Septimius Severus, the African Emperor, was descended from Phoenician settlers in Tripolitania, and his reign, from AD 193-211, represents a turning point in Roman history.
In his illuminating biography, Anthony R. Birley explores how "Roman" this man was and examines his remarkable background and career.
Given that Septimius came from Lepcis Magna, an African city that prospered under Roman rule, Birley first explores what was African and what was Roman in his background.
Birley then considers Septimius' career as a Roman Senator in the age of the Antonines, including his second marriage to Julia Domna which led to a conspiracy to overthrow the deranged emperor Commodus and the dramatic civil wars of 193-197. Finally, the reign of the victorious Septimius is well detailed.
Well-illustrated and engaging, this biography reveals the multifaceted and sometimes conflicting character of an enigmatic and complex emperor.