Famous People Of The 2nd Century

The 2nd century saw the Roman Empire expand exponentially under the emperor Trajan who is listed in the annals of history as one of the most influential personalities of the time. The period also saw the reign and death of the philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius. The prominent Chinese scholar Cai Yong lived during this era, as did Nagarjuna, the founder of Madhyamaka Buddhism. The period was significant from a literary point of view as well with important writers like Aulus Gellius, Chariton, and Juvenal enriching the world with their works. Check out this section to know more about the famous people of the 2nd century.
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 1 
Marcus Aurelius
(Philosopher)
Marcus Aurelius
31
Birthdate: April 26, 0121
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 17, 0180

Marcus Aurelius played an important role in the Roman Empire. A Stoic philosopher, Marcus was part of the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana—a 200-year-long period of relative peace in the Roman Empire. Also a writer, his work Meditations is regarded by many as one of the greatest works of philosophy.

 2 
Commodus
(Roman Emperor)
Commodus
27
Birthdate: August 31, 0161
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lanuvium
Died: December 31, 0192
Commodus ruled Rome as an emperor, with his father Marcus Aurelius, from 176 till 180, and then as a sole ruler till 192. His rule ended the 200-year peaceful era of Pax Romana. His dictatorial rule was portrayed in films such as Gladiator. He was assassinated by his wrestling partner.
 3 
Cicero
(One of Rome's Greatest Orators of Politics and Prose Stylists)
Cicero
42
Listed In: Lawyers & Judges
Birthdate: January 3, 0106
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Arpino, Italy
Died: December 7, 0043
Roman statesman, lawyer, and scholar Cicero was one of the greatest 1st-century BC prose writers and orators. He influenced Latin literature immensely and introduced Greek philosophy to the Romans. He was declared an enemy of the state, following his opposition to Mark Antony after Julius Caesar’s death, and was executed.
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 4 
Spartacus
(Thracian Gladiator and One of the Escaped Slave Leaders in the Third Servile War)
Spartacus
7
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0103 BC
Birthplace: Thrace
Died: 0071 BC
Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator who led the slave revolt called the Third Servile War, against the Roman Republic. However, historical accounts differ in their portrayal of Spartacus. He has inspired scores of books, films, and series, one of them being a Stanley Kubrick movie based on Howard Fast's novel.
 5 
Claudius Ptolemy
(Astronomer, Cartographer & Mathematician)
Claudius Ptolemy
28
Birthdate: 0090 AD
Birthplace: Egypt
Died: 0168 AD
Claudius Ptolemy was a 2nd-century mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and geographer, who had written a number of scientific treatises, such as The Great Treatise, Geography, and the Tetrábiblos. He lived in Alexandria under the Roman rule in Egypt. He had also authored Harmonics, a book on music theory.
 6 
Trajan
(Roman Emperor)
Trajan
19
Birthdate: September 18, 0053
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hispania Baetica
Died: August 8, 0117

Trajan was the Roman emperor from 98 to 117 CE. Remembered as a successful soldier-emperor, he presided over a great military expansion, leading the Roman Empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. He was the second of the Five Good Emperors and focused on implementing social welfare policies for the benefit of his citizens.

 7 
Hadrian
(Roman Emperor)
Hadrian
17
Birthdate: January 24, 0076
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Italica, Hispania
Died: July 10, 0138
Hadrian was the Roman emperor from 117 to 138. Though he was married to Vibia Sabina, he was said to have many male lovers. He reconstructed the Pantheon and built the Temple of Venus and Roma. He also supported military discipline and came to be known as a benevolent dictator.
 8 
Pompey
(Roman General and Statesman)
Pompey
18
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: September 29, 0106
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Picenum
Died: September 28, 0048

Considered ruthless by his opponents, Pompey was an ancient Roman general who was a veteran of many wars and played a key role in changing Rome from a republic to an empire. Pompey was first an ally of his more illustrious compatriot Julius Caesar whose daughter he married, and then became his enemy. He was assassinated in Egypt, an end not uncommon in history.

 9 
Septimius Severus
(Roman Emperor from 193 to 211)
Septimius Severus
12
Birthdate: April 11, 0145
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leptis Magna, Libya
Died: February 4, 0211
Roman emperor Septimius Severus reigned from 193 to 211. He worked in the senate under Marcus Aurelius and gained strength following the death of Pertinax. He killed incumbent emperor Didius Julianus and annexed many kingdoms, such as Osroene. While on an invasion of Scotland, he died of an infectious disease.
 10 
Antoninus Pius
(Roman Emperor)
Antoninus Pius
6
Birthdate: September 19, 0086
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lanuvium, Italy
Died: March 7, 0161
Antoninus Pius was the Roman emperor from 138 to 161 and is regarded as one of the Five Good Emperors of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty. He was adopted by emperor Hadrian. His reign was marked by peace and the construction of the Antonine Wall. He was largely an efficient ruler.
 11 
Cao Cao
(Chinese Statesman, Warlord, Poet and the Penultimate Grand Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty)
Cao Cao
8
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0155 AD
Birthplace: Bozhou, Anhui, China
Died: March 15, 0220

Cao Cao was a Chinese warlord, poet, and statesman. He played an important role in laying the foundations for the state of Cao Wei, which was formed shortly after his death. Although he was posthumously honoured with the title Emperor Wu of Wei, Cao Cao never ruled as an emperor, but kept Emperor Xian under his control.

 12 
Galen
(Physician)
Galen
2
Birthdate: 0130 AD
Birthplace: Pergamon, Turkey
Died: 0200 AD

Galen was a Greek physician, philosopher, and surgeon in the Roman Empire. Regarded as one of the most proficient medical researchers in ancient history, Galen influenced the growth of several scientific disciplines, such as neurology, pharmacology, pathology, physiology, and anatomy. Thanks to the translation of his works into Arabic, Galen's approach to medicine remains influential in the Islamic world.

 13 
Plutarch
(Greek Middle Platonist Philosopher, Historian, Biographer and Priest)
Plutarch
8
Birthdate: 0046 AD
Birthplace: Chaeronea, Greece
Died: 0119 AD

Plutarch was a Greek philosopher, essayist, biographer, and historian. He also served as the priest at the Temple of Apollo. He is best remembered for his work Parallel Lives, a series of 48 biographies of noteworthy men. His writings had a huge influence on French and English literature. Writers like Shakespeare were influenced by his works.

 14 
Gaius Marius
(Roman General)
Gaius Marius
3
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0157 BC
Birthplace: Arpinum
Died: January 13, 0086
Born to a plebeian farmer, near Arpinum, Gaius Marius was a skilled military leader but lacked the polish and sophistication required of a political leader. Known as "the third founder of Rome" for his win at the Cimbrian War, Marius had been made a consul for seven terms.
 15 
Scipio Africanus
(One of the Best Military Commanders and Strategists of All Time)
Scipio Africanus
10
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0236 BC
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: 0183 BC
Roman general and consul Scipio Africanus is remembered for his exploits during the Second Punic War. He gained the title Africanus by defeating Hannibal at the Battle of Zama. He was later dragged into a trial for accepting bribes and eventually left Rome to live in his villa in Liternum.
 16 
Queen Himiko
(Queen of Japan)
Queen Himiko
6
Birthdate: 0170 AD
Birthplace: Yamatai, Japan
Died: 0248 AD

Queen Himiko was a shamaness-queen who reigned over Yamataikoku from 189 AD until her death in 248 AD. Over the years, Queen Himiko has been depicted in several graphic novels, anime, and video games across Japan. She is also depicted in video games as a tyrant or sorceress with sexually revealing clothing.

 17 
Lu Bu
(Chinese Army General and Warlord of the 2nd Century)
Lu Bu
4
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0161 AD
Birthplace: Wuyuan Commandery, China
Died: February 7, 0199

After killing warlord Ding Yuan, Chinese army general Lü Bu ran away to work for another warlord, Dong Zhuo, whom he also killed. After assisting Yuan Shao, he fought against Cao Cao. He eventually lost to Cao Cao and Liu Bei in the Battle of Xiapi and was executed.

 18 
Epictetus
(Greek Stoic Philosopher)
Epictetus
0
Birthdate: 0050 AD
Birthplace: Hierapolis Ancient City, Turkey
Died: 0135 AD

Epictetus was a Greek philosopher who viewed philosophy as a way of life rather than a theoretical discipline. He taught philosophy vehemently and founded a school of philosophy in Nicopolis. Arrian, his most famous pupil, is credited with publishing Discourses, a series of informal lectures given by Epictetus. Today, the philosophy of Epictetus is being applied in various fields.

 19 
Ignatius of Antioch
(Syrian Bishop)
Ignatius of Antioch
6
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthplace: Roman Syria
Died: 0108 AD

Ignatius of Antioch went down in history as a man who was arrested and executed for his non-allegiance to Roman gods. The seven letters he wrote while being escorted from Antioch to Rome as a prisoner later served as a mirror that reflected his concern for Christianity, against false teachings.

 20 
Pertinax
(Military Leader)
Pertinax
5
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: August 1, 0126
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Alba Pompeia, Italy
Died: March 28, 0193

Born to a freed slave, Pertinax joined the Roman army early in life and soon rose to be a commander. He was declared the emperor after Commodus was murdered but was himself killed within three months of his rule. Septimius Severus later organized a state funeral and also deified him.

 21 
Lucius Verus
(Roman Emperor)
Lucius Verus
1
Birthdate: December 15, 0130
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: January 23, 0169

Lucius Verus was the Roman emperor from 161 to 169, alongside his adoptive brother Marcus Aurelius. Their succession together marked the first time that the Roman Empire was ruled by multiple emperors. The eldest son of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Verus hailed from the Nerva-Antonine dynasty. He ruled for only a few years before he died of an illness in 169.

 22 
Zhuge Liang
(Military Strategist, Inventor)
Zhuge Liang
1
Birthdate: 0181 AD
Birthplace: Shandong, China
Died: 0234 AD

Zhuge Liang, or Kong Ming, was a Chinese strategist of the Three Kingdoms Period. Legend has it that he had supernatural powers and had invented a number of things, such as a crossbow that shot multiple arrows. His habit of living in seclusion earned him the nickname The Hidden Dragon.

 23 
Liu Bei
(Founder of the Chinese Shu Han Dynasty)
Liu Bei
1
Birthdate: 0161 AD
Birthplace: Zhuozhou, Baoding, China
Died: June 10, 0223

Liu Bei was a warlord in the Eastern Han dynasty. He is credited with founding the state of Shu Han. Liu Bei went on to reign as the emperor of Shu Han from 221 until his death in 223. Liu Bei is best remembered for his remarkable skills as a leader and politician. His life has inspired several TV series.

 24 
Tiberius Gracchus
(Roman Politician and Soldier)
Tiberius Gracchus
1
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0163 BC
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: 0133 BC

Tiberius Gracchus was a Roman politician best remembered for proposing the Lex Sempronia Agraria, a law aimed at improving the lives of the poor. The law suggested the transfer of land from wealthy landowners to poorer citizens. Unsurprisingly, Tiberius Gracchus was killed due to his populist program and his uncompromising behavior.

 25 
Didius Julianus
(Roman Emperor for Nine Weeks (193))
Didius Julianus
5
Birthdate: January 29, 0133
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mediolanum
Died: June 1, 0193
Born into an influential Roman family, Didius Julianus was raised by Marcus Aurelius’s mother, Domitia. As the man who bid the highest in an auction for the throne, he became the Roman emperor, following Pertinax’s murder. However, just after 66 days of rule, he was murdered in his palace.
 26 
Ardashir I
(Shahanshah of the Sasanian Empire (224–242))
Ardashir I
1
Birthplace: Banvan, Iran
Died: January 31, 0242

Ardashir I was the founder of the Sasanian Empire. According to some sources, he was a son of Papak, son of Sasan. He began his career as the commander of Fort Darabgard and steadily rose in power, eventually defeating the last Parthian shahanshah Artabanus IV on the Hormozdgan plain. After this, he crowned himself "shahanshah” and continued his conquests. 

 27 
Tigranes the Great
(King)
Tigranes the Great
0
Birthdate: 0140 BC
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: 0055 BC
 28 
Jugurtha
(King)
Jugurtha
1
Birthdate: 0160 AD
Birthplace: Cirta, Algeria
Died: 0104 AD
 29 
Duṭṭhagāmaṇī
(King)
Duṭṭhagāmaṇī
3
Birthplace: Hambantota, Sri Lanka
Died: 0137 AD
 30 
Masinissa
(Former King of Numidia (202 - 148 BC))
Masinissa
2
Birthdate: 0238 AD
Birthplace: Mascula, Algeria
Died: 0148 AD

Masinissa was a 2nd-century BC king of the North African kingdom of Numidia. While he initially fought against the Romans, supporting Carthage in Spain, he later joined the Roman forces and emerged victorious in the Battle of the Great Plains. He ruled for over 5 decades, until age 90.

 31 
Héloïse
(French Nun and Wife of the Theologian and Philosopher 'Peter Abelard')
Héloïse
0
Birthdate: 1101 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 16, 1164
French nun Héloïse was also a philosopher, writer, and abbess and was a renowned "woman of letters". She was noted as a  philosopher of love and friendship. In 1147, she was granted the rank of prelate nullius, approximately the level of a bishop. Her surviving letters are considered a foundation of French and European literature and inspiration for courtly love.
 32 
Guan Yu
(Chinese Military General Serving Under the Warlord Liu Bei During the Late Eastern Han Dynasty of China)
Guan Yu
2
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0160 AD
Birthplace: Yuncheng, Shanxi, China
Died: 0220 AD

Guan Yu was nicknamed Beautiful Beard for his long, flowing beard. Featured in literary works such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Guan was a Chinese military general who served Liu Bei of the Eastern Han dynasty. Lord Guan is now revered as a deity in Chinese folk culture.

 33 
Mithridates I of Parthia
(King of the Parthian Empire)
Mithridates I of Parthia
1
Birthdate: 0195 BC
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: 0132 BC

Parthian ruler Mithridates I belonged to the Arsacid dynasty and was the first ruler of Parthia to assume the title King of Kings. He is remembered for his aggressive expansion of his kingdom and his war against the Seleucid Empire. His affinity for Greeks was evident by his title Philhellene.  

 34 
Demetrius I of Bactria
(Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek King)
Demetrius I of Bactria
1
Birthdate: 0222 AD
Birthplace: Bactria, Afghanistan
Died: 0180 AD
Demetrius I of Bactria was a Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek king. He reigned as the king of Bactria as well as the Indo-Greek king from 200 to 180 BC. He conquered extensive areas in present-day Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Iran. Demetrius I of Bactria remained undefeated in battles, which earned him the nickname, the Invincible. 
 35 
Maximinus Thrax
(Roman Emperor from 235 to 238)
Maximinus Thrax
3
Birthdate: 0173 AD
Birthplace: Thracia
Died: 0238 AD

Maximinus Thrax reigned as Roman emperor from 235 until his death in 238. The accession of Maximinus is generally viewed as the beginning of the Imperial Crisis. Hence, he is often called a barracks emperor of the 3rd century. He died during the Siege of Aquileia when he was assassinated by soldiers of the Legio II Parthica.

 36 
Lucilla
(Ruler)
Lucilla
3
Birthdate: March 7, 0150
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: 0182 AD

The second-born daughter of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Lucilla was married off to his father’s co-ruler, Lucius Verus, who was twice his age. After both Verus and Aurelius died, Commodus, Lucilla’s brother, came to power. Though Lucilla was politically conscious, she was eventually executed in her early 30s for plotting the murder of Commodus.

 37 
Pope Zephyrinus
(Bishop of Rome (199 to 217))
Pope Zephyrinus
1
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: December 20, 0217

The bishop of Rome from 199 to 217, Pope Zephyrinus faced strong opposition from Roman priest St. Hippolytus, who began the first schism of the Christian Church. Ironically, the only source of information on Zephyrinus is Hippolytus’s Philosophoumena. He is remembered for combating heresies.

 38 
Nagarjuna
(Philosopher)
Nagarjuna
2
Birthdate: 0150 AD
Birthplace: Andhra Pradesh, India
Died: 0250 AD
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 39 
Ptolemy XII Auletes
(King of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt)
Ptolemy XII Auletes
0
Birthdate: 0117 AD
Birthplace: Egypt
Died: 0051 AD

Being an illegitimate son of Ptolemy IX, Ptolemy XII Auletes apparently bribed Julius Caesar, in exchange for a law acknowledging his kingship in Egypt. He was later exiled, but came back to Egypt and killed his daughter, Berenice IV, who ruled in his absence and with the support of the opposition.

 40 
Quintus Sertorius
(Roman General Who Is Remembered for His Rebellion Against the Roman Senate)
Quintus Sertorius
1
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0126 BC
Birthplace: Norcia, Italy
Died: 0073 BC

Roman statesman and general Quintus Sertorius not only went against the Roman Senate, leading a rebellion, but also ruled most of Spain independently for 8 years. He was part of major campaigns, such as the Cimbric War, the Social War, and the Sertorian War. He was eventually stabbed by Perperna and his co-conspirators.

 41 
Nicomachus of Gerasa
(Philosopher and mathematician)
Nicomachus of Gerasa
1
Birthdate: 0060 AD
Birthplace: Jerash
Died: 0120 AD
 42 
Antinous
(Companion of Hadrian)
Antinous
5
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: 0111 AD
Birthplace: Bolu, Turkey
Died: October 30, 0130

Blessed with beguiling beauty, Antinous was quick to catch Roman emperor Hadrian’s attention, who took him as his lover. Antinous died shortly before turning 20, with some calling it a suicide and others suggesting it was a sacrifice. He was deified by Hadrian, who named a city in his honor.

 43 
Cao Pi
(Emperor)
Cao Pi
0
Birthdate: 0187 AD
Birthplace: Xiao County, Suzhou, China
Died: June 29, 0226
 44 
Macrinus
(Roman emperor)
Macrinus
1
Birthdate: 0164 AD
Birthplace: Caesarea of Mauretania
Died: May 31, 0218
 45 
Empress Lü
(Empress Consort of the Han Dynasty)
Empress Lü
0
Birthdate: 0241 AD
Birthplace: China
Died: August 18, 0180
 46 
Saint Aelred of Rievaulx
(Cistercian Monk)
Saint Aelred of Rievaulx
0
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: 1110 AD
Birthplace: Hexham, England
Died: January 12, 1167
 47 
Dio Cassius
(Roman Historian)
Dio Cassius
0
Birthdate: 0155 AD
Birthplace: Nicaea, Bithynia
Died: 0235 AD
 48 
Clodius Albinus
(Roman general)
Clodius Albinus
0
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: 0150 AD
Birthplace: Sousse, Tunisia
Died: February 19, 0197
 49 
Polycarp
(Christian Bishop of Smyrna)
Polycarp
8
Birthdate: 0069 AD
Birthplace: Turkey
Died: 0155 AD

Polycarp was a Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to some sources,  he had been a disciple of John the Apostle, one of Jesus’ disciples. Along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, he is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. He died a martyr, according to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, and is considered a saint.

 50 
Tertullian
(The First Christian Author to Produce an Extensive Corpus of Latin Christian Literature)
Tertullian
9
Birthdate: 0160 AD
Birthplace: Carthage, Tunisia
Died: 0225 AD

Born to pagan parents in North Africa, Tertullian was initially gearing up to be a lawyer. Following his conversion to Christianity in Rome at about 40, he became a leader of the African church and wrote several Christian treatises, to eventually become the father of Latin Christianity.