|modern day Ostia|
Trajan or Caesar Divi Nervae Filius Nerva Traianus Optimus Augustus, was a Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD.
He was known as a benevolent ruler, as his reign was noted for public projects that benefitted the populace like improving the dilapidated road system, constructing aqueducts, building public baths and extending the port of Ostia, a Roman port town.
He was also a highly successful general, and won three major conflicts against the Dacians, now Transylvania, Romania, Arabia, & Mesopotamia (now Armenia) that resulted in the expansion of the Roman Empire.
|map during Trajan’s time|
The new emperor was born on September 18, 53 AD in Italica (Seville Spain) in the Roman province of Hispania, becoming the first emperor born outside of Italy. His family though had origins in northern Italy.
His father, a career soldier also named Marcus Ulpius Traianus, who had been governor of both Baetica Spain (Andalusia Spain, see the map at the right) and Syria, a military commander during the Jewish War of 67 – 68 AD under Emperor Vespasian (Caesar Vespasianus Augustus Titus Flavius Vespasianus) . For his wins against the Jews and his provincial governship of Baetica, the father was awarded patrician nobility, Rome’s elite and most aristocratic class.
Young Trajan entered the army at an early age, serving as a tribune under his father in Spain, and commanded the Seventh Legion in northern Spain. Trajan’s usefulness was recognized by Domitian, (Vespasians second son) and he was put to good use by quelling the revolts against the Emperor in Upper Germany, though he arrived to do much good.
Domitian though was shortly thereafter assassinated and the elderly Nerva (Caesar Augustus Marcus Cocceius Nerva) took the throne, who adopted the ever loyal Trajan as his son and heir. Trajan married Pompeia Plotina and though the married was issueless, they adopted Hadrian (Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus Publius Aelius Hadrianus), the 3rd in a succession of good Roman Emperors.
You can read more about him at Ancient History here. And about his famous Trajan Column here, a real masterpiece of sculpture.