Trajan’s identity was inherently tied with the Roman military. The son of one of the Emperor Vespasian’s best generals, Trajan spent much of his early life serving along the Roman frontiers, fighting against both foreign enemies and internal rebels. It was a rebellion of the Praetorian Guard that paved the way for Trajan to become emperor, and the conquest of his armies in Dacia and Parthia form the core of his legacy. It perhaps is predictable then that the majority of inscriptions found about Trajan in the provinces relate to military matters. Often, military leaders would pay tribute to the emperor while honoring their unit’s or their own personal achievements, a practice similar to that done by curators within Rome. Some examples from across the Empire:
Image from EDH
[Imp(erator) Caesar divi] Nerva[e] / [f(ilius) Nerva T]raian(us) / [Aug(ustus) Germanicus] co(n)s(ul) III / [—]e leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) p(raetore) / [per coh(ortem) I Fl(aviam) Hisp]an(orum) p(iam) f(idelem) eq(uitatam) / [— et] armam(entarium) / [fecit]
This inscription from Germany commemorates the building of an armory by the I Flavia Hispanorum pia fidelis, a cohort of cavalry.
IMPERATOR CAESAR DIVI
NERVAE FILIVS NERVA TRAIANVS
OPTVMVS AVGVSTVS GERMANICVS
DACICVS PARTHICVS PONTIFEX MA
XIMVS TRIB POTEST XVIIII IMP
XI COS VI P P VIAM VETVSTATE COR
This inscription comes from a mile marker in modern-day Turkey, where it tells how the old road from Nicea was damaged and then repaired by soldiers.
Image from RIB
Im[p(erator) Caes(ar) divi Nervae f(ilius)]
Ne[rva Traianus Aug(ustus) Germ(anicus)]
Finally, an inscription from Britain. In Britain, there are few inscriptions specifically commemorating Trajan, although he is frequently mentioned in inscriptions about his adopted son Hadrian. This small fragment comes from the Roman fort at Chester, where it is speculated to be part of an inscription noting the rebuilding of the fortress in stone under Trajan. The small size of the fragments make it impossible to prove that, however, and illustrate the difficulty in interpreting small fragments.