Humanities › History & Culture Trajan the Roman Emperor Share Flipboard Email Print De Agostini / G. Dagli Orti / De Agostini Picture Library/ Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Rome Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated August 20, 2018 Born Marcus Ulpius Traianus, Trajan was a soldier who spent most of his life involved in campaigns. When delivered the news that he was adopted by Roman Emperor Nerva, and even after Nerva died, Trajan remained in Germany until he had completed his campaign. His major campaigns as emperor were against the Dacians, in 106, which vastly increased the Roman imperial coffers, and against the Parthians, beginning in 113, which was not a clear and decisive victory. His imperial name was Imperator Caesar Divi Nervae filius Nerva Traianus Optimus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus Parthicus. He reigned as Roman emperor from A.D. 98-117. Although we don't know the details, Trajan set up cash subsidies to help raise poor children. He is well known for his building projects. Trajan also built an artificial harbor at Ostia. Birth and Death Future Roman emperor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus or Trajan was born at Italica, in Spain, on September 18, A.D. 53. After having appointed Hadrian his successor, Trajan died while returning to Italy from the east. Trajan died on 9 August A.D. 117, after suffering a stroke, in the Cilician town of Selinus. Family of Origin His family came from Italica, in Spanish Baetica. His father was Ulpius Trajanaus and his mother was named Marcia. Trajan had a 5 year older sister named Ulpia Marciana. Trajan was adopted by the Roman Emperor Nerva and made his heir, which entitled him to call himself the son of Nerva: CAESARI DIVI NERVAE F, literally, 'the son of the divine Caesar Nerva.' Titles and Honors Trajan was officially designated optimus 'best' or optimus princeps 'best chief' in 114. He provided 123 days of public celebration for his Dacian triumph and had his Dacian and Germanic successes recorded in his official title. He was posthumously made divine (divus) as had his predecessor (Caesar Divus Nerva). Tacitus refers to the beginning of Trajan's reign as a 'most blessed age' (beatissimum saeculum). He was also made Pontifex Maximus. Sources Literary sources on Trajan include Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Cassius Dio, Dio of Prusa, Aurelius Victor and Eutropius. Despite their number, there is little reliable written information about Trajan's reign. Since Trajan sponsored building projects, there is archaeological and epigraphical (from inscriptions) testimony. Trajan Optimus Princeps - A Life and Times, by Julian Bennett. Indiana University Press, 1997. ISBN 0253332168. 318 Pages.