43 Interesting (and some downright weird) Facts about the Roman Emperors


This is what I found after reading through several history books/magazines/encyclopedias. Not EVERY Roman emperor is listed here, but most of them are, along with some interesting (and also bizarre) tidbits about their successive reigns.


  1. Augustus-banished his daughter Julia to an abandoned island because she was too sleazy. Julia, having been forcibly married three times, carried on a multitude of extramarital affairs. It was too much scandal for her father to handle.


  1. Tiberius-was a pedophile. He used to swim naked with little boys and have them bite him. Seriously.


  1. Caligula-tried to have his horse elected consul. He was also insane.


  1. Claudius-had a stuttering problem, was disfigured, and considered slow because of his disability.


  1. Nero-really wanted to be an opera singer. One of his performances was so long and awful that pregnant women sitting in the amphitheater began going into labor and giving birth right in their seats. The doors were kept guarded, so a few people tried to throw themselves over the edge in order to escape.


  1. Galba-was rumored to have a homosexual relationship with an ex-slave named Icelus.


  1. Vespasian-under his rule the Temple of Solomon was destroyed and the Jews were driven out of Jerusalem.


  1. Domitian-was an anti-Semite who hunted down and executed Jews. He was also a tyrant who didn’t hesitate to put senators to death for disagreeing with him.


  1. Trajan-expanded the Roman empire to its farthest capacity through wars and conquest. Also was the first emperor of non-Italian origin.


  1. Hadrian-traveled around the territories of the Roman empire and fortified them, most notably the Hadrian Wall, built to protect the province of Britain against barbarian raids from the north. George R.R. Martin used this as his inspiration for the Wall on Game of Thrones.


  1. Antoninus Pius-barely ever left the capital during his 23-year reign. Preferred to stay home, dispatching governors and generals to settle provincial affairs. Also, part of his reign marked the 900th anniversary of the founding of Rome.


  1. Marcus Aurelius-spent most of his reign dealing with wars, invasion, revolts, and a deadly plague outbreak in 167 A.D.


  1. Commodus-styled himself as a gladiator, dressing in full regalia as a Secutor, with a helmet, sword, and buckler. He entered the coliseum and fought as a Secutor 735 times, according to Roman historian Edward Gibbons.


  1. Pertinax-murdered by Praetorian guards; had his head mounted on a lance.


  1. Didus Julianus-was one of three rival candidates for the throne after Pertinax’s assassination. He won it by way of public auction from the Praetorian Guard.


  1. Septimius Severus-was the first black Roman Emperor. And a badass military leader. Originally from Leptis Magna, which is modern Libya.


  1. Caracalla-murdered his brother, Geta, Cain and Abel style, after a power struggle between the two joint emperors.


  1. Geta-brother of Caracalla, who died bleeding in his mother’s arms.


  1. Macrinus-first non-senator to achieve the Imperial purple (become emperor).


  1. Elagabalus-was a transvestite who solicited himself as a prostitute in brothels. Wanted to undergo a sex change; was also named after a Syrian sun god.


  1. Alexander Severus-was a “Mama’s boy” to the point of letting his mother, Julia Mamaea, control the affairs of the empire. It turned out to be his undoing; the military rebelled and slaughtered them both in their tent.


  1. Maximinus Thrax-a Thracian peasant who rose through the ranks of the Roman army to become emperor. Was infamous for confiscating public property, both from the rich and poor, during his reign.


  1. Gordian I & II-at 80, Gordian I was the oldest Roman emperor to ascend the throne; ruled jointly with his son, Gordian II for only 20 days.


  1. Gordian III-was only 13 when he was proclaimed emperor.


  1. Decius-was the first emperor to be killed in battle; was slain by Goths in the Lower Danube.


  1. Valerian-was captured in war by the Persians; lived the rest of his life as a slave under King Shapur I.


  1. Quintillus-shortest reigning emperor, at a meager 17 days.


  1. Aurelian-ordered construction of the famous Aurelian Wall, a ring of defenses around the city of Rome. Also defeated Zenobia, the queen of the oasis-city of Palmyra, restoring the eastern provinces of the Roman empire. Was later named “Restitutor Orbis” or “Restorer of the World”.


  1. Tacitus-was supposedly elected by the senate to rule after the death of Aurelian, on the request of the Roman army.


  1. Probus-the emperor of reconstruction. Had a strong interest in public works/rebuilding the provinces that suffered damage from wars and invasions.


  1. Carus-was killed by a bolt of lightning while at camp.


  1. Carinus-was a hedonist who married nine times. And supposedly molested the wives of his soldiers.


  1. Diocletian-created the tetrarchy, or rule by four. This consisted of two Augusti and two Caesars. He divided the empire and its provinces into 12 dioceses governed by vicars. Also persecuted the Christians through destroying churches, imprisoning clergy, and forcing Christians to sacrifice to pagan gods. Many were tortured, burned, and sacrificed to lions.


  1. Maxentius-would take married women away from their husbands and insult/dishonor them, then return them once he had had his way.


  1. Constantine-though he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, he was not baptized until close to his deathbed. Restored the property of Christian churches while confiscating pagan temples, outlawing pagan sacrifice, as well as gladiatorial contests and prostitution. Founded Constantinople as the new capital of the Roman empire in Byzantium, where he was later buried.


  1. Constantine II, Constans I, and Constantius II-three sons of Constantine who divided rule over the Roman empire among themselves. Constans was murdered in a conspiracy by Magnentius, a barbarian soldier. Constantine II was killed in battle after trying to invade Italy in an attempt to wrest power from Constans.


  1. Julian-in spite of the fact he was married, he never engaged in sexual relations. Was called “the Apostate” because of his attempt to reinstate the old, pagan religion. Died of a wound in battle against the Persians.


  1. Jovian-died, very strangely, of poison from inhaling the fumes of a brazier while sleeping in his tent.


  1. Valentinian I-died after a stroke that was caused by an outburst of rage.


  1. Theodosius-settled the Goths in Thrace that would later sack the Roman empire in 410, under Alaric. Banned pagan festivals, which included the Olympic Games.


  1. Valentinian III-his sister Honoria sent a ring to Atilla the Hun, asking him to come to her rescue, in order to escape a marriage arrangement.


  1. Severus III-installed as puppet ruler by army commander Count Ricimer.


  1. Romulus Augustulus-abdicated the throne and was the last emperor in the West before the fall of the Roman Empire.



Gibbon, Edward. (2003). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Abridged Edition. New York, New York: Random House Inc.

Scarre, Chris (1995) Chronicle of the Roman Emperors: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Rome. New York, New York: Thames & Hudson Ltd.



About achavers22

I am a young writer: very ambitious and always trying to come up with new ideas, while working with the ones I have. I really love sci-fi, fantasy, and any type of fiction. And I'm a huge movie lover so you may see me posting impassioned reviews of films I've watched. And I love to read in my spare time (classics, history, fiction, etc.). Reading really helps me to sharpen my writing skills. Other than that I'm usually on my iPod, laptop, plumbing through 70s music. Disclaimer: my blog does not take credit for pictures that appear in posts. If you are the owner of any of the images and do not wish them to be posted here please let me know via email: a1chavers@gmail.com
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