Tiberius Claudius Maximus

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Decebalus' suicide depicted on Trajan's Column. Tiberius Claudius Maximus may be the figure reaching out for Decebalus from horseback.

Tiberius Claudius Maximus was a Roman soldier who served with Legio VII Claudia in the Dacian Wars during the reign of emperor Domitian and emperor Trajan.

He was born in Greece and joined the army in 85 AD at a young age and served in Legio VII Claudia in Moesia. In 87 and 88 AD he fought as part of his legion in the First Battle of Tapae and Second Battle of Tapae.

Tiberius Claudius Maximus later become a cavalry officer in his legion and standard-bearer of the cavalry. He was decorated for bravery by the Emperor Domitian. Trajan promoted him to lead an Auxiliary cavalry unit of Pannonians. In 106 AD, during the Dacian Wars, Tiberius Claudius Maximus, serving as a scout with his unit, was tasked to capture the escaping Dacian King Decebalus. Before Maximus was able to capture him, Decebalus committed suicide by cutting his own throat: this incident is shown on Trajan's Column, although it is likely, however, that in the process of dying Decebalus was captured as is claimed on the funerary stele discovered at Gramini in Greece. Maximus cut off the head and right arm of the Dacian king and took them to the emperor Trajan at Ranisstorum who granted him a medal, his second one in his military career.

Tiberius Claudius Maximus later served in Trajan's Roman-Parthian Wars; having voluntarily served longer than his contracted period of service, he was eventually discharged in the province of Mesopotamia.

He died after 117 AD. While still alive, around 106, he raised a monument at Philippi in Greece (now in the museum at Drama) which bears a representation of the two medals he received during his military career and also makes the claim that he had actually captured Decebalus.

Latin inscription from the tombstone of Philippi (northern Greece)[edit]

Ti(berius) Claudius / Maximus vet(eranus) / [s(e)] v(ivo) f(aciendum) c(uravit) militavit / eque(s) in leg(ione) VII C(laudia) P(ia) F(ideli) fac/ tus qu(a)estor equit(um) / singularis legati le/ gionis eiusdem vexil/ larius equitum item / bello Dacico ob virtu/ te(m) donis donatus ab Im/ p(eratore) Domitiano factus dupli(carius) / a divo Troiano(!) in ala secu(n)d(a) / Pannoniorum a quo et fa©/ tus explorator in bello Da/ cico et ob virtute(m) bis donis / donatus bello Dacico et / Parthico et ab eode(m) factus / decurio in ala eade(m) quod / cepisset Decebalu(m) et caput / eius pertulisset ei Ranissto/ ro missus voluntarius ho/ nesta missione a Terent[io Scau]/ riano consulare [exerci]/ tus provinciae nov[ae Mes]/[opotamiae....

Translation of the inscription

Tiberius Claudius Maximus, veteran, took care of setting this up while he was alive. He served as trooper in Legio VII Claudia Pia Fidelis, was made quaestor equitum, then singularis of the legatus legionis of the same legion, then vexillarius of the of troopers of that unit, received awards from Emperor Domitian for bravery in the Dacian War, was made duplicarius in the Ala II Pannoniorum by the Emperor Trajan and was made explorator in the Dacian War and twice received awards for bravery in the Dacian and the Parthian War and was made decurio in the same ala by him because he had captured Decebalus and bore his head to him in Ranisstorum. He got his honorary discharge as a voluntarius from the consular commander Terentius Scaurianus, of the army of the Provincia Mesopotamia Nova.


  • Boris Rankov: Singulares Legati Legionis: A problem in the interpretation of the Ti. Claudius Maximus inscription from Philippi, in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, Bd. 80, Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habel GmbH, 1990, p. 165-175.
  • J. B. Campell: The Roman Army, 31 BC-AD 337: A Sourcebook. Routledge 1994, ISBN 978-0-415-07173-4 (restricted online version (google books)). (has a full translation of the Philippi Monument and also a photograph of it.)
  • Michael Alexander Speidel: Roman army pay scales, in The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 82, Cambridge : Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 1992, p. 87-106.
  • Michael P. Speidel: The Captor of Decebalus. A New Inscription from Philippi, in Mr. Speidels' Roman Army Studies, Vol. 1, Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1984, p. 173-187.
  • Yann Le Bohec: Die römische Armee. Franz Steiner Verlag 1993, ISBN 978-3-515-06300-5 (Tiberius Claudius Maximus - Romanarmy.com