Aurēlius Antonīnus, Marcus


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(ad 188–217),

nicknamed Caracalla, emperor ad 198–217. Elder son of Septimius Severus; renamed after Marcus Aurelius and made Caesar in 195. Augustus in 198, he was consul for the first time with his father in 202 and for the second time with his brother Septimius Geta in 205, when he had his hated father‐in‐law killed. Consul for the third time in 208, again with Geta, whom he also hated, he accompanied his father to Britain, sharing command against the Caledonians. When Severus died (211), he and Geta abandoned Scotland, making the wall of Hadrian the frontier again, and returned to Rome. Caracalla had Geta killed, and a drastic purge followed. To conciliate the soldiers, he raised their pay, creating financial problems. One solution was the ‘Antonine constitution’; he simultaneously doubled the inheritance tax paid only by citizens, which funded the aerarium militare. In 215 a new coin was struck, evidently tariffed at two denarii, but weighing only 1.5: this was to lead to inflation.

In 213 he fought the Alamanni (the first time they are mentioned), and became Germanicus Maximus. In 214 he attacked the Danubian Carpi and reorganized Pannonia, each province now having two legions (Britain was split into two provinces at this time; Nearer Spain was also subdivided). Obsessed by Alexander 2 the Great, he raised a Macedonian phalanx and went east in his footsteps, through Asia Minor and Syria to Alexandria, where large numbers who had mocked him were killed. When his offer to marry a Parthian princess was rejected, he attacked Media. While preparing a further campaign he was murdered near Carrhae (April 217).

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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