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Antonius Pius was a Roman emperor during 131 to 161 AD, the son of Aurelius Fulvus, a Roman consul whose family had originally belonged to Nemausus (Nimes), was born near Lanuvium on the 19th of September 86. After the death of his father, he was brought up under the care of Arrius Antoninus, his maternal grandfather, a man of integrity and culture, and on terms of friendship with the younger Pliny. Having filled with more than usual success the offices of quaestor and praetor, he obtained the consulship in 120; he was next chosen one of the four consulars for Italy, and greatly increased his reputation by his conduct as proconsul of Asia. He acquired much influence with the emperor Hadrian, who adopted him as his son and successor on the 25th of February 138, after the death of his first adopted son Aelius Verus, on condition that he himself adopted Marcus Annius Verus, his wife's brother's son, and Lucius, son of Aelius Verus, afterwards the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (colleague of Marcus Aurelius). A few months afterwards, on Hadrian's death, he was enthusiastically welcomed to the throne by the Roman people, who, for once, were not disappointed in their anticipation of a happy reign. For Antoninus came to his new office with simple tastes, kindly disposition, extensive experience, a well-trained intelligence and the sincerest desire for the welfare of his subjects. Instead of plundering to support his prodigality, he emptied his private treasury to assist distressed provinces and cities, and everywhere exercised rigid economy (hence the nickname "cummin-splitter"). Instead of exaggerating into treason whatever was susceptible of unfavorable interpretation, he turned the very conspiracies that were formed against him into opportunities of signalizing his clemency. Instead of stirring up persecution against the Christians, he extended to them the strong hand of his protection throughout the empire. Rather than give occasion to that oppression which he regarded as inseparable from an emperor's progress through his dominions, he was content to spend all the years of his reign in Rome, or its neighborhood. Under his patronage the science of jurisprudence was cultivated by men of high ability, and a number of humane and equitable enactments were passed in his name. Of the public transactions of this period we have but scant information, but, to judge by what we possess, those twenty-two years were not remarkably eventful. One of his first acts was to persuade the senate to grant divine honors to Hadrian, which they had at first refused; this gained him the title of Pius (dutiful in affection). He built temples, theaters, and mausoleums, promoted the arts and sciences, and bestowed honors and salaries upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy. His reign was comparatively peaceful. Insurrections amongst the Moors, Jews, and Brigantes in Britain were easily put down. The one military result which is of interest to us now is the building in Britain of the wall of Antoninus from the Forth to the Clyde. In his domestic relations Antoninus was not so fortunate. His wife, Faustina, has almost become a byword for her lack of womanly virtue; but she seems to have kept her hold on his affections to the last. On her death he honored her memory by the foundation of a charity for orphan girls, who bore the name of Alimentariae Faustinianae. He had by her two sons and two daughters; but they all died before his elevation to the throne, except Annia Faustina, who became the wife of Marcus Aurelius. Antoninus died of fever at Lorium in Etruria, about 12 miles from Rome, on the 7th of March 161, giving the keynote to his life in the last word that he uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password -- aequanimitas.

The Real Murder Spot of Caligula-New Find

The Real Murder Spot of Caligula-New Find

The Roman historian, Suetonius, recounts the murder:

On the ninth day before the Kalends of February, at about the seventh hour [Caligula] hesitated whether or not to get up for luncheon, since his stomach was still disordered from excess of food on the day before, but at length he came out at the persuasion of his friends. In the covered passage through which he had to pass, some boys of good birth, who had been summoned from Asia to appear on the stage, were rehearsing their parts, and he stopped to watch and encourage them….From this point there are two versions of the story: some say that as he was talking with the boys, Chaerea came up behind, and gave him a deep cut in the neck, having first cried, “Take that,” and that then the tribune Cornelius Sabinus, who was the other conspirator and faced Gaius, stabbed him in the breast [part of the ritual at the sacrifice was that the slayer raised his axe with the question "Shall I do it?" to which the priest replied "Take that"]. Others say that Sabinus, after getting rid of the crowd through centurions who were in the plot, asked for the watchword, as soldiers do; and that when Gaius gave him “Jupiter,” he cried “So be it,” [another formula at a sacrifice was "receive the fulfillment of your omen", i.e., in naming Jupiter, the god of the thunderbolt and sudden death], and as Gaius looked around, he split his jawbone with a blow of his sword. As he lay upon the ground and with writhing limbs called out that he still lived, the others dispatched him with thirty wounds; for the general signal was ” Strike again.” Some even thrust their swords through his privates. At the beginning of the disturbance his bearers ran to his aid with their poles [with which they carried his litter], and presently the Germans of his body-guard, and they slew several of his assassins, as well as some inoffensive senators. (Quoted from the Ancient History Sourcebook)

This underground passageway – perhaps the scene of an imperial murder – connects the house of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, with the Roman Forum. Currently, it lays some nine meters below the elaborate Gardens that the noble Farnese family created on the hilltop in the 16th century when they leveled the ruins of the House of Tiberius, thereby filling the tunnel with earth.

Excavation of the cryptoporticus began in September under the direction of archaeologist Maria Antonietta Tomei. She and her team have spent the past months removing tons of earth from the five-meter tall tunnel, as well as from lateral passageways.

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