In the history of ancient Rome, appeared many famous figures. Many of them have been remembered as cruel tyrants, eg. Caligula, Nero or Caracalla. Others, on the other hand, became famous as great reformers: Augustus, Claudius, Marcus Aurelius, Diocletian, and Constantine the Great. Also, do not forget about the Roman commanders, who often rescued the Roman state from extermination.
The great creators of Roman culture who also significantly influenced further development of the world were also remembered. I will present people who have become famous for their great deeds.
HINT: You can find certain figure through the search engine: CTRL + F. You need to put name or surname. People are ranged by their birth dates. Beneath I present categories in which I have put the chosen figures:
- Roman rulers and emperors -kings, emperors, usurpers;
- Politicians and Roman leaders – senators, consuls, dictators etc.;
- Representatives of culture – all writers, architects, creators of works of art;
- Women – Roman women who have distinguished themselves in history;
- Other figures – other people, sometimes not directly related to Rome.
Roman rulers and emperors
The first legendary king of Rome and its founder. He probably lived in the middle of the eighth century BCE. According to Romans, Romulus was the son of the god Mars and killed his brother Remus.
Second legendary king of Rome. Sabine, a religious legislator, creator of priest and craft colleges; he moderated the customs in Rome and passed numerous laws.
The third king of Rome. He enjoyed the fame of a great warrior, the winner of Alba Longa; he won the Albanians and joined the Cellian Hill. He built many places of gatherings for the senate, including the curia of Hostilius.
The fourth king of Rome. Builder of the first bridge on the Tiber, founder of the port of Ostia; he joined the hills of Aventine and Janiculum to Rome.
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
The fifth king of Rome who was of Etruscan origin. During his reign the construction of Circus Maximus and sewers – Cloaca Maxima – began. According to scientists, he was considered the real ruler of the Roman monarchy.
The sixth king of Rome. Builder so-called the city walls surrounding the city. He was the first to administer the general census of Rome and to divide the society according to the property classes. In this way, he increased the size of the army and reduced the domination of patricians.
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
The seventh and last Roman king of Etruscan origin. Finally, overthrown by the aristocracy. According to scientists, he was considered the real ruler of the Roman monarchy.
The creator of the new system – the principate. Founder of the first imperial dynasty – Julio-Claudian dynasty. He reigned as an emperor from 30 BCE to 14 CE. In general, however, the years of Octavian’s reign were a period of internal peace and economic prosperity, and wars were fought only on the outskirts of Rome.
He reigned in the years 14 BCE – 37 CE, Thanks to the adoption by Octavian, he entered the Julio-Claudian dynasty and became the second emperor of Rome.
He reigned in the years 41-54 CE, He was one of the best educated and enlightened rulers of Rome who, despite his reluctance, gained power by force.
He tried to introduce strict discipline and economy in the army. Initially supported by his backer – Otho, he eventually died at his command. He ruled from June 68 CE until January 69.
He reigned in 69-79 CE. The first ruler from the Flavian dynasty. He distinguished himself as a reformer and reogranizer of Roman statehood, he strengthened the borders of the empire.
He reigned in the years 37-41 CE. Caligula initially ruled along with the Senate and gained great popularity. A few months after taking over the power, he suffered a serious illness. After returning to health, he changed his attitude. He became cruel and unpredictable. He resumed the trials for else majesty, disposed of the Senate, demanded that he and his close family be worshiped.
After the suicide, Otho proclaimed himself the ruler of Rome. Defeated by Vespasian in the battle of Cremona, he was drowned in the Tiber.
Emperor in the years 96-98 CE. Ancestor of the Antonine dynasty. He was a much gentler emperor than his predecessor, Domitian. He freed prisoners accused of treason, forbidding such accusations in the future, restored confiscated fortunes, and strengthened the importance of the Senate. He adopted the young commander Trajan, who fought in Germania.
Marcus Salvius Otho
After the assassination of Galba, he took the office of a pretorian candidate. He ruled from January to April 69 CE.
He reigned in the years 54-68. CE. He was the fifth emperor of Rome and passed into history as one of the tyrants.
Emperor from 79 to 81 CE. He finished the Jewish war in the years 66-70 CE. destroying Jerusalem. During his reign, Vesuvius erupted and Pompeii was destroyed.
Emperor in 81-96 CE. He became famous for authoritarian power and terror. He ordered to be called Dominus et Deus, severely punishing those who refused.
Emperor in the years 98-117 CE. He created new provinces: Dacia, Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia and Assyria. He won the Persians in the war lasting from 114 to 117 CE. A brilliant reformer and good emperor. We know him from the Trajan column, which was created in honor of his victories. He received the title “Best” (Optimus) for his achievements.
Emperor in the years 117-138 CE. He is considered one of the best Roman emperors; he was the third of the so-called five good emperors. He became famous for stabilizing the borders of the Empire, for extensive state reforms and for building fortifications, including the Hadrian Wall.
Emperor in the years 138-161 CE. He was adopted by Hadrian, ruled the Empire after his death. He was famous for putting down the Britain uprising and the erection of the Antoninus Wall, which was built in 142 CE in Scotland. The period of his reign is the time of prosperity and peace often called Pax Romana. His rule and the rule of Marcus Aurelius are the end of Rome’s greatness.
Lucius Ceionius Commodus
Adopted by Hadrian and appointed as successor. The plans of the emperor demolished the unexpected death of Commodus.
He reigned in the years 161 – 180 CE. He was one of the most eminent and well-educated Roman emperors.
He reigned for the first three months of the year 193. He was the son of an ordinary freedman, who despite his low position, was able to get to the throne of the Empire.
He was the adopted brother of Marcus Aurelius. He was a co-emperor with Aurelius until his death.
He reigned from 28 March to 1 June 193 CE. Born in Milan, he was probably of Gallic origin, and his family was also related to the mother of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Gaius Pescennius Niger
He reigned in 193-194 CE, Brought on the throne by the eastern legions. He fought for succession against Septimius Severus, by whom he was defeated in the battle of Issos in 194 CE.
Emperor ruling from 193 to 211 CE. He won the civil war and settled the situation in the state after the death of Commodus.
He reigned in 196-197 CE. as a usurper. Appointed by the army in Gaul and Spain. Previously he had been the governor of Britain.
Roman emperor in 238 CE. He was elected by the aristocracy in the African province, kicked out against the emperor Maximinus Thrax. Due to his advanced age, he was a co-emperor with his son Gordian II. He reigned for 21 days.
He reigned in the years 180-192 CE. He tried to establish absolute power, he demanded divine worship as the incarnation of Hercules (cult widespread in the army). Murdered as a result of a conspiracy.
He reigned in the years 217-218 CE. He was Berber from birth and he never sat in the Senate. The short period of ruling, could not determine what kind of ruler he really was. He died in battle with the rebels.
The Roman emperor from 235 to 238 CE. He is considered to be the first barbarian (non-Roman) emperor. He was also the first emperor who never appeared in Rome and the first of a whole series of so-called emperors-soldiers. His reign is considered as the beginning of the crisis of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century CE.
He reigned in the years 211-217CE. He was supported by the pretorians and part of the army. He was famous for his cruelty, his liking for bloody shows and promiscuity. He despised the scholars. He dreamed of unifying the Roman Empire with the Parthian Empire.
Co-emperor with his brother and father in the years 209-211 CE and with his brother Caracalla in 211-212. Murdered by the order of Caracalla, he died in the arms of his mother.
He reigned in the years 253-260 CE. He was the only Roman emperor who was taken and died in captivity.
He reigned in the years 275-276 CE. Tacitus was supposed to cooperate with the Senate and initiated many reforms. In addition, he honored the dead of Aurelian with numerous statues and also punished his murderers.
He reigned from July to September 276 CE. His reign was an attempt to consolidate power and stabilize the situation in the Roman state. His main rival for power was Probus, usurper in the east.
He reigned in 218-222 CE. The young ruler quickly gave prove of his emotional instability and cruelty. Despite the opposition of the tRomans, he introduced a cult of Sun in Rome. Despotic, wasteful, debauched, he introduced his favorites to the offices. His “compromising” governments led to the conspiracy and assassination of the emperor.
He reigned in 251-253 CE. He gained power similarly to many of his predecessors, from the soldiers. He had to deal with many invasions in Roman territory and internal fights in the Empire. He finished like many other emperors at the time.
Son of the emperor Macrinus. He was a co-emperor from 218 CE. He was killed along with his father.
He reigned in 222-235 CE. He was the cousin of the hated emperor Elagabalus, who later adopted him. Peaceful by nature, he could not get respect in the army, which led to his early death.
Roman Emperor Aemilianus reigned for several months in 253 CE. He gained the power thank to faithful legions, which overthrew the legal emperor Trebonian Gallus and took the throne of Rome for 88 days. He was overthrown by the successor – Valerian.
He reigned from 253 (along with his father) from 260. on his own. Gallienus belongs to one of the most eminent rulers of Rome, however, the historians, who were hostile to the emperor, distorted the image of his reign at the time of the peak of Roman crisis.
Volusianus was born c. 230 CE and he was the son of the emperor Trebonianus Gallus, with whom he was a co-emperor in the years 251-253. Assassinated along with his father at Interamna by his own soldiers.
He reigned from 284 to 305 CE. His rule begins the era of the late Roman Empire – dominate. Diocletian transformed the Roman state into an absolute monarchy, establishing a despotic system of government called dominate, depriving the Senate. The emperor was given the features of divinity, . There was introduced eastern court ceremonial and the state worship of the ruler. To improve the governance, a so-called Tetrarchy was deployed.
Constantine the Great
A great reformer, and at the same time the first Christian ruler of the Empire.
Roman emperor in 337-361 CE, after the period of internal fights, he took over the whole country in 351. Opponent of traditional Roman beliefs.
Constans was the Roman emperor ruling in 337-350 CE. He was the son of Constantine I, who ruled over the middle part of the Empire: Italy along with the Alpine regions up to the Danube and part of the Balkans and North Africa (without Egypt).
Roman emperor in the years 364-375 CE. He ruled the western and eastern parts of the empire; with time he gave his brother’s rule in the eastern part to Valens. After a few years, he appointed Gratian’s co-ruler. He died of nervousness.
Julian the Apostate
Roman emperor in the years 361-363 CE. Commonly called Julian, he sought to restore the prevailing position of a pagan religion, wishing to introduce the ancient religion of the Romans with certain reforms. He used to harass to Christians: he ordered them to return temples, forbade them to teach in schools. In 363 CE he died during the fights with the Persians.
Theodosius I the Great
The last emperor who ruled both the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire. He reigned from 379, initially together with Gratian (up to 383) and Valentinian II (up to 392), then on his own until 395 CE. During his reign, the Goths took control of Illyria and settled in the south of the Danube within the borders of the Empire. He was the author of the decrees which made Christianity a state religion in the Roman Empire.
Emperor Eugenius reigned in 392-394 CE in the western part of the Roman Empire. In the east ruled Theodosius I.
Roman emperor in the years 363-364 CE. He got power after the death of Julian the Apostate, when the military council gathered. Their first choice was Salutius Secundus, prefect of pretorians, but he rejected the proposed office. The next choice of council was Jovian.
Roman emperor in the years 395-423 CE, ruling in the western part of the Roman Empire. Son of Theodosius the Great and his first wife – Aelia Flacylla. brother of emperor Arcadius (reigned in the east in the years 295-408 CE) and half-brother of Gallia Placidia.
The emperor who, although officially holding the highest office (461-465 CE), was in fact under the strong influence of the commander – Ricimer. Libius was unable to carry out effective reforms. Ancient sources mention Libius as a pious and religious person.
The Roman emperor in the years 457-461 CE. He is considered the last non-war ruler of the western part of the Empire. He managed to restore power over the majority of Iberia and Gaul. One of the few German emperors who had taken vigorous and decisive action to save Rome from falling.
The last western emperor. son of Orestes, the head of the army, who in fact wielded authority.
Politicians and Roman leaders
Spurius Cassius Vecellinus
He is the first person in the oldest period of the Roman Republic, whose existence is proved by the sources. He was the consul three times.
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus
Consul and Roman dictator from the mid-5th century BCE. He was an example of civic virtues. His achievements were described by the Roman historian Titus Livius, and it was thanks to him that Cincinnatus turned out to be one of the most popular figures of Roman antiquity.
Aulus Postumius Tubertus
Roman leader in the war against Aequi and Volsci in the 5th century BCE.
Marcus Manlius Capitolinus
Roman consul in 392 BCE. Legendary Roman hero who saved and defended Rome from the Gauls, and who stood in defense of the oppressed plebeians.
Marcus Furius Camillus
Roman commander, six-time military tribune. His successes on the battlefield resulted in giving him the nickname – “the second founder of Rome”.
Appius Claudius Caecus
Roman patrician and politician, he lived at the turn of the fourth and third century BCE. He was the builder of the first water mains in Rome – Aqua Appia (312 BCE) and the first road – Via Appia.
Fabius Maximus Cunctator
He was a politician and commander; five times a consuls and twice a dictator. His nickname Cunctator (“delaying”) came from his strategy in deploying troops during the Second Punic War.
Scipio Africanus the Elder
Scipio Africanus the Elder came from an old patrician Cornelius family, from their line with the named Scipio. He passed into history as a brilliant commander and defender of Rome against Hannibal.
Cato the Elder
He was called Censor (Censorius). He was a speaker, politician and Roman writer.
Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonian
Politician, an outstanding Roman commander. Winner at Pydna.
Scipio Africanus the Younger
Scipio Africanus the Younger was an outstanding Roman commander of the Third Punic War. Scipio matched his foster father with the war glory.
He was one of the most famous Roman leaders. He became famous for the destroying the Teutones and Cimbri tribes and for a thorough reform of the Roman army, for which he was recognized as the third founder of Rome (after Romulus and Camillus).
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was a Roman politician and a popular tribune who in 133 BCE undertook major reforms for the Roman Republic. After his death, Gaius continued his ambitious plans.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
He was born in 138 BCE. He was a Roman commander and politician – belonged to the Optimates. In 82 BCE Sulla received dictatorial power. In the following years he carried out a number of political reforms.
Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo
Roman commander and politician, father of Pompey the Great.
Lucius Licinius Lucullus
He was a Roman commander and politician. Sulla’s supporter, famous because of his victories in the war against Mithridates, king of Pontus.
Marcus Licinius Crassus
He was a Roman politician and commander, a member of the First Triumvirate. Known for his proverbial wealth, he died in the battle of Carrhae. Crassus, despite his high political importance in the first century BCE, remained in the shadow of Pompey or Caesar.
Lucius Sergius Catilina
A politician and a man who stood behind a conspiracy to overthrow the republic. However, his plans were thwarted by the famous orator, Cicero.
Pompey the Great
He got his nickname – the Great because of his great political and military successes and merits for Rome. His campaigns on east and solving the problem of piracy in Rome have passed into history
He was one of the greatest, if not the most eminent Roman orator.
Gaius Julius Caesar
Roman commander, politician and writer. He was associated with the Populares.In 62 BCE, as a praetor, he unsuccessfully stood up for the conspirators
Cato the Younger
Roman politician, one of the Senate’s leaders. Great-grandson of Cato the Elder and his imitator.
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
Roman politician and commander, one of Caesar’s supporters, and then a triumvir in the II Triumvirate.
Marcus Iunius Brutus
Politician, military commander, orator and Roman writer. He was a supporter of the republic and an opponent of Pompey and Caesar’s dictatorships. He was one of the leaders of the conspiracy against Caesar and was eventually one of his assassins. He died in the battle of Philippi.
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Roman commander, one of Caesar’s assassins, later fought against the Second Triumvirate. One of the last defenders of the republic.
Excellent Roman commander, and at the same time a brilliant politician. Faithful companion of Caesar, who after his death lost the civil war with Octavian.
Gaius Cilnius Maecenas
Roman politician, counselor and a friend of Augustus, poet and patron of poets, including Virgil, Horace and Properius.
Marcus Vispanius Agrippa
Eminent politician and military commander. Son-in-law, minister and friend of Augustus. He was Octavian’s peer and studied with him in Apolonia.
A Roman senator and commander from the time of the principate’s beginning. Brother of Calpurnia Pisonia, who became the third wife of Julius Caesar.
Publius Quinctilius Varus
Roman politician and commander during the reign of Augustus. He commanded three Roman legions destroyed in the Teutoburg Forest, by the Germans under the command of Arminius.
Druzus the Elder
Brother of Tiberius. Druzus was one of the most outstanding people of his time. He had friendly manners and a huge commanding talent. He was an outstanding commander, which is to be seen in his numerous victories over the Germans.
Ambitious soldier, trusted friend of Tiberius, praefect of the praetorian guard.
He was one of the most famous Roman leaders. He became famous for his successful campaigns in Germania and was considered the be the future emperor. Eventually, however, he was poisoned and died young.
He was a Roman politician and an outstanding military man. Deserved in the conquest of Britain, during the reign of Claudius.
Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo
He was a Roman commander, brother-in-law of Caligula and Domitian’s father-in-law. He was famous for winning the conflict over Armenia.
He was a Roman prefect of Judaea in the 1st century CE, part of the Roman province Syria. According to the Gospel, he approved the death sentence given to Jesus Christ by the Sanhedrin.
Roman commander, who in the years 77-84 CE was the governor in Britain. In the 80’s he undertook an expedition to conquer Caledonia.
Gaius Fulvius Plautianus
Prefect of Pretorians during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus and one of the most powerful officials in the history of ancient Rome.
Actual ruler of the Western Roman Empire in the years 395-408 CE.
Politician and Roman general, called “the last Roman”.
Representatives of culture
He was the greatest Roman comedian. His comedies are the oldest preserved works of Latin literature.
He was a Roman poet, considered to be the father of Roman poetry. Only fragments of his work have survived to our times.
Marcus Terentius Varro
He was a Roman scholar and writer. A true erudite, he was considered to be one of the well educated people in the history of ancient Rome.
He was a Roman poet and philosopher. One of the small group – alongside Catullus and Plautus and Terence – poets of the republican Rome, whose works have survived to our times.
Roman historian and writer. He tried to make a political career in Rome, he was a quaestor c. 54 BCE and a Tribune of the Plebs in 52 BCE.
Roman poet from Verona, created in the neoteric style, his works have been preserved in a great number.
Roman poet, author of outstanding works.
He was one of the greatest Roman poets during the time of Augstus. As a son of a freedman, he created during the most splendid and flourishing period of Roman literature.
He was a Roman poet and philosopher. One of the small group – alongside Catullus and playwrights of Plautus and Terence – poets of republican Rome, whose works have survived to our times.
A great Roman architect and war engineer. He was the constructor of he war machines during the reign of Julius Caesar and Augustus. Creator of the so-called Vitruvian man.
The main historian during the reign of Augutus, he was widely respected at the court.He was in friendship with the emperor himself, who – according to historian Tacitus –
He was one of the greatest Roman elegists and poets in the time of Augutus. Son of a wealthy eques, Horace’s friend.
Seneca the Younger
He was a rhetorician, writer, poet and philosopher. Called the “Philosopher” he was a teacher and guardian of Nero at the beginning of his reign.
Pliny the Elder
Historian and Roman writer. His only surviving work is “Natural History”, a kind of encyclopedia, which is a source of knowledge about Roman times.
Titus Flavius Josephus
Jewish historian. After being released from captivity, he devoted himself entirely to literary work, writing down the history of the Jewish uprising (66-73 BCE).
Latin poet, he is considered to be the creator of the epigram (short lyric song with a distinctive point). Author of 15 books with epigrams.
Tacitus is called the king of Roman historians. He learned rhetoric from Quintilianus.
Pliny the Younger
Politician, speaker, lawyer and Roman writer. Nephew of Pliny the Elder.
Suetonius was a writer and Roman historian, creator of the biography of Roman emperors. He wrote in Greek as well as in Latin.
Appian of Alexandria
A famous Greek historian living and working in the reign of Rome. He became famous from his work “Roman History”.
Lucian of Samosata
He was a Roman rhetoric and satirist writing in Greek. He is considered to be the creator of social satire.
He was a Greek astronomer, mathematician and geographer. He lived in Alexandria which belonged to the Roman Empire at that time.
He was a Numidian writer and philosopher from the 2nd century CE. The author of the satirical romance „The Apologia” and “The Golden Ass”.
He was a Latin theologian from North Africa who converted to Christianity in 190 CE.
He was a writer and a teacher of rhetoric. He was active in the times of Septimius Severus.
Eusebius of Caesarea
Working during the time of Constantine the Great, he is considered to be the greatest Christian historian of antiquity.
Roman military man and historian. Author of Res gestae (“History”), Roman history covering the years from the reign of Nerva (96 BCE) to 378 CE.
Roman writer (however of non-Roman origin, probably Greek) and a Neoplatonic philosopher who lived and created at the turn of the 4th and 5th century.
She came to history as an exemplary Roman matron, a virtuous woman living in accordance with Roman values, and a mother who supported her sons Tiberius and Gaius Grakch. It was characterized by extraordinary intelligence, wisdom and firmness.
The elder sister of the first emperor of Rome – Augustus and the fourth wife of the leader Mark Anthony. Octavia had the opinion of a model Roman woman. Octavian always had great respect for her, and she had great influence on his rule.
Augustus’sspouse. Beautiful, intelligent and consistent in action. She exerted a great influence on her husband and his policy. She was considered to be a model of a Roman wife and mother.
Julia (Augustus’s daughter)
The only daughter of Augustus and Scribonia. Julia’s marriages were always made for political reasons, at Augustus request.
Second, next to Antonia Major, the daughter of Mark Anthony and Octavia Minor. The wife of Druzus the Elder and mother of Germanicus and emperor Claudius.
Pomponia Graecina lived in the 1st century CE. She was the wife of the Roman commander and conqueror of Britain, Aulus Plautius. She was accused in 57 CE for professing a “foreign superstition” that is often associated with Christianity.
Agrippina the Younger
Daughter of the commander Germanic and Agripppina the Elder. Her son was Nero, whom she immortalized on the Roman throne with the help of intrigue. Claudius’ wife.
Valeria Messalina was the wife of Claudius. She became famous for her beauty and attractiveness, known for her intrigue and sexual excesses.
The second wife of Nero. For a long time as a lover of the emperor, she exerted a huge influence on politics. She was known for her exquisite beauty.
The third and last wife of Nero. She came from a prominent family.
Octavia (Nero’s wife)
The first wife of Nero. Daughter of Claudius and his third wife, Messalina.
Septimia Zenobia was the wife of king of Palmyra – Odaenathus, after the death of whom in 267 CE she tried to strengthen the position of her young son Vaballathus. Thanks to skilful politics, Zenobia was expanding the state and had full power in the eastern areas of the Roman Empire.
The first king of Numid – in the years 202-148 BCE. His state stretched out in the lands of present-day Algeria and western Tunisia. The capital of this country was Cyrta. Roman ally.
Carthaginian commander in the Second Punic War, one of the greatest opponents of Rome and one of the greatest commanders in history.
Greek historian and chronicler of the Roman Empire during the Republic. Due to the care for historical truth and a critical attitude towards sources, he is considered to be one of the most prominent (next to Thucydides) Greek historiographers.
She was the last pharaoh ruling Ptolemaic Egypt. After her death, the lands of the Egyptian state were incorporated into the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.
Son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra and the last pharaoh of Egypt.
Gaius Julius Caesar
Son of Marcus Agrippa and grandson of Augustus. Expected as a successor to the throne, he died unexpectedly in 4 CE.
Lucius Julius Caesar
Son of Marcus Agrippa and grandson of Augustus. Expected as a successor to the throne, he died unexpectedly in 2 CE
Son of Claudius and Messalina. He was given the nickname to commemorate the conquest of Britain by his father in 43 CE. Murdered by Nero.
Roman banker living in Pompeii in the years 20-62 CE. His house has been partly preserved to our times; it was also destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption in 79 CE.
Favorinus of Arelate
Favorinus of Arelate (today Arles in the south of France) lived in the years around 80-160 CE and he was a famous sophist and philosopher. Although he was Gaul, he mastered Greek very well, which made him an acclaimed and admired orator.
Polemon of Laodicea
Polemon is considered to be one of the most eminent orators of the empire. He came from Laodicea in Karii (Asia Minor), from the famous senatorial family.
Aristides was a leading representative of the second sophistry, intellectual power developing during the early Roman Empire.