By Anne Leader

Septimius Severus was proclaimed emperor of Rome by his troops on 9 April 193 CE, just two days before his 48th birthday. He then marched with his sixteen legions from Illyricum in the Balkans to Rome, seizing power after the death of  Pertinax when he and four others all claimed the right to the throne. Severus ruled for almost two decades, until his death in February 211. Born in the African province of Leptis Magna, Severus gained political experience holding various offices under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus began the Severan dynasty through his sons Caracalla and Geta, the latter of whom was murdered and deliberately forgotten by his brother.

Septimius Severus, marble, Glyptothek, Munich

Aureus minted in 193 by Septimius Severus, to celebrate XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix, the legion that proclaimed him emperor.

Septimius Severus, alabaster, Musei Capitolini, Rome

Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus, marble, Glyptothek, Munich.

Family of Septimius Severus, with Geta’s face eradicated as part of Caracalla’s campaign to officially “forget” him, Staatliche Museum zu Berlin

The Roman Empire in 210 after the conquests of Severus. Depicted is Roman territory (purple) and Roman dependencies (pink).

Arch of Septimius Severus, Leptis Magna (Lebda, Libya)

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