in his early thirties at the time, contracted his first marriage, to
Paccia Marciana Paccia Marciana was the first wife of Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa ...
, a woman from Leptis Magna. He probably met her during his tenure as under his uncle. Marciana's name suggests Punic or Libyan origin, but nothing else is known of her. Septimius Severus does not mention her in his autobiography, though he commemorated her with statues when he became emperor. The unreliable ''Historia Augusta'' claims that Marciana and Severus had two daughters, but no other attestation of them has survived. It appears that the marriage produced no surviving children, despite lasting for more than ten years. Marciana died of natural causes around 186.Birley (1999), p. 75. Septimius Severus, now in his forties, childless and eager to remarry, began enquiring into the horoscopes of prospective brides. The ''Historia Augusta'' relates that he heard of a woman in Syria of whom it had been foretold that she would marry a king, and so Severus sought her as his wife.Birley (1999), p. 71. This woman was an Emesene
Syrian Syrians ( ar, سُورِيُّون, ''Sūriyyūn''), also known as the Syrian people ( ar, الشَّعْب السُّورِيّ, : eş''-Şa‘b es-Sūrī''; syr, ܣܘܪܝܝܢ), are the majority inhabitants of and share common ine roots. The ...
named
Julia Domna Julia Domna (; – 217 AD) was Roman empress from 193 to 211 as the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus. She was born in Emesa (present-day Homs) in Roman Syria to an Arab family of priests of the deity Elagabalus (deity), Elagabalus. In 187, s ...

Julia Domna
. Her father,
Julius Bassianus Julius Bassianus (born in the second half of the 2nd century, died 217) was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: ) a ...
, descended from the Arab
Emesene dynasty The Emesene (or Emesan) dynasty, also called the Sampsigeramids or the Sampsigerami, were a Roman client dynasty of Arab priest-kings known to have ruled by 46 BC from Arethusa and later from Emesa, Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, '' ...
and served as a
high priest The term “high priest” usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction ...
to the local cult of the sun god
Elagabal Elagabalus , Aelagabalus, Heliogabalus, or simply Elagabal was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an ethnic ...
.Birley (1999), p. 72. Domna's older sister,
Julia Maesa Julia Maesa (7 May before 160 AD – AD) was a member of the Severan dynasty The Severan dynasty was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5t ...
, would become the grandmother of the future emperors
Elagabalus Elagabalus ( 204 – 11 March 222), also called Heliogabalus and officially known as Antoninus, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 ...
and
Alexander Severus Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander (1 October 208 – 19/22 March 235) was a Roman emperor, who reigned from 222 until 235. He was the last emperor from the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his slain cousin Elagabalus in 222. Alexander himself was ev ...

Alexander Severus
.Cassius Dio, ''Roman History'
LXXIX.30
Bassianus accepted Severus' marriage proposal in early 187, and in the summer the couple married in
Lugdunum Colonia Copia Claudia Augusta Lugdunum (; modern Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ; it, Lione, ) is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located ...
(modern-day
Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, ...

Lyon
, France), of which Severus was the governor. The marriage proved happy, and Severus cherished Julia and her political opinions. Julia built "the most splendid reputation" by applying herself to letters and philosophy. They had two sons,
Lucius Septimius Bassianus Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Lucius Septimius Bassianus
(later nicknamed Caracalla, born 4April 188 in Lugdunum) and
Publius Septimius Geta Publius Septimius Geta (; 7 March 189 – 19/26 December 211) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basi ...
(born 7March 189 in Rome).Birley (1999), pp. 76–77.


Rise to power

In 191, on the advice of
Quintus Aemilius Laetus Quintus Aemilius Laetus (died 193) was a prefect of the Roman imperial bodyguard, known as the Praetorian Guard, from 191 until his death in 193. He acceded to this position upon the deaths of his predecessors Regillus and Lucius Julius Vehi ...
,
prefect Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
of the
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
,
emperor Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was Roman emperor jointly with his father Marcus Aurelius from 176 until his father's death in 180, and solely until 192. His reign is commonly considered to mark the end of the golden period of peac ...

emperor Commodus
appointed Severus as governor of
Pannonia Superior Pannonia Superior, lit. Upper Pannonia, was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, fi ...
. Commodus was assassinated the following year.
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of ...

Pertinax
was acclaimed emperor, but he was then killed by the Praetorian Guard in early 193. In response to the murder of Pertinax, Severus's legion ''XIV Gemina'' acclaimed him emperor at
Carnuntum Carnuntum (Carnous, Καρνους, in Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), ...

Carnuntum
. Nearby legions, such as ''X Gemina'' at
Vindobona Vindobona (from Gaulish Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language that was spoken in parts of Continental Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be ref ...
, soon followed suit. Having assembled an army, Severus hurried to Italy. Pertinax's successor in Rome,
Didius Julianus Marcus Didius Julianus (; 29 January 133 or 137 – 2 June 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety ...
, had bought the emperorship in an auction. Julianus was condemned to death by the Senate and killed. Severus took possession of Rome without opposition. He executed Pertinax's murderers and dismissed the rest of the
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
, filling its ranks with loyal troops from his own legions.
Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (; ) or Dio Cassius ( ''Dion Kassios'')), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius Claudius Dio; alleged to have the ' (nickname) Cocceianus was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of the ...
,
Roman History
', LXXV.1.1–2
Birley (1999), p. 113. The legions of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...
had proclaimed
Pescennius Niger Gaius Pescennius Niger (c. 135 – 194) was Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a gi ...
emperor. At the same time Severus felt it reasonable to offer
Clodius Albinus Decimus Clodius Albinus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman general, senator and usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government ...

Clodius Albinus
, the powerful governor of
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_;"title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia">Germania.ht ...

Britannia
, who had probably supported Didius against him, the rank of
Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey Caesar's C ...
, which implied some claim to the succession. With his rear safe, he moved to the East and crushed Niger's forces at the
Battle of Issus The Battle of Issus (also Issos) occurred in southern Anatolia, on November 5, 333 BC between the League of Corinth, Hellenic League led by Alexander the Great and the Achaemenid Empire, led by Darius III of Persia, Darius III, in the second grea ...
(194). While campaigning against
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
, he ordered that the tomb of his fellow-Carthaginian
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern ...

Hannibal
be covered with fine marble. He devoted the following year to suppressing
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
and other vassals who had backed Niger. Afterwards, Severus declared his son
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Caracalla
as his successor, which caused Albinus to be hailed emperor by his troops and to invade Gaul. After a short stay in Rome, Severus moved north to meet him. On 19February 197 at the
Battle of Lugdunum The Battle of Lugdunum, also called the Battle of Lyon, was fought on February 19, 197 at Lugdunum (modern Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ; it, Lione, ) is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, third-largest c ...
, with an army of about 75,000 men, mostly composed of
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
n,
Moesia Moesia (; Latin: ''Moesia''; el, Μοισία, Moisía) was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern ...
n and
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...

Dacia
n legions and a large number of auxiliaries, Severus defeated and killed Clodius Albinus, securing his full control over the empire.


Emperor


War against Parthia

In early 197 Severus left Rome and sailed to the east. He embarked at
Brundisium Brindisi ( , ; scn, label=Salentino, Brindisino, Brìnnisi; la, Brundisium; grc, Βρεντέσιον, translit=Brentésion; cms, Brunda) is a city in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the co ...
and probably landed at the port of Aegeae in
Cilicia Cilicia (); el, Κιλικία, ''Kilikía''; Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the litera ...

Cilicia
, travelling on to
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...
by land. He immediately gathered his army and crossed the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
.
Abgar IXLucius Aelius Megas Abgar IX was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethni ...
, titular King of Osroene but essentially only the ruler of Edessa, Mesopotamia , Edessa since the annexation of his kingdom as a Roman province, handed over his children as hostages and assisted Severus' expedition by providing archers. King Khosrov I of Armenia also sent hostages, money and gifts. Severus travelled on to Nisibis, which his general Julius Laetus had prevented from falling into Parthian Empire , Parthian hands. Afterwards Severus returned to Syria to plan a more ambitious campaign. The following year he led another, more successful campaign against the
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
, reportedly in retaliation for the support it had given to
Pescennius Niger Gaius Pescennius Niger (c. 135 – 194) was Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a gi ...
. His legions sacked the Parthian royal city of Battle of Ctesiphon (198), Ctesiphon and he annexed the northern half of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
to the empire;Birley (1999), p. 153. Severus took the title ', following the example of Trajan. However, he was unable to capture the fortress of Hatra, even after two lengthy sieges - just like Trajan, who had tried nearly a century before. During his time in the east, though, Severus also expanded the ''
Limes Arabicus The ''Limes Arabicus'' was a desert frontier of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ...
'', building new fortifications in the Arabian Desert from Qasr Azraq, Basie to Dumat Al-Jandal , Dumatha. Birley (1999), p. 134.


Relations with the Senate and People

Severus' relations with the Roman Senate, Senate were never good. He was unpopular with them from the outset, having seized power with the help of the military, and he returned the sentiment. Severus ordered the execution of a large number of Senators on charges of corruption or Conspiracy (political), conspiracy against him and replaced them with his favourites. Although his actions turned Rome more into a military dictatorship, he was popular with the citizens of Rome, having stamped out the rampant corruption of Commodus's reign. When he returned from his victory over the Parthians, he erected the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. According to Cassius Dio, however, after 197 Severus fell heavily under the influence of his Praetorian prefect,
Gaius Fulvius Plautianus Gaius or Lucius Fulvius Plautianus (c. 150 – 22 January 205) was a member of the Roman ''gens'' Fulvia. Like Sejanus, Tigidius Perennis, Perennis and Marcus Aurelius Cleander, Cleande, as head of the Praetorian Guard, he was formally extraordin ...
, who came to have almost total control of the imperial administration. At the same time, a bloody power crisis erupted between Plautianus and
Julia Domna Julia Domna (; – 217 AD) was Roman empress from 193 to 211 as the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus. She was born in Emesa (present-day Homs) in Roman Syria to an Arab family of priests of the deity Elagabalus (deity), Elagabalus. In 187, s ...

Julia Domna
, Severus' influential and powerful wife, which had a relatively destructive effect on the centre of power. Plautianus's daughter, Fulvia Plautilla, was married to Severus's son, Caracalla. Plautianus's excessive power came to an end in 204, when he was denounced by the emperor's dying brother. In January 205 Julia Domna and
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Caracalla
accused Plautianus of plotting to kill him and Severus. The powerful prefect was executed while he was trying to defend his case in front of the two emperors. One of the two following ''praefecti'' was the famous jurist Papinian. Executions of senators did not stop: Cassius Dio records that many of them were put to death, some after being formally tried. After the assassination of Gaius Fulvius Plautianus in the rest of his reign, he relied more on the advice of his clever and educated wife,
Julia Domna Julia Domna (; – 217 AD) was Roman empress from 193 to 211 as the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus. She was born in Emesa (present-day Homs) in Roman Syria to an Arab family of priests of the deity Elagabalus (deity), Elagabalus. In 187, s ...

Julia Domna
, in the administration of the empire.


Military reforms

Upon his arrival at Rome in 193, Severus discharged the
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
, which had murdered Pertinax and had then auctioned the Roman Empire to Didius Julianus. Its members were stripped of their ceremonial armour and forbidden to come within miles of the city on pain of death. Severus replaced the old guard with 10 new cohorts recruited from veterans of his Danubian legions.Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins, Both Professional
Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
', p. 68
Around 197 he increased the number of legions from 30 to 33, with the introduction of the three new legions: I, II, and III ''Parthica''. He garrisoned Legio II Parthica at Albano Laziale, Albanum, only from Rome. He gave his soldiers a donativum, donative of a thousand ''sestertius, sesterces'' (250 ''denarius, denarii'') each, and raised the annual wage for a soldier in the legions from 300 to 400 ''denarii''. Severus was the first Roman emperor to station some of the imperial army in Italy. He realized that Rome needed a military central reserve with the capability to be sent anywhere.


Reputed persecution of Christians

At the beginning of Severus' reign, Trajan's policy toward the Christians was still in force. That is, Christians were only to be punished if they refused to worship the emperor and the gods, but they were not to be sought out. Therefore, persecution was inconsistent, local, and sporadic. Faced with internal dissidence and external threats, Severus felt the need to promote religious harmony by promoting syncretism. He, possibly, issued an edict
Historia Augusta
', Septimius Severus, 17.1
that punished conversion to Judaism and Christianity. A number of persecutions of Christians occurred in the Roman Empire during his reign and are traditionally attributed to Severus by the early Christian community. This is based on the decree mentioned in the ''
Historia Augusta The ''Historia Augusta'' (English: ''Augustan History'') is a late Roman collection of biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, r ...
'', an unreliable mix of fact and fiction. Early church historian Eusebius described Severus as a persecutor. The Christian apologetics, Christian apologist Tertullian stated that Severus was well disposed towards Christians, employed a Christian as his personal physician and had personally intervened to save several high-born Christians known to him from the mob. Eusebius' description of Severus as a persecutor likely derives merely from the fact that numerous persecutions occurred during his reign, including those known in the ''Roman Martyrology'' as the martyrs of Madauros, Charalambos and Perpetua and Felicity in Africa (Roman province), Roman-ruled Africa. These were probably the result of local persecutions rather than empire-wide actions or decrees by Severus.


Military activity


Africa (202)

In late 202 Severus launched a campaign in the province of Africa. The ''legatus legionis'' or commander of Legio III Augusta, Quintus Anicius Faustus, had been fighting against the
Garamantes The Garamantes ( Berber: ''iɣerman'', "castles, cities") were an ancient civilisation based primarily in present day Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībīyā) is a ...
along the ''
Limes Tripolitanus The ''Limes Tripolitanus'' was a frontier zone of defence of the Roman Empire, built in the south of what is now Tunisia and the northwest of Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا ...

Limes Tripolitanus
'' for five years. He captured several settlements such as Ghadames, Cydamus, Gholaia, Garbia, and their capital Garama – over south of
Leptis Magna Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 ...

Leptis Magna
. The province of Numidia was also enlarged: the empire annexed the settlements of Biskra, Vescera, Messaad, Castellum Dimmidi, M'Lili, Gemellae, Tehouda, Thabudeos and Tubunae, Thubunae. By 203 the entire southern frontier of Roman Africa had been dramatically expanded and re-fortified. Desert nomads could no longer safely raid the region's interior and escape back into the Sahara.


Britain (208)

In 208 Severus travelled to Britain with the intention of conquering Caledonia. Modern archaeological discoveries illuminate the scope and direction of his northern campaign.Birley, (1999) p. 180. Severus probably arrived in Britain with an army of over 40,000, considering some of the camps constructed during his campaign could house this number. He strengthened
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
and reconquered the Southern Uplands up to the , which was also enhanced. Severus built a camp south of the Antonine Wall at Trimontium (Newstead), Trimontium, probably assembling his forces there. Supported and supplied by a strong naval force, Severus then thrust north with his army across the wall into Caledonian territory. Retracing the steps of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, Agricola of over a century before, Severus rebuilt and garrisoned many abandoned Roman forts along the east coast, such as Carpow Roman Fort, Carpow.
Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (; ) or Dio Cassius ( ''Dion Kassios'')), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius Claudius Dio; alleged to have the ' (nickname) Cocceianus was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of the ...
's account of the invasion reads: By 210 Severus' campaigning had made significant gains, despite Caledonian guerrilla tactics and purportedly heavy Roman casualties. The Caledonians sued for peace, which Severus granted on condition they relinquish control of the Central Lowlands. This is evidenced by extensive Severan-era fortifications in the Central Lowlands. The Caledonians, short on supplies and feeling that their position was desperate, revolted later that year 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."


Death (211)

Severus' campaign was cut short when he fell ill.Birley (1999), pp. 170–187. He withdrew to
Eboracum Eboracum () was a and later a in the of . In its prime it was the largest town in northern Britain and a provincial capital. The site remained occupied after the decline of the and ultimately developed into the present-day city , occupying ...
(York) and died there in 211. Although his son Caracalla continued campaigning the following year, he soon settled for peace. The Romans never campaigned deep into Caledonia again. Shortly after this, the frontier was permanently withdrawn south to Hadrian's Wall. Severus is famously said to have given the advice to his sons: "Be harmonious, enrich the soldiers, scorn all others" before he died on 4 February 211. On his death, Severus was Imperial cult (ancient Rome), deified by the Senate and succeeded by his sons,
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Caracalla
and Geta, who were advised by his wife
Julia Domna Julia Domna (; – 217 AD) was Roman empress from 193 to 211 as the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus. She was born in Emesa (present-day Homs) in Roman Syria to an Arab family of priests of the deity Elagabalus (deity), Elagabalus. In 187, s ...

Julia Domna
. Severus was buried in the Castel Sant'Angelo, Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome. His remains are now lost.


Assessment and legacy

Though his military expenditure was costly to the empire, Severus was a strong and able ruler. The Roman Empire reached its greatest extent under his reignover million square kilometres.David L. Kennedy, Derrick Riley (2012)
''Rome's Desert Frontiers'', page 13
, Routledge
R.J. van der Spek, Lukas De Blois (2008)
''An Introduction to the Ancient World'', page 272
, Routledge
Edward Gibbon famously levelled a harsh indictment of Septimius Severus as a principal agent in the empire's decline. "The contemporaries of Severus, in the enjoyment of the peace and glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties by which it had been introduced. Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman empire." According to Gibbon, "his daring ambition was never diverted from its steady course by the allurements of pleasure, the apprehension of danger, or the feelings of humanity." His enlargement of the
Limes Tripolitanus The ''Limes Tripolitanus'' was a frontier zone of defence of the Roman Empire, built in the south of what is now Tunisia and the northwest of Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا ...

Limes Tripolitanus
secured
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...
, the agricultural base of the empire where he was born. His victory over the
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
was for a time decisive, securing Nisibis and Singara for the empire and establishing a ''status quo'' of Roman dominance in the region until 251. His policy of an expanded and better-rewarded army was criticised by his contemporaries
Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (; ) or Dio Cassius ( ''Dion Kassios'')), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius Claudius Dio; alleged to have the ' (nickname) Cocceianus was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of the ...
and Herodianus: in particular, they pointed out the increasing burden, in the form of taxes and services, the civilian population had to bear to maintain the new and better-paid army. The large and ongoing increase in military expenditure caused problems for all of his successors. To maintain his enlarged military, he debased the Roman currency. Upon his accession he decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 81.5% to 78.5%, although the silver weight actually increased, rising from 2.40 grams to 2.46 grams. Nevertheless, the following year he debased the denarius again because of rising military expenditures. The silver purity decreased from 78.5% to 64.5% – the silver weight dropping from 2.46 grams to 1.98 grams. In 196 he reduced the purity and silver weight of the denarius again, to 54% and 1.82 grams respectively. Severus' currency debasement was the largest since the reign of Nero, compromising the long-term strength of the economy. Severus was also distinguished for his buildings. Apart from the Arch of Septimius Severus, triumphal arch in the Roman Forum carrying his full name, he also built the Septizodium in Rome. He enriched his native city of
Leptis Magna Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 ...

Leptis Magna
, including commissioning Arch of Septimius Severus (Leptis Magna), a triumphal arch on the occasion of his visit of 203.


Severan dynasty family tree


See also

* Bulla Felix * Septimia gens * Arcus Argentariorum dedicated by the money changers of Rome to the Severan family.


References


Citations


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *Harold Mattingly, Mattingly, Harold & Edward A. Sydenham (1936) ''The Roman Imperial Coinage, vol. IV, part I, Pertinax to Geta'', London, Spink & Son. * *


External links


Life of Septimius Severus
(''Historia Augusta'' at LacusCurtius: Latin text and English translation)

an

of Dio Cassius, covering the rise to power and reign of Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus on Ancient History Encyclopedia




Online encyclopaedia of Roman emperors


Septimius Severus in Scotland




*

{{DEFAULTSORT:Severus, Septimius Septimius Severus, 145 births 211 deaths 2nd-century Roman emperors 3rd-century Roman emperors 2nd-century Punic people 3rd-century Punic people Characters in works by Geoffrey of Monmouth Imperial Roman consuls Roman governors of Gallia Lugdunensis Severan dynasty Ancient Romans in Britain Septimii Deified Roman emperors Romans from Africa Ancient Libyans People of the Roman–Parthian Wars Burials at the Castel Sant'Angelo Roman pharaohs