Trajan is considered one of the greatest emperors in the history of Rome. He ruled from 98 AD to 117 AD. He expanded the Roman Empire to its largest size in history. His rule was a time of great prosperity for Rome.
Trajan joined the Roman army. He was a gifted leader and soon rose up the ranks. Trajan entered politics and was elected praetor and then consul. He also became a general over a full Roman legion.
While Trajan was serving as governor of Upper Germany, he received notification from Emperor Nerva that he was being adopted as Nerva's heir and would be next in line for the throne. It was common in Rome for an emperor who had no sons to adopt an adult son as heir. Nerva picked Trajan because he was popular with the army. In 98 AD Nerva died, and Trajan became emperor.
Because he had spent much of his life in the army, Trajan was often called a "soldier-emperor." He enjoyed battle and wanted to expand the Roman Empire. His first conquest was the kingdom of Dacia (modern-day Romania). Dacia brought wealth to Rome through its gold mines. His second major conquest was the kingdom of Parthia in Asia. He added additional provinces in Asia, including Armenia and Mesopotamia.
Trajan also built many public works throughout the Roman Empire, including bridges, aqueducts, baths, roads, public buildings, and canals. He also had a new forum built called Trajan's Forum in Rome. Trajan's column, built to commemorate his victory over Dacia, still stands in Rome. Trajan's Bridge over the Danube River was the longest arch bridge in the world for over 1000 years.
Trajan helped the poor through a welfare program called the Alimenta.
After Trajan’s death the Roman Senate would honor new emperors with the saying "be luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan."
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