Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus
Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus (45–136) was a Spanish Roman politician. According to an inscription found, his full name is Gaius Julius Servilius Ursus Servianus, however in Augustan History, he is known as Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus. Little is known on his origins.
Servianus was a prominent public figure in the reigns of Roman Emperors Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian. Before the accession of Trajan in 98, Servianus married Aelia Domitia Paulina, the elder sister of Hadrian, who was thirty years younger than he was. During Trajan’s reign 98-117, Paulina and Servianus had a daughter called Julia Serviana Paulina.
When Nerva died on January 27 98, Hadrian travelled to Germany to find Trajan, to announce the death of Nerva. Servianus tried unsuccessfully to stop Hadrian's travel to Germany, because he was jealous of the favor shown Hadrian by Trajan. However, Servianus and Hadrian reconciled and were for a long time on good terms.
Servianus served twice as consul under Trajan, and once as consul under Hadrian in 134. As a senator he was a very influential and powerful man. Trajan appointed him Roman Governor of Germania Inferior in 98, and later made him Roman Governor of Pannonia granting him important military commands against Dacia.
Servianus was a friend to Roman Senator and historian Pliny the Younger. Through Servianus' influence, Trajan granted Pliny immunities only usually granted to a father of three, the jus trium liberorum. Before Trajan’s death in 117, Servianus and Paulina had arranged and married their daughter Julia to Spanish Roman Gnaeus Pedanius Fuscus Salinator, who was a man of consular rank. Pliny the Younger sent him and his wife a letter of congratulations about their daughter’s wedding.
When Trajan died on August 8, 117, his cousin and adopted son Hadrian became emperor. As Emperor, Hadrian treated Servianus with distinguished honor, considering him to be his first successor. When Paulina died in 130, Hadrian and Servianus shared a private ceremony for her.
As Hadrian's reign drew to a close, however, he changed his mind. Although Hadrian thought Servianus was capable of ruling as an emperor after Hadrian's own death, Servianus who was now in his nineties was clearly too old for the position. Hadrian's attentions turned to his grandson, the younger Gnaeus Pedanius Fuscus Salinator. Hadrian promoted his great-nephew, gave him special status in his court and also groomed Salinator as his heir. Servianus, who always cherished the idea that his youthful grandson would one day succeed his brother-in-law, was over-joyed.
However in 136, Hadrian changed his mind and decided to adopt Lucius Aelius Caesar as his son and heir. When Aelius died before Hadrian in 138, Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius. Servianus and his grandson Fuscus were very angry at Hadrian and wanted to challenge him over the adoption. It is possible Fuscus went so far as to attempt a coup against Hadrian in which Servianus was implicated. In order to avoid any potential conflict in the succession, Hadrian ordered the deaths of Fuscus and Servianus. According to Cassius Dio, Servianus exclaimed before he killed himself, “my only prayer is that Hadrian lingers for a long time, praying for death but unable to die”. He got his wish. Hadrian suffered a painful protracted final illness before his own death on July 10 138.
- Augustan History - Hadrian
- German version of Wikipedia
- Anthony Birley, Hadrian the Restless Emperor, pp. 291-292.