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The Five Good Emperors of Roman Empire


The five good emperors were very prosperous emperors who ruled consecutively and excelled during their time of reign; for the period between 96 and 180 AD. These five emperors were ‘Trajan, Nerva, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius’. They were called so because they succeeded by winning support concerning the running of state matters (Birley 1987).

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Marcus Cocceius Nerva was the first of these great emperors, who ruled between 96 and 98 AD. Being very and stubborn, Nerva promised to deal with the senate fairly and never to avoid any ruthless killing of its members. Trajan was the second emperor who ruled from 98 to 117 AD, and who started by killing all those leaders who had ashamed Nerva. Trajan was best known for being very generous contributed a lot to offering public services like the repair of infrastructure among others (Rose 1978).

The third of the five great emperors in Rome was ‘Aelius Hadrianus’ who ruled from 117 to 138 AD. He first terminated Trajan’s attempts of expansion and then abandoned military conquests, while at the same time not attending to provinces.

The fourth emperor was Antonius Pius who ruled between 138 and 161 AD. Antonius prospered very greatly because he had no interest in conquering other kingdoms as his aim was to restore back the senate (Gibbon 1993).

The last to reign, among these five good emperors, was ‘Marcus Aurelius’; who ruled between 161 and 180 AD. His reign faced a lot of hardships due to warfare situations and financial difficulties. All these five great emperors excelled in their ruling; leading to their significant recognition marking the Pax Romana. This research paper is therefore meant to establish who of these five good emperors were distinctive, and why their era marked the apex of Pax Romana (Rose 1978).

Antonio Pius being one of the Five Good Emperors in the history of Rome, was born in 86 AD. Between 133 and 136 AD, Antonio was an appointee of the Asian government as a governor, whereby afterward he earned a lot of respect from Emperor Hadrian who on his coming back from the war in Israel, made him a member of his council; as he had a great experience in administration and managerial skills. On 25th February 138 AD, Antonio adopted the throne from Hadrian (Rose 1978).

Antonio was very prosperous during his reign in the Roman Empire because he restored the status of the senate without losing any of his powers. Antonio was a builder and this skill helped him strengthen the capital machinery as well as setting up a bureau of standards to affect the construction of infrastructure for the kingdom. (Gibbon 1993).

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He was very much pressurized by the whole world wanting him to help them in many different ways; which evidenced that he satisfied many people. He also had various buildings in different cities like Rome, Antinum, Lorium and Cieta among others; to which he was very generous with his own resources inducing the rich to do the same (Grant 1988).

During the reign of Antonio Pius, people looked in vain for creativity from the ideology that he made during his governance. Later on, Antonio died after a short sickness in peace, on the date of March 7 161AD at Lorium. Generally, Antonius was an incredible administrator in his time whose reign was remarked by peace and calmness indicating a prosperous era. Later, Antonio adopted Marcus Aurelius to be his successor to the Roman Empire throne; after which he gave him the name Caesar after appointing him as a governor designates (Gibbon 1993).

One of the most remarkable common characteristics among the five good emperors was that; they all succeeded in winning support from the people and also united the state well, as opposed to their predecessors who had failed to accomplish their mission. (Grant 1988).

Another major thing that characterized the five good emperors and made them distinct was their excellent relations with the state and adopting successors; as they made their best choices based on the achievement of successors, other than merely on family and personal relationships (Botsford 2009).

It was significant that these five good emperors were unique in their way of ruling to an extent that they could not be compared to their predecessors. First, one thing that each of these emperors did was to correct the mistakes made by his predecessor. In fact, this meant that the emperors learned what their predecessor had failed and used the same, as stepping stones to steer them higher. Their reign was also marked by a significant state of peace; were also less radical, tyracle and maniacal, which were very crucial tools and policies meant to ensure that they remain in power as well as ensure prosperity for Rome (Bunson 1994).

Historians consider the period between 96 and 180 AD as the apex of Pax Romana because it was the period that marked the end of warfare instances, in which peace was experienced after this era. In fact, it was the period marked by the death of Marcus Aurelius, who was the last among the five good emperors (Birley 1987).


From research, it was found out that the five good emperors were those emperors who prosperously reigned during their time in the Roman Empire between 96 and 180 AD. This era also marked the apex of the Pax Romana.

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Birley, Anthony. Marcus Aurelius: A Biography. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

Botsford, George. A Source Book of Ancient History. New York: Bibliolife publisher, 2009.

Bunson, Matthew. Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. New York: Facts on File, 1994.

Gibbon, Edward. The decline and the fall of Roman Empire vol. 1-3. London: Everyman’s Library Publishers, 1993.

Gibbon, Edward. The decline and the fall of the Roman Empire vol. 4-6.London: Everyman’s Library Publishers, 1994.

Grant, Michael and Rackel, Kitzinger. The civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988.

Ross, Martha. Rulers and Governments of the World vol.1. London: Bowker Publishers, 1978.

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