[216], The chronology of subsequent events is uncertain, but it is 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. The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. [300], "Traian" redirects here. Dikla Rivlin Katz, Noah Hacham, Geoffrey Herman, Lilach Sagiv, Z. Yavetz, "The Urban Plebs in the Days of the Flavians, Nerva and Trajan". [291] Mommsen also speaks of Trajan's "insatiable, unlimited lust for conquest". Marcus Ulpius Trajanus the elder served Vespasian in the First Jewish-Roman War, commanding the Legio X Fretensis. Trajan served in the East, in Germany, and in Spain. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Aside from their enormous booty (over half a million slaves, according to John Lydus),[147] 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). [141] The garrison city of Oescus received the status of Roman colony after its legionary garrison was redeployed. He was also one of the first emperors to be chosen, rather than to inherit power as part of a ruling family. For the administration of the provinces, Trajan tried to secure competent and honest officials. Perhaps the defining event of emperor Trajan’s reign was his conquest of the Dacian kingdom (modern Romania), which was completed over two campaigns in AD 101-102 and 105-106. Trajan abandoned the policy of not extending the Roman frontiers established by Augustus. [208] The intended campaign, therefore, was immensely costly from its very beginning. [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, however, dropped the charge. [203] Also, it is possible that the attachment of Trajan to an expansionist policy was supported by a powerful circle of conservative senators from Hispania committed to a policy of imperial expansion, first among them being the all-powerful Licinius Sura. 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. [173] With such a scheme, Pliny probably hoped to engender enthusiasm among fellow landowners for such philanthropic ventures. [76] 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". The traditional donative to the troops, however, was reduced by half. Evidence of this comes from a marble slab discovered near Caput Bovis, the site of a Roman fort. A propos de la guerre parthique de Trajan. In September 96, Domitian was succeeded by the old and childless Nerva, who proved to be unpopular with the army. R. P. Longden, "Notes on the Parthian Campaigns of Trajan". Wiseman, James 1997 "Beyond the Danube's Iron Gates. Although misleadingly designated by some later writers as a provincial, his Ulpia gens came from Umbria and he was born a Roman citizen. [72] But then Trajan's new Eastern senators were mostly very powerful and very wealthy men with more than local influence[73] and much interconnected by marriage, so that many of them were not altogether "new" to the Senate. In this capacity he was in Syria while his father was governor, probably in 75. [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". The column itself is encircled by a continuous spiral relief, portraying scenes from the two Dacian campaigns. 353, 354 Prentice-Hall, New Jersey. [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. [64] 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. Although frequently designated the first provincial emperor, his It was at this point that Trajan's health started to fail him. [211] At the same time, a Roman column under the legate Lusius Quietus – an outstanding cavalry general[212] who had signaled himself during the Dacian Wars by commanding a unit from his native Mauretania[213] – crossed the Araxes river from Armenia into Media Atropatene and the land of the Mardians (present-day Ghilan). On his entry to Rome, Trajan granted the plebs a direct gift of money. [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. These provide a commentary on the campaigns and also a repertory of Roman and Dacian arms, armour, military buildings, and scenes of fighting. In this troubled context, Trajan's image needed to be reassuring, perceived as a guarantee of stability; it therefore borrowed directly from Augustan iconography in an obvious symbolic maneuver. He was generous to the populace of Rome, to whom he distributed considerable cash gifts, and increased the number of poor citizens who received free grain from the state. He sent out at least two special governors to provinces whose cities had suffered financial difficulties. Trajan is a man who has pretty much always enjoyed a great reputation that even goes beyond his actual high level of accomplishment. Trajan's administrative measures were chiefly designed to preserve the prosperity of Italy. Impressive examples survive in Spain, in North Africa, in the Balkans, and in Italy. 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. In 70 Vespasian, by then emperor, rewarded him with a consulship and a few years later enrolled him among the patricians, Rome’s most aristocratic group within the senatorial class. Trajan was commander of the Roman army in northern Germany when Nerva adopted him as his heir and announced him as his successor, the next Emperor of Rome. Future Roman emperor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus or Trajan was born at Italica, in Spain, on September 18, A.D. 53. Trajan's Family. J.E. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. In that court rose the still-standing Trajan’s Column, an innovative work of art that commemorated his Dacian Wars. 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. [61] 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. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. 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. Pliny – who seems to deliberately avoid offering details that would stress personal attachment between Trajan and the "tyrant" Domitian – attributes to him, at the time, various (and unspecified) feats of arms. As an emperor, Trajan's reputation has endured – he is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived nineteen centuries. His birthplace, Hispania Baetica, is part of present-day Spain. Dio is described by Philostratus as Trajan's close friend, and Trajan as supposedly engaging publicly in conversations with Dio. [248] After re-taking and burning Seleucia, Trajan then formally deposed Osroes, putting Parthamaspates on the throne as client ruler. [71] Trajan created at least fourteen new senators from the Greek-speaking half of the Empire, an unprecedented recruitment number that opens to question the issue of the "traditionally Roman" character of his reign, as well as the "Hellenism" of his successor Hadrian. 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). [149] Therefore, use of slave labor in the province itself seems to have been relatively undeveloped, and epigraphic evidence points to work in the gold mines being conducted by means of labor contracts (locatio conductio rei) and seasonal wage-earning. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Trajan, Latin in full Caesar Divi Nervae Filius Nerva Traianus Optimus Augustus, also called (97–98 CE) Caesar Nerva Traianus Germanicus, original name Marcus Ulpius Traianus, (born September 15?, 53 ce, Italica, Baetica [now in Spain]—died August 8/9, 117, Selinus, Cilicia [now in Turkey]), 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. However, senatorial opinion never forgave Domitian for paying what was seen as "tribute" to a Barbarian king. 1973 "Trajan's Canal at the Iron Gate.". [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. [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. In one exchange, Pliny asked Trajan how he should handle the rapidly spreading sect of Christians, who, refusing to conform to normal religious practices, suffered from great unpopularity but were, as far as Pliny could see, harmless. In 98 A.D. Nerva died and Trajan became Emperor but he did not enter Rome for nearly a year and a half, once he had made certain that the northern frontier was safe. Native Dacians continued to live in scattered rural settlements, according to their own ways. The furthest south the Romans occupied (or, better, garrisoned, adopting a policy of having garrisons at key points in the desert)[124] was Hegra, over 300 kilometres (190 mi) south-west of Petra. Soon thereafter, on January 27 or 28, Nerva died, and Trajan was accepted as emperor by both the armies and the Senate. [138] In another arrangement with no parallels in any other Roman province, the existing quasi-urban Dacian settlements disappeared after the Roman conquest. 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. [74] On the local level, among the lower section of the Eastern propertied,[75] 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. [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. [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. Syme, R., 1971. When he returned to Rome in 99, he behaved with respect and affability toward the Senate. In his reply, a model of judiciousness, Trajan advised Pliny not to ferret out Christians nor to accept unsupported charges and to punish only those whose behaviour was ostentatiously recalcitrant. May you rule fortunate like Augustus and better than Trajan. [87] A side effect of such extravagant spending was that junior and thus less wealthy members of the local oligarchies felt disinclined to present themselves to fill posts as local magistrates, positions that involved ever-increasing personal expense.[88]. His cartouche also appears in the column shafts of the Temple of Khnum at Esna. [16], In 91, Trajan was created ordinary Consul for the year, which was a great honour as he was in his late thirties and therefore just above the minimum legal age (32) for holding the post. Interesting Facts About Roman Emperor Trajan. Birthplace: Italica, Baetica Location of death: Selinus, Cilicia Cause. ", In the 18th-century King Charles III of Spain commissioned Anton Raphael Mengs to paint The Triumph of Trajan on the ceiling of the banquet hall of the Royal Palace of Madrid – considered among the best works of this artist. [141] 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. 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. [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. His severed head, brought to Trajan by the cavalryman Tiberius Claudius Maximus,[133] was later exhibited in Rome on the steps leading up to the Capitol and thrown on the Gemonian stairs. [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. 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. [267] However, Hadrian, who was eventually entrusted with the governorship of Syria at the time of Trajan's death, was Trajan's cousin and was married to Trajan's grandniece,[268] which all made him as good as heir designate. [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. Without any children of his own, he recognized his only option was to adopt. He commissioned either the creation or enlargement of the road along the Iron Gates, carved into the side of the gorge. [22] There are hints, however, in contemporary literary sources that Trajan's adoption was imposed on Nerva. [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. Carlos F. Noreña, "The Social Economy of Pliny's Correspondence with Trajan". [193] 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[194] – was moral and involved frowning upon the "softness" of luxuries, but no economic policy. [252] Trajan was forced to withdraw his army in order to put down the revolts. El último impulso colonizador del imperio.". [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. This capital city was conceived as a purely civilian administrative center and was provided the usual Romanized administrative apparatus (decurions, aediles, etc.). Omissions? [4], As far as ancient literary sources are concerned, an extant continuous account of Trajan's reign does not exist. 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 within the Empire and prosperity in the Mediterranean world. 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. It is possible, but cannot be substantiated, that Trajan's ancestors married local women and lost their citizenship at some point, but they certainly recovered their status when the city became a municipium with Latin citizenship in the mid-1st century BC. 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. [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. A new aqueduct brought water from the north. Trajan helped the poor through a welfare program called the Alimenta. Rome (ashes in foot of Trajan's Column, now lost.) [12][2], Trajan was the son of Marcia, a Roman noblewoman and sister-in-law of the second Flavian Emperor Titus,[13] and Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, a prominent senator and general from the gens Ulpia. F. A. Lepper, "Trajan's Parthian War" (1948). [158], Another important act was his formalisation of the alimenta, a welfare program that helped orphans and poor children throughout Italy. 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. 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. [28] Sura is also described as telling Hadrian in 108 about his selection as imperial heir. Italics indicates a junior co-emperor, while underlining indicates a usurper. [92] 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,[93] and as such was shunned by Roman authorities. [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. Corrections? Some say that Trajan had adopted Hadrian as his successor, but others[who?] [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. For other uses, see, "Marcus Ulpius Trajanus" redirects here. Trajan. [85], Competition among Greek cities and their ruling oligarchies was mainly for marks of preeminence, especially for titles bestowed by the Roman emperor. After safely escaping the Praetorian Guard mutiny, the ailing Roman emperor Nerva began to question his own mortality and realized the urgency to name a successor. Trajan sought to deal with this by forsaking direct Roman rule in Parthia proper, at least partially. 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. Paraskevi Martzavou, Nikolaos Papazarkadas, eds.. Marcel Emerit. [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). Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. It provided general funds, as well as food and subsidized education. [19], It has been remarked by authors such as Julian and Cassius Dio that Trajan was personally inclined towards homosexuality. 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. "Trajano fundador. Available at, Dante 1998, p. 593. To learn more about Trajan, review the accompanying lesson Trajan the Roman Emperor: Accomplishments & Facts. He appears, together with Domitian, in offering scenes on the propylon of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera. [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. [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. Literary sources relate that Trajan had considered others, such as the jurist Lucius Neratius Priscus, as heir. [195][196] In the absence of conclusive evidence, trade between Rome and India might have been far more balanced, in terms of quantities of precious metals exchanged: one of our sources for the notion of the Roman gold drain – Pliny's the Younger's uncle Pliny the Elder – had earlier described the Gangetic Plains as one of the gold sources for the Roman Empire. Therefore, in October 97, Nerva adopted as his successor Trajan, whom he had made governor of Upper Germany and who seemed acceptable both to the army commanders and to the Senate. One was Pliny the Younger, whom he dispatched to Bithynia-Pontus, a province on the northern coast of Asia Minor. 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. His belated ceremonial entry into Rome in 99 was notably underst… On January 1, 98, Trajan entered upon his second consulship as Nerva’s colleague. [34], On his entry to Rome, Trajan granted the plebs a direct gift of money. Trajan died on 9 August A.D. 117, after suffering a stroke, in the Cilician town of Selinus. Upon Nerva's death in January of 98 A.D., Trajan assumed the title of emperor. In: Annette Nünnerich-Asmus ed.. Olivier Hekster, "Propagating power: Hercules as an example for second-century emperors". After having appointed Hadrian his successor, Trajan died while returning to Italy from the east. A certain resemblance is indeed … 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). 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 to persecute Christians but not to accept anonymous denunciations in the interests of justice as well as of "the spirit of the age". For the emperor's father, see. Regia, [ 131 ] in 105 stood a colossal equestrian statue of the Danube 108 about selection... Second consulship as Nerva ’ s Column, Rome, Trajan was in... Commemorated his Dacian Wars commanding the Legio X Fretensis in political trajan roman emperor know if have! Emperors on their accession Princeps or the best emperor during his time Traianus Optimus Augustus unjustly imprisoned emperor..., commanding the Legio X Fretensis staff tribune gold mines discussed the existence of the Ulpii was Italica in... As the scheme was, it has been remarked by authors such as the jurist Lucius Neratius Priscus as. Glimpse of Trajan and his ashes were laid to rest under the Trajan 's:! 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