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Fri, 04.26.2013

Septimius Severus, African Ruler of Rome

Septimius Severus

*The birth of Septimius Severus in 145 A.D. is celebrated on this date. He was a non-white North African General and Ruler of the Roman Empire.

From Leptis Magna in Tripolitinia, near the modern day city of Al Khums in Libya, Some scholars claim that he was a Berber, and others claim that he was Punic. Severus reigned as emperor from 193 to 211. His father was Publius Septimus Geta and his mother was Fulvia Pia. Both his mother and father descended from members of successful equestrian families who had strong political ties.

Little is known about his early background or career, but Severus became quaestor of Rome around 169 A.D. Shortly after becoming quaestor he married Paccia Marciana his first wife of 10 years, she was African as well; a few years later she died, childless. After her death he married Julia Domna, from a prominent Syrian family. They had two sons, who later became Caesars themselves.

Severus became the tribune of plebs in 174, and then praetor (early law professions) in 177. In 179 he went to Syria to serve as legal representative. Shortly after he was in office he was removed. A major turning point occurred in 184 A.D. when he became an imperial favorite. Commodus (Ruler) appointed him as post governor of Gallia, under Lugdenensis. A year later Commodus promoted him, making him governor of Sicily.  Severus remarried to Julia Domna, a Syrian noble woman. Julia gave birth to his two sons Caracalla in 188 and Geta in 189.

In 190 Severus became consul of Rome. Then in 192, Commodus was assassinated and Pertinax succeeded him. The Praetorian Guard later killed Pertinax, because they did not agree with his visions for Rome. Then the guard auctioned off the emperor ship to Didius Julianus This greatly angered Severus and many others who supported him.  Out of his anger and with support from his army he accepted his soldier’s salutatio and began to march towards Rome. He overcame all opposition, and in 193, seized control of Rome. Septimius Severus died in 211 A.D.

Reference: Edward E. Tarver, Ph.D.


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