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Roman Empire Timeline

  • 100 BCE

    Birth of Gaius Julius Caesar

    Gaius Juilius Caesar was born in Rome, Italy to mother Aurelia Cotta and father Gaius Julius Caesar on July 13, 100 BCE.
  • 60 BCE

    First Triumverate

    Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus formed the first triumvirate. This political alliance was meant to consolidate their power against the elite senate by working together to assure Caesar's rise to power. Julius seals this trio by marrying his daughter, Juilia, to Pompey. It ultimately ended with Crassus' death in 53 BCE in the Battle of Carrhae.
  • Period: 49 BCE to 46 BCE

    Caesar's Civil War

    Julius Caesar, denying a senatorial order to disband his troops, crossed the Rubicon with troops into Rome, and thus began a second major Roman Civil War.
  • Period: 48 BCE to 44 BCE

    Emperor Julius Caesar

    Julius Caesar rose to power by declaring war on the state of Rome after he was ordered to leave his army and enter the state unarmed. When the leaders of Rome saw that Caesar was attacking, they fled, leaving Julius to enter an abandoned city, of which he then declared himself dictator. Caesar's met death, on the other hand, by the actions of the Roman senate, who assassinated him due to the threat of his power.
  • 44 BCE

    Julius Caesar's Assassination

    The Senate stabs Julius Caesar to death next to Pompey's theater.
  • Period: 44 BCE to 14

    Emperor Octavian Augustus Caesar

    Augustus rose to power to succeed Julius Caesar, who had been not only his great-uncle, but also his adoptive father. Augusts took over rule of Rome at only 18, against the advice of his stepfather and others who felt he was unprepared to lead. Augusts was a greatly loved emperor, and upon his death was declared divine.
  • 31 BCE

    (Battle of Actium) Augustus Becomes Sole Ruler

    With Marc Antony and Lepidus virtually powerless, Octavian Augustus Caesar wielded full power over the Roman Empire.
  • 19 BCE

    Publication of the Aeneid

    Vergil had written the Aeneid from c. 30 BC - 19BC, when he died in Brundisium, leaving his work unfinished. Friends of the writer compiled his works, publishing the Aeneid soon after, which was accepted as a Roman work of art and used in Roman schools almost immediately.
  • 12 BCE

    Augustus Forces Tiberius to Marry Julia

    After forcing Tiberius to divorce his one true love, Vipsania Agrippina, Augustus also forced Tiberius to marry Augustus' sister, Julia, because he wanted his to marry someone powerful. Moreover, Augustus forbade Tiberius from even seeing Vipsania after Tiberius ran after her, weeping, during a battle.
  • 6 BCE

    The Birth of Jesus Christ

    Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem to parents Mary and Joseph.
  • 14

    Gaius Caesar Germanicus is Nicknamed "Caligula"

    From 14 to 17 he joined his father Germanicus in the Rhineland, and sported a smaller version of battle boots. For this reason, soldiers call him "Caligula" or "little boots." According to some sources, he loathed this nickname.
  • Period: 14 to 37

    Emperor TIBERIUS Claudius Nero

    Tiberius rose to power after being chosen by Augustus. During his childhood, it was uncertain whether he or one of his two brothers would be the successor of Rome, and so all three were trained and prepared for the role. Tiberius's rule ended in 37 when he injured his shoulder throwing a javelin at a Roman event. Following the injury, he fell very ill and eventually fell into a coma, leaving Caligula as his adopted son and heir.
  • 25

    Tiberius Expands Treason Laws

    Tiberius used the Treason Laws to attack his enemies and counteract his slim support in the senate.
  • 30

    The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

    Jesus of Nazareth is crucified under Ponticus Pilate, a prefect of Rome, in Jerusalem at Golgotha on account of blasphemy. This occurred during the rule of Tiberius.
  • 37

    Caligula Falls Ill

    In October of 37, Caligula contracted a mysterious illness. While it is disputed whether this illness or the culmination of taxing life events caused his generally agreed upon mental instability, there is a consensus that his notorious cruelty was not unfounded. Between 31 and 37 AD his two brothers and his mother experienced demotion and violent death. In 37, he not only fell ill but also became emperor, thus thrust into a position of boundless power with minimal experience.
  • Period: 37 to 41

    Emperor CALIGULA Gaius Caesar Germanicus

    Caligula rose to power following Tiberius's reign, and his relatively short rule was marked by cruelty and a pretension to be declared divine. Caligula was eventually murdered in 41 AD, along with his wife and daughter, by officers of the Praetorian Guard, who were led by Cassius Chaerea. The stabbing of Caligula led to his successor Claudius taking power, although Caligula's murderers had hoped it would lead to the establishment of the Roman Republic.
  • Period: 41 to 54

    Emperor Tiberius CLAUDIUS Nero Germanicus

    Claudius came to power unexpectedly, as he was made emperor by the Praetorian guards in 41 AD, after Caligula was found dead following his assassination. His reign consisted of increasing the emperor's power over treasury and changing certain other laws, such as that which would have prevented him from marrying his niece, Agrippina. Claudius also created a cabinet which consisted of freedmen who could superintend administrative branches. Claudius was poisoned by Agrippina, thus ending his rule.
  • 43

    Second Triumvirate

    This political alliance among Marc Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian formed to avenge the assassination of Julius Caesar. However, once they fulfilled this goal by killing Brutus and Cassius in the battle of Philippi, there was little uniting them. Lepidus was left out of the renewal coalition in 37 BCE, and Octavian's forces ultimately defeated Antony's forces in the battle of Actium, after which Antony killed himself.
  • 43

    Claudius' Invasion of Britain

    The summer of 43 marked the beginning of the decades long, four-legion invasion of Britain, initiated by Claudius, which secured nearly the entire island for the Roman Empire. Claudius triumphantly returned to Rome in 44 AD having affirmed his military credentials.
  • 48

    Death of Valeria Messalina, Wife of Claudius with Political Prowess

    Messalina had impressive lineage and familial connections, married Claudius in 38 AD, and bore a daughter, Octavia, and son, Britannicus. She held significant political power and frequented parties. At a party attended in 48 AD while Claudius was in Ostia, she and C. Silius performed a marriage. This performance led to the freedman-coordinated demise of those involved. This act prompted by Messalina and initiated by freedmen suggests that the emperor's power was among his close confidants.
  • Period: 54 to 68

    Emperor NERO Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

    Nero succeeded Claudius, who had been forced by his wife/niece, Agrippina the younger, to adopt Nero as his son. Burrus and Seneca advised Nero and suppressed Agrippina who had hoped to be powerful during Nero's rule. Nero began his rule well, recalling some of Claudius's harmful laws, allowing slaves to testify against their owners, and more. Yet his reputation quickly fell as he became tyrannical, killed many and eventually killed himself during a revolt, ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
  • 59

    Murder of Agrippina the Younger, Ordered by Son Nero

    Agrippina often reminded Nero that he was indebted to her, as she appointed him to power. But his advisers often opposed Agrippina, and Poppaea effectively urged Nero to murder Agrippina. He put her on a ship to sink. As the ship sank, one of her servants claimed to be her and was clubbed to death. Realizing her fate, Agrippina swam ashore and wrote Nero that she was fine. He then ordered sailors to club her to death, and as they did so, she implored them to club her womb, from whence Nero came.
  • 64

    The Great Fire of Rome

    The great fire of Rome began in shops at the Circus Maximus, and spread quickly as winds blew the fire to other areas of the city, which was mostly constructed of wood. Certain theories state that Nero himself plotted to cause the fire, sending out his men to spread the flames, so that he could rebuild Rome and create many magnificent buildings under his name.
  • 64

    Nero Persecutes Christians

    Following the Great Fire of Rome, Nero was widely blamed with starting the fire for his own amusement and thus sought to deflect blame onto someone else, and the poor Christians of Rome were a convenient scapegoat. He blamed them for the devastating fire and ordered the arrest of a few Christians. Under torture, these Christians falsely admitted to Christians being the cause of the fire, and Nero used this false testimony to brutally arrest, torture, and kill Christians for entertainment.
  • Period: 68 to 69

    Servius GALBA Caesar Augustus / Marcus OTHO Caesar Augustus / Aulus VITELLIUS

    In 68 AD, after the death of Nero, there was a year of 4 emperors in which Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian all fought for power. This year saw many short-lived emperors, beginning with Galba, who was murdered by a guard for failing to keep promises to those who had put him in power; Otho was also involved in this assassination. Emperor Otho succeed Galba, but soon after committed suicide as Vitellius's army approached. Vitellius also did not rule for long, and was murdered by Vespasian.
  • 69

    Mutiny Against Galba

    Two legions in Germania Superior toppled Galba's statues and refused to declare loyalty to him, calling for a new emperor. This brought awareness of his unpopularity to Galba. A short time later, soldiers of Germania Inferior expressed their discontent and declared Vitellus, governor of their province, emperor.
  • 69

    Ortho's Suicide

    Ortho failed an offensive against Vitellius in the Rhineland and was overwhelmed by the bloodshed in the Battle of Bedriacum. After ruling just three months at age 37, Ortho killed himself on April 16, 69 by stabbing a dagger, hidden beneath his pillow, through his heart.
  • Period: 69 to 79

    Emperor VESPASIAN Titus Flavius Vespasianus Caesar

    Vespasian was the final emperor in the "Year of four emperors" and he established the Flavian Dynasty. Vespasian had two sons, Titus and Domitian, as well as a daughter who was also later deified. Vespasian died a natural death from illness, and as he died, proclaimed "Vae, put deus fio" (oh dear, I think I am becoming a god).
  • 70

    Jerusalem Taken by Titus

    Titus proved his military might in his Judean campaign as he effectively overtook Jerusalem. He desecrated the temple there and was hailed as imperator by the fighting troops. This victory added to the breadth of the empire and contributed to Titus' ascension to emperor.
  • 71

    Vespasian promotes Education, Arts, Science, and Business

    Vespasian exempted all doctors and teachers of grammar and rhetoric from paying taxes in the same year that he instituted the first publicly financed professor, Quintilian, whom he named chair of literature and rhetoric. Moreover, he created a new social class of mostly business members, a class of professional civil servants.
  • 79

    The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius

    Mt. Vesuvius erupts violently, covering the nearby city of Pompeii in a thick layer of volcanic ash and claiming the lives of about 2,000 people.
  • 79

    Vespasian Makes Son Titus Associate

    Once Titus returned from Palestine, Vespasian granted him the title "Caesar" and made him commander of the imperial guard. These actions played a major role in Titus' eventual rise to emperor status.
  • Period: 79 to 81

    Emperor TITUS Caesar Vespasianus

    Emperor Titus was the second ruler in the Flavian Dynasty line. After Nero committed suicide in 68 AD, Titus played a large role in supporting his father's rise to the throne. Thus, after Vespasian's death, Titus inherited the role as emperor. Titus had been given military leadership positions by his father as a child, and so rose to the throne with experience. Titus had a successful and popular rule, but it was cut short by an unexpected death at 41, thought to have been quickened by Domitian.
  • 80

    Powerful Imperial Purse Builds Roman Empire under Titus

    Titus sought to assert the legitimacy of the Flavian dynasty following the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and funding major building projects accounted for much of the concrete actions to legitimize the transfer of power. He funded the Flavian Amphitheater (Colosseum), south-eastern imperial baths, the Arch of Titus, Italian and provincial roads, and relief & recovery surrounding Vesuvius.
  • Period: 81 to 96

    Emperor DOMITIAN Caesar Domitianus Germanicus Augustus

    Domitian was the second son of Vespasian, and therefore he took over the throne after his older brother Titus died in 81. Domitian's reign was marked with multiple negative events, such as unsuccessful military attempts, unjust confiscation of land from Roman peoples, cruel treatment of philosophers, infamous conspiracies, and more. One such conspiracy was that which was led by two praetorian perfects, and caused his murder in 96 AD. Domitian was the last emperor of the Flavian Dyanasty.
  • 85

    Domitian Makes Himself Censor Perpetuus (Censor for Life)

    Domitian unprecedentedly declares himself the censor for life, which entailed overseeing of public morals and conduct. This action closely corresponded to his autocratic-like rule and devotion to Roman pagan religion and may have contributed to his disputed persecution of Jews and Christians.
  • 86

    Domitian Initiates War Against Dacians

    Domitian disliked expansionist sentiments but was willed to defend actions of a Roman governor in the Danube. After enjoying initial, fleeting success, the Roman Empires ultimately lost this war against the Dacian Kingdom.
  • 96

    Nerva's Immediate Changes to the Role of Emperor

    Nerva made a few immediate yet significant changes upon taking office. He swore before the senate that he would withhold from executing senators, released those imprisoned by Domitian, and called back exiles not guilty of serious crimes. Yet he allowed the practice of prosecutions by the senate. These changes were pivotal.
  • Period: 96 to 98

    Emperor NERVA Nerva Germanicus Caesar Augustus

    Emperor Nerva took control of the empire following the death of Domitian, and began the succession of the Five Good Emperors. Nerva was a distant relative of the Julio-Claudia Dynasty through marriage, and had already had much political experience as consul when he rose to power. Nerva made positive reforms which recalled some of the tyrannical acts of Domitian, and he also instituted a land reform. Nerva secured his succession by adopting Trajan, who became emperor after Nerva's death in 98 AD.
  • 98

    Nerva's Few Public Works

    Because he had such a brief reign, Nerva contributed fewer public works than previous and subsequent emperors. He built the Forum Transitorium, later known as the Forum of Nerva, connecting Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Peace. Additionally, he built granaries and roads as well as repaired the Colosseum post-Tiber River flood.
  • Period: 98 to 117

    Emperor TRAJAN Caesar Nerva Trajanus Augustus

    Trajan was the adopted son of Nerva, and continued the line of the Five Good Emperors. As leader of Rome Trajan dealt respectfully and with consideration towards the Senate, increased amount of poor Romans who received free grain from the government, reduced taxes, and established public funds to aid poor children in Italy. Trajan's reign ended with his death off the coast of Asia Minor in 117; before he passed away, he announced his adoption of Hadrian, who would succeed him.
  • 102

    Trajan Becomes Notorious Soldier-Emperor

    Trajan was one of the first Roman military figures to find prolonged success in conquering Dacia. His first Dacian success was in 102 AD, officially began the Second Dacian War in 105 AD, and had his second Dacian success in 107 AD. Moreover, he conquered the Asian kingdom of Parthia and created the Roman provinces of Armenia and Mesopotamia. These areas conquered were bountiful lands of wealth.
  • 109

    Trajan's Infrastructure Contributions

    Trajan vastly contributed to the infrastructure of the Roman Empire. He completed a majority of the imperial fora, which included the Markets of Trajan, annona headquarters, one of the first huge imperial baths, and a new aqueduct. Additionally, he improved harbors, particularly the new octagonal Ostia harbor. Most notable in modern day is his bridge over the Danube River, which still stands and is in use.
  • Period: 117 to 138

    Emperor Hadrian

    Hadrian was the third of the Five Good Emperors, and succeeded Trajan as his cousin and adopted son. Hadrian experienced great success as a leader, and his reign was marked with a peace that was compared to that which occurred under Augustus during the Pax Romana. Hadrian traveled vastly during his rule, and it was on one of these trips that he became very ill. Hadrian's final trip abroad was to Judaea, to resolve some tensions, but he fell ill and died a painfully slow death in 138 AD.
  • 122

    Construction of Hadrian's Wall

    Hadrian's Wall exemplifies his concept of "peace through strength." Construction of this wall running through northern Britain signified the border and immense power of the Roman Empire. The wall itself was between 16 and 20 feet high, but it's important to acknowledge that this boarder was more than just an intimidating wall. It was surrounded by fortifications and a parallel Vallum for security. Parts of the wall still exist today.
  • 134

    Jerusalem Intervention: Hadrian Strays From Peaceful Policy

    In Judea, Jews were in an open revolt likely due to the criminalization of circumcision and castration. He quelled this revolt by proxy and then built a temple to Jupiter in place of a Jewish temple of Solomon.
  • 138

    Antonius earns himself the surname "Pius"

    When Antonius took power and became the emperor, he quickly worked to convince the Senate to bestow divine honors onto the emperor he had succeeded, Hadrian. It is thought that this action caused him to be given the last name Pius.
  • Period: 138 to 161

    Emperor Antonius Pius

    Antonius Pius succeeded Hadrian, and came from a powerful family which consisted of many previous consuls. Antonius himself had been assigned projects by emperor Hadrian, such as governing the Asian province and even serving as his advisor before he was adopted by Hadrian. Some of Antonius's acts as emperor were founding a charitable organization for the daughters of the poor and extending the Roman frontier. When Antonius died Marcus Aurelius took over, as had been ordered by the late Hadrian.
  • 142

    The Antonine Wall is built

    Under Antonius Pius's rule, the Antonine Wall, a 36.5 mile barrier, was constructed. This was was in Britain and stretched across Scotland, north of Hadrian's wall, and served to extend the Roman frontier. The wall was about 4.5 meters wide, 10 feet tall, and about 20 camps surrounding the wall were used by Roman soldiers.
  • 161

    Syria is attacked by the Parthians, leading to war and other repercussions

    After the Parthians invaded Syria, a war ensued between the years 162 and 166 AD. This war is defined as being under Lucius Verus's control, Aurelius's coemperor. The war was successful for the Romans, as it resulted in victory over Armenia and Mesopotamia. However, when armies returned from battle, they brought back a plague which infected many, spreading throughout the Roman empire for years afterwards. This plague weakened morale and the feeling that the state of Rome was all-powerful.
  • Period: 161 to 180

    Emperor Marcus Aurelius

    Marcus Aurelius was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and much like previous emperors before him, he was born into a political family; his grandfather was a consul and prefect of Rome. Aurelius ordered that his adoptive brother be made his coemperor, an unprecedented act in Roman leadership. Aurelius focused on law, revising it towards fairness, particularly for the disadvantaged. Aurelius left power to his son Commodus, but he was not well received nor considered one of the Good Emperors.
  • 177

    Killing of Christians at Lyon (Modern-day France)

    Under Marcus Aurelius's reign, there was no intentional, systematic persecution of Christians. However, the status of a Christian person was not high, and although they were not deliberately sought out for persecution, many despised Christians and they were often blamed when the state did not prosper. At Lyon in 177, Christians were martyred as a result of a public demand, in which governors felt forced to respond with the killing of these despised individuals.