Publius Septimius Geta, a co-emperor of Rome, was assassinated on orders from his own brother Caracalla today in 211. Now WE know em

Publius Septimius Geta,  co-emperor of Rome

Publius Septimius Geta, co-emperor of Rome

Geta was born March 7, 189 in Rome at a time when his father Septimius Severus was a provincial governor under Roman Emperor Commodus.

Conflicts growing up between his older brother Caracalla and Geta were constant and often required the mediation of their Syrian mother Julia Domna.

Then in 191, his father Severus received from the Roman Emperor Commodus the command of the legions in Pannonia.

However, Commodus was assassinated in 192.

Pertinax was acclaimed Roman Emperor but was killed by the Praetorian Guard in early 193.

In response to the murder of Pertinax, Severus proclaimed himself Emperor at Carnuntum, whereupon he and his family hurried back to Rome.

Pertinax’s successor in Rome was Didius Julianus, who had bought the emperorship in an auction.

Julianus was condemned to death and killed, with Severus taking possession of Rome without opposition on April 14, 193.

Imperial Roman propaganda under Emperor Severus promoted the image of a happy royal family that shared their responsibilities of rule.

Emperor Severus entrusted his wife Julia Domna with the role of counselor, his oldest son Caracalla acted as the emperor’s second in command, and administrative and bureaucratic duties became his youngest son Geta’s responsibility.

Both sons were supposed to be presented as equally suitable heirs to the Roman throne, showing more “depth” to their dynasty.

In reality, however, the rivalry and antipathy between Geta and his older brother Caracalla did not abate.

Emperor Severus made his eldest son Caracalla the title of Augustus in 197.

Then to appease his wife, Emperor Septimius Severus also gave his youngest son Geta the title of Augustus in 209.

Between 209 and their father’s death in February 211, both brothers were shown as equally mature young men with a short full beard, ready to take over the Roman Empire.

Joint Emperor

When his father, the Emperor Septimius Severus died at Eboracum in early 211, brothers Caracalla and Geta were proclaimed joint emperors and returned to Rome.

However, their joint rule was doomed to failure.

Later sources speculated that the brothers wished to split the empire in two halves.

By the end of 211, the situation between the brothers had become unbearable.

Caracalla’s portraits had not changed since the death of their father, yet Geta’s image was depicted with a long beard with hanging hairs much like his father, a strong indication of his effort to be seen as the “true” successor of his father.

During the festival of Saturnalia, Geta’s older brother Caracalla unsuccessfully tried to murder him.

Finally in December of 211, their mother arranged a reconciliation meeting between the brother’s in her apartment without bodyguards.

However before that meeting was able to take place, Caracalla had his younger brother Geta slain by loyal members of the Praetorian Centurion Guard on December 19, 211.

Geta died moments later in his mother’s weeping arms.

Caracalla then persecuted and executed most of Geta’s supporters and ordered a damnatio memoriae pronounced by the Senate against his brother Geta’s memory.

Cassius Dio later stated that around 20,000 men and women were killed or proscribed during this time.

Geta’s image was also immediately removed from all coinage, paintings and statues.

Now WE know em

 

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