The History of Rome A.D. 101 TO A.D. 200
2nd Century Aristocles of Messana, peripatetic philosopher, flourishes in the 2nd Century. He was the author of a number of Greek philosophical works including one on Ethics as well as an excellent history of philosophy. Dioceses established in the 2nd Century: Avellino, Capua, Nola, Syracuse (Siracusa). The Catacombs of San Gennaro is developed by the Christian community at Neapolis. It is thought to have been originally centered on the family tomb of a wealthy Christian. It received its name from San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, who was buried here in the 5th Century.
101 220th Olympiad An earthquake strikes in Samnium in the area of the modern commune of San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore, Pescara province.
105 221st Olympiad St. Alexander I becomes pope. (Alt. date: 109). Events Elsewhere: (c) Parchment paper is invented in China.
108 Marcus Raecius serves as Quaestor in Capua.
109 222nd Olympiad The Via Traiana is extended to Canusium in Apulia. The arch of Trajan is also erected here.
113 223rd Olympiad
114 Arch of Trajan constructed at Beneventum (mod. Benevento). It sits at the point where the newly constructed Via Trainia entered the ancient city of Beneventum. The arch is decorated with several carved plaques commemorating Trajan’s acts to benefit the people of Italy and the empire. In one plaque Trajan is seen entering Rome celebrating a military triumph. In another he is seen distributing food to needy children. He is shown as the founder of new colonies for veterans and as the builder of a new port at Ostia.
115 St. Sixtus (Xystus) I becomes pope. (Alt. dates: 116, 117, 119).
116 Sources estimate that at this time the Roman Empire encompasses an area of 2.3 to 3.5 million square miles. Estimates of its population vary considerably, ranging from c55 to 120 million. The population of the city of Rome itself numbered c 1 million.
117 224th Olympiad (Aug 9)Trajan dies at Selinus, in Cilicia, at the age of 63, and is succeeded as emperor by his 41 year old adopted heir Hadrian. Hadrian was the grandson of Trajan’s father’s sister. Silver content in the Roman denarius falls to 87%.
121 225th Olympiad (Apr 26) Marcus Aurelius, future emperor, is born in Rome. Emperor Hadrian visits Sicily and climbs Mt. Etna. (alt. date: 126).
124 The Pantheon in Rome is completed.
125 226th Olympiad (c) St.Telesphorus, a Greek hermit from Calabria, becomes pope. (Alt. date: 126). Huge locust swamps devastate large areas of cropland in North Africa. The resulting famine weakens the population who are then stricken by a plague. An estimated 500,000 die in the province of Numidia alone and about another 150,000 perished in the coastal areas. The pestilence spreads across the Mediterranean into Italy where it kills many more thousands. To add to the food shortages caused by the loss of the North African crops, the farms of Italy are now abandoned for lack of harvesters. The resulting famine takes even more lives in Italy than the plague. Many towns and villages are permanently abandoned.
126 (Aug 1) Publius Helvius Pertinax, future Roman Emperor, is born in Liguria. He was the son of a freedman named Helvius Successus.
128 The great loss of farmers resulting from the recent plague and famine in Italy leads to a greater dependence of food imports from Egypt and North Africa. With the market now glutted with imported wheat, prices fall dramatically. Many of the remaining Italian farmers are unable to compete with the foreign importers and abandon their farms. The population of Rome and other Italian towns swell with an influx of poor refugees.
129 227th Olympiad
130 Hadrian completes the temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. Begun in 530 BC, the building was 354 feet long, 135 feet wide, and 90 feet high, making it the largest temple in Greece. (Dec 15) Lucius Verus, future Roman Emperor, is born in Rome. Through his father, he was of Etruscan ancestry.
133 228th Olympiad
135 Roman soldiers kill the Jewish rebel leader Simon Bar Kokhba and sack the city of Jerusalem, bringing an end to the Second Jewish Revolt. Hadrian orders the old city of Jerusalem to be plowed over and a new Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, to be built on the site. Jews are banned from entering Aelia Capitolina, but Christians, who had not supported the revolt, were allow to settle there.
136 (c) St. Hyginus becomes pope. A native of Athens, he was the son of a philosopher. During his term, he authorized the practice of naming baptismal godparents. (Alt. date: 138).
137 229th Olympiad
138 (July 10) Hadrian dies (age 62) at Baiae and is succeeded as Emperor by his 52 year old adopted heir Antoninus Pius. Antoninus personally requests that the Roman Senate declare Hadrian to be a god. For this he becomes known as Antoninus Pius. Silver content in the Roman denarius falls to 75%.
139 The Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome is completed. It will be used to house the remains of Hadrian, his wife Sabina, his adopted son Lucius Aelius Caesar, and succeeding Roman emperors until Caracalla (d. 217). The ashes of these notables were placed in great funerary urns which were preserved until Visigoth barbarians destroyed them during their sack of Rome in AD 410. The building was eventually converted into the Papal stronghold called Castel Sant’Angelo in the 14th century.
140 Pope Hyginus dies. Although usually listed as a martyr, there is no evidence of the manner of his death. He was succeeded by St. Pius I. (Alt. date: 142). (c) Pescennius Niger, future Roman Emperor (r193-194), is born at Aquinum (mod. Aquino [FR]).
141 230th Olympiad An aqueduct is built at Canusium in Apulia.
144 Eruption on Vulcano Island.
145 231st Olympiad Possible volcanic eruption on Ischia.
146 (Apr. 11) L. Septimius Severus, future Roman Emperor, is born at Leptis Magna in North Africa. His father was of Libyan-Phoenician ancestry while his mother was Italian ancestry. Because of his birth in North Africa, Septimius is sometimes incorrectly described by modern revisionist historians as being of sub-Saharan ancestry.
149 232nd Olympiad
150 Possible volcanic eruption on Ischia. Eruption on Stromboli.
153 233rd Olympiad
155 Anicetus becomes Pope. (alt. date: 154)
157 234th Olympiad
161 235th Olympiad (Mar 7) Antoninus Pius dies at Lorium, near Rome, at age 75. He is succeeded on the imperial throne by his adopted heirs Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. River Tiber floods in Rome. Silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 68%.
162 Co-Emperor Lucius Verus goes to the east the fight the Parthians.
165 236th Olympiad The Antonine plague breaks out and spreads through the Roman Empire. Scholars today believe that it was a pandemic outbreak of either smallpox or measles. Whatever the disease was, it is likely to have been brought back by soldiers who had been campaigning in the east. The epidemic lasted until c180 and claimed between 25-35% of the population. (c) Local legend names the martyr St. Leucius as the first bishop of Brundisium at this time.
166 Pope St. Anicetus dies and is succeeded by St. Soter (Soterus), a native of Campania. The Parthian War ends with a Roman victory. Returning legionaries are rewarded with lands confiscated from peasant farmers who swarm to Rome to add to the city’s population of poor. The soldiers who settle on the lands are mostly untrained as farmers thus reducing size of the harvests. St. Soter becomes Pope. (alt date: 167).
167 Plague continues to spread through the Empire. A new wave enters Italy and reaches Rome itself where it kills about 10% of the city’s overcrowded population. Marcomanni launch the first major barbarian invasion of Roman territory.
168 Romans under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus defeat the Marcomanni and conclude a treaty.
169 237th Olympiad (Jan) Lucius Verus dies at age of 39. The cause of his death has been theorized to have been either food poisoning or smallpox. Marcus Aurelius rules as sole Roman Emperor. Plague in Rome. The Marcomanni and their allies the Iazyges break their treaty with the Romans. The costly ensuing war lasts the next three years finally ending in a Roman victory.
170 Barbarians threaten the city of Aquileia in NE Italy.
172 Eruption of Vesuvius.
173 238th Olympiad Pestilence in Rome.
174 Marcus Aurelius defeats the barbarian Quadi.
175 (Spring) Short-lived civil war erupts when Avidius Cassius declares himself Emperor in Syria. Marcus Aurelius marches east to deal with the uprising but in July, before a battle occurs, Avidius Cassius is killed by his own men. Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius, dies at age 46. Her death was probably a suicide although some historians believe she died of an illness. (or 176). St. Eleutherus becomes Pope. (Alt date: 174). Plague in Rome (to 179).
176 Marcus Aurelius awards his son Commodus with the title of Imperator.
177 239th Olympiad Commodus is raised to the rank of co-Augustus by his father. Marcus Aurelius initiates a persecution of the Christians. Their refusal to acknowledge official Roman religious practices and their own secrecy made the Christians appear as conspirators and enemies of the state. The persecution is thus of a political rather than a religious nature. The Christians, who do nothing to dispel these rumors, retreat into the catacombs at Rome and use the fish symbol as a sign of recognition. Marcus Aurelius initiates limits on the amount spent on gladiatorial games.
178 (Aug 3) Marcus Aurelius and Commodus march north to begin a new war on the barbarian Marcomanni. (c) Martyrdom of St. Concordius at Spoletum (mod. Spoleto).
180 (Mar 17) Marcus Aurelius dies at age of 58. Although there has always been a belief that he may have been the victim of assassination, it is more likely that he was a victim of the plague (poss. smallpox) which still raged in the empire. With his passing, the era of the “Five Good Emperors” comes to an end. Some scholars use this as a benchmark for the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire. His 18 year old son Commodus now reigns as sole Augustus. (c) About this time, the Platonist writer Celsus publishes “True Discourse” (or “True Doctrine”). This work, one of the earliest non-Christian study’s about Christianity, was later ordered to be destroyed when the Christians came to power. It survives, however, almost completely in excerpts in the works of the Church father Origen. Celsus’s work showed the Christians of this time in highly unfavorable terms. They were followers of doctrines that defied reason and given were drawn from the very lowest levels of society.
181 240th Olympiad
182 Eruption of Vesuvius. An unsuccessful conspiracy against Commodus is instigated by his sister Lucilla. Many senators are executed as a result.
185 241st Olympiad Commodus drains the Roman treasury and confiscates property from the wealthy in order to finance extravagant gladiatorial games.
186 (Apr. 4) Caracalla, future Roman Emperor, is born at Lugdunum.
187 Plague in Rome.
189 242nd Olympiad Plague ravages Rome. The sickness, probably smallpox, claims as many as 8,000 lives in a single day. The plague again spreads through Italy killing many farmers affecting the harvest. Whatever grain which can be harvested, cannot be transported to Rome because the plague has also killed so many wagoneers. Rome is thus faced with another food shortage. As the situation grows worse, rioting breaks out in the streets. Cleander, a freedman who had risen to the post of city prefect, is made a scapegoat by Commodus and given up to the mob. St. Victor I becomes Pope.
190 Pescennius Niger, future Roman Emperor, born at Aquinium (mod. Aquino). Famine in Rome increases as grain speculators raise the price of grain excessively.
192 (Dec 30) Commodus is assassinated by a gladiator named Narcissus, in the pay of his mistress Marcia. On Dec 31, he is succeeded as emperor by Pertinax.
193 243rd Olympiad (Jan 3) Statues of Commodus are overthrown in Rome. (Mar 28) Pertinax is assassinated by the Praetorian Guard. He is succeeded by a senator Didius Julianus. Didius won the throne when the Praetorian Guard put it up for auction. Didius placed the winning bid by promising to pay each soldier 25,000 sestertii. This accession touched off a civil war as three generals (Pescennius Niger in Syria, Clodius Albinus in Britain, and Septimius Severus in Pannonia) rose up to claim the throne for themselves. (June 1) Didius Julianus is defeated by Septimius Severus and executed. Silver content of the Roman denarius falls to 50%.
197 244th Olympiad (Feb 19) Septimius Severus defeats Clodius Albinus at Lugdunum (Lyon, France). Severus now is the sole emperor of the Roman Empire. A new war with Parthia begins.
198 (Jan 28) Septimius Severus raises Commodus to be co-Augustus and Geta to be Caesar.
199 Victor I dies. He is succeeded as Pope by St. Zephyrinus. (Alt. date: 198).
200 The population of Rome is estimated between 800,000 to 1,000,000.