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13th Emperor of the Roman Empire
Marble bust of Trajan.
Reign 28 January 98 – 8 August 117
Predecessor Nerva, adopted father
Successor Hadrian
Full name
Marcus Ulpius Traianus
(from birth to adoption);
Caesar Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus (from adoption to accession);
Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae filius Augustus (as emperor)
Dynasty Nerva-Antonine
Father Marcus Ulpius Traianus
Mother Marcia
Born (53-09-18)18 September 53
Italica, Hispania
Died 8 August 117(117-08-08) (aged 63)
Selinus, Cilicia
Burial Rome (ashes in foot
of Trajan's Column, now lost)
Roman imperial dynasties
Nervo-Trajanic Dynasty
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Trajan
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Hadrian
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Lucius Aelius
   Adoptive - Antoninus Pius

Trajan (; Latin: Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae filius Augustus;[1] 18 September 53 – 8 August 117 AD) was Roman emperor from 98 AD until his death. Officially declared by the Senate as optimus princeps ("the best ruler"), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

Born into a non-patrician family of Italian origin in the city of Italica in the province of Hispania Baetica,[2] Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in 89 Trajan supported Domitian against a revolt on the Rhine led by Antonius Saturninus.[3] In September 96, Domitian was succeeded by Marcus Cocceius Nerva, an old and childless senator who proved to be unpopular with the army. After a brief and tumultuous year in power, a revolt by members of the Praetorian Guard compelled him to adopt the more popular Trajan as his heir and successor. Nerva died on 27 January 98, and was succeeded by his adopted son without incident.

As a civilian administrator, Trajan is best known for his extensive public building program which reshaped the city of Rome and left multiple enduring landmarks such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column. Early in his reign, he annexed the Nabataean kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. His conquest of Dacia enriched the empire greatly — the new province possessed many valuable gold mines. However, the new province's exposed position to the north of the Danube made it susceptible to attack on three sides, and it was later abandoned by Emperor Aurelian.

His war against the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the capital Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia. His campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent. In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. He was deified by the Senate and his ashes were laid to rest under Trajan's Column. He was succeeded by his adopted son Hadrian.

As an emperor, Trajan's reputation has endured — he is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived nineteen centuries. Every new emperor after him was honored by the Senate with the wish felicior Augusto, melior Traiano ("[be] luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan"). Among medieval Christian theologians, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan, while the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon popularized the notion of the Five Good Emperors, of which Trajan was the second.[4]


  • Early life and rise to power 1
  • Roman Emperor 2
    • Conquest of Dacia 2.1
    • Annexation of Nabataea 2.2
    • Period of peace: public buildings and festivities 2.3
    • Devaluation of the currency 2.4
    • The Alimenta 2.5
    • War against Parthia 2.6
  • Death and succession 3
  • Building activities 4
  • Trajan's legacy 5
  • Nerva–Antonine family tree 6
  • Notes 7
  • References and further reading 8
    • Primary sources 8.1
    • Secondary material 8.2
  • External links 9

Early life and rise to power

Denarius of Trajan.

Marcus Ulpius Traianus was born on 18 September 53 in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica[5] (in what is now Andalusia in modern Spain), a province that was thoroughly Romanized and called southern Hispania, in the city of Italica (now in municipal area of Santiponce, in the outskirts of Seville), where the Italian families were paramount. Of Italian stock himself, Trajan is frequently but misleadingly designated the first provincial emperor.[6]

Trajan was the son of Marcia and Marcus Ulpius Traianus, a prominent senator and general from the gens Ulpia. Marcus Ulpius Traianus the elder served Vespasian in the first Jewish war, commanding the X Fretensis legion.[7] Trajan himself was just one of many well-known Ulpii in a line that continued long after his own death. His elder sister was Ulpia Marciana and his niece was Salonina Matidia. The patria of the Ulpii was Italica, in Spanish Baetica,[5] where their ancestors had settled late in the 3rd century BC. During his tenure in Pannonia, he fought against the Suebic tribes in Germania. Under Nerva's rule, Trajan was one of the most gifted generals.[8]

As a young man, he rose through the ranks of the Roman army, serving in some of the most contentious parts of the Empire's frontier. In 76–77, Trajan's father was Governor of Syria (Legatus pro praetore Syriae), where Trajan himself remained as Tribunus legionis.

In about 86, Trajan's cousin P. Aelius Afer died, leaving his young children Hadrian and Paulina orphans. Trajan and a colleague of his, Publius Acilius Attianus, became co-guardians of the two children, raising them in their respective households.

Around 91, Trajan was nominated as Consul, and brought Apollodorus of Damascus with him to Rome.[9] Around this time also, he married Pompeia Plotina, a noble woman from the settlement at Nimes, although the marriage ultimately remained childless. It is not clear that Trajan was actively predisposed towards homosexuality, as bisexual activity was common among Roman men of the period, and so his homosexual activities could be interpreted as nothing more than a functional aspect of his class. Nevertheless, Dio Cassius makes reference to them, and his identified lovers included Hadrian and the pages of the imperial household, the actor Pylades, a dancer called Apolaustus, and possibly Licinius Sura and Nerva.[10]

Along the Rhine River, he took part in the Emperor Domitian's wars while under Domitian's successor, Nerva, who was unpopular with the army - and who had just been forced by his Praetorian Prefect Casperius Aelianus to execute Domitian's killers[11] - needed to do something to gain their support. He accomplished this by naming Trajan as his adoptive son and successor in the summer of 97. Actually, there are hints in contemporary literary sources that Trajan's adoption was imposed on Nerva (and Pliny the Younger wrote, that, although an emperor could not be coerced into doing something, if this were the way in which Trajan was raised to power, then it was worth it). In this case, Trajan would be actually an usurper, and the notion of a natural continuity between Nervas's and Trajan's reigns, therefore, an ex post fiction developed later by historians such as Tacitus[12]

According to the Augustan History, it was the future Emperor Hadrian who brought word to Trajan of his adoption.[9] Hadrian was retained on the Rhine frontier by Trajan as a military tribune, becoming privy to the circle of friends and relations with which Trajan hedged himself - among them, the then governor of Germania Inferior , the Spaniard Lucius Licinius Sura, who would become Trajan's chief personal adviser and official friend.[13] As a token of his influence, Sura would later become consul for the third time in 107; some Ancient sources also tell about him having built a bath named after him on the Aventine Hill - or having this bath built by Trajan and then named after him - on either case, a signal honor, the only exception to the established rule that a public building in the Roman Empire could be dedicated only to a member of the imperial family [14] These baths were later expanded by the Third Century emperor Decius as a means of stressing his purported identity with Trajan.[15] Sura is also described as telling Hadrian in 108 about his choice as imperial heir.[16] According to a modern historian, Sura's role as kingmaker and grey eminence was deeply resented by some senators, specially the historian Tacitus, who acknowledged Sura's military and oratory virtues, but at the same time resented his rapacity and devious ways, similar to those of Vespasian's grey eminence Licinius Mucianus.[17]

When Nerva died on 27 January 98, Trajan succeeded without any outward incident. However, the fact that he chose not to hasten towards Rome, but instead to make a lengthy tour of inspection on the Rhine and Danube frontiers hints to the possible fact that his power position in Rome was unsure and that he had to assure himself first of the loyalty of the armies at the front. It is noteworthy that Trajan ordered Prefect Aelianus to attend him in Germany, where he was apparently executed ("put out of the way"),[18] with his post being taken by Attius Suburanus.[19] Trajan's accession, therefore, would qualify more as a successful coup than an orderly succession.[20]

Roman Emperor

On his entry at Rome, Trajan granted the plebs a direct gift of money. The traditional donative to the troops, however, was reduced by half.[21] There remained the issue of the strained relations between the emperor and the Senate, specially after the supposed bloodiness that had marked Domitian's reign and his dealings with the Curia. By playing on the motif of his feigned reluctance to hold power, Trajan was able to start building a consensus around him in the Senate.[22] His belated ceremonial entry into Rome in 99 was notably low-key, something on which Pliny the Younger elaborated.[23]

Also, by not supporting openly Domitian's preference for equestrian officers,[24] Trajan appeared as conforming to the idea (developed by Pliny) that an emperor derived his legitimacy from his adherence to traditional senatorial morals and traditional hierarchies.[25] Therefore, he could point to the allegedly republican character of his rule.[26] In the inaugural for his third consulship, on 1 January 100, Trajan would exhort the Senate to share with him the care-taking of the Empire - an event later celebrated on a coin.[27] Not that Trajan shared power in any meaningful way with the Senate: on the contrary, one of the most salient traits of his reign was his encroachment on the Senate's sphere of authority, as when he made the senatorial provinces of Achaea and Bythinia into imperial ones in order to deal with the inordinate spending in public works by local magnates.[28] However, in the formula developed by Pliny, Trajan was a "good" emperor in that, by himself, he approved or blamed the same things the Senate would have approved or blamed.[29] If actually Trajan was an autocrat, nevertheless his deferential behavior towards his peers qualified him to the role of virtuous monarch.[30] That this role was a conservative one becomes evident from Pliny's works as well as from the orations by Dio of Prusa - who, as a Greek notable and intellectual with friends in high places - and possibly an official friend to the emperor (amicus caesaris) - saw Trajan as a defender of the status quo.[31]

Dio, however, as a local magnate with a taste for building projects, was a target for one of Trajan's authoritarian innovations: the setting of imperial correctores to audit civic finances,[32] of the technically free Greek cities.[33] It is noteworthy that an embassy from his city Prusa was not favorably received by Trajan upon his accession.[34] Pliny, as imperial governor of Bythinia in 110 AD, had to deal with the consequences of the financial mess wrought by Dio and his fellow civic officials.[35]

However, Trajan ingratiated himself with Greek intellectuals by recalling to Rome many (including Dio) who had been exiled by Domitian[36] and returned a great deal of private property that Domitian had confiscated (a process that had been begun by Nerva). His popularity was such that the Roman Senate eventually bestowed upon Trajan the honorific of optimus, meaning "the best".[37][38] This title had to do mostly with Trajan's role as benefactor, as in the case of his returning confiscated property.[39]

Conquest of Dacia

It was as a military commander that Trajan is best known to history, particularly for his conquests in the

Born: 18 September 53 Died: 8 August 117
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Roman Emperor
98 – 117
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Marcus Cocceius Nerva
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Manius Acilius Glabrio
Succeeded by
Quintus Volusius Saturninus
Preceded by
Marcus Cocceius Nerva
Lucius Verginius Rufus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Nerva
Succeeded by
Aulus Cornelius Palma Frontonianus
Quintus Sosius Senecio
Preceded by
Aulus Cornelius Palma Frontonianus
Quintus Sosius Senecio
Consul of the Roman Empire
100 – 101
Succeeded by
Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus
Lucius Licinius Sura
Preceded by
Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus
Lucius Licinius Sura
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Marcus Laberius Maximus
Succeeded by
Sextus Attius Suburanus Aemilianus
Marcus Asinius Marcellus
Preceded by
Gaius Calpurnius Piso
Marcus Vettius Bolanus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Titus Sextius Cornelius Africanus
Succeeded by
Lucius Publilius Celsus
Gaius Clodius Crispinus

External links

  • Benario, Herbert W. (2000). "Trajan (A.D. 98–117)". De Imperatoribus Romanis. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 

Secondary material

  • Book 68Roman HistoryCassius Dio, , English translation
  • Chapter 13Epitome de CaesaribusAurelius Victor (attrib.), , English translation
  • Pliny the Younger, Letters, Book 10, English translation

Primary sources

  • Ancel, R. Manning. "Soldiers." Military Heritage. December 2001. Volume 3, No. 3: 12, 14, 16, 20 (Trajan, Emperor of Rome).
  • Bennett, J. Trajan: Optimus Princeps, 2nd Edition, Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2001, ISBN 0-253-21435-1
  • Bowersock, G.W. Roman Arabia, Harvard University Press, 1983
  • Christol, M. & Nony, N. Rome et son Empire, Paris: Hachette, 2003, ISBN 2-01-145542-1
  • Finley, M.I. The Ancient Economy, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, ISBN 0-520-21946-5
  • Fuller, J.F.C. A Military History of the Western World. Three Volumes. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1987 and 1988.
    • v. 1. From the late times to the Battle of Lepanto; ISBN 0-306-80304-6: 255, 266, 269, 270, 273 (Trajan, Roman Emperor).
  • Isaac, B. The Limits of Empire, The Roman Army in the East, Revised Edition, Oxford University Press, 1990 ISBN 0-198-14891-7 OCLC 20091873
  • Kennedy, D. The Roman Army in Jordan, Revised Edition, Council for British Research in the Levant, 2004. ISBN 0-953-91021-0 OCLC 59267318
  • Lepper, F.A. Trajan's Parthian War. London: Oxford University Press, 1948. OCLC 2898605 Also available online.
  • Luttvak, Edward N. The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century A.D. to the Third, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979, ISBN 0-8018-2158-4
  • (French) Minaud, Gérard, Les vies de 12 femmes d’empereur romain - Devoirs, Intrigues & Voluptés , Paris, L’Harmattan, 2012, ch. 6, La vie de Plotine, femme de Trajan, p. 147-168. ISBN 978-2-336-00291-0.
  • Wildfeuer, C.R.H. Trajan, Lion of Rome: the Untold Story of Rome's Greatest Emperor, Aquifer Publishing, 2009. ISBN 0-981-84606-8 OCLC 496004778 Historical fiction.

References and further reading

  1. ^ Trajan's regal name had an equivalent English meaning of "Commander Caesar Nerva Trajan, son of the Divine Nerva, the Emperor"
  2. ^ Julian Bennett, Trajan: Optimus Princeps, 2nd Edition, Routledge 2000, 12.
  3. ^ Benett, Julian (1997). Trajan. Optimus Princeps. Routledge, pp. 30–31
  4. ^ Nelson, Eric (2002). Idiots guide to the Roman Empire. Alpha Books. pp. 207–209.  
  5. ^ a b Syme, Tacitus, 30–44; PIR Vlpivs 575
  6. ^ Arnold Blumberg, "Great Leaders, Great Tyrants? Contemporary Views of World Rulers who Made History", 1995, Greenwood Publishing Group, p.315: "Trajan is frequently but misleadingly designated the first provincial emperor, because the Ulpii were from Baetica (southern Spain). The family, resident in Spain for some time, originated in Italian Tuder, not far from the Flavian home of Reate. The emperor's father, M. Ulpius Traianus, was an early adherent of Vespasian and perhaps the old family friend. This Trajan evidently married a Marcia (her name is inferred from that of their daughter Marciana) whose family owned brickyards in the vicinity of Ameria, near both Reate and Tuder. She was possibly an older sister of Marcia Furnilla, second wife of Vespasian's son Titus. Further, Ulpia, sister of the senior Trajan, was a grandmother of Hadrian. In other words, the emperor Trajan was succeeded in 117 by his cousin, member of another Italian family resident in Baetica."
  7. ^ Goldsworthy, Adrian (2003). In the name of Rome: The men who won the Roman Empire. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 320. 
  8. ^ Goldsworthy, Adrian (2003). In the name of Rome: The men who won the Roman Empire. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 322. 
  9. ^ a b Augustan History, Life of Hadrian 2.5–6.
  10. ^ Julian Bennett, Trajan: Optimus Princeps, London, 1997
  11. ^ Richard Alston, Aspects of Roman History 31BC-AD117. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014, ISBN 978-0-415-61120-6 , page 261
  12. ^ Jason König,Tim Whitmarsh, eds., Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire. Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-85969-1 , page 180
  13. ^ John D. Grainger, Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of AD 96-99. Abingdon: Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-34958-3 , pages 91 and 109
  14. ^ Garrett G. Fagan, Bathing in Public in the Roman World. University of Michigan Press, 2002, ISBN 0-472-08865-3 , pages 113/114; Paul Veyne, Le Pain et le Cirque, Paris: Seuil, ISBN 2-02-004507-9, page 686, note 399
  15. ^ Stephen L. Dyson, Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City. Baltimore: JHU Press,2010,ISBN 978-0-8018-9253-0, page 338
  16. ^ Barbara M. Levick, Faustina I and II: Imperial Women of the Golden Age.Oxford University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-537941-9 , page 42
  17. ^ Eugen Cizek, "Tacite face à Trajan", available at [1], pages 127/128. Retrieved July 20, 2014
  18. ^ Grainger, 111
  19. ^ Bennett, 52
  20. ^ Alston, 262
  21. ^ Alston, 200 and 206
  22. ^ Roger Rees, ed. , Latin Panegyric. Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-957671-5 , page 198
  23. ^ Peter V. Jones,Keith C. Sidwell, eds., The World of Rome: An Introduction to Roman Culture. Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-521-38421-4 , page 254
  24. ^ Brian Jones, The Emperor Domitian. London, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-203-03625-5
  25. ^ Anastasia Serghidou, Fear of slaves, fear of enslavement in the ancient Mediterranean. Presses Univ. Franche-Comté, 2007, ISBN 978-2-84867-169-7 , page 314
  26. ^ Sam Wilkinson, Republicanism during the Early Roman Empire. New York: Continuum, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4411-1341-9 , page 131
  27. ^ Rees, 121; Veyne, L"Empire Gréco-Romain,Paris: Seuil, 2005, ISBN 2-02-057798-4 ,page 402
  28. ^ Kathleen Kuiper, ed., Ancient Rome: From Romulus and Remus to the Visigoth Invasion. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2010, ISBN 978-1-61530-207-9 , page 128
  29. ^ Paul Veyne, L'Empire Gréco-Romain, 37
  30. ^ Ryan K. Balot, ed., A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought.John Wiley & Sons, 2012,
  31. ^ Christopher J. Fuhrmann, Policing the Roman Empire: Soldiers, Administration, and Public Order.Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-973784-0 , page 175; Veyne, L'Empire Gréco-Romain, 241
  32. ^ Bradley Hudson McLean, An Introduction to Greek Epigraphy of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods from Alexander the Great Down to the Reign of Constantine (323 B.C.-A.D. 337. University of Michigan Press, 2002, 334
  33. ^ A G Leventis, Hellenistic and Roman Sparta. London: Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-203-48218-2 , page 138
  34. ^ Fergus Millar, Rome, the Greek World, and the East: Government, society, and culture in the Roman Empire.Univ of North Carolina Press, 2004 , ISBN 0-8078-2852-1 , page 31
  35. ^ Paraskevi Martzavou,Nikolaos Papazarkadas, eds., Epigraphical Approaches to the Post-Classical Polis: Fourth Century BC to Second Century AD . Oxford University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-19-965214-3 , page 115
  36. ^ Yun Lee Too,Niall Livingstone, eds. , Pedagogy and Power: Rhetorics of Classical Learning.Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-59435-6 , page 202; Leonard L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation,Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-19-511580-5 , page 112
  37. ^ Bernard W. Henderson, "Five Roman Emperors" (1927).
  38. ^ F. A. Lepper, "Trajan's Parthian War" (1948).
  39. ^ Elizabeth Forbis, Municipal Virtues in the Roman Empire: The Evidence of Italian Honorary Inscriptions.Stuttgart: Teubner, 1996, ISBN 3-519-07628-4, pages 23/24
  40. ^ "De Imperatoribus Romanis". An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Battle of Sarmizegetusa (Sarmizegetuza), A.D. 105. During Trajan's reign one of the most important Roman successes was the victory over the Dacians. The first important confrontation between the Romans and  
  41. ^ Michael Schmitz, The Dacian Threat, 101-106 AD. Armidale, Australia: Caeros Pty, 2005, ISBN 0975844504 , page 9
  42. ^ Luttwak, Grande Strategy, 100
  43. ^ Schmitz,13
  44. ^ "De Imperatoribus Romanis". An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Retrieved 2007-11-08. Because the Dacians represented an obstacle against Roman expansion in the east, in the year 101 the emperor Trajan decided to begin a new campaign against them. The first war began on 25 March 101 and the Roman troops, consisting of four principal legions (X Gemina , XI Claudia , II Traiana Fortis, and XXX Ulpia Victrix), defeated the Dacians. 
  45. ^ Patrick Le Roux, Le Haut-Empire Romain en Occident, d'Auguste aux Sévères. Paris: Seuil, 1998, ISBN 2-02-025932-X , page 73
  46. ^ "De Imperatoribus Romanis". An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Retrieved 2007-11-08. Although the Dacians had been defeated, the emperor postponed the final siege for the conquering of Sarmizegetuza because his armies needed reorganization. Trajan imposed on the Dacians very hard peace conditions:  
  47. ^ José Maria Blázquez, Las res gestae de Trajano militar: las guerras dácicas. Aquila Legionis, 6 (2005) 19
  48. ^ Ioan Glodariu, LA ZONE DE SARMIZEGETUSA REGIA ET LES GUERRES DE TRAJAN. Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica, VII, Iasi, 2000. Available at [2].Retrieved July 2, 2014
  49. ^ Stephen Dando-Collins, Legions of Rome: The definitive history of every Roman legion. London: Quercus, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84916-230-2
  50. ^ "De Imperatoribus Romanis". An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Retrieved 2007-11-08. However, during the years 103–105, Decebalus did not respect the peace conditions imposed by Trajan and the emperor then decided to destroy completely the Dacian kingdom and to conquer Sarmizegetuza. 
  51. ^ Dando-Collins
  52. ^ Susan P. Mattern, Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, ISBN 0-520-21166-9 , page 93
  53. ^ N. J. E. Austin & N. B. Rankov , Exploratio: Military & Political Intelligence in the Roman World from the Second Punic War to the Battle of Adrianople. London: Routledge, 2002, page 177
  54. ^ Wiseman, James 1997 "Beyond the Danube's Iron Gates." Archaeology 50(2): 24–9.
  55. ^ Šašel, Jaroslav. 1973 "Trajan's Canal at the Iron Gate." The Journal of Roman Studies. 63:80–85.
  56. ^ Their military function fulfilled, most of them fell into disrepair or were wrecked on purpose after Trajan's reign: cf. Alan Bowman, Peter Garnsey, Averil Cameron, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History: Volume 12, The Crisis of Empire, AD 193-337,2005, ISBN 0-521-30199-8 , page 238
  57. ^ Cristian Găzdac, Monetary Circulation in Dacia and the Provinces from the Middle and Lower Danube from Trajan to Constantine I (AD 106-337). Cluj-Napoca: Mega, 2010, ISBN 978-606-543-040-2, page 49
  58. ^ Le Roux, 74
  59. ^ Anton J. L. van Hooff, From Autothanasia to Suicide: Self-killing in Classical Antiquity. London: Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-415-04055-8 , page 277, note 41
  60. ^ Harriet I. Flower, The Art of Forgetting: Disgrace & Oblivion in Roman Political Culture.University of North Carolina Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8078-3063-5, page 253
  61. ^ Martin Goodman, The Roman World 44 BC–AD 180. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013, ISBN 978-0-415-55978-2, page 253
  62. ^ Jennifer Trimble, Women and Visual Replication in Roman Imperial Art and Culture.Cambridege U. Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-521-82515-3 , page 288
  63. ^ Ioana A. Oltean, Dacia: Landscape, Colonization and Romanization. Abingdon: Routledge, 2007, ISBN 0-203-94583-2 , page 222
  64. ^ Le Roux, 268
  65. ^ Mattern, 61
  66. ^ Luttwak, 101 and 104
  67. ^ Moses I. Finley, ed., Classical Slavery, London: Routledge, 2014, ISBN 0-7146-3320-8 , page 122
  68. ^ Le Roux, 241
  69. ^ Le Roux, 242
  70. ^ Steven A. Epstein, Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe. UNC Press, 1991, ISBN 0-8078-1939-5 , page 26; Paul du Plessis, Studying Roman Law. Bllomsbury Publishing, 2014, page 82
  71. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 177
  72. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 172–182
  73. ^ """Tulane University "Roman Currency of the Principate. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  74. ^ Paul Petit, Pax Romana. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1976, ISBN 0-520-02171-1 , page 188
  75. ^ "Alimenta". Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  76. ^ John Rich,Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, eds., City and Country in the Ancient World. London: Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-203-41870-0, page 158
  77. ^ Judith Evans Grubbs,Tim Parkin, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World, Oxford University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-978154-6, page 344
  78. ^ Paul Veyne:Le Pain et le Cirque, Paris: Seuil, 1976, ISBN 2-02-004507-9 , page 654
  79. ^ Veyne, Le Pain at le Cirque, Eng. trans., A. Lane, 1990, pg.372
  80. ^ José María Blanch Nougués, Régimen jurídico de las fundaciones en derecho romano. Madrid: Dykinson, 2007, ISBN 978-84-9772-985-7 , page 151
  81. ^ Richard Duncan-Jones, The Economy of the Roman Empire: Quantitative Studies. Cambridge University Press: 1982, ISBN 0-521-24970-8 , page 297
  82. ^ M.I. Finley, Ancient Economy, 201/203
  83. ^ Luuk de Ligt,S. J. Northwood, eds., People, Land, and Politics: Demographic Developments and the Transformation of Roman Italy 300 BC-AD 14, Leiden: Brill, 2008, ISBN 978-90-04-17118-3, page 95
  84. ^ Julián González, ed. Trajano Emperador De Roma: Atti Del Congresso. Siviglia 1998, 14-17 Settembre. Rome : L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER, 2000, ISBN 88-8265-111-8 , page 297
  85. ^ Susan R. Holman, The Hungry Are Dying : Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia. Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-513912-7, page 117
  86. ^ Duncan-Jones, 298/299
  87. ^ Suzanne Dixon, ed., Childhood, Class and Kin in the Roman World. London: Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0-415-23578-2 , page 26
  88. ^ Bennett, J. Trajan: Optimus Princeps. 1997. Fig. 1
  89. ^ R. P. Longden, "Notes on the Parthian Campaigns of Trajan". The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 21 (1931), pp. 1-35. Available at [3]. Retrieved November 15 2014
  90. ^ Christol & Nony, Rome, 171
  91. ^ Gary K. Young, Rome's Eastern Trade: International Commerce and Imperial Policy 31 BC - AD 305. London: Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-203-47093-1, page 181
  92. ^ Daniel T. Potts, ed., Araby the Blest: Studies in Arabian Archaeology. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1988, ISBN 87-7289-051-7 , page 142
  93. ^ Paul Veyne, L'Empire Gréco-Romain, 279
  94. ^ Julian Reade, ed.,The Indian Ocean In Antiquity. London: Routledge, 2013, ISBN 0-7103-0435-8, page 279
  95. ^ Potts, 143
  96. ^ George Fadlo Hourani, Arab Seafaring in the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times. Princeton University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-691-00170-7, page 15
  97. ^ Găzdac, 59
  98. ^ Pat Southern, Empress Zenobia: Palmyra's Rebel Queen. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84725-034-6 , page 25
  99. ^ Freya Stark, Rome on the Euphrates: The Story of a Frontier.London: I.B. Tauris, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84885-314-0, page 211
  100. ^ Gary K. Young, Rome's Eastern Trade", pages 176 sqq.
  101. ^ Finley, The Ancient Economy, 158
  102. ^ Paul Erdkamp, The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political and Economic Study. Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-521-83878-8 , page 5
  103. ^ Finley, The Ancient Economy, 132; Paul Veyne, La Société Romaine , Paris: Seuil, 2001, ISBN 2-02-052360-4, Chapter 5
  104. ^ Finley, Ancient Economy, 158
  105. ^ Finley, Ancient Economy, 158
  106. ^ Quoted by Bennett, Trajan, 188
  107. ^ Steven E. Sidebotham, Roman Economic Policy in the Erythra Thalassa: 30 B.C.-A.D. 217. Leiden: Brill, 1986, ISBN 90-04-07644-1 , page 144
  108. ^ Nathanael John Andrade, "Imitation Greeks": Being Syrian in the Greco-Roman World (175 BCE--275 CE). Doctoral Thsis, University of Michigan, 2009, page 192. Available at [4]. Retrieved June 11, 2014
  109. ^ Raoul McLaughlin, Rome and the Distant East: Trade Routes to the Ancient Lands of Arabia, India and China. London: Continuum, 2010, ISBN 9781847252357 , page 130
  110. ^ Françoise Des Boscs-Plateaux, Un parti hispanique à Rome?: ascension des élites hispaniques et pouvoir politique d'Auguste à Hadrien, 27 av. J.-C.-138 ap. J.-C. Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2005, ISBN 84-95555-80-8 , pages 304 and 311
  111. ^ Luttvak, Grand Strategy, 108
  112. ^ Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337. Harvard University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-674-77886-3 , page 103
  113. ^ M.Christol & D. Nony, Rome et son Empire. Paris: Hachette, 2003, ISBN 2-01-14-5542-1, page 171
  114. ^ John Rich,Graham Shipley, eds., War and Society in the Roman World. London: Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-06644-1, page 235
  115. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 194–195
  116. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Römische Geschichte: Republik und Kaiserzeit bis 284 n. Chr. Munich: Beck, 2001, ISBN 3-406-02505-6 , page 289
  117. ^ Alfred S. Bradford, With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001, ISBN 0-275-95259-2 , page 232
  118. ^ Emmanuel Choisnel, Les Parthes et la Route de la Soie. Paris: L'Harmattan, ISBN 2-7475-7037-1, page 164
  119. ^ S.J. De Laet, review of Lepper, Trajan's Parthian War. L'Antiquité Classique, 18-2, 1949, pages 487-489
  120. ^ Sheldon, Rose Mary (2010). Rome's Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand. London: Vallentine Mitchell. p. 133. 
  121. ^ Bennett, 195
  122. ^ Maurice Sartre,The Middle East Under Rome. Harvard University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-674-01683-1, page 146. According to Cassius Dio, the deal between Trajan and Abgaros was sealed by the king's son offering himself as Trajan's paramour - Bennett, 199
  123. ^ Bennett, 199
  124. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 196; Christol & Nony, Rome,171
  125. ^ Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337. Harvard University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-674-77886-3, page 101; Anthony R Birley, Hadrian: The Restless Emperor, Routledge, 2013, page 71
  126. ^ Patrick Le Roux, IN Ségolène Demougin, ed., H.-G. Pflaum, un historien du XXe siècle: actes du colloque international, Paris les 21, 22 et 23 octobre 2004. Geneva: Droz, 2006, ISBN 2-600-01099-8 , pages 182/183
  127. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 197/199; Anthony R Birley, Hadrian: The Restless Emperor. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013, ISBN 0-415-16544-X , page 72
  128. ^ Longden, "Notes on the Parthian Campaigns", 8
  129. ^ T. Olajos, "Le monument du triomphe de Trajan en Parthie. Quelques renseignements inobservés (Jean d'Ephèse, Anthologie Grecque XVI 72)". Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 1981, vol. 29, no1-4, pp. 379-383. The statue was torn down by Sassanids in 571/572
  130. ^ a b Bennett, Trajan, 199
  131. ^ Peter Edwell, Between Rome and Persia: The Middle Euphrates, Mesopotamia and Palmyra Under Roman Control. London: Routledge, 2007, ISBN 0-203-93833-X , page 21
  132. ^ E. J. Keall, Parthian Nippur and Vologases' Southern Strategy: A Hypothesis. Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 95, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1975), pp. 620-632
  133. ^ George Rawlinson, Parthia. New York: Cosimo, 2007, ISBN 978-1-60206-136-1 , page 310
  134. ^ Christopher S. Mackay, Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History.Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-521-80918-5 , page 227
  135. ^ a b Luttvak, Grand Strategy, 110; Peter Edwell, Between Rome and Persia, 21
  136. ^ Janos Harmatta and otheres, eds., History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations, 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1999, ISBN 81-208-1408-8, page 135
  137. ^ Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, Security and Territoriality in the Persian Gulf: A Maritime Political Geography,London: Routledge, 2013, ISBN 0-7007-1098-1, page 120
  138. ^ Choisnel, 164/165
  139. ^ Kaveh Farrokh, Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. Oxford: Osprey, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84603-108-3 , page 162
  140. ^ a b c d Bennett, Trajan, 200
  141. ^ Longden, "Notes on the Parthian Campaigns", 8
  142. ^ Julián González, ed. , Trajano Emperador De Roma, 216
  143. ^ The last two were made consuls (suffecti) for the year 117
  144. ^ González, 216
  145. ^ Theodor Mommsen, A History of Rome Under the Emperors. London: Routledge, 1999, page 289
  146. ^ Bennett, Trajan,203
  147. ^ James J. Bloom, The Jewish Revolts Against Rome, A.D. 66-135: A Military Analysis. McFarland, 2010, page 191
  148. ^ Bloom, 194
  149. ^ A precise description of events in Judaea at the time being impossible, due to the non-historical character of the Jewish (rabbinic) sources, and the silence of the non-Jewish ones: William David Davies,Louis Finkelstein,Steven T. Katz, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 4, The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period.Cambridge U. Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-521-77248-8 ,page 100
  150. ^ Bloom, 190
  151. ^ He was already consul in absentia: Tanja Gawlich, Der Aufstand der jüdischen Diaspora unter Traian. GRIN Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-640-32753-9, page 11
  152. ^ Margret Fell, ed., Erziehung, Bildung, Recht. Berlim: Dunker & Hunblot, 1994, ISBN 3-428-08069-6 , page 448
  153. ^ Histoire des Juifs, Troisième période, I – Chapitre III – Soulèvement des Judéens sous Trajan et Adrien
  154. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 203
  155. ^ Bloom, 195/196
  156. ^ Bennett, Trajan, 201
  157. ^ Francesca Santoro L'Hoir, Tragedy, Rhetoric, and the Historiography of Tacitus' Annales.University of Michigan Press, 2006, ISBN 0-472-11519-7 , page 263
  158. ^ Christol & Nony, 171
  159. ^ According to Historia Augusta, Hadrian declared that he was following the precedent set by Cato the Elder towards the Macedonians, who "were to be set free because they could not be protected" - something Birley sees as an unconvincing precedent: Birley, 78
  160. ^ D. S. Potter, The Inscriptions on the Bronze Herakles from Mesene: Vologeses IV's War with Rome and the Date of Tacitus' "Annales". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik Bd. 88, (1991), pp. 277-290; Young, Rome's Eastern Trade, 132
  161. ^ Butler, A. J. (1914). Babylon of Egypt: A study in the history of Old Cairo. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 5. 
  162. ^ Dio Cassius, Epitome of Book 6; 21.2–3
  163. ^ Robert Mankin, "Edward Gibbon: Historian in Space", A Companion to Enlightenment Historiography, Leiden: Brill, 2013, page 34


Q. Marcius Barea Soranus
Q. Marcius Barea Sura
Antonia Furnilla
M. Cocceius Nerva
Sergia Plautilla
P. Aelius Hadrianus
(r. 79-81)
Marcia Furnilla
Trajanus Pater
(r. 96–98)
Aelius Hadrianus Marullinus
Julia Flavia
G. Salonius Matidius
(r. 98–117)
P. Acilius Attianus
P. Aelius Afer
Paulina Major
L. Julius Ursus Servianus
Lucius Mindius
Libo Rupilius Frugi
L. Vibius Sabinus
Hadrian (r. 117–138)
Matidia Minor
Annius Verus
G. Fuscus Salinator I
Julia Serviana Paulina
Rupilia Faustina
Boionia Procilla
G. Arrius Antoninus
L. Caesennius Paetus
L. Ceionius Commodus
Appia Severa
G. Fuscus Salinator II
Arria Antonia
Arria Fadilla
T. Aurelius Fulvus
L. Caesennius Antoninus
Fundania Plautia
Ignota Plautia
G. Avidius
Antoninus Pius
(r. 138–161)
M. Annius Verus
Domitia Lucilla
M. Annius Libo
Lucius Aelius
Avidia Plautia
(r. 161–180)
G. Avidius Cassius
Aurelia Fadilla
(r. 161–169)
Ceionia Fabia
Plautius Quintillus
Q. Servilius Pudens
Ceionia Plautia
Cornificia Minor
M. Petronius Sura
(r. 177–192)
M. Annius Verus Caesar
Ti. Claudius Pompeianus (2)
M. Plautius Quintillus
Junius Licinius Balbus
Servilia Ceionia
Petronius Antoninus
L. Aurelius Agaclytus
Aurelia Sabina
L. Antistius Burrus
Plautius Quintillus
Plautia Servilla
G. Furius Sabinus Timesitheus
Antonia Gordiana
Junius Licinius Balbus
Furia Sabina Tranquillina
(r. 238-244)

  • (1) = 1st spouse
  • (2) = 2nd spouse (not shown)
  • (3) = 3rd spouse
  • Darker purple indicates Emperor of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty; lighter purple indicates designated imperial heir of said dynasty who never reigned
  • dashed lines indicate adoption; dotted lines indicate love affairs/unmarried relationships
  • small caps = posthumously deified (Augusti, Augustae, or other)

Nerva–Antonine family tree

"Traian" is used as a male first name in present-day Romania – among others, that of the country's current president, Traian Băsescu.

During the Enlightenment however, this legacy bagan to be somewhat contested: Edward Gibbon expressed doubts about the militarized character of Trajan's reign in opposition to the "moderate" practice of his immediate successors.[163]

In the 18th century King Charles III of Spain commissioned Anton Raphael Mengs to paint The Triumph of Trajan on the ceiling of the banqueting-hall of the Royal Palace of Madrid – considered among the best work of this artist.

He also features in Piers Plowman. An episode, referred to as the justice of Trajan was reflected in several art works.

Theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, discussed Trajan as an example of a virtuous pagan. In the Divine Comedy, Dante, following this legend, sees the spirit of Trajan in the Heaven of Jupiter with other historical and mythological persons noted for their justice. Also a mural of Trajan stopping to provide justice for a poor widow is present in the first terrace of Purgatory as a lesson to those who are purged for being proud.

Ancient sources on Trajan's personality and accomplishments are unanimously positive. Pliny the Younger, for example, celebrates Trajan in his panegyric as a wise and just emperor and a moral man. Dio Cassius added that he always remained dignified and fair.[162] The Christianisation of Rome resulted in further embellishment of his legend: it was commonly said in medieval times that Pope Gregory I, through divine intercession, resurrected Trajan from the dead and baptized him into the Christian faith. An account of this features in the Golden Legend.

Unlike many lauded rulers in history, Trajan's reputation has survived undiminished for nearly nineteen centuries.

Trajan's legacy

Trajan was a prolific builder in Rome and the provinces, and many of his buildings were erected by the gifted architect Apollodorus of Damascus. Notable structures include Trajan's Column, Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Bridge, Alcántara Bridge, the road and canal around the Iron Gates (see conquest of Dacia), and possibly the Alconétar Bridge. Some historians also attribute the construction of the Babylon fortress in Egypt to Trajan,[161] the remains of the fort is what is now known as the Church of Mar Girgis and its surrounding buildings. In order to build his forum and the adjacent brick market that also held his name Trajan had vast areas of the surrounding hillsides leveled.

Building activities

Aware that the Parthian campaign was an enormous setback, and that it revealed that the Roman Empire had no means for an ambitious program of conquests,[158] Hadrian's first act as emperor was to abandon - outwardly out of his own free will[159] - the distant and indefensible Mesopotamia and to restore Armenia — as well as Osrhoene – to the Parthian hegemony under Roman suzerainty.[135] However, all the other territories conquered by Trajan were retained. Roman friendship ties with Charax (also known by the name of Mesene) were also retained - although it's debatable that this had to do more with trade concessions than with common Roman policy of exploiting dissensions amid the Empire's neighbors.[160] Trajan's ashes were laid to rest underneath Trajan's column, the monument commemorating his success.

Early in 117, Trajan grew ill and set out to sail back to Italy. His health declined throughout the spring and summer of 117, something publicly acknowledged by the fact that a bronze bust displayed at the time in the public baths of Ancyra showed him clearly aged and emaciated.[156] By the time he had reached Selinus in Cilicia which was afterwards called Trajanopolis, he suddenly died from edema on 8 August. Some say that he had adopted Hadrian as his successor, but others that it was his wife Pompeia Plotina who assured the succession to Hadrian by keeping his death secret and afterwards hiring someone to impersonate Trajan by speaking with a tired voice behind a curtain, well after Trajan had died. Dio, who tells this narrative, offers his father - the then governor of Cilicia Apronianus - as a source, and therefore his narrative is possibly grounded on contemporary rumor - or maybe on common Roman displeasure at an empress meddling in political affairs.[157]

The Alcántara Bridge, widely hailed as a masterpiece of Roman engineering.

Death and succession

Quietus was promised a consulate[151] in the following year (118) for his victories but he was killed before this could occur, during the bloody purge that opened Hadrian's reign, in which Quietus and other three former consuls were sentenced to death after being tried on a vague charge of conspiracy by the (secret) court of the Praetorian Prefect Attianus.[152] It has been theorized that Quietus and his colleagues were executed on Hadrian's direct orders, for fear of their popular standing with the army and their close connections to Trajan.[153][154] Opposedly, the next prominent Roman figure in charge of the repression, the equestrian Quintus Marcius Turbo, who had dealt with the rebel leader from Cyrene Loukuas,[155] retained Hadrian's trust, eventually becoming his Praetorian Prefect.

Shortly afterwards, the Jews inside the Eastern Roman Empire, in Egypt, Cyprus and Cyrene - this last province being probably the original trouble hotspot- rose up against what probably was an outburst of religious rebellion against the local pagans, this widespread rebellion being afterwards named the Kitos War.[147] Another rebellion flared up among the Jewish communities of Northern Mesopotamia, probably part of a general reaction against Roman occupation.[148] Trajan was forced to withdraw his army in order to put down the revolts. Trajan saw it as simply a temporary setback, but he was destined never to command an army in the field again, turning his Eastern armies over to Lusius Quietus, who meanwhile had been made governor of Judaea and might have had to deal earlier with some kind of Jewish unrest in the province.[149] Quietus discharged his commission successfully, so much that the war was afterward named after him - Kitus being a corruption of Quietus.[150]

It was at this point that Trajan's health started to fail him. The fortress city of Hatra, on the Tigris in his rear, continued to hold out against repeated Roman assaults. He was personally present at the siege and it is possible that he suffered a heat stroke while in the blazing heat.[140]

Bust of Trajan, Glyptothek, Munich.

Trajan sent two armies towards Northern Mesopotamia: the first, under Lusius Quietus, recovered Nisibis and Edessa from the rebels, probably having king Abgarus deposed and killed in the process.[140][141] while a second, under Appius Maximus Santra (probably a governor of Macedonia), was defeated, with Santra being killed.[142] Later in 116, Trajan defeated - assisted by Quietus and other two legates, M. Erucius Clarus and Tiberius Julius Alexander Julianus[143][144] - a Parthian army in a battle where Sanatrukes was killed. After re-taking and burning Seleucia, Trajan then formally deposed the Parthian king Osroes I and put his own puppet ruler Parthamaspates on the throne. This event was commemorated in a coin so as to be presented as the reduction of Parthia to client kingdom status: "a king is given to the Parthians", Rex Parthis Data.[145] That done, Trajan retreated North in order to retain what he could of the new provinces of Armenia - where he had already accepted an armistice in exchange for surrendering part of the territory to Sanatrukes' son Vologeses[146] - and Mesopotamia.[140]

However, as Trajan left the Persian Gulf for Babylon — where he intended to offer sacrifice to Alexander in the house where he had died in 323 BC.[130] — a sudden outburst of Parthian resistance, led by a nephew of the Parthian king, Sanatrukes, who had retained a cavalry force, possibly strengthened by the addition of Saka archers,[139] imperilled Roman positions in Mesopotamia and Armenia, something Trajan sought to deal with by forsaking direct Roman rule in Parthia proper, at least partially.[140]

A coin of Trajan, found together with coins of the Kushan ruler Kanishka, at the Ahin Posh Buddhist Monastery, Afghanistan.

According to some modern historians, Trajan might have busied himself during his stay on the Persian Gulf to order raids on the Parthian coasts ,[137] as well as probing into extending Roman suzerainty over the mountaineer tribes holding the passes across the Zagros Mountains into the Iranian plateau eastward, as well as establishing some sort of direct contact between Rome and the Kushan Empire.[138]

According to late literary sources (not backed by numismatic or inscriptional evidence) a province of Assyria was also proclaimed,[134] apparently covering the territory of Adiabene, as well as some measures seem to have been considered about the fiscal administration of the Indian trade- or simply about the payment of customs (portoria) on goods traded on the Euphrates & Tigris[135] It's possible that it was this "streamlining" of the administration of the newly conquered lands according to the standard pattern of Roman provincial administration in tax collecting, requisitions and the handling of local potentates' prerogatives, that triggered later resistance against Trajan.[136]

He continued southward to the Persian Gulf, when, after escaping with his fleet a tidal bore on the Tigris,[128] he received the submission of Athambelus, the ruler of Charax, whence he declared Babylon a new province of the Empire, had his statue erected on the shore of the Persian Gulf,[129] and sent the Senate a laurelled letter declaring the war to be at a close and bemoaning that he was too old to go on any further and repeat the conquests of Alexander the Great.[130] Since Charax was a de facto independent kingdom whose connections to Palmyra were described above, Trajan's bid for the Persian Gulf may have coincided with Palmyrene interests in the region.[131] Another hypothesis is that the rulers of Charax had expansionist designs on Parthian Babylon and that was their rationale for alliance with Trajan.[132] The Parthian summer capital of Susa was apparently also occupied by the Romans.[133]

As far as the sources allows a description of this campaign, it seems that one Roman division crossed the Tigris into Adiabene, sweeping South and capturing Adenystrae; a second followed the river South, capturing Babylon; while Trajan himself sailed down the Euphrates from Dura-Europus - where a triumphal arch was erected in his honour - through Ozogardana, where he erected a "tribunal" still to be seem at the time of Julian the Apostate's campaigns in the same area. Having come to the narrow strip of land between the Euphrates and the Tigris, he then dragged his fleet overland into the latter river, capturing Seleucia and finally the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon.[127]

After wintering in Antioch during 115/116 - and, according to literary sources, barely escaping from a violent earthquake that claimed the life of one of the consuls of 115, M. Pedo Virgilianus[125] - Trajan took again to the field in 116, with a view to the conquest of the whole of Mesopotamia, an overambitious goal that eventually backfired on the results of his entire campaign. According to some modern historians, the aim of the campaign of 116 was to achieve a "preemptive demonstration" aiming not toward the conquest of Parthia, but for tighter Roman control over the Eastern trade route. However, the overall scarcity of manpower for the Roman military establishment meant that the campaign was doomed from the start.[126]

Bronze bust of Trajan in his later years, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey.
Sestertius issued by the Senate (SC, Senatus Consultus) during 116 to commemorate Trajan's Parthian victories. Obverse: bust of Trajan, with laurel crown. Caption: Trajan's titulature Reverse: Trajan standing between prostate allegories of Armenia (crowned with a tiara) and the Rivers Tigris & Euphrates. Caption: "Armenia & Mesopotamia put under the authority of the Roman People"

The chronology of subsequent events is uncertain, but it's generally believed that early in 115 Trajan launched a Mesopotamian campaign, marching down towards the Taurus mountains in order to consolidate territory between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. He placed permanent garrisons along the way to secure the territory.[120] While Trajan moved from West to East, Lusius Quietus moved with his army from the Caspian Sea towards the West, both armies performing a successful pincer movement,[121] whose apparent result was to establish a Roman presence into the core Parthian hegemony, with Trajan taking the Northern Mesopotamian cities of Mesopotamia, including the Kingdom of Osrhoene - where King Abgaros VII submitted to Trajan publicly[122] - as a Roman protectorate.[123] This process seems to have been completed in the beginning of 116, when coins were issued announcing that Armenia and Mesopotamia had been put under the authority of the Roman people.[124]

Trajan marched first on Armenia, deposed the Parthian-appointed king (who was afterwards murdered while kept in the custody of Roman troops in an unclear incident, later described by Fronto as a breach of Roman good faith[114]) and annexed it to the Roman Empire as a province, receiving in passing the acknowledgement of Roman hegemony by various tribes in the Caucasus and on the Eastern coast of the Black Sea — a process that kept him busy until the end of 114.[115] At the same time, a Roman column under the legate Lusius Quietus - an outstanding cavalry general[116] who had signaled himself during the Dacian Wars by commanding a unit from his native Mauretania[117] - crossed the Araxes river from Armenia into Media Atropatene and the land of the Mardians (present-day Ghilan).[118] It's possible that Quietus' campaign had as its goal the extending of the newer, more defensible Roman border eastwards towards the Caspian Sea and northwards at the foothills of the Caucasus.[119]

The campaign was carefully planned in advance: ten legions were concentrated in the Eastern theater; since 111, the correspondence of Pliny the Younger witnesses to the fact that provincial authorities in Bithynia had to organize supplies for passing troops and local city councils and their individual members had to shoulder part of the increased expenses by supplying troops themselves.[112] The intended campaign, therefore, was immensely costly from its very beginning.[113]

Finally, there are other modern historians who think that Trajan's original aims were purely military and quite modest: to assure a more defensible Eastern frontier for the Roman Empire, crossing across Northern Mesopotamia along the course of the Khabur River in order to offer cover to a Roman Armenia.[111]

The alternative view is to see the campaign as triggered by the lure of territorial annexation and prestige,[105] the sole motive ascribed by Cassius Dio.[106]As far as territorial conquest involved tax-collecting, specially of the 25% tax levied on all goods entering the Roman Empire, the tetarte, one can say that Trajan's Parthian War had an "economic" motive.[107] Also, there was the propaganda value of an Eastern conquest that would emulate, in Roman fashion, those of Alexander the Great.[108] The fact that emissaries from the Kushan Empire might have attended to the commemorative ceremonies for the Dacian War may have kindled in some Greco-Roman intellectuals like Plutarch - who wrote about only 70,000 Roman soldiers being necessary to a conquest of India - as well as in Trajan's closer associates, speculative dreams about the booty to be obtained by reproducing Macedonian Eastern conquests.[109] Also, it's possible that the attachment of Trajan to an expansionist policy was supported by a powerful circle of conservative, war hawk senators from Hispania, among them Licinius Sura.[110]

Other historians reject these motives, as the supposed Parthian "control" over the maritime Far Eastern trade route was, at best, conjectural and based on a selective reading of Chinese sources - trade by land through Parthia seems to have been unhampered by Parthian authorities and left solely to the devices of private enterprise.[100]Commercial activity in Second Century Mesopotamia seems to have been a general phenomenon,shared by many peoples within and without the Roman Empire, with no sign of a concerted Imperial policy towards it.[101] As in the case of the alimenta, scholars like Moses Finley and Paul Veyne have considered the whole idea of a foreign trade "policy" behind Trajan's war anachronistic: according to them, the sole Roman concern with the Far Eastern luxuries trade - besides collecting toll taxes and customs[102] - was moral and involved frowning upon the "softness" of luxuries, but no economic policy.[103]In his controversial book on the Ancient economy, Finley considers Trajan's "badly miscalculated and expensive assault on Parthia" to be an example of Roman "commercial wars" that had in common the fact of existing only in the books of modern historians.[104]

In his Dacian conquests, Trajan had already resorted to Syrian auxiliary units, whose veterans, alongside with Syrian traders, had an important role in the subsequent colonization of Dacia.[97] He had recruited Palmyrene units into his army, including a camel unit[98] - therefore apparently procuring Palmyrene support to his ultimate goal of annexing Charax. It has even been ventured that, when earlier in his campaign Trajan annexed Armenia, he was bound to annex the whole of Mesopotamia, lest the Parthians were to interrupt the flux of trade from the Persian Gulf and/or foment trouble at the Roman frontier on the Danube.[99]

That Charax traded with the Roman Empire, there can be no doubt, as its actual connections with merchants from Palmyra at the period are well documented in contemporary Palmyrene epigraph, which tells of various Palmyrene citizens honored for holding office in Charax.[92] Also, Charax's rulers domains at the time possibly included the Bahrein islands (where a Palmyrene citizen held office, shortly after Trajan's death, as satrap[93]- but then, the appointment was made by a Parthian king of Charax[94]) something which offered the possibility of extending Roman hegemony into the Persian Gulf itself.[95] The rationale behind Trajan's campaign, in this case, would be one of breaking down a system of Far Eastern trade through small Semitic ("Arab") cities under Parthia's control and to put it under Roman control instead.[96]

As the surviving literary accounts of Trajan's Parthian War are fragmentary and scattered,[89] it's difficult to assign them a proper context, something that has led an everlasting controversy about its precise happenings and ultimate aims. Many modern historians consider that Trajan's decision to wage war against Parthia might have had economic motives: Charax on the Persian Gulf was the sole remaining Western terminus of the Indian trade route outside Roman control,[90] and such Roman control was important in order to lower import prices and to limit the supposed drain of precious metals created by the deficit in Roman trade with the Far East.[91]

In 113, he embarked on his last campaign, provoked by Parthia's decision to put an unacceptable king on the throne of Armenia, a kingdom over which the two great empires had shared hegemony since the time of Nero some fifty years earlier.

The extent of the Roman Empire under Trajan (117).[88]
Aureus issued by Trajan to celebrate the conquest of Parthia.

War against Parthia

Besides, the fact that the scheme was subsidized by means of interest payments on loans made by landowners - and mostly large ones, assumed to be more reliable debtors[81] - actually restricted it to a small percentage of potential welfare recipients (Paul Veyne has assumed that, in the city of Veleia, only one child out of ten was an actual beneficiary) – therefore, the idea, advanced by Moses I. Finley, that the whole scheme was at most a form of random charity, a mere imperial benevolence[82] - and that the fact that these charities seem to be backed by loans to great landowners only (in Veleia, only some 17 square kilometers were mortgaged)[83] restricted the extent of the scheme further. It seems that the mortgage scheme was simply a form of making local notables to participate in imperial benevolence in a lesser role.[84]It's possible that the scheme was, to some extent, a forced loan, something that tied unwillingly landowners to the imperial fisc in order to make then supply some funds to civic expenses.[85] Oppositely, a senator such as Pliny had endowed his city of Comum a perpetual right to an annual charge (vectigal) of thirty thousand sestertii on one of his estates, allowing for the maintenance of his, Pliny's, private charitable foundation.[86] The fact that the alimenta scheme was developed during and after the Dacian Wars, and followed two distributions of money to the population of Rome (congiaria) during Dacian triumphs, points towards the purely charitable character of the scheme.[87]

Although the system is well documented in literary sources and contemporary epigraphy, its precise aims are controversial and have generated considerable dispute between modern scholars, specially above its actual aims and scope as a piece of Welfare policy. It is usually assumed that the program was intended to bolster citizen numbers in Italy, following the provisions of Augustus' moral legislation (Lex Julia) favoring procreation on moral grounds - something openly acknowledged by Pliny.[77] Nevertheless, as an aim this was in itself anachronistic, in that it saw the Roman Empire as an hegemony centering on a purely Italian manpower base.[78] This anachronistic stance is confirmed by Pliny, when he wrote that the recipients of the alimenta were supposed to people "the barracks and the tribes" as future soldiers and electors - two roles ill-fitted to the contemporary reality of a Mediterranean hegemony ruled by an autocracy.[79] The fact that the scheme was restricted to Italy points to the fact that it might be conceived as a form of political privilege accorded to the heartland of the Roman Empire.[80]

Another important act was his formalisation of the Alimenta, a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. It provided general funds, as well as food and subsidized education. The program was supported initially by funds from the Dacian War, and then later by a combination of estate taxes and philanthropy.[75] In general terms, the scheme functioned by means of mortgages on Italian farms (fundi), through which registered landowners received a lump sum from the imperial treasure, being in return engaged to pay yearly a given proportion of the loan to the maintenance of the alimentary fund.[76]

The Alimenta

In 107 he devalued the Roman currency. He decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 93.5% to 89% — the actual silver weight dropping from 3.04 grams to 2.88 grams.[73] This devaluation, coupled with the massive amount of gold and silver carried off after Trajan's Dacian Wars, allowed the emperor to mint a larger quantity of denarii than his predecessors. Also, Trajan withdrew from circulation silver denarii minted before the previous devaluation achieved by Nero, something that allows for thinking that Trajan's devaluation had to do with political ends, such as allowing for increased civil and military spending.[74]

Devaluation of the currency

One notable act of Trajan during this period was the hosting of a three-month gladiatorial festival in the great Colosseum in Rome (the precise date of this festival is unknown). Combining chariot racing, beast fights and close-quarters gladiatorial bloodshed, this gory spectacle reputedly left 11,000 dead (mostly slaves and criminals, not to mention the thousands of ferocious beasts killed alongside them) and attracted a total of five million spectators over the course of the festival.

The next seven years, Trajan ruled as a civilian emperor, to the same acclaim as before. It was during this time that he corresponded with Pliny the Younger on the subject of how to deal with the Christians of Pontus, telling Pliny to continue but not to use an anonymous list in the interests of justice. He built several new buildings, monuments and roads in Italia and his native Hispania. His magnificent complex in Rome raised to commemorate his victories in Dacia (and largely financed from that campaign's loot)—consisting of a forum, Trajan's Column, and Trajan's Market still stands in Rome today. He was also a prolific builder of triumphal arches, many of which survive, and rebuilder of roads (Via Traiana and Via Traiana Nova).

Tabula Traiana near Trajan's Bridge in Đerdap National Park, Serbia.

Period of peace: public buildings and festivities

At about the same time Rabbel II Soter, one of Rome's client kings, died. This event might have prompted the annexation of the Nabataean kingdom, although the manner and the formal reasons for the annexation are unclear. Some epigraphic evidence suggests a military operation, with forces from Syria and Egypt. What is known is that by 107, Roman legions were stationed in the area around Petra and Bostra, as is shown by a papyrus found in Egypt. The furthest south the Romans occupied was Hegra, over 300 km south-west of Petra.[71] The empire gained what became the province of Arabia Petraea (modern southern Jordan and north west Saudi Arabia).[72]

Annexation of Nabataea

The victory was commemorated by the construction of Trajan's Column, which depicts in stone carved basreliefs the Dacian Wars' most important moments.

Trajan resettled Dacia with Romans and annexed it as a province of the Roman Empire. Aside from their enormous booty (over half a million slaves, according to John Lydus)[67] Trajan's Dacian campaigns benefited the Empire's finances through the acquisition of Dacia's gold mines, managed by an imperial procurator of equestrian rank (procurator aurariarum).[68] Agricultural exploitation on the villa model, on the contrary, was poorly developed.[69] Slave labor in the province itself seems to have been relatively undeveloped and epigraphic evidence points to work in the gold mines by mean of labor contracts (locatio conductio rei) and seasonal wage-earning.[70]

Trajan built a new city, Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa, on another site (North to hill citadel holding the previous Dacian Capital)[61] although bearing the same full name, Sarmizegetusa. This capital city was conceived as a purely civilian administrative center and was provided the usual Romanized administrative apparatus (decurions aediles, etc.).[62] Urban life in Roman Dacia seems to have been restricted to Roman colonists, mostly military veterans:[63] there is no extant evidence for the existence in the province of peregrine cities. Native Dacians continued to live in scattered rural settlements, according to their own ways.[64] Not all of Dacia was permanently occupied: the Roman province eventually took the form of a gigantic spearhead stretching from the Danube northwards to the Carpathians, and was intended perhaps as a basis for further expansion in Eastern Europe - which the Romans conceived to be much more "flattened", closer to the ocean, than in reality.[65] Defense of the province was entrusted to a single legion, the XIII Gemina, stationed at Apulum, which functioned as an advanced guard that could, in case of need, strike either West or East at the Sarmatians living at the borders.[66]

These costly infrastructures completed,[56] in 105 Trajan took to the field again and conquered part of Dacia in 106. After a fierce campaign, which seems to have consisted mostly of static warfare in which the Dacians, devoid of maneuvering room, kept to their network of fortresses, which the Romans sought systematically to storm[57] (see also Second Dacian War), the Romans tightened the grip around Decebalus' stronghold in Sarmizegetusa Regia,[58] which was finally taken and destroyed. Decebalus fled but, rather than being captured by the Roman cavalry, committed suicide, and his severed head, brought to Trajan by the cavalryman Tiberius Claudius Maximus,[59] was later exhibited in Rome on the steps leading up to the Capitol and thrown on the Gemonian stairs.[60]

[55], the site of a Roman fort. It can be dated to the year 101 and commemorates the building of at least one canal that went from the Kasajna tributary to at least Ducis Pratum, whose embankments were still visible until recently. However, the placement of the slab at Caput Bovis suggests that the canal extended to this point or that there was a second canal downriver of the Kasajna-Ducis Pratum one.Caput Bovis. Evidence of this comes from a marble slab discovered near Iron Gates Additionally, Trajan commissioned a canal to be built around the rapids of the [54] Prior to the campaign, Trajan had already raised two entirely new legions:

Although the peace of 102 had restored him to the condition of more or less harmless client king, Decebalus, though, after being left to his own devices, began to rearm, to harbor Roman runaways anew, as well as to pressure his Western neighbors, the Iazyges Sarmatians, into allying themselves to him. In 104, he devised a failed attempt on Trajan's life by mean of some Roman deserters, as well as helding prisoner Trajan's legate Longinus - who eventually poisoned himself while in Decebalus' custody. Finally, in 105, he undertook an invasion against Roman-occupied territory North of the Danube.[49][50]

Trajan returned to Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus Maximus. The victory was celebrated by the Tropaeum Traiani.

During the following winter, King Decebalus took the initiative by launching a counter-attack across the Danube further downstream, supported by Sarmatian cavalry,[47] forcing Trajan to come to the aid of the troops in his rearguard: the Dacian invasion was repulsed after two battles in Moesia, in Nicopolis ad Istrum and Adamclisi.[48] Trajan's army then advanced further into Dacian territory and forced King Decebalus to submit to him a year later. Decebalus had to renounce claim to some regions of his kingdom, as well as returning all Roman runaways (most of them technical experts) and to surrender all his war machines.

In the first military campaign c. March–May 101, Trajan launched a victorious campaign into the Dacian Kingdom[44] crossing to the northern bank of the Danube River and defeating the Dacian army at Tapae (see Second Battle of Tapae) near the Iron Gates of Transylvania. It was not a decisive victory,[45] however: Trajan's troops were mauled in the encounter and he put off further campaigning for the year to let the troops heal, reinforce, and regroup.[46]

[43] therefore, made strategical considerations one of the motives for Trajan's decision for making war on it.[42]

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