Septimius Severus, Roman Emperor from 193 to 211


From 98 AD to 190 AD there were four emperors. From 235 to 284 there were twenty emperors. This shocking contrast in imperial stability and instability tells us that something happened around the year 200 AD and that the empire was never the same again. Whatever stability was built into the imperial system by Augustus which survived even the shenanigans of Caligula and Nero, did not survive long the death of Marcus Aurelius. The one emperor who did establish some stability in the period of chaos was Septimius Severus. Septimius Severus was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the "cursus honorumân” (the customary succession of offices) under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of Emperor Pertinax in 193 during the Year of the Five Emperors.


Eusebius (260 - 340 AD) is the most important historian of the early church whose work survives. His history from the beginning of with Jesus Christ in Bk I, goes to our period in the last chapters. We are most interested in those last chapters on the age of Diocletian and Constantine. You may want to start out reading his Book I and then skip forward to the later chapters on Diocletian and Constantine. For this first week, Book 7 would be a good introduction on the spreading heresies. Next week there are Books 8 and 9 on Diocletian. And the following week Book 10 on the triumph of Constantine.


The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine,

G. A Williamson, trans.,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140445358


You will all want one book to use as an introduction and as a kind of reference book to search out answers and maps and other study helps for this year of study on ancient Rome. I have searched for such a book, and although there are newer ones than this classic by one of the truly great experts on Rome, there really is nothing better. This is a one-volume, basic introduction to the whole subject of our year of study. It covers the period from the Republic to the Decline and Fall. So I encourage you to get a copy of this book. It is out of print so you will have to sort through the used book options but there are many copies available as of August, 2013. Don't buy the "new" from the UK since I have no idea whether this is a quality reprint or not. So go get a used hardcover for $10.00. At that price amazon says "very good" so that's a great deal. A used hardcover is more likely to have endured in good shape than a paperback. But we may exhaust the supplies of used hardcovers so donut be afraid of a used paperback if the seller says it is in excellent condition. There are many used paperback copies that they describe as "like new," so there is nothing wrong with that.

Michael Grant,

History of Rome,

Prentice Hall,

ISBN 0023456108

About the Author :

Michael Grant (1914-2004) was a historian whose over forty publications on ancient Rome and Greece popularised the classical and early Christian world. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, served in intelligence and as a diplomat during the Second World War, and afterwards became deputy director of the British Council's European division, when he also published his first book. He later returned to academia, teaching at Cambridge and Edinburgh, and serving as Vice Chancellor at the University of Khartoum and at Queen's University, Belfast.


Peter Brown,

The World of Late Antiquity,

W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 17, 1989),

ISBN 0393958035

This remarkable study in social and cultural change explains how and why the Late Antique world, between ca. 150 and ca. 750 A.D., came to differ from "Classical civilization." These centuries, as the author demonstrates, were the era in which the most deeply rooted of ancient institutions disappeared for all time. By 476 the Roman empire had vanished from western Europe; by 655 the Persian empire had vanished from the Near East. Mr. Brown, Professor of History at Princeton University, examines these changes and men's reactions to them, but his account shows that the period was also one of outstanding new beginnings and defines the far-reaching impact both of Christianity on Europe and of Islam on the Near East. The result is a lucid answer to a crucial question in world history; how the exceptionally homogeneous Mediterranean world of ca. 200 A.D. became divided into the three mutually estranged societies of the Middle Ages: Catholic Western Europe, Byzantium, and Islam. We still live with the results of these contrasts.