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Antonius Pius

Antonius (Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus) was born as an only child from Titus Aurelius Fulvus in 89 AD where he is listed on the Biblical Timeline with World History. His family was originally from Nemausus (called today Nimes). His mother was Arria Fadilla, his father (also his paternal grandfather) passed away when he was little. In consequence, he was brought up by Gnaeus Arrius Antoninus, his maternal grandfather. He was known to be a man of honor, traditions and an associate with Pliny the Younger. His mother wed Publius Julius Lupus where she bore two daughters: Arria Lupula and Julia Fadilla.

Not very much is recorded concerning Antonius in his younger years. There is a small biography in ‘Scriptores Historiae Augustae’ to Julius Capitolinus that mentions his work as quaestor, praetor, and consul. P. von Rohden’s writing in Pauly-Wissowa marks Antonius’ work in these fields around 112 AD, 117 and 120. Sometime through 110 AD – 115 he wed Annia Galeria Faustina (daughter of M Annius Verus). She conceived four children namely: Marcus Aurelius Fulvius Antoninus (passed away previous to 138 AD), Marcus Galerius Aurelius Antoninus (also passed away previous to 138), Aurelia Fadilla (passed away 135 AD) and Anna Galeria Faustina Minor (Faustina the Younger), she lived around 125,130-175 AD (the upcoming Roman Empress married to her ‘maternal’ cousin, Emperor Marcus Aurelius).

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Rise to Power

Antonius Pius
Antonius Pius

Antonius was then presently made one of Emperor Hadrian’s ‘consular administrators’ in Italy. Then from 130 AD – 135 became ‘proconsul’ of Asia. While serving Hadrian he became renowned for his work and had the opportunity to retire with immense honor but in 138 AD circumstances changed his prospects quickly. The start of that year Emperor Hadrian’s adopted son Aelius Verus died. Hadrian then went before the Senate and proclaimed Antoninus his son and successor as ‘proconsular’ and ‘tribunician’. Unfortunately at that time only one of Antonius’ children lived (Anna Galeria Faustina Minor). She married M. Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius) whom Antoninus had adopted with L. Verus (son of Aelius Verus). After Antoninus came to rule he demanded the unwilling Senate provide traditional religious respects towards Hadrian. Because of this and perhaps more similar deeds he was bestowed the last name of Pius.

Death of Faustina

            When his wife passed away in 141 AD, Antoninus was immensely grieved. In tribute to her life, he requested the Senate to exalt her as a ‘goddess’ and built a temple in her name. Also adding to the memory of her an ‘alimentary program’ that joined loans to Italian farmers with money; producing interest that was sent for the help of orphaned girls. This program was called Puellae Faustinianae.

Actions as Emperor

            Antoninus was careful with funds and did not toss it around in luxury. He uplifted public services that were practical for the people. His ‘procurators’ were informed to hold tribute sensible and kept them responsible for staying within set limits. For the most part, the country flourished with his rule and application of ‘informers’ came to a stop. Julius Capitolinus mentioned the greatness of Antoninus’ rule with this statement: “With such care did he govern all peoples under him that he looked after all things and all men as if they were his own.”

Despite his conservation in growing ‘imperial revenues’, Antoninus supplied timed grants of the fund to the civilians and soldiers; also giving community events and an immense diversity of animals for show. Along with that he gave his personal finances to allocate oil, grain, and wine with no charge at a period of famine. This helped lessen the destruction rooted in Rome from fires, floods, and earthquakes.

He had temples, theaters, and mausoleums built. He supported arts and sciences and gave honors with funds rewarded to the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy. Antoninus created some small alterations at first when he came to power, but kept as much as he could the standards left by Emperor Hadrian. The many years with Antoninus as Emperor were mostly acclaimed as peaceful; or as many would say “The quiet before the Storm” which came with the next ruler Marcus Aurelius.

There are however records from Capitolinus stating he was involved with wars, “through legates”, with Britain, Moor, Germany, Dacia, and Alan. He also had to stop a revolt in Achaea, Egypt, along with the Jewish people. War with the British was during 142 AD towards the Brigantes. This carved the way for the building of the Antonine Wall around the isle to serve as another line of defense following North from Hadrian’s Wall. With that in mind, communications towards surrounding countries had a great deal of respect for him. He was involved in approving the Kings over Armenia, Lazi, and the Quadi. He also victoriously stopped a Parthian battle against Armenia simply by messaging the King of Parthia a note of caution against such maneuvers. Antoninus was very different from other emperors with the surprising record that he managed such events while in Italy. He handled such things with letters; an example would be Ephesus where the notices were displayed for all to see. His manner of action was very complimented from those of his time and future ages.

Change in Laws

             Emperor Antoninus had focused much of his time towards changing laws and their practices all over the country. He was not a trendsetter, but he did not keep to the ‘letter of the law’. Instead, his passions were for the people, fairness and bringing into the Roman laws several significant, innovative values with this idea. Many lawyers worked with Antoninus and most likely counseled the emperor on lawful agendas. This involved defending slaves, freedmen, and unclaimed children. In turn altering the family, such as inheritances, as well as contemplation for what the daughter’s desires were towards arranged marriages.

Death and Legacy

        When Atnoninus became 70 in 156 AD he had a hard time sitting straight without ‘stays’. He began taking small bites of dry bread in order to have the endurance to stay alert during his early meetings. As Antoninus aged he gave Marcus Aurelius and L. Verus consulship to ready them for succession. He was very careful to have the country in order with strong finances set and his sons he had adopted acquired a large inheritance in the Treasury. He didn’t live much longer after that. 2 days prior to passing away it is said Antoninus visited his ancestral land in Lorium, Etruria. He clearly wasn’t feeling well and on March 7 161 he called for his royal council to hand the kingdom to Marcus and his daughter and died soon after.

Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius were listed as part of the five Good Emperors. Antoninus cared about his responsibilities and had a great concern for the well being of his people.

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