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Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Trajanus) (trāˈjən), c.A.D. 53–A.D. 117, Roman emperor (A.D. 98–A.D. 117). Born in Spain, he was the first non-Italian to become head of the empire. Trajan served in the East, in Germany, and in Spain. He was adopted in A.D. 97 by Emperor Nerva, who died shortly afterward. A capable man, Trajan set about strengthening his regime by embarking on an aggressive foreign policy. In two wars against Dacia he brought that region, the parent of modern Romania, under Roman control. This conquest is commemorated by the sculptured Trajan's Column, which stands in the Forum of Trajan in Rome. Trajan then annexed Arabia Petraea, and in three campaigns he conquered the greater part of the Parthian empire, including Armenia and Upper Mesopotamia. On his way home from this campaign, he died in Cilicia. He was succeeded by Hadrian. Trajan was an able military organizer and civic administrator. He partially drained the Pontine Marshes and restored the Appian Way, and at Rome he built an aqueduct, a theater, and the immense Forum of Trajan, containing basilicas and libraries.


See F. A. Lepper, Trajan's Parthian War (1948); L. Rossi, Trajan's Column and the Dacian Wars (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Marcus Ulpius Traianus). Born A.D. 53; died 117. Member of the Antonine dynasty and Roman emperor (98–117).

Under Trajan the empire reached its greatest territorial extent. As a result of the Dacian Wars (101–102 and 105–106), Dacia became a Roman province, and in 106 the Nabataean Kingdom was conquered and became the province of Arabia. War with the Parthians from 114 to 117 resulted in the occupation of Greater Armenia and the subjugation of all Mesopotamia. Under Hadrian, Trajan’s successor, all the captured provinces were lost, except Dacia and Arabia.

Trajan maintained harmonious relations with the Senate and freely granted the rights of Roman citizenship to provincials. He instituted the alimenta system in an effort to alleviate the destitution of city dwellers and of landowners with medium and small holdings. Under Trajan, ambitious public works were undertaken in Rome and the provinces. Trajan’s Forum in Rome is a splendid example of such public construction.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Latin name Marcus Ulpius Traianus. ?53--117 ad, Roman emperor (98--117). He extended the empire to the east and built many roads, bridges, canals, and towns
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