From limitless wealth to insanity: 5 facts about Roman emperors

The Roman republic, and then the empire, is an example for other countries to follow, even in our time. It laid the foundations of law, political structure, science, was an advanced power, which bypassed in development even the states of the Middle Ages that arose centuries later.

One of the most important assets of the empire and, at the same time, a reason for shame were its emperors. Many of them were truly insane, some were ridiculed, and a small fraction, on the contrary, is role models even today.

To better understand the versatility of the Roman Empire, we will tell you the facts about several emperors of this once the most powerful state on the planet.

Augustus Octavian was the richest oligarch in history

From limitless wealth to insanity: 5 facts about Roman emperors
©Istockphotos

When people utter the phrase “when will they already bailout” in relation to the rulers and officials, they do not understand that the oligarchs have an example to follow. The first emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus Octavian, received a huge inheritance from his great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar. But it was worth practically nothing compared to the other income of the emperor.

After the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Augustus Octavian subjugated Egypt, which at that time provided about 25-30% of the total world GDP, producing the most important resource – grain. Part of the income went directly to Augustus Octavian, and, as historians estimate, by the end of his life, the emperor’s fortune was estimated by our money at about 4.6 trillion dollars, which was about 20% of the entire economy of the Roman Empire.

Diocletian voluntarily resigned and was engaged in the cultivation of cabbage

From limitless wealth to insanity: 5 facts about Roman emperors
©iStockphotos

When Diocletian came to power, Rome was seized by the so-called crisis of the third century, when the empire fell apart, and the emperors replaced each other more often than a man blinked and held on to the throne at all costs.

Diocletian, sitting on the throne, completed the work of the emperor Aurelian to restore the Roman Empire from separate states. He retained the power of the country, reformed the administration, and stabilized Rome. The emperor’s contemporaries even proclaimed the reign of Diocletian as the return of a golden age.

After 20 years of reign, Diocletian voluntarily abdicated the throne, leaving to live in his residence Nicomedia. He spent the rest of his life in Illyria on his estate, doing agriculture. When Maximian and Galerius tried to persuade Diocletian to return to power, he said: “If they saw the cabbage that he grew, they would not bother him with their proposals.”

Perhaps this way of thinking was laid down by a difficult life before the empire’s rule because Diocletian achieved heights despite everything, being the son of a former slave.

Elagabalus (Heliogabalus) tried to impose a hostile religion on the Romans and did not get out of bed

From limitless wealth to insanity: 5 facts about Roman emperors
©Britannica

Most have not even heard of Elagabalus because he was one of the many emperors who sat on the throne for a short time. He was a handsome youth. Having ascended the throne of the Roman Empire, Heliogabalus began to do strange things; for example, he tried to replace the supreme god of Rome, Jupiter, with the Syrian sun god.

He built a temple on the Palatine, where he conducted services in a Syrian costume, danced surrounded by girls, which looked more like an orgy, and all this in front of all the officials of Rome. He also organized human sacrifices.

He was known for his extreme depravity and, according to rumors of his contemporaries, was engaged in prostitution. But even without rumors, Heliogabalus proved his essence, riding naked in a chariot while using naked prostitutes instead of horses. And these are not the strangest passionate actions of the rulers, which will not be discussed in history lessons.

Hadrian turned his deceased lover into a deity

From limitless wealth to insanity: 5 facts about Roman emperors
©The collector

Who are we to judge people for orientation or how they deal with the loss of their beloved. But Emperor Hadrian went farthest in this matter. He had a wife, but she did not give him heirs and was not particularly sympathetic to him. But the emperor found solace in another camp, having met the young man Antinous in Bithynia in 124. In 130 AD, Antinous drowned in the Nile, and this hit Hadrian so much that he ordered the priests to worship the young man.

The emperor ordered the city of Antinoopolis to be built on the site of his death, where games were held annually in his honor, and the cult of a new god spread throughout the Roman Empire. Hadrian built many statues throughout the country in honor of Antinous. There were so many of them that even about five thousand have come down to our time. During his reign, Adrian made as many statues of Antinous as were not erected in honor of any Roman emperor.

Commodus lived in an imaginary world, considering himself Hercules, and renamed Rome to Colonia Commodiana

From limitless wealth to insanity: 5 facts about Roman emperors
©On This Day

Those who have watched the film “Gladiator” are disgusted with Emperor Commodus for his intemperance and hysteria. But the film is just a shadow of what Commodus was. Unlike his father, Marcus Aurelius, the last of the so-called five good emperors, who was a philosopher and representative of late Stoicism, Commodus turned out to be completely different from his father.

He lived in an imaginary world where he considered himself Hercules and the son of Zeus. He put on a lion’s skin or the robe of the priest of Isis, wore an image of the god Anubis on his head, gave new names to the months, and ordered himself to be addressed by the title “the most courageous of people.” He also renamed the Roman Empire to Colonia Commodiana

Commodus often acted as a gladiator, fought in the arena with other warriors, and killed wild animals. He is also known for his huge harem, which contained several hundred women and boys. The emperor’s contemporaries said that he tried all evil methods: from wearing women’s clothing to dissecting living people. All this bothered the ruling elite of Rome so much that they organized a conspiracy, during which Commodus was first poisoned with wine and then strangled by a slave.

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