Age at Accession of the Roman Emperors

Roman Emperors - Age at Accession

Reference Map of the European Provinces of the Roman Empire
Reference Map of the European Provinces of the Roman Empire. From The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1911.

How old is old enough to be a ruler? Is there an age before which there is bound to be trouble? Looking at the callous behavior of several of the young Roman emperors it's hard not to wonder if too much power was thrust upon immature shoulders. The following table of the Age of Accession of the Roman Emperors was created because of a forum discussion of the relationship between the relative youth of the emperor and his unfitness to rule.

Please add your thoughts to this discussion. Do you think youth or old age was more of a problem for the Roman emperors? Did age at accession of the emperor make any difference?

The table shows the approximate age at accession of the Roman emperors. For those emperors with no birth information, the approximate date of accession and the birth year are marked with question marks. Consult the resources for more exact information.

Unless otherwise indicated, all dates are A.D.

Mean average age = 41.3
Oldest = 79 Gordian I
Youngest = 8 Gratian

EmperorBirth YearReignApproximate Age at Accession
Augustus63 B.C.27 B.C.- 14 A.D.36
Tiberius42 B.C.A.D. 14-3756
CaligulaA.D. 1237-4125
Claudius10 B.C.41-5451
NeroA.D. 3754-6817
Galba3 B.C.68-6965
OthoA.D. 326937
Vitellius156954
Vespasian969-7960
Titus3079-8149
Domitian5181-9630
Nerva3096-9866
Trajan5398-11745
Hadrian76117-13841
Antoninus Pius86138-16152
Marcus Aurelius121161-18040
Lucius Verus130161-16931
Commodus161180-19219
Pertinax126192-19366
Didius Julianus13719356
Septimius Severus145193-21148
Pescennius Nigerc. 135-40193-19455
Clodius Albinusc. 150193-19743
Antoninus - Caracalla188211-21723
Geta18921122
Macrinusc. 165217-21852
Diadumenianus(son of Macrinus, birth unknown)218?
Elagabalus204218-2214
Severus Alexander208222-23514
Maximinus Thrax173?235-23862
Gordian I15923879
Gordian II19223846
Balbinus17823860
Pupienus16423874
Gordian III225238-24413
Philip the Arab?244 - 249?
Deciusc. 199249 - 25150
Gallus207251 - 25344
Valerian?253 - 260?
Gallienus218254 - 26836
Claudius Gothicus214?268 - 27054
Aurelian214270 - 27556
Tacitus?275 - 276?
Probus232276 - 28244
Carus252282 - 28530
Carinus252282 - 28530
Numerian?282 - 285?
Diocletian243?284 - 30541
Maximian?286 - 305?
Constantius I Chlorus250?305 - 30655
Galerius260?305 - 31145
Licinius250?311 - 32461
Constantine280?307 - 33727
Constans I320337 - 35017
Constantine II316?337 - 34021
Constantius II317337 - 36120
Julian331361 - 36330
Jovian331363 - 36432
Valens328364 - 36836
Gratian359367 - 3838
Theodosius346379 - 39532


Forum Discussion

"Have you already noticed that the worst roman emperors were those that ascended to power when they were still very young? I think that any teenager would go crazy if he were put in a position of absolute power..."
paaman

Sources

History of Rome, the Emperors
Roman Emperors The Imperial Index (DIR)