Rome was one of the most powerful empires in the world for centuries. Its influence is still felt today, and many of its customs are still celebrated. But who were the best Roman emperors? And why were they so successful? Here are 5 of the best Roman emperors:
1. Augustus 63 BC – 14 AD
Caesar Augustus, also known as Octavian is considered by many to be one of the best Roman emperors. He founded the Roman Empire in 27 BC and was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar. Augustus was a skilled military leader and conquered many lands for the empire. He also ushered in a period of relative peace and prosperity, known as the Pax Romana.
Under Augustus, the arts and sciences flourished. Additionally, he helped establish many of the institutions that would define Roman society for centuries. While Augustus was not without his flaws, his reign was one of the most successful in Rome’s history.
2. Trajan 98 – 117 AD
Marcus Ulpius Trajanus ruled from 98-117 AD and conquered Dacia, which expanded the empire. Not only did he expand the empire, but he also improved infrastructures such as building roads and bridges. He also reduced corruption and increased wages for soldiers. all of which made him a very popular emperor.
However, he is most known for his victory over the Dacians and his column, which celebrates his military triumphs. The Column of Trajan is an excellent example of Roman engineering and art and is one of the most iconic monuments in Rome. It is clear that Trajan was a great emperor who made many contributions to the Roman Empire.
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3. Hadrian 117 – 138 AD
Publius Aelius Hadrianus is one of the best-known Roman emperors, in large part due to the legacy of his most famous project: the construction of a wall across Britain to mark the empire’s northern boundary. But Hadrian was much more than just a builder; he was a man of great learning and curiosity, with a deep interest in Greek philosophy. He was also an accomplished warrior, leading the Roman armies to victory against barbarian tribes in Europe and Asia.
In many ways, Hadrian personifies the best of what the Roman Empire had to offer: a love of learning, a commitment to justice, and a willingness to defend the empire against all enemies. For these reasons, he remains one of the most revered figures in Roman history.
4. Marcus Aurelius 161 – 180 AD
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, more commonly known as Marcus Aurelius was born in 121 AD and died in 180 AD. He was the last of the Five Good Emperors. Marcus Aurelius was a stoic philosopher and his reign was marked by tolerance for free speech, even when it was critical of him. He ruled alongside Lucius Verus for the first eight years of his reign. The less academic Lucius took a lead in military matters while Marcus Aurelius focused on governing the empire.
Under their rule, the empire reached its peak. After Lucius Verus died, Marcus Aurelius continued to rule alone and successfully subdued several rebellions. He also dealt with a Plague that killed millions of people in the empire. Despite all these challenges, Marcus Aurelius is considered one of the best Roman Emperors.
5. Aurelian 270 – 275 AD
Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus, more commonly known as Aurelian, is often considered to be one of the best Roman emperors. He ruled for just a short time, but during that time he managed to restore the Empire’s lost provinces and help end the Crisis of the Third Century.
Aurelian was a commoner, earning his power by rising through the military ranks. At a time when the Empire was in desperate need of a good soldier, Aurelian’s message of “concord with the soldiers” made his intentions clear. He started off by removing the barbarians from Italy and then Roman territory as soon as he took power. After conquering the Goths in the Balkans, he made the decision to no longer defend Dacia.
Aurelian’s military successes were matched by his political acumen. He was a strong ruler who valued order and stability. Under his rule, the Empire flourished and slowly began to recover from the crisis that had gripped it for so long. For these reasons, Aurelian is rightly considered to be one of the best Roman emperors.
While there are other emperors that could have been included in this list, the five men discussed here represent some of the best that Rome had to offer. Each of them left a lasting legacy that shaped the Roman Empire over the centuries. As we look back on their accomplishments, we can learn from their example and be inspired by their greatness.