Lucius Verus : biography
Cassius’ army, although suffering from a shortage of supplies and the effects of a plague contracted in Seleucia, made it back to Roman territory safely.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164. Iunius Maximus, a young tribunus laticlavius serving in III Gallica under Cassius, took the news of the victory to Rome. Maximus received a generous cash bounty (dona) for bringing the good news, and immediate promotion to the quaestorship.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164, citing Alföldy and Halfmann, "Iunius Mauricus und die Victoria Parthica", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 35 (1979): 195–212 = Alföldy, Römische Heeresgeschichte. Beiträge 1962–1985 (Amsterdam, 1987), 203 ff (with addenda, 220–1); Fronto, Ad amicos 1.6. Lucius took the title Parthicus Maximus, and he and Marcus were hailed as imperatores again, earning the title ‘imp. III’.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164, citing H. Mattingly, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus (London, 1940), Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, nos. 384 ff., 1248 ff., 1271 ff. Cassius’ army returned to the field in 166, crossing over the Tigris into Media. Lucius took the title ‘Medicus’,Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164, citing P. Kneissl, Die Siegestitulatur der römischen Kaiser. Untersuchungen zu den Siegerbeinamen des 1. und 2. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen, 1969), 99 ff. and the emperors were again hailed as imperatores, becoming ‘imp. IV’ in imperial titulature. Marcus took the Parthicus Maximus now, after another tactful delay.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164, citing H. Mattingly, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus (London, 1940), Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, nos. 401ff.
Most of the credit for the war’s success must be ascribed to subordinate generals. The forces that advanced on Osroene were led by M. Claudius Fronto, an Asian provincial of Greek descent who had led I Minervia in Armenia under Priscus. He was probably the first senator in his family.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 130, citing Prosopographia Imperii Romani2 C 874. Fronto was consul for 165, probably in honor of the capture of Edessa.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164, citing Alföldy, Konsulat, 179 ff. P. Martius Verus had led V Macedonica to the front, and also served under Priscus. Martius Verus was a westerner, whose patria was perhaps Tolosa in Gallia Narbonensis.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 130, citing Prosopographia Imperii Romani2 M 348.
The most prominent general, however, was C. Avidius Cassius, commander of III Gallica, one of the Syrian legions. Cassius was young senator of low birth from the north Syrian town of Cyrrhus. His father, Heliodorus, had not been a senator, but was nonetheless a man of some standing: he had been Hadrian’s ab epistulis, followed the emperor on his travels, and was prefect of Egypt at the end of Hadrian’s reign. Cassius also, with no small sense of self-worth, claimed descent from the Seleucid kings.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 130, citing Prosopographia Imperii Romani2 A 1402f.; 1405; Astarita, passim; Syme, Bonner Historia-Augustia Colloquia 1984 (= Roman Papers IV (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), ?). Cassius and Martius Verus, still probably in their mid-thirties, took the consulships for 166.Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 164, citing Alföldy, Konsulat, 24, 221.
Vologases IV of Parthia (147–191) made peace but was forced to cede western Mesopotamia to the Romans. Lucius is reported to have been an excellent commander, without fear of delegating military tasks to more competent generals.
On his return to Rome, Lucius was awarded with a triumph. The parade was unusual because it included Lucius, Marcus Aurelius, their sons and unmarried daughters as a big family celebration. Marcus Aurelius’ two sons, Commodus five years old and Annius Verus of three, were elevated to the status of Caesar for the occasion.
Years in Rome
Portrait head of Lucius Verus, found in Athens ([[National Archaeological Museum of Athens) He used to sprinkle gold-dust on his blond hair to make it brighter.]]
The next two years (166–168) were spent in Rome. Verus continued with his glamorous lifestyle and kept the troupe of actors and favourites with him. He had a tavern built in his house, where he celebrated parties with his friends until dawn. He also enjoyed roaming around the city among the population, without acknowledging his identity. The games of the circus were another passion in his life, especially chariot racing. Marcus Aurelius disapproved of his conduct but, since Verus continued to perform his official tasks with efficiency, there was little he could do.
Wars on the Danube and death
In the spring of 168 war broke out in the Danubian border when the Marcomanni invaded the Roman territory. This war would last until 180, but Verus did not see the end of it. In 168, as Verus and Marcus Aurelius returned to Rome from the field, Verus fell ill with symptoms attributed to food poisoning, dying after a few days (169). However, scholars believe that Verus may have been a victim of smallpox, as he died during a widespread epidemic known as the Antonine Plague.
Despite the minor differences between them, Marcus Aurelius grieved the loss of his adoptive brother. He accompanied the body to Rome, where he offered games to honour his memory. After the funeral, the senate declared Verus divine to be worshipped as Divus Verus.