Antoninus Pius was born near Lanuvium in A.D. 86. As he grew up, he started serving as a quaestor. This was commonly known as a public official. In Ancient Rome it was also an elected position. Antoninus had great success performing his various duties.
He worked with ease under Emperor Hadrian reign. Consequently, Antoninus obtained the consulship in 120 A.D. Because Emperor Hadrian had no immediate successor he decided to adopt Antoninus on February 25th, 138 A.D. This was only months before Hadrian died of congestive heart failure.
Antoninus was suddenly thrust into position to rule the Roman Empire. What Antoninus Pius did as emperor is best understood if we take a closer look at what he didn’t do. He didn’t lead the country into war. Throughout his reign Emperor Antoninus carried out the continuation of a peaceful state.
One of the five good emperors
Emperor Antoninus was known as one of the Five Good Emperors of the Roman Empire. One of the reasons is because he didn’t perform a single military act during his 23 year reign. In fact, he never had to command an army. Instead, Antoninus dealt in diplomacy. He worked through matters of war and peace. He dealt with governors through imperial letters. His style of governance was highly praised for generations to come. Above all, Emperor Antoninus never had to leave Italy.
Emperor Antoninus Pius also became a skilled administrator and builder. He carried out the expansion of aqueducts throughout the Roman Empire. As a result, he also built new bridges and roads. All these new infrastructure builds assured that the people of the Roman Empire would get free access to drinking water.
Emperor Antoninus managed to leave behind an empire better than the empire that he inherited. Most importantly, he left a sizable public treasury of around 2.7 billion sesterces. Rome would not witness another Emperor leaving his successor with a surplus for a very long time.
Antoninus Pius Gold Aureus
Below you’ll find a video that commemorates the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. It shows an Antoninus Pius Gold Aureus coin, which is a beautiful piece of history that can be held in your hands. It also serves as testimony to what Antoninus Pius did as emperor. He helped to build a better empire and prevented any major conflicts. All this while staying at home and concentrating his attention to his people.