Lucius Verus


Lucius Verus : biography

15 December 0130 – 169

Pius’ funeral ceremonies were, in the words of the biographer, "elaborate".HA Marcus 7.10, tr. David Magie, cited in Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118, 278 n.6. If his funeral followed the pattern of past funerals, his body would have been incinerated on a pyre at the Campus Martius, while his spirit would rise to the gods’ home in the heavens. Marcus and Lucius nominated their father for deification. In contrast to their behavior during Pius’ campaign to deify Hadrian, the senate did not oppose the emperors’ wishes.HA Marcus 7.10–11; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118.

A flamen, or cultic priest, was appointed to minister the cult of the deified Pius, now Divus Antoninus. Pius’ remains were laid to rest in the Hadrian’s mausoleum, beside the remains of Marcus’ children and of Hadrian himself.HA Marcus 7.10–11; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118. The temple he had dedicated to his wife, Diva Faustina, became the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. It survives as the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118.

Early rule, 161–62

Soon after the emperors’ accession, Marcus’ eleven-year-old daughter, Annia Lucilla, was betrothed to Lucius (in spite of the fact that he was, formally, her uncle).HA Marcus 7.7; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118. At the ceremonies commemorating the event, new provisions were made for the support of poor children, along the lines of earlier imperial foundations.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 118, citing Werner Eck, Die Organisation Italiens (1979), 146ff. Marcus and Lucius proved popular with the people of Rome, who strongly approved of their civiliter ("lacking pomp") behavior.HA Marcus 8.1, qtd. and tr. Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 119; "Hadrian to the Antonines", 157.

The emperors permitted free speech, evinced by the fact that the comedy writer Marullus was able to criticize them without suffering retribution. At any other time, under any other emperor, he would have been executed. But it was a peaceful time, a forgiving time. And thus, as the biographer wrote, "No one missed the lenient ways of Pius."HA Marcus 8.1, qtd. and tr. Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 119; "Hadrian to the Antonines", 157.

Fronto returned to his Roman townhouse at dawn on 28 March, having left his home in Cirta as soon as news of his pupils’ accession reached him. He sent a note to the imperial freedman Charilas, asking if he could call on the emperors. Fronto would later explain that he had not dared to write the emperors directly.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 120, citing Ad Verum Imperator 1.3.2 (= Haines 1.298ff). The tutor was immensely proud of his students. Reflecting on the speech he had written on taking his consulship in 143, when he had praised the young Marcus, Fronto was ebullient: "There was then an outstanding natural ability in you; there is now perfected excellence. There was then a crop of growing corn; there is now a ripe, gathered harvest. What I was hoping for then, I have now. The hope has become a reality."Ad Antoninum Imperator 4.2.3 (= Haines 1.302ff), qtd. and tr. Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 119. Fronto called on Marcus alone; neither thought to invite Lucius.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 120.

Lucius was less esteemed by his tutor than his brother, as his interests were on a lower level. Lucius asked Fronto to adjudicate in a dispute he and his friend Calpurnius were having on the relative merits of two actors.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 120, citing Ad Verum Imperator 1.1 (= Haines 1.305). Marcus told Fronto of his reading—Coelius and a little Cicero—and his family. His daughters were in Rome, with their great-great-aunt Matidia Minor; Marcus thought the evening air of the country was too cold for them.Ad Antoninum Imperator 4.1 (= Haines 1.300ff), Marcus Aurelius, 120.

The emperors’ early reign proceeded smoothly. Marcus was able to give himself wholly to philosophy and the pursuit of popular affection.HA Marcus 8.3–4; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 120. Some minor troubles cropped up in the spring; there would be more later. In the spring of 162, the Tiber flooded over its banks, destroying much of Rome. It drowned many animals, leaving the city in famine. Marcus and Lucius gave the crisis their personal attention.HA Marcus 8.4–5; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 120. In other times of famine, the emperors are said to have provided for the Italian communities out of the Roman granaries.HA Marcus 11.3, cited in Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 278 n.16.