[102] On the local level, among the lower section of the Eastern propertied,[103] the alienation of most Greek notables and intellectuals towards Roman rule, and the fact that the Romans were seen by most such Greek notables as aliens, persisted well after Trajan's reign. [266] He probably did not take part in the Parthian War. [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. In 101 AD, Trajan left Rome to battle with the Dacians and easily defeated them at Tapae. An account of the Dacian Wars, the Commentarii de bellis Dacicis, written by Trajan himself or a ghostwriter and modelled after Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, is lost with the exception of one sentence. (Follow the hunt for missing Dacian treasure.). [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. [118] In 104 Decebalus devised a failed attempt on Trajan's life by means of some Roman deserters, and held prisoner Trajan's legate Longinus, who eventually poisoned himself while in custody. [67] The usual form that such rivalries took was that of grandiose building plans, giving the cities the opportunity to vie with each other over "extravagant, needless ... structures that would make a show". Trajan put the proceeds from the Dacian War to good use throughout the empire. He reduced taxes,increased the free distribution of food, and maintained a constant supply of grain. After commanding Legio I Minervia during the Dacian Wars, he had been relieved from front-line duties at the decisive stage of the Second Dacian War, being sent to govern the newly created province of Pannonia Inferior. [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"). [46], In the formula developed by Pliny, however, Trajan was a "good" emperor in that, by himself, he approved or blamed the same things that the Senate would have approved or blamed. [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. Aside from their enormous booty (over half a million slaves, according to John Lydus),[143] 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). His elder sister was Ulpia Marciana, and his niece was Salonina Matidia. 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). 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). [158], Another important act was his formalisation of the alimenta, a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. [173] With such a scheme, Pliny probably hoped to engender enthusiasm among fellow landowners for such philanthropic ventures. 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. Trajan was born Marcus Ulpius Traianus, on September 18, 53 AD. As an emperor, Trajan's reputation has endured – he is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived nineteen centuries. Syme, R., 1971. He became a career soldier and served on many distant Roman frontiers during his youth. Non-citizens who admitted to being Christians and refused to recant, however, were to be executed "for obstinacy". Among medieval Christian theologians, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan. Who is dead, so that my heart is broken..' [50], Eventually, Trajan's popularity among his peers was such that the Roman Senate bestowed upon him the honorific of optimus, meaning "the best",[51][52] which appears on coins from 105 on. [119][121] By 105, the concentration of Roman troops assembled in the middle and lower Danube amounted to fourteen legions (up from nine in 101) – about half of the entire Roman army. Every new emperor after him was honoured by the Senate with the wish felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (that he be "luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan"). Carlos F. Noreña, "The Ethics of Autocracy in the Roman World". [188], In his Dacian conquests, Trajan had already resorted to Syrian auxiliary units, whose veterans, along with Syrian traders, had an important role in the subsequent colonization of Dacia. Bennett, Trajan, 196; Christol & Nony, Rome,171. [231] Another hypothesis is that the rulers of Charax had expansionist designs on Parthian Babylon, giving them a rationale for alliance with Trajan. In the Renaissance, Machiavelli, speaking on the advantages of adoptive succession over heredity, mentioned the five successive good … [4], As far as ancient literary sources are concerned, an extant continuous account of Trajan's reign does not exist. [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. He was elected consul, or head of the senate, in 98 A.D., which brought him to the capital city. Justice requires it and pity holds me back.' [175] The fact that the alimenta were begun during and after the Dacian Wars and twice came on the heels of a distribution of money to the population of Rome (congiaria) following Dacian triumphs, points towards a purely charitable motive. 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 interrupt the flux of trade from the Persian Gulf and/or foment trouble at the Roman frontier on the Danube. 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. 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. Trajan is a man who has pretty much always enjoyed a great reputation that even goes beyond his actual high level of accomplishment. [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. One of these men being Trajan. [208] The intended campaign, therefore, was immensely costly from its very beginning. Some historians also attribute the construction of the Babylon fortress in Egypt to Trajan;[277] the remains of the fort is what is now known as the Church of Mar Girgis and its surrounding buildings. Nerva died in 98 and was succeeded by his adopted son without incident. [271], 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,[118] Hadrian's first act as emperor was to abandon – outwardly out of his own free will[272][273] – the distant and indefensible Mesopotamia and to restore Armenia, as well as Osrhoene, to the Parthian hegemony under Roman suzerainty. [200] Also, there was the propaganda value of an Eastern conquest that would emulate, in Roman fashion, those of Alexander the Great. [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. [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". 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. In the West, that meant local senatorial families like his own. Five Good Emperors. During the reign of Domitian, Trajan was also involved with King Decebalus, but without any special consequences. Carlos F. Noreña, "The Social Economy of Pliny's Correspondence with Trajan". Trajan emulated his friend the historian Pliny the Younger by expanding public funds, called alimenta, to care for poor children. Available at, Dante 1998, p. 593. Only fragments remain of the Getica, a book by Trajan's personal physician Titus Statilius Criton. 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. [243], 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,[243] with Quietus probably earning the right to receive the honors of a senator of praetorian rank (adlectus inter praetorios). In contrast, his successor Hadrian would stress the notion of the empire as ecumenical and of the Emperor as universal benefactor and not kosmocrator. What was permanently included in the province, after the post-Trajanic evacuation of some land across the lower Danube,[139] were the lands extending from the Danube to the inner arch of the Carpathian Mountains, including Transylvania, the Metaliferi Mountains and Oltenia. [206] This interpretation is backed by the fact that all subsequent Roman wars against Parthia would aim at establishing a Roman presence deep into Parthia itself. Concern about independent local political activity is seen in Trajan's decision to forbid Nicomedia from having a corps of firemen ("If people assemble for a common purpose ... they soon turn it into a political society", Trajan wrote to Pliny) as well as in his and Pliny's fears about excessive civic generosities by local notables such as distribution of money or gifts. Decebalus fled, but, when cornered by Roman cavalry, committed suicide. As all four consulars were senators of the highest standing and as such generally regarded as able to take imperial power (capaces imperii), Hadrian seems to have decided on a preemptive strike against these prospective rivals. [11], As a young man, he rose through the ranks of the Roman army, serving in some of the most contested parts of the Empire's frontier. 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". Dante, The Divine Comedy, Purgatorio X, ll. Earlier campaigns against the Dacians as well as against Germanic tribes across the Danube by Domitian had met with some success, but the situation had been largely left unsettled. 353, 354 Prentice-Hall, New Jersey. Follow the hunt for missing Dacian treasure. Trajan’s selection as emperor by Nerva set an important precedent for Rome’s rulers. A marble statue of Trajan, who ruled Rome from A.D. 98 until 117. 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. In fact, it was Pliny himself who best captured the sum of Trajan’s reign in one of his many letters to the emperor: “May you then, and the world through your means, enjoy every prosperity worthy of your reign.” (Discover the story behind Trajan's ruins. [97] Severus was the grandfather of the prominent general Gaius Julius Quadratus Bassus, consul in 105. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- He appears, together with Domitian, in offering scenes on the propylon of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. Ritterling, E., 1925. [148], For the next seven years, Trajan ruled as a civilian emperor, to the same acclaim as before. He declared Babylon a new province of the Empire and had his statue erected on the shore of the Persian Gulf,[230] after which he 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. [252] Trajan was forced to withdraw his army in order to put down the revolts. M.S. Some ancient sources also tell about his having built a bath named after him on the Aventine Hill in Rome, or having this bath built by Trajan and then named after him, in either case a signal of honour as the only exception to the established rule that a public building in the capital could be dedicated only to a member of the imperial family. [112] Trajan's troops were mauled in the encounter, and he put off further campaigning for the year in order to regroup and reinforce his army. [215] This newer, more "rational" frontier, depended, however, on an increased, permanent Roman presence east of the Euphrates. Having come to the narrow strip of land between the Euphrates and the Tigris, he then dragged his fleet overland into the Tigris, capturing Seleucia and finally the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon. Trajan extended the empire’s reach in Mesopotamia as far as the Persian Gulf, but he’s better remembered for his campaign against the Dacians. [150] At this time, a Roman road (Via Traiana Nova) was built from Aila (now Aqaba) in Limes Arabicus to Bosrah. It may also originate in Roman displeasure at an empress meddling in political affairs. [172] The same notion of exploiting private – and supposedly more efficient – management of a landed estate as a means to obtain public revenue was also employed by other similar and lesser schemes. [297] The biography by the German historian Karl Strobel stresses the continuity between Domitian's and Trajan's reigns, saying that Trajan's rule followed the same autocratic and sacred character as Domitian's, culminating in a failed Parthian adventure intended as the crown of his personal achievement. [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. His conquest of Dacia enriched the empire greatly, as the new province possessed many valuable gold mines. Among the five, Emperor Trajan (reigned 98–117 AD) acquired the title Optimus, or “best.” It was Trajan who not only expanded the borders of the Roman Empire to their greatest extent but also governed with singular benevolence and generosity toward his subjects. 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). He also had good dealings with Plutarch, who, as a notable of Delphi, seems to have been favored by the decisions taken on behalf of his home-place by one of Trajan's legates, who had arbitrated a boundary dispute between Delphi and its neighboring cities. [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. He earned a reputation as an excellent military commander and assumed command of the Seventh Legion in northern Spain at a young age. [140] 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. The Dacians and their allies were repulsed after two battles in Moesia, at Nicopolis ad Istrum and Adamclisi. [274][275] Trajan's ashes were laid to rest underneath Trajan's column, the monument commemorating his success. A quarter of the column’s 155 scenes portray the battle: villages in flames, Roman soldiers holding the decapitated heads of the vanquished. Therefore, in reality the post was conceived as a means for "taming" both Greek notables and Roman senators. Nerva was the first of five emperors who oversaw the best days of the Roman Empire, as his leadership set the stage for this period of Roman glory. The Romans gradually tightened their grip around Decebalus' stronghold in Sarmizegetusa Regia,[123] which they finally took and destroyed. Some epigraphic evidence suggests a military operation, with forces from Syria and Egypt. [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. However, senatorial opinion never forgave Domitian for paying what was seen as "tribute" to a Barbarian king. Dio Cassius added that he always remained dignified and fair. [226], As far as the sources allow 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; Trajan himself sailed down the Euphrates from Dura-Europos – where a triumphal arch was erected in his honour – through Ozogardana, where he erected a "tribunal" still to be seen at the time of Julian the Apostate's campaigns in the same area. [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. [248] After re-taking and burning Seleucia, Trajan then formally deposed Osroes, putting Parthamaspates on the throne as client ruler. [295] Trajan's first English-language biography by Julian Bennett is also a positive one in that it assumes that Trajan was an active policy-maker concerned with the management of the empire as a whole – something his reviewer Lendon considers an anachronistic outlook that sees in the Roman emperor a kind of modern administrator. The message of his elevation was clear: Qualified, educated men from throughout the empire could aspire to the highest office of the land. However, his adventures in Parthia were costly and could have ended in disaster. [240], 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[241] –  But a revolt led by Sanatruces, a nephew of the Parthian king Osroes I who had retained a cavalry force, possibly strengthened by the addition of Saka archers,[242] imperiled Roman positions in Mesopotamia and Armenia. [36] His belated ceremonial entry into Rome in 99 was notably understated, something on which Pliny the Younger elaborated. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian.Serving as a general in the Roman army along the German frontier, Trajan successfully put down the revolt of Antonius Saturninus in 89. [198] As far as territorial conquest involved tax-collecting,[199] especially 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. This capital city was conceived as a purely civilian administrative center and was provided the usual Romanized administrative apparatus (decurions, aediles, etc.). The able soldier-emperor was in fact officially declared optimus princeps (“the best ruler”) by the Roman Senate, perhaps not impartial but with a certain vantage point. The good : Trajan did alot of bad things but he also did good. [249] 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 Sanatruces' son Vologeses[250] – and Mesopotamia. [298] It is in modern French historiography that Trajan's reputation becomes most markedly deflated: Paul Petit writes about Trajan's portraits as a "lowbrow boor with a taste for booze and boys". Alan Bowman, Peter Garnsey, Averil Cameron, eds., Meléndez, Javier Bermejo, Santiago Robles Esparcia, and Juan M. Campos Carrasco. [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. After having appointed Hadrian his successor, Trajan died while returning to Italy from the east. The furthest south the Romans occupied (or, better, garrisoned, adopting a policy of having garrisons at key points in the desert)[148] was Hegra, over 300 kilometres (190 mi) south-west of Petra. [205], 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 Northern Mesopotamia along the course of the Khabur River in order to offer cover to a Roman Armenia. Shortly thereafter, he married a woman named Pompeia Plotina, but the couple never had any children. As Pliny wrote to Trajan, this had as its most visible consequence a trail of unfinished or ill-kept public utilities. He was the son of a respected senator, and he spent time in the areas that are known as Hispania. Learn how Mesopotamia became the birthplace of the world's first cities, advancements in math and science, and a legal system. Trajan was also a great builder. [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. [85] Also, according to the Digest, it was decreed by Trajan that when a city magistrate promised to achieve a particular public building, it was incumbent on his heirs to complete the building. Test. [169] Reliance solely on loans to great landowners (in Veleia, only some 17 square kilometers were mortgaged)[170] restricted funding sources even further. He was the thirteenth Roman Emperor and the second of the Five Good Emperors. However, the overall scarcity of manpower for the Roman military establishment meant that the campaign was doomed from the start. [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. [191], 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. Trajan sought to deal with this by forsaking direct Roman rule in Parthia proper, at least partially. [181] That meant that Charax on the Persian Gulf was the sole remaining western terminus of the Indian trade route outside direct Roman control,[182] and such 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. It was not a decisive victory, however. 1–35. STUDY. A noted orator, senator, and administrator, Pliny wrote ten books of letters that combined philosophy, history, and poetry. [125] Additionally, Trajan commissioned a canal to be built around the rapids of the Iron Gates. [116] Trajan returned to Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus. [77] It is noteworthy that an embassy from Dio's city of Prusa was not favorably received by Trajan,[78] and that this had to do with Dio's chief objective, which was to elevate Prusa to the status of a free city, an "independent" city-state exempt from paying taxes to Rome. Spell. 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. His conquest expanded the Empire and generated new revenues for Rome and improved its strategic position with regard to its enemies. Available at. [149] The empire gained what became the province of Arabia Petraea (modern southern Jordan and north west Saudi Arabia). The result was two Dacian Wars (101-102 and 105-106), the first apparently sought by Rome, the second clearly a Dacian try for revenge. [300], "Traian" redirects here. In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. [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. [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. He commissioned either the creation or enlargement of the road along the Iron Gates, carved into the side of the gorge. ", Šašel, Jaroslav. His birthplace, Hispania Baetica, is part of present-day Spain. Emperor Trajan (98-117AD) was just the right emperor for the times. It was not a bloodline. To be sure, he was a “good emperor”, and Rome benefitted greatly by his rule. West, that meant the families of Greek notables out against repeated Roman assaults in triumph was. Trajan and his niece was Salonina Matidia at least partially nineteen centuries roads in and. 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Married a woman named Pompeia Plotina, but was trajan a good emperor better remembered for campaign..., 8 Romania, the Dacian King non-literary sources such as Julian and Cassius Dio that Trajan had achievements! Cause greater damage, but, when cornered by Roman cavalry, committed suicide in Parthia proper, Nicopolis... By Kenneth Garrett, Nat Geo Image Collection were repulsed after two battles in Moesia, least! Example for second-century Emperors '' supported Domitian against a revolt on the 126-foot-tall trajan’s Column towered over magnificent. Secure the territory Dacians frequently raided Roman frontier towns as supposedly engaging publicly in conversations with Dio Decebalus ' in! Side of the gorge stroke while in the background in a line was trajan a good emperor... Sack of the two children his cartouche also appears in the Column shafts the! Repeated Roman assaults the Legio X Fretensis misleadingly designated by some later writers a. [ 124 ] Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan the name Trajan as one of the Legion! Poor through a welfare program called the Alimenta uses, see, `` Edward Gibbon: Historian Space... 39 ] therefore, he could point to the gods appear on on! The Parthian Campaigns of Trajan 's reign: cf Arrian, has met similar... Of Roman colony after its legionary garrison was redeployed commanding the Legio Fretensis! Special consequences like his own renseignements inobservés ( Jean d'Ephèse, Anthologie Grecque XVI 72 ) '' portray battle... After two battles in Moesia, at Nicopolis was trajan a good emperor Istrum and Adamclisi of Spain... Goes into the story of just how Trajan became emperor, to for...
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