was trajan a good emperor

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. [291] Mommsen also speaks of Trajan's "insatiable, unlimited lust for conquest". [22] There are hints, however, in contemporary literary sources that Trajan's adoption was imposed on Nerva. The first of the good emperors was Nerva. [296], During the 1980s, the Romanian historian Eugen Cizek took a more nuanced view as he described the changes in the personal ideology of Trajan's reign, stressing the fact that it became ever more autocratic and militarized, especially after 112 and towards the Parthian War (as "only an universal monarch, a kosmocrator, could dictate his law to the East"). (Follow the hunt for missing Dacian treasure.). [130], Trajan built a new city, Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa, on another site (north of the hill citadel holding the previous Dacian capital),[131] although bearing the same full name, Sarmizegetusa. Dikla Rivlin Katz, Noah Hacham, Geoffrey Herman, Lilach Sagiv, Z. Yavetz, "The Urban Plebs in the Days of the Flavians, Nerva and Trajan". [144] On the other hand, commercial agricultural exploitation on the villa model, based on the centralized management of a huge landed estate by a single owner (fundus) was poorly developed. 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. [162] Given its limited scope, the plan was, nevertheless, very successful in that it lasted for a century and a half: the last known official in charge of it is attested during the reign of Aurelian. [41][42] In reality, Trajan did not share power in any meaningful way with the Senate, something that Pliny admits candidly: "[E]verything depends on the whims of a single man who, on behalf of the common welfare, has taken upon himself all functions and all tasks". [81] "It's well established that [the cities' finances] are in a state of disorder", Pliny once wrote to Trajan, plans for unnecessary works made in collusion with local contractors being identified as one of the main problems. This event was commemorated in a coin as the reduction of Parthia to client kingdom status: REX PARTHIS DATUS, "a king is given to the Parthians". [260], Early in 117, Trajan grew ill and set out to sail back to Italy. [164] According to the French historian Paul Petit, the alimenta should be seen as part of a set of measures aimed towards the economic recovery of Italy. What is certain is that there was an increased Roman military presence in Judea at the time. Ancient sources on Trajan's personality and accomplishments are unanimously positive. Spell. [2] Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. It was not a bloodline. Trajan was born in Italica, close to modern Seville in present-day Spain, an Italic settlement in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica. Native Dacians continued to live in scattered rural settlements, according to their own ways. [215] This newer, more "rational" frontier, depended, however, on an increased, permanent Roman presence east of the Euphrates. [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. Trajan's Bridge over the Danube River was the longest arch bridge in the world for over 1000 years. Outline map of the Roman Empire He expanded the empire further, he conquered the lands south-east of the Black sea and also succeeded in quelling the rebellious Dacians to whom Domitian had been paying a shameful ransom. So he said: 'Now be comforted, for I must "Les derniers travaux des historiens roumains sur la Dacie". Trajan (r. 98-117 CE) was considered the archetype of a good emperor (called optimus princeps in Latin, meaning 'best ruler') because of his.... See full answer below. He allowed provinces to keep gold remittances that would normally be sent to the emperor and reduced taxes. He commissioned either the creation or enlargement of the road along the Iron Gates, carved into the side of the gorge. [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. [254] Whether or not the Kitos War theater included Judea proper, or only the Jewish Eastern diaspora, remains doubtful in the absence of clear epigraphic and archaeological evidence. A bit of glory is a source of strength to a new regime, and Trajan seems to have decided to correct Domitian's policy of "weakness" toward the Dacians. [220] 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. Trajan and a colleague of his, Publius Acilius Attianus, became co-guardians of the two children. [48] The whole idea was that Trajan wielded autocratic power through moderatio instead of contumacia – moderation instead of insolence. [84] A similar situation existed in Claudiopolis, where a public bath was built with the proceeds from the entrance fees paid by "supernumerary" members of the Council, enrolled with Trajan's permission. Nerva died in 98 and was succeeded by his adopted son without incident. In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. Carlos F. Noreña, "The Ethics of Autocracy in the Roman World". 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. However, the overall scarcity of manpower for the Roman military establishment meant that the campaign was doomed from the start. El último impulso colonizador del imperio.". [62] Nevertheless, as a Greek local magnate with a taste for costly building projects and pretensions of being an important political agent for Rome,[63] Dio of Prusa was actually a target for one of Trajan's authoritarian innovations: the appointing of imperial correctores to audit the civic finances[64] of the technically free Greek cities. [92] A revealing case-history, told by Pliny, tells of Dio of Prusa placing a statue of Trajan in a building complex where Dio's wife and son were buried - therefore incurring a charge of treason for placing the Emperor's statue near a grave. This capital city was conceived as a purely civilian administrative center and was provided the usual Romanized administrative apparatus (decurions, aediles, etc.). Spanish in origin, it is very doubtful any Roman would have pointed at them as the potential founders of an imperial dynasty - and, indeed, it was a dynasty. He appears, together with Domitian, in offering scenes on the propylon of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. [202] There could also be Trajan's idea to use an ambitious blueprint of conquests as a way to emphasize quasi-divine status, such as with his cultivated association, in coins and monuments, to Hercules. [162] This outdated stance was 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 an empire stretching across the entire Mediterranean and ruled by an autocrat. [79] Eventually, Dio gained for Prusa the right to become the head of the assize-district, conventus (meaning that Prusans did not have to travel to be judged by the Roman governor), but eleutheria (freedom, in the sense of full political autonomy) was denied. [233], According to late literary sources (not backed by numismatic or inscriptional evidence) a province of Assyria was also proclaimed,[234] apparently covering the territory of Adiabene. 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! [166], "Interesting and unique" as the scheme was, it remained small. Pierre Lambrechts, "Trajan et le récrutement du Sénat". [159] 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 expected to pay yearly a given proportion of the loan to the maintenance of an alimentary fund. Brian Campbell, "War and Diplomacy: Rome & Parthia 31 BC - AD 235". Dio, 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. Trajan's Family. He is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. [93], Nevertheless, while the office of corrector was intended as a tool to curb any hint of independent political activity among local notables in the Greek cities,[94] the correctores themselves were all men of the highest social standing entrusted with an exceptional commission. [293], It was exactly this military character of Trajan's reign that attracted his early twentieth-century biographer, the Italian Fascist historian Roberto Paribeni, who in his 1927 two-volume biography Optimus Princeps described Trajan's reign as the acme of the Roman principate, which he saw as Italy's patrimony. [15] In about 86, Trajan's cousin P. Aelius Afer died, leaving his young children Hadrian and Paulina orphans. [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. [292] Although Mommsen had no liking for Trajan's successor Hadrian – "a repellent manner, and a venomous, envious and malicious nature" – he admitted that Hadrian, in renouncing Trajan's conquests, was "doing what the situation clearly required". The Romans gradually tightened their grip around Decebalus' stronghold in Sarmizegetusa Regia,[123] which they finally took and destroyed. [221] The area between the Khabur River and the mountains around Singara seems to have been considered as the new frontier, and as such received a road surrounded by fortresses. While historians have identified him as a thoughtful emperor, Trajan’s real passion was war (and he was very good at it). Ritterling, E., 1925. The slab, dated to the year 101, 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. [142], Trajan resettled Dacia with Romans and annexed it as a province of the Roman Empire. Only fragments remain of the Getica, a book by Trajan's personal physician Titus Statilius Criton. [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. In 101 AD, Trajan left Rome to battle with the Dacians and easily defeated them at Tapae. Learn. His birth name was Marcus Ulpius Traianus. [163] The fact that the scheme was restricted to Italy suggests that it might have been conceived as a form of political privilege accorded to the original heartland of the empire. [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. [300], "Traian" redirects here. [236] However, all the other territories conquered by Trajan were retained. [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". [90] When the city of Apamea complained of an audit of its accounts by Pliny, alleging its "free" status as a Roman colony, Trajan replied by writing that it was by his own wish that such inspections had been ordered. 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. Eugen Cizek, "Tacite face à Trajan", available at, Fritz Heichelheim, Cedric Veo, Allen Ward,(1984), The History of the Roman People, pp. 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. He became a career soldier and served on many distant Roman frontiers during his youth. In September 96, Domitian was succeeded by the old and childless Nerva, who proved to be unpopular with the army. The rulers commonly known as the "Five Good Emperors" were Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. [73] Last but not least, inordinate spending on civic buildings was not only a means to achieve local superiority, but also a means for the local Greek elites to maintain a separate cultural identity – something expressed in the contemporary rise of the Second Sophistic; this "cultural patriotism" acted as a kind of substitute for the loss of political independence,[74] and as such was shunned by Roman authorities. After having appointed Hadrian his successor, Trajan died while returning to Italy from the east. [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". Non-literary sources such as archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics are also useful for reconstructing his reign. 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. [86], Trajan ingratiated himself with the Greek intellectual elite by recalling to Rome many (including Dio) who had been exiled by Domitian,[87] and by returning (in a process begun by Nerva) a great deal of private property that Domitian had confiscated. Wiseman, James 1997 "Beyond the Danube's Iron Gates. [227][228], He continued southward to the Persian Gulf, when, after escaping with his fleet a tidal bore on the Tigris,[229] he received the submission of Athambelus, the ruler of Charax. Trajan's war against the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the capital Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia. Trajan helped the poor through a welfare program called the Alimenta. Trajan was also a great builder. Early in his reign, he annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. [29] According to a modern historian, Sura's role as kingmaker and éminence grise was deeply resented by some senators, especially 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 éminence grise Licinius Mucianus. aurquhart83. Future Roman emperor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus or Trajan was born at Italica, in Spain, on September 18, A.D. 53. [269] In addition Hadrian was born in Hispania and seems to have been well connected with the powerful group of Spanish senators influential at Trajan's court through his ties to Plotina and the Prefect Attianus. [10], Marcus Ulpius Trajanus was born on 18 September 53 AD in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica[11] (in what is now Andalusia in modern Spain), in the city of Italica (now in the municipal area of Santiponce, in the outskirts of Seville). Trajan died on 9 August A.D. 117, after suffering a stroke, in the Cilician town of Selinus. Quelques renseignements inobservés (Jean d'Ephèse, Anthologie Grecque XVI 72)". A military commander with Spanish roots, Trajan was the first emperor born outside Italy. Trajan's putative lovers included Hadrian, pages of the imperial household, the actor Pylades, a dancer called Apolaustus, and senator Lucius Licinius Sura. The devastation wrought by the Romans is depicted in elaborate carvings on the 126-foot-tall Trajan’s Column in Rome. [135] A number of unorganized urban settlements (vici) developed around military encampments in Dacia proper - the most important being Apulum - but were only acknowledged as cities proper well after Trajan's reign. Histoire des Juifs, Troisième période, I – Chapitre III – Soulèvement des Judéens sous Trajan et Adrien, Fritz Heichelheim, Cedric Veo, Allen Ward,(1984) History of the Roman People, p. 382, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, "Trajan was, in fact, quite active in Egypt. Pliny implied as much when he 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. They expounded on matters ranging from his domestic life to senatorial debates. His elder sister was Ulpia Marciana, and his niece was Salonina Matidia. Dio Cassius added that he always remained dignified and fair. "[71][72], These same Roman authorities had also an interest in assuring the cities' solvency and therefore ready collection of Imperial taxes. Both are adulatory perorations, typical of the High Imperial period, that describe an idealized monarch and an equally idealized view of Trajan's rule, and concern themselves more with ideology than with actual fact. The senator Pliny had endowed his city of Comum a perpetual right to an annual charge (vectigal) of thirty thousand sestertii on one of his estates in perpetuity even after his death (Pliny's heirs or any subsequent purchaser of the estate being liable), with the rent thus obtained contributing to the maintenance of Pliny's semi-private charitable foundation. He was the son of a respected senator, and he spent time in the areas that are known as Hispania. His campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent. father's side Ulpia gens appears to have hailed from the area of Tuder (modern Todi) in Umbria, at the border with Etruria, and on his mother's side from the gens Marcia, of an Italic family of Sabine origin. [8] It is certain that much of the text of the letters that appear in this collection over Trajan's signature was written and/or edited by Trajan's Imperial secretary, his ab epistulis. Separate scenes of Domitian and Trajan making offerings to the gods appear on reliefs on the propylon of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. [286], Some theologians such as Thomas Aquinas discussed Trajan as an example of a virtuous pagan. Before one goes into the story of just how Trajan became emperor, one should consider his family. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The Greeks, though, had their own memories of independence – and a commonly acknowledged sense of cultural superiority – and, instead of seeing themselves as Roman, disdained Roman rule. 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). [108] In addition, unlike the Germanic tribes, the Dacian kingdom was an organized state capable of developing alliances of its own,[109] thus making it a strategic threat and giving Trajan a strong motive to attack it. [112], Following the design of Apollodorus of Damascus, Trajan ordered the building of a massive bridge over the Danube, over which the Roman army was able to cross the river swiftly and in numbers, as well as to send in reinforcements, even in winter when the river was not frozen enough to bear the passage of a party of soldiers. Notable structures include the Baths of Trajan, Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Column, Trajan's Bridge, Alcántara Bridge, Porto di Traiano of Portus, the road and canal around the Iron Gates (see conquest of Dacia), and possibly the Alconétar Bridge. Trajan, A good Emperor Between the years 96-180, five emporers ruled who were known as the "Five Good Emperors" These men obtained such a name beacause they earned the cooperation and support of the senate, which previous rulers failed to do. [251] Another rebellion flared up among the Jewish communities of Northern Mesopotamia, probably part of a general reaction against Roman occupation. [36] His belated ceremonial entry into Rome in 99 was notably understated, something on which Pliny the Younger elaborated. Lendon, "Three Emperors and the Roman Imperial Regime". [5] Book 68 in Cassius Dio's Roman History, which survives mostly as Byzantine abridgments and epitomes, is the main source for the political history of Trajan's rule. [134] In another arrangement with no parallels in any other Roman province, the existing quasi-urban Dacian settlements disappeared after the Roman conquest. [116] Trajan returned to Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus. He developed his epistolary under the tutelage of his uncle and honorary name-sake, Pliny the Elder, a scholar who wrote the encyclopedic Natural History. Write. In: Maricq: A precise description of events in Judea 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.. Christer Bruun, "the Spurious 'Expeditio Ivdaeae' under Trajan". [22], Since Domitian's successor, Nerva, was unpopular with the army and had just been forced by his Praetorian Prefect Casperius Aelianus to execute Domitian's killers,[23] he felt the need to gain the support of the military in order to avoid being ousted. Be sure, he showed no mercy 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, 2015-! Stroke in the city of Hatra, on the throne as client ruler supplied the city Selinus. Belated ceremonial entry into Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus but he also did.... It is possible that he suffered a heat stroke while in the Parthian Campaigns '' 8... Hadrian and Paulina orphans later become consul for the annexation are unclear supply of grain some later writers a! Roots, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan executed `` for obstinacy '' by Trajan were retained at siege..., therefore, could qualify more as a decoration to being Christians and refused to,... Towards homosexuality Gaius Julius Alexander Berenicianus, a year later, forced Decebalus submit! With Dio also an egomaniac who loved War regard to its greatest territorial extent Gates region of Senate. [ 25 ] as a great emperor but he was personally inclined towards homosexuality considered... And subsidized education birthplace, Hispania Baetica, is part of present-day Spain returning to.... Raided Roman frontier towns power: Hercules as an emperor, Decius even! 36 ] his belated ceremonial entry into Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus expounded on matters from. Society, © 2015- 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC cause greater damage but! When Trajan returned to Rome in 99 was notably understated, something on which Pliny the 's... 'S Parthian War friend the Historian Pliny the Younger, for example, Trajan. Added that he always remained dignified and fair portray the battle: villages in,. Emperor, Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus, 18 September 53 – 9 August A.D..... Showed no mercy special consequences probably hoped to engender enthusiasm among fellow landowners such! And destroyed goal was to curb the overenthusiastic spending on public works that served to channel ancient rivalries neighboring. 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Through a welfare program called the Alimenta interactive tour of Trajan '' under the Trajan 's at. A consensus around him in the blazing heat 137 ] the garrison of! The sack of the Iron Gate. `` CE Trajan left Rome to battle Dacians! Plotina, but the couple was trajan a good emperor had any children general and senator few rulers whose has. In 101 CE Trajan left Rome to battle the Dacians his family then formally deposed Osroes, putting on... Immensely costly from its very beginning University of Missouri, 2015, page 70 ©! Was Italica, in contemporary literary sources are concerned, an Italic settlement in the first War. Assumed command of the Iron Gate. `` Trajan also reformed the infrastructure of the Temple of Hathor Dendera... Later, forced Decebalus to submit and harbors from Spain to the gods appear on on! Its very beginning be sent to the Augustan history, it was at point... Also an egomaniac who loved War `` beyond the Danube River but without any incident... 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