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Antoninus Pius
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Antoninus Pius Glyptothek Munich 337 cropped.jpg
Bust of Antoninus Pius, at Glyptothek, Munich
Reign 11 July 138 – 7 March 161
Full name Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus (from birth to adoption by Hadrian);
Titus Aelius Caesar Antoninus (from adoption to accession);
Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius (as emperor)
Born 19 September 86(86-09-19)
Birthplace near Lanuvium
Died 7 March 161 (aged 74)
Place of death Lorium
Buried Hadrian's Mausoleum
Predecessor Hadrian
Successor Marcus Aurelius &
Lucius Verus
Consort to Faustina
Offspring Faustina the Younger, one other daughter and two sons, all died before 138 (natural); Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus (adoptive)
Royal House Antonine
Father Titus Aurelius Fulvus (natural);
Hadrian (adoptive, from 25 Feb. 138)
Mother Arria Fadilla
Roman imperial dynasties
Antonine Dynasty
Antoninus Pius
Children
   Natural - Faustina the Younger, also one other daughter and two sons, all died before 138
   Adoptive - Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
Marcus Aurelius with Lucius Verus
Marcus Aurelius alone
Children
   Natural - 13, including Commodus and Lucilla
Commodus

Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus (19 September 86 – 7 March 161), generally known in English as Antoninus Pius was the fifteenth Roman emperor from 138 to 161. He was the fourth of the Five Good Emperors and a member of the Aurelii. He did not possess the sobriquet "Pius" until after his accession to the throne. Almost certainly, he earned the name "Pius" because he compelled the Senate to deify his adoptive father Hadrian; the Historia Augusta, however, suggests that he may have earned the name by saving senators sentenced to death by Hadrian in his later years.[1]

Contents

Early life

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Childhood and family

He was the son and only child of Titus Aurelius Fulvus, consul in 89 whose family came from Nemausus (modern Nîmes) and was born near Lanuvium and his mother was Arria Fadilla. Antoninus’ father and paternal grandfather died when he was young and he was raised by Gnaeus Arrius Antoninus, his maternal grandfather, a man of integrity and culture and a friend of Pliny the Younger. His mother married to Publius Julius Lupus (a man of consular rank) suffect sonsul in 98, and bore him two daughters Arria Lupula and Julia Fadilla.

Marriage and children

As a private citizen between 110 and 115, he married Annia Galeria Faustina the Elder. They had a very happy marriage. She was the daughter of consul Marcus Annius Verus and Rupilia Faustina (a half-sister to Roman Empress Vibia Sabina). Faustina was a beautiful woman, renowned for her wisdom. She spent her whole life caring for the poor and assisting the most disadvantaged Romans.

Faustina bore Antoninus four children, two sons and two daughters. They were:

  • Marcus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus (died before 138); his sepulchral inscription has been found at the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome.
  • Marcus Galerius Aurelius Antoninus (died before 138); his sepulchral inscription has been found at the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome. His name appears on a Greek Imperial coin.
  • Aurelia Marcia Fadilla (died in 135); she married Lucius Lamia Silvanus, consul 145. She appeared to have no children with her husband and her sepulchral inscription has been found in Italy.
  • Annia Galeria Faustina Minor or Faustina the Younger (between 125–130–175), a future Roman Empress, married her maternal cousin, future Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

When Faustina died in 141, he was in complete mourning and did the following in memory of his wife:

  • Deified her as a goddess.
  • Had a temple built in the Roman Forum in her name, with priestesses in the temple.
  • Had various coins with her portrait struck in her honor. These coins were scripted ‘DIVAE FAUSTINA’ and were elaborately decorated.
  • He created a charity which he founded and called it Puellae Faustinianae or Girls of Faustina, which assisted orphaned girls.
  • Created a new alimenta (see Grain supply to the city of Rome).

Favour with Hadrian

Having filled with more than usual success the offices of quaestor and praetor, he obtained the consulship in 120; he was next appointed by the Emperor Hadrian as one of the four proconsuls to administer Italia, then greatly increased his reputation by his conduct as proconsul of Asia. He acquired much favor with the Emperor Hadrian, who adopted him as his son and successor on 25 February, 138, after the death of his first adopted son Lucius Aelius, on the condition that Antoninus would in turn adopt Marcus Annius Verus, the son of his wife's brother, and Lucius, son of Aelius Verus, who afterwards became the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (colleague of Marcus Aurelius).

Emperor

Sestertius of Antoninus Pius, with the personification of Italia on reverse. Antoninus had been entrusted with the government of this province as proconsul.

On his accession, Antoninus' name became "Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pontifex Maximus". One of his first acts as Emperor was to persuade the Senate to grant divine honours to Hadrian, which they had at first refused; his efforts to persuade the Senate to grant these honours is the most likely reason given for his title of Pius (dutiful in affection; compare pietas). Two other reasons for this title are that he would support his aged father-in-law with his hand at Senate meetings, and that he had saved those men that Hadrian, during his period of ill-health, had condemned to death. He built temples, theaters, and mausoleums, promoted the arts and sciences, and bestowed honours and financial rewards upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy.

There are no records of any military related acts in his time. One modern scholar has written "It is almost certain not only that at no time in his life did he ever see, let alone command, a Roman army, but that, throughout the twenty-three years of his reign, he never went within five hundred miles of a legion".[2] His reign was the most peaceful in the entire history of the Principate; while there were several military disturbances throughout the Empire in his time, in Mauretania, Iudaea, and amongst the Brigantes in Britannia, none of them are considered serious. The unrest in Britannia is believed to have led to the construction of the Antonine Wall from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde, although it was soon abandoned. He was virtually unique among emperors in that he dealt with these crises without leaving Italy once during his reign, but instead dealt with provincial matters of war and peace through their governors or through imperial letters to the cities such as Ephesus (of which some were publicly displayed). This style of government was highly praised by his contemporaries and by later generations.

Another version of the standardised imperial portrait; from the house of Jason Magnus at Cyrene, North Africa (British Museum)

Of the public transactions of this period we have scant information, but, to judge by what we possess, those twenty-two years were not remarkably eventful in comparison to those before and after his; the surviving evidence is not complete enough to determine whether we should interpret, with older scholars, that he wisely curtailed the activities of the Roman Empire to a careful minimum, or perhaps that he was uninterested in events away from Rome and Italy and his inaction contributed to the pressing troubles that faced not only Marcus Aurelius but also the emperors of the third century. German historian Ernst Kornemann has had it in his Römische Geschichte [2 vols., ed. by H. Bengtson, Stuttgart 1954] that the reign of Antoninus comprised "a succession of grossly wasted opportunities," given the upheavals that were to come. There is more to this argument, given that the Parthians in the East were themselves soon to make no small amount of mischief after Antoninus' passing. Kornemann's brief is that Antoninus might have waged preventive wars to head off these outsiders.

Scholars place Antoninus Pius as the leading candidate for fulfilling the role as a friend of Rabbi Judah the Prince. According to the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10a-b), Rabbi Judah was very wealthy and greatly revered in Rome. He had a close friendship with "Antoninus", possibly Antoninus Pius,[3] who would consult Rabbi Judah on various worldly and spiritual matters.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Roman forum (now the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda). The emperor and his Augusta were deified after their death by Marcus Aurelius.

After the longest reign since Augustus (surpassing Tiberius by a couple of months), Antoninus died of fever at Lorium in Etruria, about twelve miles (19 km) from Rome, on 7 March 161, giving the keynote to his life in the last word that he uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password—"aequanimitas" (equanimity). His body was placed in Hadrian's mausoleum, a column was dedicated to him on the Campus Martius, and the temple he had built in the Forum in 141 to his deified wife Faustina was rededicated to the deified Faustina and the deified Antoninus.

Historiography

The only account of his life handed down to us is that of the Augustan History, an unreliable and mostly fabricated work. Antoninus is unique among Roman emperors in that he has no other biographies. Historians have therefore turned to public records for what details we know.

In later scholarship

Antoninus in many ways was the ideal of the landed gentleman praised not only by ancient Romans, but also by later scholars of classical history, such as Edward Gibbon or the author of the article on Antoninus Pius in the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:

A few months afterwards, on Hadrian's death, he was enthusiastically welcomed to the throne by the Roman people, who, for once, were not disappointed in their anticipation of a happy reign. For Antoninus came to his new office with simple tastes, kindly disposition, extensive experience, a well-trained intelligence and the sincerest desire for the welfare of his subjects. Instead of plundering to support his prodigality, he emptied his private treasury to assist distressed provinces and cities, and everywhere exercised rigid economy (hence the nickname κυμινοπριστης "cummin-splitter"). Instead of exaggerating into treason whatever was susceptible of unfavorable interpretation, he spurned the very conspiracies that were formed against him into opportunities for demonstrating his clemency. Instead of stirring up persecution against the Christians, he extended to them the strong hand of his protection throughout the empire. Rather than give occasion to that oppression which he regarded as inseparable from an emperor's progress through his dominions, he was content to spend all the years of his reign in Rome, or its neighbourhood.

References

  • Bossart-Mueller, Zur Geschichte des Kaisers A. (1868)
  • Lacour-Gayet, A. le Pieux et son Temps (1888)
  • Bryant, The Reign of Antonine (Cambridge Historical Essays, 1895)
  • P. B. Watson, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (London, 1884), chap. ii.
  • W. Hüttl, Antoninus Pius vol. I & II, Prag 1933 & 1936.
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Notes

  1. ^ Historia Augusta - Hadrian 24.4
  2. ^ J. J. Wilkes, The Journal of Roman Studies, Volume LXXV 1985, ISSN 0075-4358, p. 242.
  3. ^ A. Mischcon, Abodah Zara, p.10a Soncino, 1988. Mischcon cites various sources, "SJ Rappaport... is of opinion that our Antoninus is Antoninus Pius." Other opinions cited suggest "Antoninus" was Caracalla, Lucius Verus or Alexander Severus.

External links

Antoninus Pius
Cadet branch of the Nervan-Antonian Dynasty
Born: 19 September 86 Died: 7 March 161
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Hadrian
Roman Emperor
138 – 161
Succeeded by
Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
Political offices
Preceded by
Hadrian and
Publius Dasumius Rusticus
Consul of the Roman Empire
120
Succeeded by
Marcus Annius Verus and
Cnaeus Arrius Augur
Preceded by
Kanus Iunius Niger and
Gaius Pomponius Camerinus
Consul of the Roman Empire
139 – 140
Succeeded by
Titus Hoenius Severus and
Marcus Peducaeus Stloga Priscinus
Preceded by
Lollianus and
Titus Statilius Maximus
Consul of the Roman Empire
145
Succeeded by
Sextus Erucius Clarus and
Cnaeus Claudius Severus Arabianus


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ANTONINUS PIUS [TITUS AURELIUS FULVUS BOIONIUS [[Arrius Antoninus],]] (A.D. 86-161), Roman emperor A.D. 138161, the son of Aurelius Fulvus, a Roman consul whose family had originally belonged to Nemausus (Nimes), was born near Lanuvium on the 19th of September 86. After the death of his father, he was brought up under the care of Arrius Antoninus, his maternal grandfather, a man of integrity and culture, and on terms of friendship with the younger Pliny. Having filled with more than usual success the offices of quaestor and praetor, he obtained the consulship in 120; he was next chosen one of the four consulars for Italy, and greatly increased his reputation by his conduct as proconsul of Asia. He acquired much influence with the emperor Hadrian, who adopted him as his son and successor on the 25th of February 138, after the death of his first adopted son Aelius Verus, on condition that he himself adopted Marcus Annius Verus, his wife's brother's son, and Lucius, son of Aelius Verus, afterwards the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Aelius Verus (colleague of Marcus Aurelius). A few months afterwards, on Hadrian's death, he was enthusiastically welcomed to the throne by the Roman people, who, for once, were not disappointed in their anticipation of a happy reign. For Antoninus came to his new office with simple tastes, kindly disposition, extensive experience, a well-trained intelligence and the sincerest desire for the welfare of his subjects. Instead of plundering to support his prodigality, he emptied his private treasury to assist distressed provinces and cities, and everywhere exercised rigid economy (hence the nickname Kv'Avowpicmis, " cummin-splitter"). Instead of exaggerating into treason whatever was susceptible of unfavourable interpretation, he turned the very conspiracies that were formed against him into opportunities of signalizing his clemency. Instead of stirring up persecution against the Christians, he extended to them the strong hand of his protection throughout the empire. Rather than give occasion to that oppression which he regarded as inseparable from an emperor's progress through his dominions, he was content to spend all the years of his reign in Rome, or its neighbourhood. Under his patronage the science of jurisprudence was cultivated by men of high ability, and a number of humane and equitable enactments were passed in his name. Of the public transactions of this period we have but scant information, but, to judge by what we possess, those twenty-two years were not remarkably eventful. One of his first acts was to persuade the senate to grant divine honours to Hadrian, which they had at first refused; this gained him the title of Pius (dutiful in affection). He built temples, theatres, and mausoleums, promoted the arts and sciences, and bestowed honours and salaries upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy. His reign was comparatively peaceful. Insurrections amongst the Moors, Jews, and Brigantes in Britain were easily put down. The one military result which is of interest to us now is the building in Britain of the wall of Antoninus from the Forth to the Clyde. In his domestic relations Antoninus was not so fortunate. His wife, Faustina, has almost become a byword for her lack of womanly virtue; but she seems to have kept her hold on his affections to the last. On her death he honoured her memory by the foundation of a charity for orphan girls, who bore the name of Alimentariae Faustinianae. He had by her two sons and two daughters; but they all died before his elevation to the throne, except Annia Faustina, who became the wife of Marcus Aurelius. Antoninus died of fever at Lorium in Etruria, about 12 m. from Rome, on the 7th of March 161, giving the keynote to his life in the last word that he uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password- aequanimitas. The only account of his life handed down to us is that of Julius Capitolinus, one of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae. See BossartMuller, Zur Geschichte des Kaisers A. (1868); Lacour-Gayet, A. le Pieux et son Temps (1888); Bryant, The Reign of Antonine (Cambridge Historical Essays, 1895); P. B. Watson, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (London, 1884), chap. ii.


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Bible wiki

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Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus

Roman emperor; born in the year 86; died in 161; ruled from 138 until his death. The reign of this just and humane emperor came like a blessing to the Jews, particularly to those of Palestine. The religious persecutions of Hadrian had devastated the country, depopulated the cities, and made the intellectual development of the Jews impossible. Had these conditions lasted much longer, there would have been an end to the Jewish people in the Roman empire. As soon as the Jews knew of the change of rulers, they sent an embassy, with R. Judah b. Shamu'a at its head, to Rome to negotiate for improvement in their condition (Meg. Ta'anit, xii.). Through the intercession of an influential matron they succeeded in procuring milder treatment. On the fifteenth of Ab (Aug., 138 or 139) the emperor permitted the burial of the Jewish soldiers and martyrs who had fallen in battle against the Romans, and whose interment had been put under severe penalty (Yer. Ta'anit, iv. § 5, 69a; Ta'anit, 31a). Half a year later (March, 139 or 140) Antoninus repealed the edicts of Hadrian —which had prevented the Jews from exercising their religion—on the condition that they should not receive proselytes (Meg. Ta'anit, xii.; "Digesta" of Modestinus, xlviii. 8, 11). Moreover, they were forbidden, on penalty of death, to enter Jerusalem. Those Jews who had fled to foreign countries in order to escape the persecutions of Hadrian gradually returned to their homes. The intellectual stagnation of the Jewish people came to an end; and the disciples of Akiba founded a new center of Jewish culture at Usha, whither the patriarch Simon b. Gamaliel II. also repaired.

It is stated to have been in Antoninus' reign that the Jews were deprived of the right to have their own courts, which prerogative was by the Pharisees considered essential to religion (Yer. Sanh. vii. § 2, 24b). Those that dared to criticize the measures of the emperor were banished or put to death (Shab. 33b). It is not surprising, then, that even under Antoninus the Jews attempted to throw off the Roman yoke ("Scriptores Historiæ Augustæ, Antoninus Pius," ch. v.). The strained relations existing between the Parthians and the Romans may have encouraged the Jews to revolt and to expect assistance from the Parthians. But such assistance was not rendered, and the revolt was probably nipped in the bud: Jewish sources do not even allude to it. See also Antoninus in the Talmud; Simon b. Yoḥai; Varus.

Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. d. Juden, 2d ed., iv. 184-186, 206, 207, 470-473; Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 31.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

(TITUS ÆLIUS HADRIANUS ANTONINUS PIUS).

Roman Emperor (138-161), born 18 September, A.D. 86 at Lanuvium, a short distance from Rome; died at Lorium, 7 March, 161.

Most of his youth was spent at Lorium, which was only twelve miles from Rome. Later on he built a villa there, to which he would frequently retreat from the cares of the empire, and in which he died, in his seventy-fifth year. His early career was that usually followed by the sons of senatorial families. He entered public life while quite young and after exercising the office of prætor, became consul in 120, at the age of thirty-four. Shortly after the expiration of his consulate he was selected by Hadrian as one of the four men of consular rank whom he placed over the four judicial districts into which Italy was then divided. The duration of this office and its character cannot be decided with accuracy. Antoninus was afterwards proconsul in Asia, where his remarkable administrative qualities attracted the attention of the Emperor, who admitted him to the "Consilium Principis" on his return to Rome. After the death of Lucius Ælius Commodus Verus, Hadrian adopted Antoninus as his successor, on condition that he, in turn, would adopt as his sons and successors, M. Annius Verus (Marcus Aurelius) and Ælius Lucius Verus. On his adoption (25 February, 138) Antoninus changed his name to Titus Ælius Hadrianus Antoninus. He shared the imperial power with Hadrian until the death of the latter, 10 July, 138, when he became sole ruler.

Historians generally speaking are unanimous in their praise of the character of Antoninus and of the success and blessings of his reign (for a rather unfavourable estimate, see Schiller, Geschichte der röm. Kaiserzeit, II, 138). His conception of the duties of his office was high and noble, and his exercise of the almost unlimited power placed in his hands marked him as a man thoroughly devoted to the interests of humanity. In his private life and in the management of his court he followed true Stoic simplicity, entirely removed from excess or extravagance. His reign was unquestionably the most peaceful and the most prosperous in the history of Rome. No wars were undertaken, except those necessary to guard the frontiers of the Empire against invasion or to suppress insurrections. The conflicts with the Berbers in Africa and some of the German and Tauro-Scythinan tribes on the Danube were merely punitive expeditions to prevent further encroachments on Roman soil. The short-lived insurrection in Egypt and that of the Jews in Armenia and Palestine were quickly suppressed. For years the Pax Romana prevailed over the entire Empire, and brought blessings and happiness to probably 150,000,000 people, whose interests and whose safety were safeguarded by an army of 350,000 soldiers. The only extension of the Roman territory in the reign of Antoninus was in Britain, where a new wall was built at the foot of the Caledonian mountains between the Forth and the Clyde, considerably farther north than the wall of Hadrian.

The internal peace and prosperity were no less remarkable than the absence of war. Trade and commerce flourished; new routes were opened, and new roads built throughout the Empire, so that all parts of it were in close touch with the capital. The remarkable municipal life of the period, when new and flourishing cities covered the Roman world, is revealed by the numerous inscriptions that record the generosity of wealthy patrons or the activity of free burghers. Despite the traditional hostility of Rome to the formation of clubs and societies, guilds and organizations of all conceivable kinds, mainly for philanthropic purposes, came into existence everywhere. By means of these associations the poorer classes were in a sense insured against poverty and had the certainty that they would receive decent burial. The activity of the Emperor was not confined to merely official acts; private movements for the succour of the poor and of orphans received his unstinted support. The scope of the alimentary institutions of former reigns was broadened, and the establishment of charitable foundations such as that of the "Puellæ Faustinianæ" is a sure indication of a general softening of manners and a truer sense of humanity. The period was also one of considerable literary and scientific activity, though the general artistic movement of the time was decidedly of the "Rococo" type. The most lasting influence of the life and reign of Antoninus was that which he exercised in the sphere of law. Five great Stoic jurisconsults, Vinidius Verus, Salvius Valens, Volusius Mæcianus, Ulpius Marcellus, and Diavolenus, were the constant advisers of the Emperor, and, under his protection, they infused a spirit of leniency and mildness into Roman legislation which effectually safeguarded the weak and the unprotected, slaves, wards, and orphans, against aggressions of the powerful. The entire system of law was not remodelled in the reign of Antoninus, but an impulse was given in this direction which produced the later golden period of Roman jurisprudence under Septimus Severus, Caracalla, and Alexander Severus.

In religion Antoninus was deeply devoted to the traditional worship of the Empire. He had none of the scepticism of Hadrian, none of the blind fanaticism of his successor. Perhaps as a consequence superstition and the worship of new deities multiplied under his administration. In his dealings with the Christians Antoninus went no further than to maintain the procedure outlined by Trajan, though the unswerving devotion of the Emperor to the national gods could not fail to bring the conduct of the Christians into unfavourable contrast. Very few indications of the Emperor's attitude towards his Christian subjects are to be found in contemporary documents. The most valuable is that of the Christian Bishop Melito of Sardes (Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., IV, xxvi, 10). In his "Apology" to Marcus Aurelius he speaks of "letters" addressed by Antoninus Pius to the Larissæans, the Thessalonians, the Athenians, and to all the Greeks, forbidding all tumultuous outbreaks against the Christians. The edict found in Eusebius (op. cit., IV, 13) is now looked on by most critics as a forgery of the latter half of the second century. In the past, Tillemont, and in the present, Wieseler stand for its genuineness. "It speaks in admiring terms of the innocence of the Christians, declares unproved the charges against them, bids men admire the steadfastness and faith with which they met the earthquake and other calamities that drove others to despair, ascribes the persecutions to the jealousy which men felt against those who were truer worshippers of God than themselves." This temper of mind was entirely in conformity with the spirit of the existing legislation as laid down by Trajan and interpreted by Hadrian: that extra-judicial action on the part of the people against the Christians should not be tolerated by the authorities. The death of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, which took place in 155 or 156, shows how a Roman proconsul, though he knew his duty, still permitted himself to be swayed by popular clamour. In the case of the proconsul Prudens (Tertull., Ad. Scap., ix) we see how ineffectual popular outcries were in the face of strong administration, and how efficiently the interests of the Christians were safeguarded, except in the case of actual evidence in an open court. There can be no doubt, however, that persecution did take place in the reign of Antoninus, and that many Christians did suffer death. The pages of the contemporary apologists, though lacking in detail, are ample proof that capital punishment was frequently inflicted. The passive attitude of Antoninus had no small influence on the internal development of Christianity. Heresy was then rampant on all sides; consequently, in order to strengthen the bonds of discipline and morality, and to enforce unity of doctrine, concerted action was called for. The tolerant attitude of the Emperor made possible a broad and vigorous activity on the part of the Christian bishops, one evidence of which is the institution of synods or councils of the Christian leaders, then first held on an extensive scale, and described at some length by Eusebius in his Church History. In this way, it may be said, the Emperor contributed to the development of Christian unity.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

Simple English

Antoninus Pius
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Bust of Antoninus Pius
Reign 11 July 138 –
7 March 161
(&&&&&&&&&&&&&022.&&&&&022 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0239.&&&&&0239 days)
Full name Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus (from birth to adoption by Hadrian);
Titus Aelius Caesar Antoninus (from adoption to accession);
Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius (as emperor)
Born 19 September 86(86-09-19)
Birthplace near Lanuvium
Died March 7, 161 (aged 74)
Place of death Lorium
Buried Hadrian's Mausoleum
Predecessor Hadrian
Successor Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
Consort to Faustina
Offspring Faustina the Younger, one other daughter and two sons, all died before 138 (natural); Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus (adoptive)
Royal House Antonine
Father Titus Aurelius Fulvus (natural);
Hadrian (adoptive, from 25 Feb. 138)
Mother Arria Fadilla
of Antoninus Pius.]]

, North Africa (British Museum)]]

in the Roman forum.]]

Antoninus Pius (Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus, 19 September 86 – 7 March 161), or simply Antoninus, was Roman Emperor from 138 to 161.

Contents

Life

Marriage and children

As a private citizen between 110 and 115, he married Annia Galeria Faustina the Elder. They are believed to have enjoyed a happy marriage.Faustina was a beautiful woman, renowned for her wisdom. She spent her whole life caring for the poor and assisting the most disadvantaged Romans.

Faustina bore Antoninus four children, two sons and two daughters. They included Faustina the Younger, a future Roman Empress, who married her maternal cousin, future Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

When Faustina died in 141, Antoninus was greatly bereaved and had a temple built in the Roman Forum in her name, had coins with her portrait struck in her honor, and created a charity called Girls of Faustina, which assisted orphaned girls.

Favor with Hadrian

Having filled with success the offices of quaestor and praetor, he was consul in 120. He was appointed by Hadrian as one of the four proconsuls to administer Italia, then Asia. The Emperor Hadrian adopted him as his son and successor on 25 February 138,[1] after the death of his first adopted son Lucius Aelius. The condition was that Antoninus would in turn adopt Marcus Annius Verus, the son of his wife's brother, and Lucius, son of Aelius Verus, who afterwards became the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.

Emperor

There are no records of any military related acts in his time. One modern scholar has written "It is almost certain not only that at no time in his life did he ever see, let alone command, a Roman army, but that, throughout the twenty-three years of his reign, he never went within five hundred miles of a legion".[2] His reign was the most peaceful in the entire history of the Principate.

Unrest in Britannia is believed to have led to the construction of the Antonine Wall from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde, although it was soon abandoned.

He was virtually unique among emperors in that he dealt with crises without leaving Italy once during his reign. He dealt with provincial matters through their governors or through imperial letters to the cities such as Ephesus (of which some were publicly displayed). This style of government was highly praised by his contemporaries and by later generations.

Those twenty-two years were not remarkably eventful in comparison to those before and after his reign. We might think that he wisely cut the activities of the Roman Empire to a careful minimum. Perhaps he was uninterested in events away from Rome, and his inaction contributed to the troubles which faced Marcus Aurelius and other emperors of the third century.

German historian Ernst Kornemann, in his Römische Geschichte (roman history) [2 vols., ed. by H. Bengtson, Stuttgart 1954], said that the reign of Antoninus comprised "a succession of grossly wasted opportunities", given the upheavals that were to come. There is more to this argument, given that the Parthians in the East were themselves soon to make no small amount of mischief after Antoninus' passing. Kornemann's brief is that Antoninus might have waged preventive wars to head off these outsiders.

After the longest reign since Augustus (surpassing Tiberius by a couple of months), Antoninus died of fever about twelve miles (19 km) from Rome, on 7 March 161. The last word that he uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password was "aequanimitas" (equanimity).

References

  1. Historia Augusta, Antoninus Pius 4.6, available at the Latin Library [1], and on Lacus Curtius [2] in Latin [3] and English [4]
  2. J.J. Wilkes, The Journal of Roman Studies, Volume LXXV 1985, ISSN 0075-4358, p242.


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