Didius Julianus

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Marcus Didius Severus Julianus (30 January 133 or 2 February 137 – 1 June 193) was Roman Emperor for three months during the year 193. He ascended the throne after buying it from the Praetorian Guard, who had assassinated his predecessor Pertinax. This led to the Roman Civil War of 193–197. Julianus was ousted and sentenced to death by his successor, Septimius Severus.

Contents

Early life

Julianus was born to Quintus Petronius Didius Severus and Aemilia Clara.[1] Julianus's father came from a prominent family in Mediolanum (Milan) and his mother was an African woman, of Roman descent. Clara came from a family of consular rank. His brothers were Didius Proculus and Didius Nummius Albinus.[1] His date of birth is given as January 30, 133 by Cassius Dio[2] and February 2, 137 by the Historia Augusta.[3] Didius Julianus was raised by Domitia Lucilla, mother of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.[4] With Domitia's help, he was appointed at a very early age to the vigintivirate, the first step towards public distinction.[5] He married a Roman woman called Manlia Scantilla and about 153, Scantilla bore him a daughter and only child Didia Clara.[6]

Career

He held in succession the offices of Quaestor,[5] and then Aedile,[7] and then around 162 Julianus was named as Praetor.[7] He was nominated to the command of the Legio XXII Primigenia in Mogontiacum (now Mainz).[8] Starting in 170 he became praefectus of Gallia Belgica for five years.[9] As reward for his skill and gallantry in repressing an insurrection among the Chauci,[9] a tribe dwelling on the Elbe, he was raised to the consulship in 175, along with Pertinax.[10] He further distinguished himself in a campaign against the Chatti,[11] ruled Dalmatia[12] and Germania Inferior,[13] and then was made prefect charged with distributing money to the poor of Italy.[13] About this time he was charged with having conspired against the life of Commodus, but had the good fortune to be acquitted, and to witness the punishment of his accuser.[13] He also governed Bithynia,[14] and succeeded Pertinax as the proconsul of Africa.[15]

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