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Lucius Septimius Bassianus[1] (April 4, 188 – April 8, 217), commonly known as Caracalla, was Roman emperor from 209 to 217.[2] The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211. Caracalla is remembered as one of the most notorious emperors because of the massacres and persecutions he authorized throughout the empire.[3]

Caracalla's reign was also notable for the Constitutio Antoniniana, granting Roman citizenship to all freemen throughout the Roman Empire, according to historian Cassius Dio in order to increase taxation. He then had the silver content in Roman coinage reduced by 25 percent in order to increase the pay of the legions. He also ordered the construction of a large thermae outside Rome, the remains of which, known as the Baths of Caracalla, can still be seen today.


Early life


Caracalla, of mixed PunicRomanBerber[4][5] and Syrian descent,[6][7][8] was born Lucius Septimius Bassianus in Lugdunum, Gaul (now Lyon, France), the son of the later Emperor Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. At the age of seven, his name was changed to Marcus Aurelius Septimius Bassianus Antoninus to solidify connection to the family of Marcus Aurelius. He was later given the nickname Caracalla, which referred to the Gallic hooded tunic he habitually wore and which he made fashionable.


His father Severus, who had risen to the imperial throne in AD 193, died in AD 211 while campaigning in the Caledonian marches at Eboracum (now York), and Caracalla was proclaimed co-emperor with his brother Publius Septimius Antoninius Geta. However since both of them wanted to be sole ruler, tensions between the brothers were high in the few months they ruled the empire jointly (they even considered dividing the empire in two, but were persuaded not to do so by their mother). Then in December AD 211 at a reconciliation meeting arranged by their mother Julia, Caracalla had Geta assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard loyal to him. Geta died in their mother's arms. Caracalla then persecuted Geta's supporters and ordered a damnatio memoriae by the Senate against his brother. Geta's image was simply removed from all coinage, paintings and statues, leaving a blank space next to Caracalla's.

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