(188—217) Roman emperor 211–

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(ad 188–217),

nicknamed Caracalla, emperor ad 198–217. Elder son of L. Septimius Severus, originally called Septimius Bassianus; 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 Publius Septimius Geta in 205, when he had his hated father-in-law Gaius Fulvius Plautianus 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, he and Geta abandoned Scotland, making the wall of Hadrian the frontier again, and returned to Rome. After having Geta killed (26 December 211), a drastic purge followed. To conciliate the soldiers, he raised their pay, creating financial problems. One solution was the ‘Antonine constitution’ which made all free men and women in the empire Roman citizens; he simultaneously doubled the inheritance tax paid only by citizens, which funded the aerarium militare (military treasury). In 215 a new coin was struck, the so-called antoninianus, 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), evidently gave the Raetian limes (frontier) a stone wall, 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; Hither Spain was also subdivided). Obsessed by Alexander the Great, he raised a Macedonian phalanx and went east in his footsteps, through Asia 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 (8 April 217). Macrinus deified him as Divus Antoninus Magnus.

Anthony R. Birley

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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