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Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus

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This statue is one of a few large Roman bronzes to have been preserved. It was found in Rome in 1643 during construction commissioned by Pope Urban VIII on the Janiculum, one of Rome’s seven hills.

The fragmented statue, which is missing its right arm and head, was soon identified as Emperor Septimius Severus and restored as such by the baroque sculptor, Paolo Naldini, one of Bernini’s collaborators.

The idealised body is that of a man who is nude, save for a loin cloth.

His tall ornate boots with folding flaps, called mullei, feature lion’s heads. This type of sculpture points to an emperor, or the personification of Rome.

The head is a perfect copy of the main portrait type of Septimius Severus.

The restored arm, however, is not based on an ancient model.

The sculpture belonged to the Barberini family and was one of the most famous statues in Rome for many centuries. The Belgian state acquired it in 1904 with the support of a group of patrons.

Come see this object with your own eyes in our Rome collection.

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Persecution In the Third Century, Part 2

The History of Christianity #57

Our Scripture verse today is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 which reads: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Our quote today is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He said: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

Today, we are looking at “Persecution In the Third Century” (Part 2) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Persecution Under Septimius Severus (Part 2)
The most famous martyrdom of that time is that of Perpetua and Felicitas, which probably took place in 203 AD. It is possible that Perpetua and her companions were Montanists, and that the account of their martyrdom comes from the pen of Tertullian. In any case, the martyrs were five catechumens – that is, five people who were preparing to receive baptism. This agrees with what is known of the policies of Septimius Severus. These five people – some of whom were in their teens – were charged, not with being Christians, but with recently converting, and thus disobeying the imperial edict.

Perpetua is the heroine of the Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas. She was a young, well-to-do woman nursing her infant child. Her companions were the slaves Felicitas and Revocatus, and two other young men, Saturninus and Secundulus. A great deal of the text of the Martyrdom is placed on the lips of Perpetua, and some scholars believe that she may actually have spoken most of these words. When Perpetua and her companions were arrested, her father tried to persuade her to save her life by abandoning her faith. She answered that, just as everything has a name it is useless to try to give it a different name, she had the name of Christian, and this could not be changed.

The judicial process was a long and drawn-out affair, apparently because the authorities hoped to persuade the accused to abandon their faith. Felicitas, who was pregnant when arrested, was afraid that her life would be spared for that reason, or that her martyrdom would be postponed and she would not be able to join her four companions. But the Martyrdom tells us that her prayers were answered, and that in her eighth month she gave birth to a girl who was then adopted by another Christian woman. Seeing her moan in childbirth, her jailers asked how she expected to be able to face the beasts in the arena. Her answer is typical of the manner in which martyrdom was interpreted: “Now my sufferings are only mine. But when I face the beasts there will be another who will live in me, and will suffer for me since I shall be suffering for him.”

The account then reports that the three male martyrs were the first to be put in the arena. Saturninus and Revocatus died quickly and bravely. But no beast would attack Secundulus. Some of them refused to come out to him, while others attacked the soldiers instead. Finally, Secundulus himself declared that a leopard would kill him, and so it happened.

We are then told that Perpetua and Felicitas were placed in the arena to be attacked by a crazed cow. Having been hit and thrown by the animal, Perpetua asked to be able to retie her hair, for loose hair was a sign of mourning, and this was a joyful day for her. Finally, the two bleeding women stood in the middle of the arena, bid each other farewell with the kiss of peace, and died by the sword.

Shortly thereafter, for reasons that are not altogether clear, persecution abated. There were still isolated incidents in various parts of the empire, but the edict of Septimius Severus was not generally enforced. In 211 AD, when Caracalla succeeded Septimius Severus, there was a brief persecution but this again did not last long, and was mostly limited to North Africa.

Next time, we will continue looking at Persecution Under Septimius Severus.

Septimius Severus, a Nephilim

About 400 years after Hannibal, Septimius Severus becomes Emporer after killing his 2 other African competitors, one called "Niger" meaning "Black", and he looks African and has Egyptian ties, and the other is "Albinus" meaning "White" who has the Britsh and African ties, but they are clearly calling him "Light Skinned" as his peers in Rome tell Albinus he is "not like the others", not that calling someone Light Skinned insults others but these Romans literally were insulting others when complimenting him as well. And Septimus is a Light Skinned Libyan, who after defeating them becomes Emporer then kicks out the Praetorian guard (the Roman CIA) taking their ceremonial armour and banning them from coming within 99 miles of Rome or die, and kills a bunch of Senators creating a Dictatorship but the people of Rome love it because they were corrupt, he then Auctions off the Empire. Then saves Christians he knows the families of from Death. Basically completely reforming Rome, and in a way that seems like:

A nearly equal opposite reaction to destruction of CarthageRome was an African enterprise at that point, even before he took control

Septimius Severus - Wikipedia


This may then also explain the Angels which arranged for the Kings to follow the star to find Jesus, tell Mary to name her son Emmanuel, and tell Joseph to go to Egypt to escape Herod and return after Herod died. In Egypt they may also have been aware of the Bloodline of Jesus, given they were in Sebbenytos, where Manetho wrote Aegyptiaca. This may also then be associated with Joseph Smith and Mormon Tradition, there is actually evidence, and we need more of course, that the Greek Giants, are the Phaiakians, are the Nephilim, are the Punics, are the Subjects of King Agenor long before Rome, but built Dolmens before they met King Agenor.

So Christian Angels, then are the Greek Phoenix, and affiliated with the so called Giants in Greek Mythology and Nephilim in the Old Testament. And the Wax Headcones seen in Egypt and on Statues in Carthage are Serapis related, and may be the precursor to the modern Halo along with the Apis and other deity Sun Disk, which for Serapis is replaced with a Soap Mold Cup or Soap Dish.

Also, when Septimius Severus removed the Praetorian Guard, he apparently replaced them with Danubians.

Danube - Wikipedia


Danubian provinces - Wikipedia


Religion in Armenia - Wikipedia


Between Hannibal and Jesus the Nephilim, Phaiakians or Giants as the Greeks called them, seem to be called Angels, then may have also been what are called Archons to the Gnostics, in the Nag Hammadi Scripture.

Hypostasis of the Archons - Wikipedia


And I am kind of Bias against the Ancient Aliens Theory, as I see it as a Racists explanation to what happened before Europe became the Premiere Civilization, just "Aliens then White People", so I have not read the Epic of Gilgamesh, but when explaining this to someone they said automatically "then they would be Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh too". So that might be them also.

And this lines up with my Theory, as they would have been 2 distinct Cultures until what the Greeks call Typhon, the Jews call the Flood, then the Greeks also call the Flood, and then they became aligned with King Agenor, and King Phoenix, who may be the Gilgamesh part, or the merge part. The merge is Western Phoenicians, and Eastern Phoenicians.

I will get a genetic timeline I have with 2 examples of these Ancient peoples.

This shows a Timeline and Migration that would likely be in the Punic Heritage along the line, at some point having the Indian-Oceanic roots (Denisovan type lifestyle) from far back, and then the Native American, Serbian, West European Roots from the Neolithic Temple Culture of Europe from less far back, mixing maybe multiple times Economics and DNA, and becoming the Boating Cultures leading to the Phoenicians and Phaiakians, and thereby the Punics. Serbia probably by way of Phrygia or Lebannon, and India-Oceanic by way of Punt. Punt is going to shine light on all of this as the "Land of the Gods" according to the Egyptians.

"East Africa occupies a central position in the emergence of hominid species, since it is the location of the earliest fossil evidence for anatomically modern humans, dating back 150,000–160,000 years (Clark et al. 2003 White et al. 2003). Its geographic position makes it one of the most likely sections of Africa from which the colonization of Eurasia by the ancestors of European, Asian, and Oceanian populations started ∼50,000–70,000 years ago: both the “southern” and “northern” routes can be logically drawn as springing from there (Sauer 1962 Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994 Lahr and Foley 1994 Stringer 2000 Walter et al. 2000 Kivisild et al. 2003a)." -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182106/

"One explanation is that Europeans managed to cross the Atlantic in small boats some 20,000 years ago and joined the Native Americans from Siberia.
Dr. Willerslev thinks it more likely that European bearers of the X lineage had migrated across Siberia with the ancestors of the Mal’ta culture and joined them in their trek across the Beringian land bridge." -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182106/

Siberian DNA found shows that 24,000 years ago Siberians were related to Native Americans and Western Europeans, and to the Giants/Nephilim, who are thought to be associated with Malta (not because it was found in Mal'ta, Siberia, but because Malta is like the most Ancient Western point this DNA could be associated with), Scheria and King Agenor's lands.

Ancient DNA from Siberian boy links Europe and America

Marcus Aurelius - Wikipedia


The Internet Classics Archive | The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Commodus - Wikipedia


Septimius Severus - Wikipedia


This would explain why the people supported the takeover, they were all being prepped for it in a way, and had come from these roots. Jesus, then this.

"The twelve labours of Hercules, which took the hero far and wide, may have been an attempt by the Greeks to account for the presence of Phoenician colonies throughout the Mediterranean. Certainly, cities such as Gades (also Gadir, modern Cadiz) and Carthage were thought to have been founded, in one way or another, by Hercules-Melqart, no doubt springing from the original Phoenician practice of building a temple to Melqart at new colonies. Finally, as Christianity grew Hercules-Melqart faded into the religious background and acquired a more benign association with the sun." -https://www.ancient.eu/Melqart/

This is a good non-Theistic quote that can help you begin to understand Gods.

"Before there were intelligent beings, they were possible they had therefore possible relations, and consequently possible laws. Before laws were made, there were relations of possible justice. To say that there is nothing just or unjust, but what is commanded or forbidden by positive laws, is the same as saying that, before the describing of a circle, all the radii were not equal." -Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 (The Spirit of Laws) [1748]

Gandhi used the metaphor that if a Villager in India does not know the name of their British Governor, why should he understand God who is dissociated physically from himself in a far greater way than the Governor to the Villager. Gandhi compared it to Natural Law, which is what Newton wrote about. Zeno, the Stoic, called it "Divine Will". Jesus said it was not in the Jots and Tittles of the Law. And King Tut found it in the Heiroglyphs of Worm Eaten Scrolls. Polybius was an educated Roman Prisoner who wrote the History of Rome living to be very old for that time. He claimed the Ancients gave the people fear of Gods and Hell to control them, but that the moderns (200 BC-ish) were too rash for trying to ban them. So even some Educated Ancient people misunderstood the Gods and thought they were just stories. But Gods exist and may be invoked by Theurgy, or Mimickry. And retained through Mnemonics. Some just come regardless.

Gandhi also said that while the Villager might not know about the Governor, he knows God Rules the land.

"Eventually Damis' notes are said to have come into the possession of the Empress Julia Domna, wife of the emperor Septimius Severus (194-211), who commissioned Philostratus of Athens to use them to assemble a biography of the sage.

The narrative of Apollonius's travels, as reported by Philostratus, is replete with miracles and legends. In the words of historian Edward Gibbon, "we are at a loss to discover whether he was a sage, an impostor, or a fanatic." Apollonius reportedly continued to travel widely after his return from Europe, going far up the river Nile as far as Ethiopia, and in Spain as far as Gades (modern Cádiz). Though he had many followers and admirers, Philostratus admits that he also made many enemies, notably the Stoic philosopher Euphrates of Tyre.

Both Apollonius's friendships and his quarrels are also reflected in his supposed extant letters. In these he claimed only the power of foreseeing the future. Philostratus, on the other hand, relates a number of miracles performed by Apollonius. For example, he either raised from death or revived from a death-like state the daughter of a Roman senator and miraculously escaped death himself after being accused of treason both by Nero and by Domitian.

After further travels in Greece, Apollonius finally settled in Ephesus. Philostratus keeps up the mystery of his hero's life by saying, "Concerning the manner of his death, if he did die, the accounts are various." Philostratus seems to prefer a version in which Apollonius disappears mysteriously in the temple of the goddess Dictynna in Crete."

Arch Features and Structure

The arch is about 23 meters in height and 25 meters in width, raised on a base of travertine marble. Moreover, the Arch of Septimius Severus is made of a very rare and expensive Greek marble, called Proconessian, which was extracted nearby the city of Athens and very much in vogue during the reign of Septimius Severo.

The arch features several decorative scenes, depicting military campaigns, war councils, battles, enchained enemies taken by Roman soldiers and the Emperor’s speeches.

You must think about the arch as a huge newspaper reporting news and facts to remind the people of Rome of the Emperor’s achievements! The arch probably featured statues on the top, while the reliefs were painted with bright colors.

Niccolò Machiavelli on Septimius Severus

The Florentine author Niccolò Machiavelli(1469-1527) mentioned the founder of the Severian Dynasty in his most famous work, The Prince(1513).
In chapter XIX("Avoiding contempt and hatred") Machiavelli says that the aforementioned Roman Emperor possesed the traits of both the wolf and the lion(representing cunning and fierceness respectively), resulting in great political acumen and military prowess. According to Machiavelli, this feature enabled Septimius Severus to obtain the respect of the soldier and the love of the people, despite his over-the-top ruthlessness.

What Do y'all think of this(simple) analysis?
Imperial Rome is not my forte


Machiavelli lived in a part of the peninsula where, in his age, it was still possible to observes wolves in the forests, on the mountains .

The lion had a well stated symbolism and he didn't get far from it. But regarding the wolf, I guess it came from personal knowledge. Traveling in that time in central Italy it wasn't that difficult or rare to see a group of wolves around.

The alpha male among the wolf is a brutal and authoritarian individual [it's a wolf . ], but actually the other wolves tend to obey and to follow it without fighting. The alpha male has got the respect [based on fear] of the other wolves [actually it's an instinctive attitude for the animals, but human observers interpret in a human was, so . Machiavelli probably admired the kind of authority which existed among wolves].

Emperor Severus bases his exercise of power on a similar structural model, organizing in a military autocracy the Empire [like a very wide population of wolves . ].

He had no trouble in killing senators [29] to substitute them [in this was more lion that wolf, to be accurate].

He enlarged the power of the military officers [and he dismantled the Pretorian Guard reorganizing it as he liked].


That's nice Alpinluke but it's actually a FOX and a lion sly like a fox fierce like a lion.

Machiavelli lived in a part of the peninsula where, in his age, it was still possible to observes wolves in the forests, on the mountains .

The lion had a well stated symbolism and he didn't get far from it. But regarding the wolf, I guess it came from personal knowledge. Traveling in that time in central Italy it wasn't that difficult or rare to see a group of wolves around.

The alpha male among the wolf is a brutal and authoritarian individual [it's a wolf . ], but actually the other wolves tend to obey and to follow it without fighting. The alpha male has got the respect [based on fear] of the other wolves [actually it's an instinctive attitude for the animals, but human observers interpret in a human was, so . Machiavelli probably admired the kind of authority which existed among wolves].

Emperor Severus bases his exercise of power on a similar structural model, organizing in a military autocracy the Empire [like a very wide population of wolves . ].

He had no trouble in killing senators [29] to substitute them [in this was more lion that wolf, to be accurate].

He enlarged the power of the military officers [and he dismantled the Pretorian Guard reorganizing it as he liked].

Septimius Severus - History

[1765] During the early years of the reign of Septimius Severus the Christians enjoyed comparative peace, and Severus himself showed them considerable favor. Early in the third century a change set in, and in 202 the emperor issued an edict forbidding conversions to Christianity and to Judaism (Spartianus, in Severo, c. 16 cf. Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. III. p. 58). The cause of this radical change of conduct we do not know, but it is possible that the excesses of the Montanists produced a reaction in the emperor's mind against the Christians, or that the rapidity with which Christianity was spreading caused him to fear that the old Roman institutions would be overturned, and hence produced a reaction against it. Why the Jews, too, should have been attacked, it is hard to say,--possibly because of a new attempt on their part to throw off the Roman yoke (see Spartianus, in Severo, c. 16) or perhaps there underlay the whole movement a reaction in the emperor's mind toward the old Roman paganism (he was always superstitious), and Judaism and Christianity being looked upon as alike opposed to it, were alike to be held in check. The edict was aimed, not against those already Christians, but only against new converts, the idea being to prevent the further spread of Christianity. But the change in the emperor's attitude, thus published abroad, at once intensified all the elements which were hostile to Christianity and the popular disfavor, which continued widespread and was continually venting itself in local persecutions, now allowed itself freer rein, and the result was that severe persecutions broke out, which were confined, however, almost wholly to Egypt and North Africa. Our principal authorities for these persecutions (which went on intermittently, during the rest of Severus' reign) are the first twelve chapters of this book of Eusebius' History, and a number of Tertullian's works, especially his De corona milites, Ad Scap., and De fuga in persecutione.

Septimius Severus' Performance as Roman Emperor

Several posters seem to have enjoyed my threads about rating the famous ancient generals, so I figured I would start some similar threads about rulers.

Of course, a Roman emperor or any other ruler can be evaluated from many perspectives - some emperors may have been skilful adminstrators but mediocre generals, or vice versa. Others (like the man I've chosen here) may have been both of these things, but did not or do not enjoy a good reputation as individuals.

I've used the same poll I use for my "rate the general" threads, 1 - 10 stars, with 1 star implying a horrible emperor, and 10 stars implying an excellent emperor. Try to keep all facets of the emperor's career, personal behavior, and accomplishments in mind when voting.

Septimius Severus was born around 145 AD at Lepcis Magna in North Africa, the son of a Roman and an African. Intelligent and ambitious, Severus began his public career early, and held minor posts throughout the Empire. After serving as a quaestor in both Rome and Sardinia, Severus held legionary commands in Africa and Syria under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. During the reign of Commodus he acheived the consulate (190 AD) and became the governor of three provinces - Sicilia, Gallia Lugdunensis, and Pannonia inferior. He also married a well-born Syrian woman, Julia Domna, who bore him two sons - Bassianus and Geta.

In the anarchy following the deaths of Commodus and Pertinax, Severus famously marched on Rome at the head of the Danube legions. In 193 AD he entered Rome with his army - the first general to do so since the Year of Four Emperors. He disbanded the Praetorians, replacing them with centurions and veterans from his Danube legions and auxiliaries, and he also executed Didius Iulianus, the senator who famously bought the Empire at an auction held by the Senate.

Severus had two rivals to his claim - Decimus Clodius Albinus, governor of Britannia, and Lucius Pescennius Niger, governor of Syria. During his march on Italy Severus had declared Albinus his Caesar (junior emperor), and thus was able to avoid conflict with him for the time being. After securing his power in Rome itself, he focused on bringing the Eastern provinces under his control. In a series of brutal campaigns in 194 and 195, Severus defeated Niger's armies and finally killed him at Antioch. The bloodshed and carnage was the most intense to wrack the Roman world since the civil wars of the late Republic - but it made Severus' regime secure.

After a series of successful campaigns against Parthians, Arab tribesmen, and Mesopotamian peoples, Severus marched west and went against his co-emperor Albinus. The rivals fought an enormous battle at Lugdunum in 196 - in terms of the number of men involved, it was allegedly one of the largest battles ever fought in Roman history. Severus' army was broken, but Albinus' army became badly - fatally - disorganized whilst chasing them. Severus was able to rally his men who turned around and destroyed the pursuing soldiers of Albinus. Albinus commited suicide, and Severus became the undisputed master of the Roman world.

Severus was one of Rome's busiest and most far-traveled emperors, spending relatively little time in Rome except to hold a series of decadent celebrations c. 203 - 207. In 197 - 199 he campaigned against the Parthian Empire, inflicting vast damage on the Parthians and sacking and destroying their capital city of Ctesiphon. After returning from this war, he made one of his new legions - the II Parthica - part of the garrison of Italy. He was the first Roman emperor to permanently garrison soldiers besides the Praetorians in Italy.

Severus traveled throughout Africa, Egypt, and Syria, reforming the governments of these important provinces and bestowing many honors and favors on their cities - particularly his previously obscure hometown of Lepcis Magna, which became one of the great cities of Africa in the early 3rd Century.

In 207 the entire Severan family - Severus, Domna, and their murderously jealous sons - led an army against restless tribesmen in Britain. As in Severus' previous wars, an enormous number of people on both sides seem to have perished during what became four years of bitter, unrewarding warfare. Severus' health began to decline during his British campaign he became worried for the Empire, seeing that his elder son Bassianus "Caracalla" was unbalanced, hot-headed, and was prepared to murder anyone to acheive his ambitions. In 209 he declared Geta his Augustus, but this only bittered the hate between the brothers.

Severus died at Eburacum in February of 211. His sons sat at his bed as he died, and he allegedly told them to "honor the soldiers, and disregard everyone else". As soon as he was dead, Caracalla and Geta returned to Rome from Britain. Within a year Caracalla had murdered Geta, and was pursuing his father's dreams of Eastern conquest.

Severus left a mixed legacy. He was a brilliant man, a good organizer and administrator, and one of the finest military men of Imperial Rome. He and his entire family were obsessively loved by the soldiers the common people of the Empire and the Senate were at best more reserved in their opinions.

According to Christian tradition, he re-initiated persecution of the Christians (which had seldom, if ever taken place under the Antonines) the famous female martyr Perpetua allegedly perished before his eyes in the Colusseum.

Severus was a brutal man, if not bloodthirsty. His wars and battles were characterized by vast numbers of casualities on boths sides was also noted for his willingness to order mass executions, killing for example many prominent senators after his ascension.

He does appear to have been a very capable and efficient ruler - if a cold one. He founded a dynasty that remained (relatively) stable until the death of Severus Alexander in 235 AD. This Dynasty produced some of Rome's most colorful emperors, but few of much long-term worth.

So what is your evaluation of Imperator Lucius Septimius Severus Augustus?

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About Septimus Severus, Roman Emperor

Lucius Septimius Severus (11 April 145 – 4 February 211), commonly known as Septimius Severus or Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man, Severus advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of Emperor Pertinax in 193 during the Year of the Five Emperors. After deposing and killing the incumbent emperor Didius Julianus, Severus fought his rival claimants, the generals Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus. Niger was defeated in 194 at the Battle of Issus, and Albinus three years later at the Battle of Lugdunum.

After solidifying his rule, Severus waged a brief war against the Parthian Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 197. In 202 he campaigned in Africa against the Garamantes, briefly taking their capital Garama and expanding the southern frontier of the empire radically. Late in his reign he fought the Picts in Caledonia and strengthened Hadrian's Wall in Britain. Severus died in 211 at Eboracum, succeeded by his sons Caracalla and Geta. With the succession of his sons, Severus founded the Severan dynasty, the last dynasty of the empire before the Crisis of the Third Century.

Septimius Severus was born on 11 April 145 at Leptis Magna (in modern Libya), son of Publius Septimius Geta and Fulvia Pia.[1] Severus came from a wealthy, distinguished family of equestrian rank. He was of Italian Roman ancestry on his mother's side and of Punic or Libyan-Punic ancestry on his father's.[2] Severus' father was an obscure provincial who held no major political status, but he had two cousins, Publius Septimius Aper and Gaius Septimius Severus, who served as consuls under emperor Antoninus Pius. His mother's family had moved from Italy to North Africa and was of the Fulvius gens, an ancient and politically influential clan which was originally of plebeian status. Severus' siblings were an older brother, Publius Septimius Geta, and a younger sister, Septimia Octavilla. Severus’s maternal cousin was Praetorian prefect and consul Gaius Fulvius Plautianus.[2]

Septimius Severus was brought up at his home town of Leptis Magna. He spoke the local Punic language fluently but he was also educated in Latin and Greek, which he spoke with a slight accent. Little else is known of the young Severus' education but according to Cassius Dio, the boy had been eager for more education than he had actually got. Presumably, Severus received lessons in oratory, and at age 17, he gave his first public speech.[3]

Sometime around 162, Septimius Severus set out for Rome seeking a public career. By recommendation of his 'uncle', Gaius Septimius Severus, he was granted entry into the senatorial ranks by emperor Marcus Aurelius.[4] Membership of the senatorial order was a prerequisite to attain the standard succession of offices known as the cursus honorum, and to gain entry into the Roman Senate. Nevertheless, it appears that Severus' career during the 160s was beset with some difficulties. It is likely that he served as a vigintivir in Rome, overseeing road maintenance in or near the city, and he may have appeared in court as an advocate.[5] However, he omitted the military tribunate from the cursus honorum and was forced to delay his quaestorship until he had reached the required minimum age of 25.[5] To make matters worse, the Antonine Plague swept through the capital in 166. With his career at a halt, Severus decided to temporarily return to Leptis, where the climate was healthier.[6] According to the Historia Augusta, a usually unreliable source, he was prosecuted for adultery during this time but the case was ultimately dismissed. At the end of 169, Severus was of the required age to become a quaestor and journeyed back to Rome. On 5 December, he took office and was officially enrolled in the Roman Senate.[7]

Between 170 and 180 the activities of Septimius Severus went largely unrecorded, in spite of the fact that he occupied an impressive number of posts in quick succession. The Antonine Plague had severely thinned the senatorial ranks and with capable men now in short supply, Severus' career advanced more steadily than it otherwise might have. After his first term as quaestor, he was ordered to serve a second term at Baetica (southern Spain),[8] but circumstances prevented Severus from taking up the appointment. The sudden death of his father necessitated a return to Leptis Magna to settle family affairs. Before he was able to leave Africa, Moorish tribesmen invaded southern Spain. Control of the province was handed over to the emperor, while the Senate gained temporary control of Sardinia as compensation. Thus, Septimius Severus spent the remainder of his second term as quaestor on the island.[9] In 173, Severus' kinsman Gaius Septimius Severus was appointed proconsul of the Africa Province. The elder Severus chose his cousin as one of his two legati pro praetore.[10] Following the end of this term, Septimius Severus travelled back to Rome, taking up office as tribune of the plebs, with the distinction of being candidatus of the emperor.[11]

Septimius Severus was already in his early thirties at the time of his first marriage. In 175, he married a local woman from Leptis Magna named Paccia Marciana.[11] It is likely that he met her during his tenure as legate under his uncle. Marciana's name reveals that she was of Punic or Libyan origin but virtually nothing else is known of her. Septimius Severus does not mention her in his autobiography, though he later commemorated her with statues when he became emperor. The Historia Augusta claims that Marciana and Severus had two daughters but their existence is nowhere else attested. It appears that the marriage produced no children, despite lasting for more than ten years.[11]

Marciana died of natural causes around 186.[12] Septimius Severus was now in his forties and still childless. Eager to remarry, he began enquiring into the horoscopes of prospective brides. The Historia Augusta relates that he heard of a woman in Syria who had been foretold that she would marry a king, and therefore Severus sought her as his wife.[13] This woman was an Emesan noblewoman named Julia Domna. Her father, Julius Bassianus, descended from the royal house of Samsigeramus and Sohaemus, and served as a high priest to the local cult of the sun god Elagabal.[14] Domna's older sister was Julia Maesa, later grandmother to the future emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. Despite Bassianus' wealth and high status at Emesa, Cassius Dio records that his family was but of "plebeian rank".

Bassianus accepted Severus' marriage proposal in early 187, and the following summer he and Julia were married.[15] The marriage proved to be a happy one and Severus cherished his wife and her political opinions, since she was very well-read and keen on philosophy. Together, they had two sons, Lucius Septimius Bassianus (later nicknamed Caracalla, b. 4 April 188) and Publius Septimius Geta (b. 7 March 189).[15]

Assassination of Commodus

In 191 Severus received from the emperor Commodus the command of the legions in Pannonia.

The Year of the Five Emperors

On the murder of Pertinax by the Praetorian Guard in 193, Severus' troops proclaimed him Emperor at Carnuntum, whereupon he hurried to Italy. The former emperor, Didius Julianus, was condemned to death by the Senate and killed, and Severus took possession of Rome without opposition. He executed Pertinax's murderers and dismissed the rest of the Praetorian Guard, populating its ranks with loyal troops from his own legions.

The legions of Syria, however, had proclaimed Pescennius Niger emperor. At the same time, Severus felt it was reasonable to offer Clodius Albinus, the powerful governor of Britannia who had probably supported Didius against him, the rank of Caesar, which implied some claim to succession. With his rearguard safe, he moved to the East and crushed Niger's forces at the Battle of Issus. The following year was devoted to suppressing Mesopotamia and other Parthian vassals who had backed Niger. When afterwards Severus declared openly his son Caracalla as successor, Albinus was hailed emperor by his troops and moved to Gallia. Severus, after a short stay in Rome, moved northwards to meet him. On February 19, 197, in the Battle of Lugdunum, with an army of about 75,000 men, mostly composed of Illyrian, Moesian and Dacian legions, Severus defeated and killed Clodius Albinus, securing his full control over the Empire.

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