Augustus was the most effective Roman emperor

Emperor Trajan: Under him the Roman Empire reached its zenith

At the end of the year 117 AD Rome experienced a special kind of spectacle. A pompous triumphal procession moved through the city, with everything that went with it: booty, prisoners of war and soldiers. But the general's chariot, to whom the honor was dedicated, did not carry a person, but a golden urn. To the great astonishment of the audience, the vessel with the human remains of Emperor Trajan was not immediately removed from the city - according to Roman law, the dead were buried beyond the city limits - but in its center, on the monumental forum that Trajan built and where he was with a pillar to commemorate his greatest victory. His ashes were finally buried at the foot of the 35 meter high monument, a unique honor for an emperor.

Not even Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire, had built his mausoleum within the city. If this extraordinary honor was bestowed on his twelfth successor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus, extraordinary reasons had to be involved. The Senate gave a reason in 114 when it gave Trajan the nickname "Optimus" (the best). Augustus (the sublime) was also an honorary designation, but lacked the superlative. The difference was described by a greeting that was still in use centuries later: "May you be happier than Augustus and better than Trajan."

For Trajan it was his own achievement that counted, not the support of higher beings in the constant competition of the Roman aristocracy. Because Trajan did not come from any of the big families that had ruled the politics of the empire for centuries, yes, he did not even come from Italy. Trajan was born in the year 53 in Italica, Spain (today Santiponce near Seville). His father of the same name fought as a legionary commander under Vespasian in the Jewish War. When the latter reached for the purple with success, the latter stood by his side loyally and was rewarded with the governorship of the important province of Syria and acceptance among the patricians.