In the season one finale 91AD to 100AD for A.D. History, Paul and Patrick contrast the celebrated rule of Emperor Trajan against the despotic legacy of Domitian. Patrick also presents the Kushan Empire’s first formal contact with Han Dynasty China.
Trajan: The People’s Emperor?
Emperor Trajan was born a Roman citizen in 53AD, in the Roman settlement Italica located in southern modern-day Spain. Born to father Marcus Ulpius Trajanus and mother Marcia, Trajan holds the singular distinction of being the first Emperor ever appointed that was not born and raised in Rome.
Trajan has often been cited as one of the so-called “Five Good Emperors” for his time at the top of the Roman world. Trajan, though not the immediate successor to Domitian, was his effective successor given the very brief rule of Nerva.
The Powerful Legacy of Trajan
During Trajan’s tenure, he incorporated the gold rich Dacia into the empire. Rome furthermore achieved it’s territorial apex following the defeat of Parthia. Domestically Trajan was a very capable and well liked administrator, who focused heavily on building infrastructure in Italy, constructing many high profile projects like the port of Ostia, and the Trajan Market.
Emperor Trajan was also a stark contrast to Domitian politically. Trajan sought to bring the completely sidelined Senate back into the proverbial fold, had no proclivity for political violence, and set aside the despotic model of his predecessor.
A Common Touch
Trajan also uniquely cultivated the political image of a “man of the people,” possessing a uniquely common touch with every day Romans. From choosing to enter Rome for the first time as emperor on foot, to apparently even enjoying the hospitality of common Romans in their own home. For all intents and purposes, Trajan left an imprint upon the principate that Romans of his time could only compare to Augustus – a tremendous comparison.
Trajan’s legacy is one of the most unusual compared to both his predecessors, and many of his successors. Explore his story further in this newest episode of the A.D. History Podcast.
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Kushan Empire Contact with Han Dynasty China
The Kushan Empire, covered in an earlier episode, was a major central Asian power, that generated significant wealth as a geographical middle-man whose territory was a major pulse point for all land based routes of the Silk Road.
Patrick in this episode revisits this nascent, yet exponentially growing, major power in Asia. Specifically the all important first formal contact with their expanding Han Dynasty eastern neighbor.
The Kushans, despite their relatively low profile in popular historic memory, proved to be an incredible cosmopolitan society according to archeological evidence. The Kushans likely due to their territory being among the cross roads of the ancient world, was a society that integrated many beliefs, and cultures of those traveled through their lands conducting business.
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