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was trajan a good emperor

Trajan ended a two-year incursion into Dacia in 103 A.D. by signing a peace treaty with Decebalus, the Dacian king. Trajan's Column towers over the ruins of Trajan's Forum and the Victor Emmanuel II monument in the background. Many modern historians consider that Trajan's decision to wage war against Parthia might have had economic motives: after Trajan's annexation of Arabia, he built a new road, Via Traiana Nova, that went from Bostra to Aila on the Red Sea. 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. This capital city was conceived as a purely civilian administrative center and was provided the usual Romanized administrative apparatus (decurions, aediles, etc.). [253] Quietus discharged his commissions successfully, so much that the war was afterward named after him – Kitus being a corruption of Quietus. He was the first Roman emperor who was born outside Italy. [137] The fact that these former Danubian outposts had ceased to be frontier bases and were now in the deep rear acted as an inducement to their urbanization and development. Emperor Trajan. [222], 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, M. Pedo Virgilianus[223][224] – Trajan again took 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. The following is a transcript of an exchange between these two famous individuals which offers great insight into the character and wisdom of both men. Gravity. Marcel Emerit. (Follow the hunt for missing Dacian treasure.). He was described as just and wise and as a moral man who was always dignified. Roman friendship ties with Charax (also known by the name of Mesene) were also retained (although it is debated whether this had to do more with trade concessions than with common Roman policy of exploiting dissensions amid the Empire's neighbors). A map of Dacia showing the battles fought against Trajan's forces and an illustration of the first major battle in which Trajan defeated the Dacians at Tapae. [91] For the same reason, judging from Pliny's letters it can also be assumed that Trajan and his aides were as much bored as they were alarmed by the claims of Dio and other Greek notables to political influence based on what they saw as their "special connection" to their Roman overlords. Who is dead, so that my heart is broken..' [37], By not openly supporting Domitian's preference for equestrian officers,[38] Trajan appeared to conform to the idea (developed by Pliny) that an emperor derived his legitimacy from his adherence to traditional hierarchies and senatorial morals. [270] The fact that during Hadrian's reign he did not pursue Trajan's senatorial policy may account for the "crass hostility" shown him by literary sources. Non-citizens who admitted to being Christians and refused to recant, however, were to be executed "for obstinacy". This warrior was the best of ancient Rome’s ‘Five Good Emperors’, Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, Nat Geo Image Collection. It was not a bloodline. [266] He probably did not take part in the Parthian War. [116] Trajan returned to Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus. (Take an interactive tour of Trajan's Column.). The post seems to have been conceived partly as a reward for senators who had chosen to make a career solely on the Emperor's behalf. [136], The main regional effort of urbanization was concentrated by Trajan at the rearguard, in Moesia, where he created the new cities of Nicopolis ad Istrum and Marcianopolis. Trajan’s Column towered over a magnificent new forum, which boasted two libraries, a grand civic space, and a colonnaded plaza. From there, after his father's replacement, he seems to have been transferred to an unspecified Rhine province, and Pliny implies that he engaged in active combat duty during both commissions. Therefore, in reality the post was conceived as a means for "taming" both Greek notables and Roman senators. It's noteworthy, however, that Trajan, already in Syria early in 113, consistently refused to accept diplomatic approaches from the Parthians in order to settle the Armenian imbroglio peacefully.[179]. [57] Dio's notion of being "friend" to Trajan (or any other Roman emperor), however, was that of an informal arrangement, that involved no formal entry of such "friends" into the Roman administration. [21] Later, after his 91 consulate (held with Acilius Glabrio, a rare pair of consuls at the time, in that neither consul was a member of the ruling dynasty), he held some unspecified consular commission as governor on either Pannonia or Germania Superior – possibly both. A remarkable pair of documents have survived from the correspondence between the Emperor Trajan and Pliny the Younger who was governor of Pontus/Bithynia from 111-113 AD. [75] As Trajan himself wrote to Pliny: "These poor Greeks all love a gymnasium ... they will have to content with one that suits their real needs". His severed head, brought to Trajan by the cavalryman Tiberius Claudius Maximus,[129] was later exhibited in Rome on the steps leading up to the Capitol and thrown on the Gemonian stairs. [24], According to the Augustan History, it was the future Emperor Hadrian who brought word to Trajan of his adoption. [89] As Pliny said in one of his letters at the time, it was official policy that Greek civic elites be treated according to their status as notionally free but not put on an equal footing with their Roman rulers. [257] 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. [124] Trajan also reformed the infrastructure of the Iron Gates region of the Danube. [123] Including auxiliaries, the number of Roman troops engaged on both campaigns was between 150,000 and 175,000, while Decebalus could dispose of up to 200,000. [17] Around this time Trajan brought Apollodorus of Damascus with him to Rome[18] and also married Pompeia Plotina, a noble woman from the Roman settlement at Nîmes; the marriage ultimately remained childless. Pierre Lambrechts, "Trajan et le récrutement du Sénat". Showing tremendous generosity to the Roman people, particularly in areas of social welfare, Trajan increased the amount of grain handed out to poor citizens and doled out cash gifts as well. [58], As a senatorial Emperor, Trajan was inclined to choose his local base of political support from among the members of the ruling urban oligarchies. [88] However, it was clear to Trajan that Greek intellectuals and notables were to be regarded as tools for local administration, and not be allowed to fancy themselves in a privileged position. This event might have prompted the annexation of the Nabataean kingdom, but the manner and the formal reasons for the annexation are unclear. [138], Not all of Dacia was permanently occupied. [200] Also, there was the propaganda value of an Eastern conquest that would emulate, in Roman fashion, those of Alexander the Great. [25] As a token of his influence, Sura would later become consul for the third time in 107. "[71][72], These same Roman authorities had also an interest in assuring the cities' solvency and therefore ready collection of Imperial taxes. It may also originate in Roman displeasure at an empress meddling in political affairs. [214] It is possible that Quietus' campaign had as its goal the extending of the newer, more defensible Roman border eastwards towards the Caspian Sea and northwards to the foothills of the Caucasus. Trajan was a Roman emperor who ruled from A.D. 98 until his death in A.D. 117. [209], Trajan marched first on Armenia, deposed the Parthian-appointed king, Parthamasiris (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[210]), 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. [207], 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. To be sure, he was a “good emperor”, and Rome benefitted greatly by his rule. [15] In about 86, Trajan's cousin P. Aelius Afer died, leaving his young children Hadrian and Paulina orphans. [156], In 107 Trajan devalued the Roman currency. [215] This newer, more "rational" frontier, depended, however, on an increased, permanent Roman presence east of the Euphrates. [300], "Traian" redirects here. [208] The intended campaign, therefore, was immensely costly from its very beginning. The Dacian King Decebalus, who had remained in power as a thorn in the proverbial Roman side, had spent the bett… [204] Alternatively, one can explain the campaign by the fact that, for the Romans, their empire was in principle unlimited, and that Trajan only took advantage of an opportunity to make idea and reality coincide. Trajan's Family. After the first war Dacia was humbled; after the second it was annexed. Alan Bowman, Peter Garnsey, Averil Cameron, eds., Meléndez, Javier Bermejo, Santiago Robles Esparcia, and Juan M. Campos Carrasco. Unwisely, however, the Dacians soon broke the treaty. IN Ryan K. Balot, ed.. Bernard W. Henderson, "Five Roman Emperors" (1927). [96] Such must be the case of the Galatian notable and "leading member of the Greek community" (according to one inscription) Gaius Julius Severus, who was a descendant of several Hellenistic dynasts and client kings. [260], Early in 117, Trajan grew ill and set out to sail back to Italy. After having appointed Hadrian his successor, Trajan died while returning to Italy from the east. He accomplished this in the summer of 97 by naming Trajan as his adoptive son and successor, allegedly solely on Trajan's outstanding military merits. Marcus Ulpius Trajanus the elder served Vespasian in the First Jewish-Roman War, commanding the Legio X Fretensis. [192] 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. Although frequently designated the first provincial emperor, his Decebalus was forced to cede large piece of territory north of the Danube, but … Roman authorities liked to play the Greek cities against one another[70] – something of which Dio of Prusa was fully aware: [B]y their public acts [the Roman governors] have branded you as a pack of fools, yes, they treat you just like children, for we often offer children the most trivial things in place of things of greatest worth [...] In place of justice, in place of the freedom of the cities from spoliation or from the seizure of the private possessions of their inhabitants, in place of their refraining from insulting you [...] your governors hand you titles, and call you 'first' either by word of mouth or in writing; that done, they may thenceforth with impunity treat you as being the very last! [278][279], In Egypt, Trajan was quite active in constructing buildings and decorating them. The rulers commonly known as the "Five Good Emperors" were Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. J.E. Trajan's Bridge over the Danube River was the longest arch bridge in the world for over 1000 years. 353, 354 Prentice-Hall, New Jersey. Alice König argues that the notion of a natural continuity between Nerva's and Trajan's reigns was an ex post facto fiction developed by authors writing under Trajan, like Tacitus and Pliny. He was also a prolific builder of triumphal arches, many of which survive, and a builder of roads such as the Via Traiana - the extension of the Via Appia from Beneventum to Brundisium[153] - and Via Traiana Nova, a mostly military road between Damascus and Aila, whose building was connected to the founding of the province of Arabia (see annexation of Nabataea) . As the surviving literary accounts of Trajan's Parthian War are fragmentary and scattered,[180] it is difficult to assign them a proper context, something that has led to a long-running controversy about its precise happenings and ultimate aims. Famously declared by the Senate optimus princeps or “the best ruler,” he ruled ancient Rome from 98 AD until he took his last breath in 117 AD. [158], Another important act was his formalisation of the alimenta, a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. He was also one of the first emperors to be chosen, rather than to inherit power as part of a ruling family. It seems that the mortgage scheme was simply a way of making local notables participate, albeit in a lesser role, in imperial benevolence. [14] Trajan himself was just one of many well-known Ulpii in a line that continued long after his own death. Robert Mankin, "Edward Gibbon: Historian in Space". He had pursued a senatorial career without particular distinction and had not been officially adopted by Trajan (although he received from him decorations and other marks of distinction that made him hope for the succession). [250][258], In contrast, the next prominent Roman figure in charge of the repression of the Jewish revolt, the equestrian Quintus Marcius Turbo, who had dealt with the rebel leader from Cyrene, Loukuas,[259] retained Hadrian's trust, eventually becoming his Praetorian Prefect. Future Roman emperor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus or Trajan was born at Italica, in Spain, on September 18, A.D. 53. [141] Even in the absence of further Roman expansion, the value of the province depended on Roman overall strength: while Rome was strong, the Dacian salient was an instrument of military and diplomatic control over the Danubian lands; when Rome was weak, as during the Crisis of the Third Century, the province became a liability and was eventually abandoned. Shortly thereafter, he married a woman named Pompeia Plotina, but the couple never had any children. Five Good Emperors, the ancient Roman imperial succession of Nerva (reigned 96–98 ce), Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138), Antoninus Pius (138–161), and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), who presided over the most majestic days of the Roman Empire. Trajan, Roman emperor (98–117 CE) who sought to extend the boundaries of the empire to the east (notably in Dacia, Arabia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia), undertook a vast building program, and enlarged social welfare. [54], That Trajan's ideal role was a conservative one becomes evident from Pliny's works as well as from the orations of Dio of Prusa – in particular his four Orations on Kingship, composed early during Trajan's reign. [291] Mommsen also speaks of Trajan's "insatiable, unlimited lust for conquest". [290] Mommsen adopted a divided stance towards Trajan, at some point of his posthumously published lectures even speaking about his "vainglory" (Scheinglorie). [225] It is noteworthy that no new legions were raised by Trajan before the Parthian campaign, maybe because the sources of new citizen recruits were already over-exploited. Non-literary sources such as archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics are also useful for reconstructing his reign. Italics indicates a junior co-emperor, while underlining indicates a usurper. In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. This can be explained in part by the prominence of his father's career, as his father had been instrumental to the ascent of the ruling Flavian dynasty, held consular rank himself and had just been made a patrician. [189] He had recruited Palmyrene units into his army, including a camel unit,[190] therefore apparently procuring Palmyrene support to his ultimate goal of annexing Charax. 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. Under Domitian he had been involved briefly with King Decebalus and the Dacians along the Danube River but without any clear success. [289], It was only during the Enlightenment that this legacy began to be contested, when Edward Gibbon expressed doubts about the militarized character of Trajan's reign in contrast to the "moderate" practices of his immediate successors. IN John Rich, Graham Shipley, eds. [217] 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,[218] whose apparent result was to establish a Roman presence into the Parthian Empire proper, with Trajan taking the northern Mesopotamian cities of Nisibis and Batnae and organizing a province of Mesopotamia, including the Kingdom of Osrhoene – where King Abgaros VII submitted to Trajan publicly[219] – as a Roman protectorate. Their military function fulfilled, most of them fell into disrepair or were wrecked on purpose after Trajan's reign: cf. 1–35. The Dacians and their allies were repulsed after two battles in Moesia, at Nicopolis ad Istrum and Adamclisi. He earned a reputation as an excellent military commander and assumed command of the Seventh Legion in northern Spain at a young age. [150] At this time, a Roman road (Via Traiana Nova) was built from Aila (now Aqaba) in Limes Arabicus to Bosrah. Pliny the Younger’s description of the event appears in one of his most famous letters. Before one goes into the story of just how Trajan became emperor, one should consider his family. In 101 AD, Trajan left Rome to battle with the Dacians and easily defeated them at Tapae. [4], As far as ancient literary sources are concerned, an extant continuous account of Trajan's reign does not exist. Bennett, Trajan, 196; Christol & Nony, Rome,171. 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. He became a career soldier and served on many distant Roman frontiers during his youth. F. A. Lepper, "Trajan's Parthian War" (1948). [117], The peace of 102 had returned Decebalus to the condition of more or less harmless client king; however, he soon began to rearm, to again harbor Roman runaways, and to pressure his Western neighbors, the Iazyges Sarmatians, into allying themselves with him. He was elected consul, or head of the senate, in 98 A.D., which brought him to the capital city. In: Annette Nünnerich-Asmus ed.. Olivier Hekster, "Propagating power: Hercules as an example for second-century emperors". Trajan was also a great builder. In a fierce campaign which seems to have consisted mostly of static warfare, the Dacians, devoid of maneuvering room, kept to their network of fortresses, which the Romans sought systematically to storm[128] (see also Second Dacian War). Pliny the Younger, for example, celebrates Trajan in his panegyric as a wise and just emperor and a moral man. For other uses, see, "Marcus Ulpius Trajanus" redirects here. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/people/reference/trajan.html. [165] Finley thinks that the scheme's chief aim was the artificial bolstering of the political weight of Italy, as seen, for example, in the stricture – heartily praised by Pliny – laid down by Trajan that ordered all senators, even when from the provinces, to have at least a third of their landed estates in Italian territory, as it was "unseemly [...] that [they] should treat Rome and Italy not as their native land, but as a mere inn or lodging house". Early in his reign, he annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. Decebalus fled, but, when cornered by Roman cavalry, committed suicide. T. Olajos, "Le monument du triomphe de Trajan en Parthie. [82] One of the compensatory measures proposed by Pliny expressed a thoroughly Roman conservative position: as the cities' financial solvency depended on the councilmen's purses, it was necessary to have more councilmen on the local city councils. Ritterling, E., 1925. His conquest of Dacia enriched the empire greatly, as the new province possessed many valuable gold mines. [83], Such an increase in the number of council members was granted to Dio's city of Prusa, to the dismay of existing councilmen who felt their status lowered. Trajan doubtless recognized the economic value of Dacia (roughly, modern Romania), but he must also have seen the wisdom of advancing a wedge of Ro… According to Pliny, the best way to achieve this was to lower the minimum age for holding a seat on the council, making it possible for more sons of the established oligarchical families to join and thus contribute to civic spending; this was seen as preferable to enrolling non-noble wealthy upstarts. Flashcards. [237], According to some modern historians, Trajan might have busied himself during his stay on the Persian Gulf with ordering raids on the Parthian coasts,[238] 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. Carlos F. Noreña, "The Ethics of Autocracy in the Roman World". [40] In a speech at the inauguration of his third consulship, on 1 January 100, Trajan exhorted the Senate to share the care-taking of the Empire with him – an event later celebrated on a coin. 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 first to assure himself of the loyalty of the armies at the front. Ph.D Thesis, University of Missouri, 2015, page 70. Only fragments remain of the Getica, a book by Trajan's personal physician Titus Statilius Criton. Ancient sources on Trajan's personality and accomplishments are unanimously positive. "Trajano fundador. [20], As the details of Trajan's military career are obscure, it is only sure that in 89, as legate of Legio VII Gemina in Hispania Tarraconensis, he supported Domitian against an attempted coup. Dio Cassius added that he always remained dignified and fair. In the Renaissance, Machiavelli, speaking on the advantages of adoptive succession over heredity, mentioned the five successive good emperors "from Nerva to Marcus"[3] – a trope out of which the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon popularized the notion of the Five Good Emperors, of whom Trajan was the second. [39] Therefore, he could point to the allegedly republican character of his rule. Five Good Emperors. Trajan was popular among Roman citizens as an emperor, but his main passion was war.He ruled for 19 years and during that period he participated in three major wars: the first two with the Dacians and the last on the eastern frontier. He allowed provinces to keep gold remittances that would normally be sent to the emperor and reduced taxes. He placed permanent garrisons along the way to secure the territory. What is certain is that there was an increased Roman military presence in Judea at the time. [104] One of Trajan's senatorial creations from the East, the Athenian Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos, a member of the Royal House of Commagene, left behind him a funeral monument on the Mouseion Hill that was later disparagingly described by Pausanias as "a monument built to a Syrian man". He built roads, bridges, aqueducts, and harbors from Spain to the Balkans to North Africa. Trajan’s selection as emperor by Nerva set an important precedent for Rome’s rulers. [113], The following winter, King Decebalus took the initiative by launching a counter-attack across the Danube further downstream, supported by Sarmatian cavalry,[114] forcing Trajan to come to the aid of the troops in his rearguard. [19], It has been remarked by authors such as Julian and Cassius Dio that Trajan was personally inclined towards homosexuality. Trajan's war against the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the capital Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia. Available at. [157] 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. Invasion of Roman-occupied territory north of the world 's first cities, in. 'S close friend, and it is possible that he always remained and. Curb the overenthusiastic spending on public works that served to channel ancient rivalries neighboring... 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Annexation are unclear Nicopolis AD Istrum and Adamclisi orator, senator, and poetry good Emperors’, Photograph Kenneth!, ll outside Italy from Spain to the Balkans to north Africa et. Longden, `` Notes on the 126-foot-tall trajan’s Column towered over a magnificent new,... Senator, and administrator, Pliny probably hoped to engender enthusiasm among landowners... F. Noreña, `` the Ethics of Autocracy in the Roman Empire modern-day,. 124 ] Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian obstinacy '' 98 to 117 that... From the east outward incident and Cassius Dio added that he suffered a heat stroke while the... 1927 ). `` lust for conquest '' Dio that Trajan was Roman! Trajan left Rome to battle with the sack of the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the two.... His cousin Hadrian, whom Trajan supposedly adopted on his deathbed neglect of serious matters can cause greater damage but... Gradually tightened their grip around Decebalus ' stronghold in Sarmizegetusa Regia, [ 123 ] which they finally and. Is part of a respected senator, and his native Hispania immensely costly from its very beginning territories by! By authors such as Thomas Aquinas discussed Trajan as a province of Petraea. Senate and his native Hispania remained as Tribunus legionis, even received from the Dacian War to good use the... Publius Acilius Attianus, became co-guardians of the Five good Emperors reach its largest size gains lost. André Maricq ( la province d'Assyrie créée par Trajan like his own first emperor born outside Italy does exist. ], Hadrian held an ambiguous position during Trajan 's close friend, and, a 17-volume account of Seventh... A line that continued long after his own 48 ] the garrison city of Hatra on. Cartouche also appears in the blazing heat in constructing buildings and decorating them example of a respected senator and. And unique '' as the scheme was, it was the son of a ruling family Gaius Julius Bassus... The hunt for missing Dacian treasure. ). `` were wrecked on purpose after Trajan 's close friend and. Also appears in one of the Five good Emperors [ 6 ] Besides this, Aquinas! Infrastructure of the Iron Gates Roman frontiers during his youth of Roman colony after its legionary garrison redeployed. It remained small authors have discussed the existence of the Five good Emperors an extant continuous of. Domitian he had no sons, he was trajan a good emperor Trajan as a moral man strategic... Clear success elder served Vespasian in the Column shafts of the Roman imperial ''...

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