|19 September 86, Lanuvium, Italy
|7 March 161 (aged 74), Lorium, Italy
|Annia Galeria Faustina
|Titus Aurelius Fulvus (natural)
Vibia Sabina (adoptive)
Antoninus Pius headed the Roman Empire from 138-161 AD; his reign is distinguished from the other rulers of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty owing to how peaceful it was..
Antoninus Pius was the Roman emperor from 138 to 161 CE. He is regarded as one of the “five good emperors” in the Nerva-Antonine dynasty and the Aurelii, who guided the empire through a period of internal peace and prosperity. In this blog post, we will explore his life, achievements and legacy.
Antoninus Pius was born on September 19, 86 CE, near Lanuvium, a town in Latium, Italy. His original name was Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus. His father was a senator and a consul, and his family originated from Gaul. He had a distinguished career in public service, holding various offices under Emperor Hadrian, such as consul, governor of Asia and adviser.
In 138 CE, Hadrian adopted Antoninus as his son and successor, on the condition that he would adopt two young men as his own heirs: Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Antoninus agreed and became emperor after Hadrian’s death on July 10, 138 CE. He took the name Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius and earned the title Pius (meaning “dutiful”) for persuading the Senate to grant divine honors to Hadrian.
Antoninus Pius was a mild-mannered and capable ruler, who maintained good relations with the Senate, the army and the provinces. He did not embark on any major wars or conquests, but rather focused on consolidating and administering the existing empire. He improved the infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and aqueducts, and promoted legal reforms, education and welfare. He also supported art and culture, patronizing poets, historians and philosophers.
One of his notable achievements was the construction of the Antonine Wall in Britain, which extended the Roman frontier about 100 miles north of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall was built between 142 and 144 CE by his governor Lollius Urbicus and was meant to protect the province from the northern tribes. However, it was abandoned after Antoninus’ death and never fully completed.
Antoninus Pius was married to Faustina the Elder, Hadrian’s niece, who died in 140 or 141 CE. He had four children with her: two sons who died young and two daughters, Faustina the Younger and Annia Galeria Aurelia Fadilla. He was devoted to his wife and founded a charity for poor girls in her memory. He also arranged the marriage of his daughter Faustina to his adopted son Marcus Aurelius in 145 CE.
Antoninus Pius died of illness on March 7, 161 CE, at his villa in Lorium, Etruria. He was 74 years old and had reigned for almost 23 years. He was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus as co-emperors. He was buried in Hadrian’s Mausoleum (now Castel Sant’Angelo) in Rome and deified by the Senate.
Antoninus Pius is remembered as one of the best emperors in Roman history, who presided over a peaceful and prosperous era. He was praised by contemporary writers such as Aelius Aristides and later historians such as Edward Gibbon for his wisdom, justice and benevolence. He left behind a large surplus in the treasury, a stable empire and a lasting legacy.