Did you know that there have been nine emperors of Rome since the city’s history started over 4,000 years ago? The number seems like a lot, but the truth is that the Roman Empire grew and prospered under five emperors and three dictators before transitioning into the Julio-Claudian dynasty and eventually declining after the death of Domitian in 96 A.D.
That’s a lot of emperors, but how many did Rome actually have? Thankfully, we have a way to answer this question: by looking at Roman Emperors in Order. This article lists all nine emperors who ruled over the city of Rome from Augustus Caesar (27 B.C.-A.D. 14) to Domitian (81-96). It will go through each emperor and give you an explanation as to why they are considered “the best” or “the bad” among Roman Emperors.
Who Were The 9 Roman Emperors?
We’ll first start off by explaining exactly who the Roman emperors were. Roman emperors were men who ruled the Roman Empire and were of the noble “gens” (clan) of the “Imperator” (“Emperor”) family. Before we get into the details of each emperor, it’s worth noting that the Roman Empire was ruled by a whole host of different families throughout its history. Despite all of the changes, the Roman Empire was ruled by the following nine families: Julio-Claudian (Augustus, Claudius, and Nero), Flavian (Vespasian and Titus), Antonine (Marcus, Septimus, and Commodus), Severan (Caracalla and Geta), Helensan (Mark Antony and Marcus), Getian (Domitian and Domitilla), Severan (Theodosius and Honorius), and Odoacer.
Augustus Caesar was born Octavian in 63 B.C. in Rome and was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar. When his uncle was assassinated in 44 B.C., the Senate wished to make Octavian the sole ruler of Rome and called him “Augustus,” which means “majestic” or “great” in Latin. After his divorce from his wife, Julia, on the grounds of her adultery, he married Livia, and then had children with both Livia and Julia. Augustus lived a long life and died at the age of 81, having reigned for 57 years as Emperor of Rome.
In his time as emperor, he managed to bring peace to the Roman Empire, which had previously seen endless civil wars, and to reorganize the government and military. As emperor, Augustus enacted many noteworthy reforms. He abolished the tax on inheritance, and he made the people responsible for all taxes. He also reformed the Roman army, increasing the number of troops and standardizing their training.
Julius Caesar was born in Rome in 100 B.C., the son of Julia and Gaius Julius Caesar. When his father was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 B.C., Julius became the head of the Roman state. Caesar and his men were responsible for the assassination of Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra in Alexandria, Egypt. As emperor, Caesar continued with many of his father’s programs and reforms. He expanded the navy, established postal systems throughout the empire, and put a stop to all civil wars in the Roman provinces.
He also built the Capitoline Hill in Rome as a temple for himself and used the immense amount of money he had amassed for this purpose. However, Caesar’s greatest legacy was the architecture he left behind. His many public buildings and his “Grandeur” (the forum, temple, amphitheater, and bridges) all greatly advanced the Roman art of architecture.
Tiberius Claudius Nero was born in Rome in 62 B.C. His father was an eques (member of the equestrian rank) named Gnaeus Claudius Nero. Despite his noble background, Tiberius’s early life was one of poverty and hardship. During his youth, he served as a soldier in many campaigns, eventually rising to the rank of praetor (a military tribune in charge of a legion) and becoming a senator. He married Vipsania, the daughter of Marcus Agrippa, and had two children with her, a son, Drusus, and a daughter, Tiberia. As emperor, Tiberius continued many of his father’s reforms, most notably making the emperor a direct descendant of Augustus and having him declared a god. He also increased taxes, cut back on freedom of speech, and had a strong desire to leave Rome.
Caligula was born in 12 A.D. His father, Germanicus, was the grandson of Tiberius and Caesonia, and his uncle was Tiberius Claudius Nero. His early life was a tumultuous one. He lived in poverty and was a military man and a gladiator before reaching the age of 30. He was a well-known womanizer and was known for his extremely eccentric behavior. As emperor, Caligula continued with many of his father’s policies and began many new ones of his own. He increased taxes, built a circus, and forced all Romans to have a portrait of him hanging in their home. He also began campaigns in Britain and Africa.
Claudius was born in 10 B.C. and was part of the Julio-Claudian family. He was the son of the Emperor Tiberius and his second wife, Aelia. As a young man, Claudius began his military career and eventually rose to the rank of legate. He was sent to the province of Bithynia to quell a revolt. Upon doing so, he was considered a hero and was granted the name Claudius Father of the Fatherland. After this, Claudius became a Senator and married Aelia, the daughter of a senator named Gannys. As emperor, Claudius began some new policies, but also continued with many of Augustus’s. He increased taxes, increased the size of the army, built the Colosseum, and began construction of the aqueducts.
Vespasian was born in 9 A.D. and was part of the Julio-Claudian family. He was the son of Titus, the eldest son of the Emperor Vespasianus, and his wife, Flavia. During his youth, Vespasianus was a general in the Roman army, fought in many wars, and was eventually made a Senator. As emperor, Vespasianus continued many of his father’s policies, especially those concerning the army and the Jews. He also engaged in a series of campaigns in Britain, which were unsuccessful and led to his death at 79.
Titus Flavius Vespasianus
Titus Flavius Vespasianus was born in 9 A.D. and was part of the Julio-Claudian family. He was the son of Titus, the eldest son of the Emperor Vespasianus, and his wife, Flavia. During his youth, Vespasianus was a soldier and was made a centurion in the Roman army. He was also a very skilled soldier and was made a Senator after his successful campaigns against the Arabs.