Lucius Verus

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Lucius Verus
Verus is a disambiguation page linking to articles about more than one person of that name.

Lucius Ceionius Commodus Verus Armeniacus (December 15 130 - 169), known simply as Lucius Verus, was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.

Verus was the son of Lucius Aelius Caesar, a man close to emperor Hadrian and his first choice as successor, by his wife Avidia. When Aelius Caesar died in AD 138, Hadrian chose Antoninus Pius as his successor, on the condition that Antoninus adopted both Verus (then seven years old) and Marcus Aurelius, Hadrian's nephew. As an imperial prince, Verus received careful education from the most famous grammaticus Marcus Cornelius Fronto. Verus is reported to have been an excellent student, fond of writing poetry and delivering speeches.

Verus' political career started as quaestor in 153 and then as consul in 154. In 161, he was once again consul, with Marcus Aurelius as senior partner. Antoninus died on March 7, 161, and was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius. Verus was nonetheless opted as co-emperor, an unprecedented event in the Roman Empire. Officially both men shared equal powers, but in practice it was Marcus Aurelius who became the leader. Verus was given the control of the armies, proving the confidence between him and his senior brother. To solidify this alliance, Marcus Aurelius gave his daughter Lucilla in marriage to Verus and together they had three children.

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Coin issued to celebrate the victory of Lucius Verus Armeniacus against Vologases IV of Parthia in the war for Armenia.

Between 162 and 166 Verus was in the East, commanding a campaign against the Parthian empire for the control over the Armenian kingdom. In this war the city of Seleucia was destroyed and the palace at the capital Ctesiphon was burned to the ground by Avidius Cassius in 164. The Roman legions advanced as far as Media. Vologases IV of Parthia made peace but was forced to cede western Mesopotamia to the Romans. Verus is reported to be an excellent commander, without fear of delegating military tasks to more competent generals. Contemporary accounts state that Verus did not live a hard life during the campaign. He was always surrounded with actors and musicians, enjoying copious banquets and other pleasures of life. Apparently the merry disposition was transposed to the ranking troops, since the morale was high. This attitude did not either stop his reasonable actions: Verus remained a competent leader and performed his tasks with competence. On the return of the campaign, Verus was awarded with a Roman triumph, and the title of Armeniacus. The parade was unusual because it included Verus, Marcus Aurelius, their sons and unmarried daughters as a big family celebration.

The next two years 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 and 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.

In the spring of 168 war broke out in the Danubian border when the Alamanni and the Marcomanni invaded the Roman territory. This war would last until 180, but Verus did not see the end of it. In 169, 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. 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 honor his memory. After the funeral, the senate declared Verus a god to be worshipped as Divus Verus.


Preceded by:
Antoninus Pius
Roman Emperor
with Marcus Aurelius
Succeeded by:
Marcus Aurelius

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