[Thomas Ihle, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

January 27, 98: Optimus Pinceps, The Greatest Roman Emperor Begins

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Trajan, born in 53 AD in Italica, a Roman colony in present-day Spain, rose through the ranks of the Roman military to become one of the greatest military commanders and administrators in Roman history. On July 27, 98, the genius military commander became Roman Emperor, beginning one of Rome’s greatest eras of expansion.

Under Trajan’s command, the Roman Empire achieved significant victories, particularly in the Dacian Wars, which significantly shaped the Roman Empire’s territorial expansion. Fought against the Dacian king Decebalus and his people in the region of modern-day Romania, these conflicts aimed to secure the Roman frontier and control vital resources.

The First Dacian War resulted in a Roman victory, but persistent resistance led to the Second Dacian War. Trajan’s forces ultimately triumphed, capturing the Dacian capital Sarmizegetusa and forcing Decebalus to commit suicide. The conquest of Dacia brought immense wealth and resources to the Roman Empire, influencing Trajan’s legacy as a successful military commander and contributing to the height of Roman power during his reign. The Dacian Wars are vividly depicted in the intricate reliefs of Trajan’s Column in Rome, serving as a lasting testament to these consequential military campaigns.

Trajan is also renowned for his extensive public building projects, including the grand Trajan’s Forum in the heart of Rome. This complex, featuring a basilica, a market, and Trajan’s Column, not only served practical purposes but also demonstrated the emperor’s commitment to enhancing Rome’s grandeur.

In addition to his military and architectural accomplishments, Trajan implemented administrative reforms and prioritized social welfare. He introduced policies to support the impoverished, expanded public welfare programs, and focused on developing infrastructure. Trajan’s rule is widely regarded as a period of prosperity and stability in the Roman Empire.

Even after his death in 117 AD, Trajan’s influence endured, with subsequent generations of Roman leaders recognizing and emulating his achievements in both military and civic matters. His legacy remains integral to the rich tapestry of Roman history, securing his place among the most celebrated rulers of antiquity.

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