Chronology: 2nd Century AD


Figure 1.--This sculpture is Commodus as a youth. I have no details on the sculptor, but given Commodus' reputation, it must have been a contemporary work.

Rome during the 2nd century AD gets a series of competent rulers under whom the Empire prospered. These rulers are often referred to as the "five good emperors" (96-180 AD). The era is a return to the firm, competent rule that Augudstus embodied. These five emperors and the years of their rule are Nerva (96-98 AD), Trajan (98-117 AD), Hadrian (117-138 AD), Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). The Empire during this period stops expanding and consolidatesc its borderes. The economy prospers under peace and competent rule. The death of Marcus Aurelius begins what many historians believe is the beginning of the decline of the Empire. Beginning with Nerva, the eperors began choosing competent successors rather than their sons. Marcus Aurelius decided to revert to previous practice and designates his son Commodus who rules as an especially brutal tyrant. Commodus is killed in a conspiracy (192 AD). For the first time since the days of Ceasar, civil war broke out again. Septimus Severus emerges as the victor (193 AD) and rules as a military dictaor until his death (211 AD). This sets the pattern for the rest of the Empire's history. The days of Senatorial authority have long past. Rome is now ruled by the strongest military commander. In addition Barbarian uprisings become increasingly troublesome on the eastern border with Germany.

The Five Good Emperors (96-180 AD)

Rome during the 2nd century AD gets a series of competent rulers under whom the Empire prospered. These rulers are often referred to as the "five good emperors" (96-180 AD). The era is a return to the firm, competent rule that Augudstus embodied. These five emperors and the years of their rule are Nerva (96-98 AD), Trajan (98-117 AD), Hadrian (117-138 AD), Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). Trajan was an especially effective administrator. He expanded the borders with successful campaigns against the Davians and Parthians. This is, however, the last important expasion of territory achieved by the Empire. The Empire stops expanding and consolidates its borderes. Hadrian gives up some territory in the East and builds the wall across northern Britain. Antoninus Pius also ruled over a time of great prosperity and peace. The Roman economy prospers under peace and competent rule. The death of Marcus Aurelius begins what many historians believe is the beginning of the decline of the Empire. Beginning with Nerva, the emperors began choosing competent successors rather than their sons.

Commodus (180-192 AD)

Marcus Aurelius decided to revert to previous practice and designates his son Commodus as his successor. The bust here shows Commodus as a boy of about 12-13 years of age Figure 1). who rules as an especially brutal tyrant. He was profligate and licentious as well as deeply suspious of those arround him. Historians describe him as one of the most muderous tyrants in history. Commodus is killed in a conspiracy (192 AD). Film buffs will of course recognize Commodus as the villan in the popular film "The Gladiator".

Civil War

For the first time since the days of Ceasar, civil war broke out again. Septimus Severus emerges as the victor (193 AD) and rules as a military dictaor until his death (211 AD).

Miliary Rule

This sets the pattern for the rest of the Empire's history. The days of Senatorial authority have long past. Rome is now ruled by the strongest military commander. Since the days of Marius, the Senate or civilian control of the army had long past. Even so, the Senate even after Augustus becomes emperor remains an important institution and some emperors tried to reserect its role in government. After Marcus Aurelius, however, the Senate becomes an institution of little real importance. Roman history vecomes a contest between cimopetuing mikitary commanders.

Barbaraians

Barbarian uprisings during the reign of Marcus Aurelius become increasingly troublesome on the eastern border with Germany.

Literature

Despite the economic prosperity of the 2nd century, Roman literature never rivals the Golden era of the Ciceronian and Augustan writers.

Religion


Clothing

We have developed some information on Roman children's clothing, we do not at this time have any details as to stylistic changes over time. as far as we can tell, Children's clothing was remarably unchanged during the Roman era.

Sources









HBC





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Created: August 16, 2003
Last updated: August 16, 2003