Antoninus Pius: The Good Emperor

Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius early life, death


This article is meant to be a brief introduction to the life of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, Including Antoninus Pius’s early life, his reign as Emperor, his character, personal life, and death. We will also discuss the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.

Antoninus Pius’s Early Life

Antoninus was born in the year 86 CE during Emperor Hadrian’s reign. At his birth, he was given the name “Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus.” His family was a part of the Aurelian family, which was a plebian family. However, they had been a family of influence since the 3rd century BCE during the Roman Republic. Many of his family members held important roles such as consul.

His family’s lineage originates from southern Gaul. Growing up, he was first taken care of by his paternal grandfather and later by his maternal grandfather. Being raised by multiple grandparents made Antoninus quite wealthy due to his amount of inheritance.


Decision and Character

Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius was known for his exceptional character and dedication to his duties as an emperor. He was seen as a conscientious and capable leader, focused on fulfilling his responsibilities rather than leading a life of corruption. Throughout his reign, he displayed a strong sense of duty and was regarded as a great administrator for the empire. Antoninus Pius left a significant surplus of gold and silver, demonstrating his financial prudence and commitment to the well-being of the empire. His character and devotion to his role as emperor made him one of the esteemed Five Good Emperors in Roman history.

As he started his journey on a senate career, he was seen as quite capable because of his time as a quaestor and praetor. He had excellent skill and success compared to those who came before him. Due to his hard work, in 120 CE, he became consul of Rome. Contemporary historians have said that as Antoninus gained more responsibility and power, he seemed to become more focused on his duty rather than the norm of “leading a life of corruption.”


Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius

Antoninus became the emperor of Rome on the 11th of July, 138 CE, and ruled until the 7th of March, 161 CE. Antoninus Pius, during his reign, saw no military combat. He never led any army or engaged in military campaigns. Even still, he was considered a great administrator for the empire.

He left one of the most significant surpluses of gold and silver, equaling 2.7 billion sesterces. This wasn’t repeated till much later in the empire. He was also known as a builder. During his reign, he increased the overall access to free drinking water for the less fortunate citizens of Rome. He accomplished this by expanding the infrastructure around the water supply, which allowed it to reach much farther.


Personal Life

It is believed that sometime between 110 CE and 115 CE, Antoninus married Faustina the Elder. During their marriage, they had four children together. Two boys and two girls. All three, except one, would die before the year 138 CE. The one surviving daughter we know today as Faustina the Younger, a future empress of Rome.

In 141 CE, Antoninus Pius’s wife, Faustina the Elder, passed away. During this time, Antoninus was greatly distressed. He ended up asking the senate to deify her, which led to the Temple of Faustina being built. He also had coins with her name and portrait on them minted.


The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

The Temple of Faustina was founded in 141 CE following the death of his wife. This building made Faustina the first empress with such representation in the Forum Romanum.

After Antoninus Pius passed away, It was dedicated to both of them in 161 CE. Its name was changed to The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina.

During some time in the 7th century CE (assumed timeline), it was changed to a catholic church. Which would be known as “Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Miranda.”

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Roman Forum, Rome, Italy

Antoninus Pius Death

At the age of 70, his health started to decline. He would live for another 4 years before passing away on the 7th of March 161 CE. There is a story that he was at his family’s estate in Lorium two days before his death. There it is believed he overate Alpine Gruyere cheese. Throughout the night, he would continually wake up to vomit.

The next day he developed a fever and later passed away. Antoninus Pius’s death would mark the longest reign since Augustus. Contemporary historians marked Antoninus Pius’s funeral as “elaborate.” However, his funeral was similar to past emperors since he would be incinerated on a pyre.


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 a Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius denarius is currently in stock.

Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius early life and death
Roman Denarius from the reign of Antoninus Pius. The Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius denarius displays his portrait.

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