Lucius Verus : biography
Lucius Verus (In Classical Latin, Verus’ name would be inscribed as LVCIVS AVRELIVS VERVS AVGVSTVS. 15 December 130 – 169), was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.
Category:2nd-century Roman emperors Category:Nerva–Antonine dynasty Category:Imperial Roman consuls Category:Deified Roman emperors Category:130 births Category:169 deaths Category:People of the Roman–Persian Wars
Early life and career
Lucius Verus was the first-born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian (76–138). He was born and raised in Rome. Verus had another brother Gaius Avidius Ceionius Commodus and two sisters Ceionia Fabia and Ceionia Plautia. His maternal grandparents were the Roman Senator Gaius Avidius Nigrinus and the unattested noblewoman Ignota Plautia. Although his adoptive paternal grandparents were the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Roman Empress Vibia Sabina, his biological paternal grandparents were the consul Lucius Ceionius Commodus and noblewoman Aelia or Fundania Plautia.
When his father died in early 138, Hadrian chose Antoninus Pius (86–161) as his successor. Antoninus was adopted by Hadrian on the condition that Verus and Hadrian’s great-nephew Marcus Aurelius was to be adopted by Antoninus as his sons and heirs.
As a prince and future emperor, Verus received careful education from the famous “grammaticus” Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He was reported to have been an excellent student, fond of writing poetry and delivering speeches. Verus started his political career as a quaestor in 153, became consul in 154, and in 161 was consul again with Marcus Aurelius as his senior partner.
Accession of Lucius and Marcus, 161
Antoninus died on 7 March 161, and was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius. Although Marcus had no personal affection for Hadrian (significantly, he does not thank him in the first book of his Meditations), he presumably believed it his duty to enact the man’s succession plans.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 156. Thus, although the senate planned to confirm Marcus alone, he refused to take office unless Lucius received equal powers.HA Verus 3.8; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 116; "Hadrian to the Antonines", 156.
The senate accepted, granting Lucius the imperium, the tribunician power, and the name Augustus.HA Verus 4.1; Marcus 7.5; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 116. Marcus became, in official titulature, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; Lucius, forgoing his name Commodus and taking Marcus’ family name, Verus, became Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 116–17. It was the first time that Rome was ruled by two emperors.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 117.
In spite of their nominal equality, Marcus held more auctoritas, or "authority", than Verus. He had been consul once more than Lucius, he had shared in Pius’ administration, and he alone was Pontifex Maximus. It would have been clear to the public which emperor was the more senior.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 117. As the biographer wrote, "Verus obeyed Marcus…as a lieutenant obeys a proconsul or a governor obeys the emperor."HA Verus 4.2, tr. David Magie, cited in Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 117, 278 n.4.
Immediately after their senate confirmation, the emperors proceeded to the Castra Praetoria, the camp of the praetorian guard. Lucius addressed the assembled troops, which then acclaimed the pair as imperatores. Then, like every new emperor since Claudius, Lucius promised the troops a special donative.HA Marcus 7.9; Verus 4.3; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 117–18. This donative, however, was twice the size of those past: 20,000 sesterces (5,000 denarii) per capita, more to officers. In return for this bounty, equivalent to several years’ pay, the troops swore an oath to protect the emperors.HA Marcus 7.9; Verus 4.3; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 117–18. "twice the size": Richard Duncan-Jones, Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 109. The ceremony was perhaps not entirely necessary, given that Marcus’ accession had been peaceful and unopposed, but it was good insurance against later military troubles.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118.