Torch: U.S. LXVII Spring 2018 - Page 15

FEATURE · Torch:U.S. · Spring 2018


Rome's Four Most Underwhelming Emperors

This piece celebrates Rome’s most mediocre men and their unmemorable reigns.

3. Hostilian

The younger son of Emperor Decius, Hostilian was not expected to become emperor. However, when both Decius and his older son Herennius died in 251 CE while fighting the Goths, Hostilian was named emperor and ruled jointly with Trebonianus Gallus. Just a few months later, the plague swept through Rome and took Hostilian with it. No dramatic death, no wild spree of debauchery, no riots in the streets –just a wholly unexciting man, reign, and end!

4. Numerian

After the death of his father, Emperor Carus, in 282 CE, Numerian and his older brother Carinus ruled jointly. Really the only notable factor about Numerian is his strange death in November of 284. Poor Numerian, only remembered for dying. After a visit to Emesa, Numerian was returning when he contracted an eye infection. He continued his journey in a closed litter. At some point in the journey, his soldiers noticed a foul smell coming from the litter and discovered the emperor, dead for several days. Many people blamed Aper, Numerian’s father-in-law, for the death, claiming it was murder. At a military assembly, Diocletian also blamed Aper for the crime and executed him.

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