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Publius Helvius Pertinax (1 August 126 – 28 March 193), commonly known as Pertinax, was Roman Emperor for three months in 193.[1] He is known as the first emperor of the tumultuous Year of the Five Emperors. A high ranking military and Senatorial figure,[2] he tried to restore discipline in the Praetorian Guards, whereupon they rebelled and killed him. Upon his death he was succeeded by Didius Julianus, whose reign was similarly short.


Early life

His career before becoming emperor is documented in the Historia Augusta and confirmed in many places by existing inscriptions. Born in Alba Pompeia in Italy,[3] the son of freedman Helvius Successus,[4] originally Pertinax made his way as a grammaticus (teacher of grammar),[5] but he eventually decided to find a more rewarding line of work and through the help of patronage he was commissioned an officer in a cohort.[6] In the Parthian war that followed,[7] he was able to distinguish himself, which resulted in a string of promotions, and after postings in Britain (as military tribune of the Legio VI Victrix)[8] and along the Danube, he served as a procurator in Dacia.[9] He suffered a setback as a victim of court intrigues during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, but shortly afterwards he was recalled to assist Claudius Pompeianus in the Marcomannic Wars.[10] In 175 he received the honor of a suffect consulship[11] and until 185, Pertinax was governor of the provinces of Upper and Lower Moesia, Dacia, Syria and finally governor of Britain.[12]

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