Trajan: Rome’s Greatest Emperor?

Roman Emperor Trajans early life, death romes greatest emperor


This article will focus on the Roman Emperor Trajan. Also known as one of Rome’s most extraordinary Emperors. We will cover Trajan’s early life, his time as emperor, his character, and his death. Trajan was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 98 CE until 117 CE. Remembered as a soldier emperor, Trajan would lead Rome to what many historians call the pinnacle of Roman society.

Early Life

He was born in 53 CE, while others think it might have been 56 CE. At his birth, he was given the name Marcus Ulpius Trajan. Unfortunately, very little information has survived to describe Trajan’s early life. We do know that he was born in the roman province of Hispania Baetica. This would make Trajan the first Roman Emperor born outside of Italy.

During Trajan’s early life he was given a fairly standard education for the time. Its thought that during his early life he moved around the Roman empire a lot.

As he got older, he showed a strong preference for military activities. This would translate well into his later Military Career.


Roman Emperor Trajan

Trajan would become emperor in 98 CE, he was 44 years old at the time. However, Roman Emperor Trajan wouldn’t enter Rome for the first time as emperor until the year 99 CE. Throughout his reign, he ruled by being a role model for the average Roman citizen. He would eventually receive the nickname “Optimus Princeps.”

This title occasionally appears on coins minted during his reign from the year 105 CE and forward. This opinion has survived all of the future emperors and the past 2000 years. He is also known as the 2nd of the five good emperors.

Decision and Character

He was known as an emperor who erected many buildings during his reign. Many of the buildings he would pay to have constructed, were completed, then given away as charity. Trajan also spent freely on amusements including a “massive reconstruction” of the Circus Maximus

It is noted during many military campaigns, he would go through the same hardships as his soldiers. One example is how he would walk on foot alongside his soldiers.

He would also assist in building ramparts and other essential buildings that would be made while on a campaign.


Rome’s Greatest Emperor

Due to his just and fair ways, Trajan has gone down as one of Rome’s greatest Emperors. He accomplished a lot of good for the Empire and lead Rome to grow to an impressive size. During his reign, he ended up lowering the percentage of silver in the Roman denarius from 93.5% down to 89%

He did this to create what today we would call a welfare program. He inflated the money supply to afford this but offset it by removing poor-quality coins from Nero’s reign and earlier.

As stated before Trajan created the “alimenta” which was a type of welfare program. It provided subsidized education, food, and cash for those in need.

Roman Emperor Trajan
Statue of Emperor Trajan in the Trajan’s Market in via dei fori imperiali, Rome Italy.

Military Career

One of Trajan’s most significant accomplishments was his conquering of Dacia. During his first campaign into Dacia, he suffered heavy losses but nonetheless end up with a victory that suited Rome.

Through his various military campaigns, Trajan managed to bring the empire to its most significant size and influence. His last campaign was in 113 CE which would be an invasion of Parthia.

Trajan’s Downfall and Death

In 117 CE, Roman Emperor Trajan suffered a stroke. Once Trajan’s health started to fail they quickly set sail for Italy. He eventually would reach Selinus, where he would pass away. As far as the deaths of emperors in ancient Rome, Trajan’s death is indeed a sad one but a much less tragic death when compared to early and later contemporary Roman Emperors.

Ancient historians have a fairly unanimous opinion that he was a good emperor. Cassius Dio has been noted in writing that he was a good and fair emperor.

Trajan would go down as one of Rome’s best emperors, next to the likes of other emperors such as Marcus Aurelius.


Roman Denarius

Each coin has a unique history attached to it. Coin collectors love the Roman Denarius. We carry Roman Denarius from various periods in the Roman Republic/Empire. Click the link below to see if we have a Roman Emperor Trajan denarius currently in stock.

This Denarius displays the portrait of Roman Emperor Trajan

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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