Marble bust of Trajan
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign27 January 98 – 8 August 117
PredecessorNerva, adoptive father
Born18 September 53
Italica, Hispania, now Province of Seville, Andalusia, Spain
Died8 August 117 (aged 63)
Selinus, Cilicia, now Gazipaşa, Antalya Province, Turkey
BurialRome (ashes in foot of Trajan's Column, now lost), now Trajan's Forum, Rome, Italy
IssueHadrian (adoptive)
Full name
  • Marcus Ulpius Trajanus
    (from birth to adoption)
Regnal name
  • Caesar Marcus Ulpius Nerva Trajanus
    (from adoption to accession)
  • Imperator Caesar Nerva Trajanus Divi Nervae filius Augustus
    (as emperor)
Roman imperial dynasties
Nervo-Trajanic Dynasty
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Trajan
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Hadrian
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Lucius Aelius
   Adoptive - Antoninus Pius

Trajan (ən/; Latin: Imperator Caesar Nerva Trajanus Divi Nervae filius Augustus;[1][2] 18 September 53 – 8 August 117 AD) was Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps ("the best ruler"), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

Born in the city of Italica (close to modern Sevilla) in the province of Hispania Baetica, Trajan's non-patrician family was of Italian and Iberian origin. Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in 89 Trajan supported Domitian against a revolt on the Rhine led by Antonius Saturninus. In September 96, Domitian was succeeded by Marcus Cocceius Nerva, an old and childless senator who proved to be unpopular with the army. After a brief and tumultuous year in power, culminating in a revolt by members of the Praetorian Guard, Nerva was compelled to adopt the more popular Trajan as his heir and successor. He died on 27 January 98 and was succeeded by his adopted son without incident.

As a civilian administrator, Trajan is best known for his extensive public building program, which reshaped the city of Rome and left numerous enduring landmarks such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column. Early in his reign, he annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, creating the province of Arabia Petraea. His conquest of Dacia enriched the empire greatly, as the new province possessed many valuable gold mines.

Trajan's war against the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the capital Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia. His campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent. In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus. He was deified by the Senate and his ashes were laid to rest under Trajan's Column. He was succeeded by his adopted son Hadrian.


As an emperor, Trajan's reputation has endured – he is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived nineteen centuries. Every new emperor after him was honoured by the Senate with the wish felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (that he be "luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan"). Among medieval Christian theologians, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan. In the Renaissance, Machiavelli, speaking on the advantages of adoptive succession over heredity, mentioned the five successive good emperors "from Nerva to Marcus"[3] – a trope out of which the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon popularized the notion of the Five Good Emperors, of whom Trajan was the second.[4]

As far as ancient literary sources are concerned, an extant continuous account of Trajan's reign does not exist. An account of the Dacian Wars, the Commentarii de bellis Dacicis, written by Trajan himself or a ghostwriter and modelled after Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, is lost with the exception of one sentence. Only fragments remain of the Getiká, a book by Trajan's personal physician Titos Statilios Kriton. The Parthiká, a 17-volume account of the Parthian Wars written by Arrian, has met a similar fate.[5] Book 68 in Cassius Dio's Roman History, which survives mostly as Byzantine abridgments and epitomes, is the main source for the political history of Trajan's rule.[6] Besides this, Pliny the Younger's Panegyricus and Dio of Prusa's orations are the best surviving contemporary sources. Both are adulatory perorations, typical of the late Roman era, that describe an idealized monarch and an equally idealized view of Trajan's rule, and concern themselves more with ideology than with actual fact.[7] The tenth volume of Pliny's letters contains his correspondence with Trajan, which deals with various aspects of imperial Roman government, but this correspondence is neither intimate nor candid: it is an exchange of official mail, in which Pliny's stance borders on the servile.[8] It is certain that much of the text of the letters that appear in this collection over Trajan's signature was written and/or edited by Trajan's Imperial secretary, his ab epistulis.[9] Therefore, discussion of Trajan and his rule in modern historiography cannot avoid speculation, as well as recourse to non-literary sources such as archaeology and epigraphy.[10]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Trajanus
Alemannisch: Trajan
አማርኛ: ትራያኑስ
العربية: تراجان
aragonés: Trachán
asturianu: Traxanu
azərbaycanca: Trayan
تۆرکجه: تراژان
Bân-lâm-gú: Traianus
беларуская: Траян
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Марк Ульпіюс Траян
български: Траян
bosanski: Trajan
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čeština: Traianus
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dansk: Trajan
Deutsch: Trajan
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Ελληνικά: Τραϊανός
español: Trajano
Esperanto: Trajano
estremeñu: Trajanu
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فارسی: تراژان
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Frysk: Trajanus
Gàidhlig: Trajan
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ગુજરાતી: ટ્રાજન
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Traianus
한국어: 트라야누스
Հայերեն: Տրայանոս
हिन्दी: त्राजान
hrvatski: Trajan
Bahasa Indonesia: Trajanus
íslenska: Trajanus
italiano: Traiano
עברית: טראיאנוס
ქართული: ტრაიანე
Kiswahili: Kaizari Traian
Kongo: Traianus
kurdî: Trajan
Latina: Traianus
latviešu: Trajāns
lietuvių: Trajanas
македонски: Трајан
Malagasy: Trajan
മലയാളം: ട്രേജൻ
मराठी: ट्राजान
مصرى: تراچان
монгол: Траян
Nederlands: Trajanus
日本語: トラヤヌス
Napulitano: Traiano
norsk: Trajan
norsk nynorsk: Trajan av Romarriket
occitan: Trajan
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Trayan
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਤਰਾਜਾਨ
پنجابی: تراجان
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ត្រាហ្សាន
Tok Pisin: Trajan
polski: Trajan
português: Trajano
română: Traian
русский: Траян
Gagana Samoa: Trajan
Scots: Trajan
shqip: Trajan
sicilianu: Traianu
Simple English: Trajan
slovenčina: Traján
slovenščina: Trajan
српски / srpski: Трајан
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Trajan
suomi: Trajanus
svenska: Trajanus
Tagalog: Trajan
தமிழ்: திராயான்
татарча/tatarça: Траян
ትግርኛ: ትራያኑስ
Türkçe: Trajan
Twi: Trajan
українська: Траян
اردو: تراجان
Tiếng Việt: Traianus
Winaray: Trajan
Xitsonga: Trajan
ייִדיש: טריאנוס
Yorùbá: Trajan
粵語: 圖拉真
Zazaki: Traianus
中文: 圖拉真
Lingua Franca Nova: Trajano