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2 Successive Emperors Who Each Reigned Less Than a Hundred Days

Pertinax - The Roman Emperor Who Followed Commodus

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Pertinax

Pertinax

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Name: Publius Helvius Pertinax
Parents: Helvius Successus
Dates: August 1, A.D 126 - March 28, 193
Reign: 193: Jan. 1 - March 28
Occupations: Teacher, military officer, emperor

Son of a freedman who named his son for a desirable commercial trait, according to the Historia Augusta, Pertinax traveled from his home in northwest Italy to Rome to learn and, later, teach grammar. After some years, he changed course, entering imperial service. Then, following a successful military career, at the age of 66 Pertinax was acclaimed emperor. He became emperor despite his suspected involvement in the murder of the previous emperor, the unpopular Commodus, and the fact that he was the son of a freedman (Helvius Successus) -- barely one step on the social ladder above the son of a slave. [See Freedman vs Freeborn.]

When Pertinax was made 'Augustus' he was also given the title pater patriae, 'father of his country.' He was the first emperor to receive both titles on the same day.

While emperor, Pertinax tried to replenish the treasury that Commodus had squandered, but Pertinax seemed stingy and profit-hungry. His measures were unpopular with the soldiers and his court. His detractors described him as smooth-tongued. On the other hand, the Historia Augusta says the people were happy with Pertinax for his attempts to bring back the old Rome and also for his gift of 100 denarii to each of them. Unlike his predecessor, Pertinax treated the Senate with respect. Like the people, the Senate was sufficiently pleased with Pertinax to enroll him among the gods when he died.

Later, under Emperor Septimius Severus, he was deified, but Pertinax was killed after only 87 days in office. His successor lasted an even shorter time....

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