Julius Caesar is considered one of the greatest military commanders in history and played an important role in the events that led to the downfall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He assumed control of the government after a civil war. He was assassinated by rebel senators on the Ides of March, 44 BC.
Augustus, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD. He transformed Rome from a republic to an empire after Julius Caesar’s assassination. He annexed new territories, brought about peace and prosperity and laid the foundation of an empire that lasted for nearly 1500 years. Historians regard him as an effective but controversial leader.
Constantine the Great served as the Roman emperor between 306 and 337. During his reign, he enacted financial, administrative, military, and social reforms to strengthen the empire. Constantine the Great is also credited with introducing the solidus, a gold coin which became the standard for European and Byzantine currencies for over a thousand years.
Claudius was made the Roman emperor by the Praetorian Guard after the assassination of Caligula, his nephew and predecessor, and ruled from 41 to 54 A.D. He was slightly limp and deaf since childhood, but his reign was marked by financial stability. He was succeeded by his grand-nephew, tyrant Nero.
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.
Caligula, the third Roman emperor, is often described as a cruel man who forced his subjects to worship him as their god. Considered an insane tyrant, Caligula is accused of incest and forcing the audience to enter a sporting arena to be eaten alive by wild beasts during the intermission. His stories are famous in popular culture.
Titus was the ruler of the Roman Empire from 79 to 81 CE. Before ascending the throne, he played a crucial role as a military commander, working alongside his father Vespasian during the First Jewish-Roman War. After becoming the emperor, Titus oversaw the completion of the Colosseum. His life and work are depicted in literature, paintings, and visual arts.
Theodosius I, or Theodosius the Great, ruled as the Roman emperor from 379 to 395. He made Christianity the state religion of his empire and constructed architectural marvels, such as the Column of Theodosius, the Golden Gate, and the Theodosian Walls, in Constantinople. He ended conflicts with the Goths and barred pagan rituals in the Olympics.
Herod the Great was a client king of Judea. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all male toddlers in the vicinity of Bethlehem, the incident which came to be known as Massacre of the Innocents. Thus, he is believed to have played a major role in the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.
Nerva was the Roman emperor from 96 to 98. He was aged 66 when he ascended the throne, after serving other emperors for several decades. Even though he ruled for just 15 months, historians consider him a wise and moderate emperor. He selected Trajan as his heir, thus ensuring a peaceful transition of power after his death.
Attila, the 5th-century ruler of the Huns, was one of the most powerful and most feared rulers of the world. He often clashed with the Roman Empire, including kingdoms such as the southern Balkan provinces, Greece, Gaul, and Italy. The men who buried him were killed so that his grave couldn’t be discovered.
Flavius Odoacer was a statesman and soldier best remembered for becoming the king of Italy after deposing the then-Roman Emperor Romulus Augustulus. He then ruled over Italy from 476 until his death in 493. Odoacer's deposition of Augustulus inspired the 2013 film, 476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries.
Though Otho lost his wife, Poppaea, to Nero, who later married her, he governed Lusitania for 10 years diligently, before he joined a revolt against Nero. He reigned as the Roman emperor for merely 3 months, before committing suicide while fighting the Battle of Bedriacum against Vitellius.
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.
Alexander Severus reigned as the Roman emperor from 222 until his death in 235. He was the last emperor of the famous Severan dynasty. Alexander Severus’ death not only brought an end to the Severan dynasty, but also marked the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century, a period of hardship during which the great Roman Empire almost collapsed.
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.
Eastern Roman emperor Valens, the younger brother of Valentinian I, is remembered for his valiant campaigns against pagan usurper Procopius and Visigoths. He was defeated and killed by Goths at the Battle of Adrianople. An Arian Christian, he removed many bishops who were removed by Emperor Julian.
Mithridates VI of Pontus, also known as Mithridates the Great, came to power as a young boy after his father, Mithridates V, was assassinated by poisoning. However, since Mithridates VI’s mother acted as a regent and favored his brother, Mithridates got them both imprisoned and took over the throne.