The Emperor Trajan ruled from 98-117 A.D., when Rome was at the height of its power. A military man, Trajan’s conquests of Dacia and Parthia form the root of his legacy. This legacy is reflected in the surviving artifacts of his rule, from the imposing height of Trajan’s Column to the most simple copper As coin. Trajan, however, was also a social reformer and a builder, a legacy that, while largely forgotten today, was of equal importance for Trajan himself. Use the links below or the drop-down menu to select a subject to learn more about:
Here are some research questions to consider while reading about the inscriptions and coins of Trajan:
1. Does the location of the memorial geographically affect what titles are included? (e.g. is a monument in the middle east or Anatolia more likely to include Parthicus than Dacicus.)
2. Trajan is known as a conqueror-emperor, in line with his military background. He also, however, undertook a great series of building projects and social reform programs in Rome. Do monuments to him stress him as the warrior, the builder, or both?
1. Does the same contrast between military and civil projection of power carry over into coinage?
2. What years is Trajan printing coins? Are coins printed more heavily after a major conquest or achievement or is production more consistent from year to year during his reign?
3. How does Trajan present himself across different denominations of coinage? Is he represented differently on a gold Aureus than on a simple bronze As?