The following list of ancient Roman Emperors provides an easy overview of who, when and what happened during the long course of the Roman Empire.
Year 16th Jan 27B.C – 19th Aug 14 A.D.
Pax Romana Begins
(fka) GAIUS OCTAVIANUS
(aka) IMPERATOR CAESAR DIVI FILIVS AVGVSTVS
The month of August is named after him.
The first and perhaps greatest of all the emperors. A worthy heir and successor of his uncle
Julius Caesar. Lacked the military genius but made up for it with Political genius. The godfather of modern Europe. Year 14A.D
Emperor TIBERIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS
Loved to spend time at his villa on the island of Capri. His fear of getting done in turned him wacky and got him done in.
Jesus Christ was crucified during his reign.
GAIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS
Went wacko. Named Caligula because of the common soldiers’ shoes he used to wear as a boy (Caligae). Famous for his debauchery and also for naming his own horse a Senator.
TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS
Stuttered, limped and initially thought to be a fool, which saved his life. Proved to be good at his job. Liked women. Took Britannia. He was poisoned with a plate of mushrooms by his wife
Agrippina Minor – Nero’s mother. Year 54A.D
NERO CLAUDIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS
His fame precedes him. Wanted to be an artist and a chariot racer. It appears his first years as Emperor were amongst the most illuminated thanks to his tutor Seneca. Got manipulated by his mother and wives. Eventually married a eunuch and killed himself.
Julio-Claudian Dynasty ends here and gives way to a year of civil war known as “The Year of the 4 Caesars”. Year68-69A.D
Year of the four Caesars
Year 69 A.D
IMPERATOR VESPASIANUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS
Flavian Dynasty begins.
A soldier. Practical, pragmatic and tight with his money. Inventor of taxes on public latrines (Vespasians) and builder of the
Colosseum. “Pecus non olet” (money doesn’t smell).
Good, dry, sense of humour. His dying words were “I think I’m about to become a god”
Year 79 A.D
Good emperor according to the Romans. Took Jerusalem with great bloodshed. Died young whilst helping his citizens fight the plague.
Year 81 AD
Envious of his brother Emperor Titus. Persecuted the Christians.
Was assassinated and condemned to Damnatio Memoriae by the Senate.
The Flavian Dynasty ends.
Year 96 AD
First of the “Five Good Emperors”
A Senator. Didn’t last long but set a very good trend going. Builder of a new
forum. Year 97 AD
Trajan’s column for his deeds. It stands in his forum, just where his great Latin & Greek public library was.
He greatly extended the empire.
Year 117 AD
We like Hadrian a lot for also being a great architect & philosopher: There’s a great book by Marguerite Yourcenar worth reading “Hadrian’s Memories”
Travelled the empire and consolidated Trajan’s wins (see
Pantheon as we know it. Year 138 AD
Temple stands in the Forum with him and his wife ascending to the heavens on an eagle.
See his column – similar to Trajan’s yet different: art was changing register from Classical Greece to Christian Symbolism! Year 161-180 AD
Pax Romana Ends
Statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, father of Commodus
(he co-ruled with brother Lucius Verus 161-169)
Last of the “Five Good Emperors”
A very groovy statue stands in the middle of the Capitoline Hill – it avoided destruction through the
Middle Ages because it had long been considered a statue of St. Peter.
His beard is symbolic of him as a philosopher and thinker. He probably had a nasty scar under his cheek too (bad shavers in those days). Year 176-192 AD
Bit of a good-for-nothing who had illusions of being Hercules reincarnate. Enjoyed the Gladiatorial shows no end.
Year 193 AD
Things start to get a little rocky from here on. The
roman economy starts to rattle: As conquests stop the influx of wealth and cheap labour came to a halt. The military got restless and overly involved in politics….. Year 193 AD
Who? Didn’t last long did he!
Years 193-211 AD
By some accounts he brought the empire to it’s greatest expanse. By other accounts this was achieved by Trajan.
triumphal arch in the Forum Years 198-217AD
thermal baths to be visited on the south side of ancient Rome. Year 217AD
The pits. Debauched lover of excess and orgies. Lover of peace with a wacky idea of assembling all deities under a single sun god.
Got murdered by his Praetorian guards in a toilet and thrown into the sewers (which got blocked). Got pulled out again and hung rotting in public display. His meddling mother got a similar treatment.
I don’t think they liked him.
Emperor Alexander Severus
Emperor Maximinus Thrax
Emperor Gordian I, II, III
Emperor Philip and others
Emperor Decius and others
Emperor Gallienus and others
Emperor Claudius II
Emperor Aurelian and others
Extended and fortified the walls around Rome. They still stand even if the barbarians inevitably got in (it took them a couple hundred years though). Bravo Aurelian.
Emperor Carinus and Numerian
Pretty good at his job and very pragmatic, although he too had a good bash at the Christians.
Diocletian realised the Empire was too big and too expensive to run.
He also saw the need to put an end to the continuous military coups so he split the empire into West and East, each with its own Emperor and vice emperor (Caesar). This was known as the “Tetrarchy”.
He set a fixed mandate, stuck to it and retired to tend to his vegetable garden.
Emperor Constantius Chlorus
Called Chlorus because of his white skin. Married a humble concubine who converted to Christianity. Fathered Constantine aka Constantine the Great.
Emperor Flavius Severus
A “dude” really worth learning about. Named Augustus at York, marched on Rome, beat his co-regent Maxentius and took absolute power.
Constantine took some severely good and forward looking decisions which ensured the survival of at least part of the empire through to the Renaissance (the Eastern half). Some notable things about him…He
created a new capital for the Eastern part of the Empire on the Bosphorus which he called Constantinople (now Istanbul).
authorised the Christian religion as equal to all others.
got baptised a Christian on his death bed.
Constantine’s triumphal arch by the Colosseum. 337-340
Emperor Constantine II
Emperor Constantius II
Emperor Valentinian II
Emperor Theodosius I
His inferiority complex got the better of him so he killed his best general Stilico. This was a ‘wonderful’ strategy which ensured that
Alaric’s barbarians finally managed to sack Rome. 425-455
Emperor Valentinian III
Emperor Leo I
A boy. Got deposed.
Regarded last Emperor of Rome. Actually
last Emperor of the Roman Empire of the West
Emperors of the Roman Empire actually reside in Constantinople – New Rome – Capital of the Roman Empire of the East.
Last Emperor of the Roman Empire of the East is deposed in the 15th Century –
To see what what happened around their times and what they were involved in have a look at our