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Marcus Aurelius Carus[1] (c. 224[2] – July or August 283) was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success. During his campaign against the Sassanid Empire he sacked their capital Ctesiphon, but died shortly thereafter. He was succeeded by his sons Carinus and Numerian; creating a dynasty which, though short-lived, granted further stability to a resurgent empire.



Carus, whose name before the accession may have been Marcus Numerius Carus,[3] was born, probably, at Narbo (modern Narbonne) in Gaul,[4][5] but was educated at Rome.[6] He was a senator,[7] and had filled various civil and military posts before he was appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard by the emperor Probus in 282.[8] After the murder of Probus at Sirmium, Carus was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers.[9] Although Carus severely avenged the death of Probus, he was himself suspected of having been an accessory to the deed.[10] He does not seem to have returned to Rome after his accession, but contented himself with an announcement of the fact to the Senate.[11]

Bestowing the title of Caesar upon his sons Carinus and Numerian,[12][13] he left Carinus in charge of the western portion of the empire, and took Numerian with him on the expedition against the Persians which had been contemplated by Probus.[14] Having defeated the Quadi and Sarmatians on the Danube,[15] for which he was given the title Germanicus Maximus,[16] Carus proceeded through Thrace and Asia Minor, annexed Mesopotamia, pressed on to Seleucia and Ctesiphon, and marched his soldiers beyond the Tigris.[17] The Sassanid Emperor Bahram II, limited by internal opposition, could not effectively defend his territory.[18] For his victories, which avenged all the previous defeats suffered by the Romans against the Sassanids, Carus received the title of Persicus Maximus.[19]

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