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Pertinax

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Pertinax (Archaeological museum, Antakya)
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Pertinax (Archaeological museum, Antakya)
Publius Helvius Pertinax (August 1, 126 - March 28, 193) was proclaimed Roman Emperor the morning following the assassination of Commodus on December 31, AD 192.

His career before he became emperor as it is documented in the Historia Augusta has been confirmed in many places by existing inscriptions. Born in Alba, the son of a freedman Helvius Successus, originally Pertinax made his way as a grammaticus or teacher of grammar, but he eventually decided to find a more rewarding line of work and through the help of patronage he was commissioned an officer in a cohort. In the Parthian war that followed, he was able to distinguish himself, which resulted in a string of promotions, and after postings in Britain (as military tribune of the Legio VI Victrix) and along the Danube, he served as a procurator in Dacia. He suffered a setback as a victim of court intrigues during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, but shortly afterwards he was recalled to assist Claudius Pompeianus in the Germanic wars. In 175 he received the honor of a suffect consulship and until 185, Pertinax was governor of the provinces of Upper and Lower Moesia, Dacia, Syria and finally governor of Britain.

In the decade of the 180s, Pertinax took a role in the Roman Senate until the praetorian prefect Perennis forced him out of public life. He was recalled after three years to Britain, whose army at the time was in a state of mutiny. He tried to quell the unruly soldiers there but one legion mutinied and attacked his bodyguard, leaving Pertinax for dead. When he recovered, he punished the mutineers severely which led to his growing reputation as a disciplinarian. When he was forced to resign in 187, the reason given was that the legions had grown hostile to him because of his harsh rule.

He served as proconsul of Africa in 188 - 189, and followed this term of service with the prefecture of Rome -- and a second consulship as ordinarius with the emperor as his colleague. He was serving as urban prefect when Commodus was assassinated by his own household.

Pertinax's short reign (86 days) was an uneasy one. He attempted to emulate the restrained practices of Marcus Aurelius, and made an effort to reform the alimenta but he faced antagonism from many quarters. Ancient writers detail how the Praetorian Guard expected a generous donativum on his ascension, and when they were disappointed, agitated until he produced the money, selling off Commodus' property, including the concubines and youths Commodus kept for his sexual pleasures. He narrowly averted one conspiracy by a group to replace him with Falco, but a second conspiracy ended with his assassination by members of the Praetorian Guard. Pertinax must have been aware of the danger he faced by assuming the purple, for he refused to use imperial titles for either his wife or son, thus protecting them from the aftermath of his own assassination.

On 28 March, 193, a group of dissatisfied soldiers who had received only half their promised pay burst into the palace and killed Pertinax. Senator Didius Julianus proclaimed himself as the new Emperor, an act which triggered a brief civil war over the succession, won later in the same year by Septimius Severus.

After his entry to Rome, Septimius recognized Pertinax as a legitimate emperor, executed the soldiers who killed him, and not only pressured the Senate to provide for him a state funeral, but for some time held games on the anniversary of Pertinax's ascension and his birthday.

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Preceded by:
Commodus
Roman Emperor
193
Succeeded by:
Didius Julianus

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Pertinax is a brand name for a composite material of phenol formaldehyde resin laminated paper, used for electronic circuit boards.de:Pertinax (Rmischer Kaiser) eo:Pertinax fr:Pertinax ko:페르티낙스 it:Pertinace he:פרטינקס nl:Pertinax pl:Pertinaks pt:Pertinax fi:Pertinax sv:Pertinax

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