History accounts great leaders of different vast empires such as the Great Roman Empire. Eminent monarchs took credit of the developments their empire achieved during their regime. Although, on the other side of the coin, history also accounts infamous Roman emperors and empresses that were renowned for their wicked or abysmal govern over the empire.
While there were numerous of infamous emperors and empresses in the entire Roman history, only a few of them really did a good job making themselves popular through immoral controversies and corrupt administrations. Here is a brief top 10 list of the most infamous Roman emperors and empresses that took a major part in the entire Roman history.
1. Domitian (81 A.D. ‘ 96 A.D.)
Caesar Domitianus Augustus or Titus Flavius Domitianus, also known popular by the name Domitian, was born on October 24, A.D. 51 in Rome, Italy. He was the last emperor in the entire 27 years of Flavian Dynasty. Although he managed to defend the vast territory of Roman empire, his arrogance and boastful nature is his huge predicament. He pronounced himself, alongside with his household, as a ‘God’ and his family members as deities. Maltreatment of Christians and Jews are up to the extreme during that time.
2. Irene the Athenian (752 A.D. ‘ 803 A.D.)
Irene Sarantapechaina is a Byzantine empress that ruled the empire from 797 A.D. to 802 A.D. She was the widow of Emperor Leo IV of Byzantine Empire and became the empress regent soon after his husband died. Although they had a son who had the rightful claim to the throne, she succeeded in stealing the authority from her own poor son by having him imprisoned and blinded. This controversy had led her to be part of this list of most infamous Roman leaders. Aside from persecuting the poor nine-year-old boy, she had a peculiar habit of calling herself ’emperor’ instead of being addressed as ’empress’.
3. Septimius Severus
One of the darkest days that the Christians and Jews experienced under the Roman Empire is during Severus’s regime. He strictly implemented the Roman law against other religions aside from Roman ones and ordered executions of many foreign religion followers. This infamous Roman emperor caused deaths of almost 3,500 people, both Christians and Jews. The believers were asked to curse their Gods in exchange for their lives. Although, he did not seek to eliminate a specific religion or belief, but he seek to eliminate all of the foreign religions inhabiting the lands.
4. Maximinus I
Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus, or simply Maximinus Thrax, is the first of the barracks emperors. Maximinus, according to historical accounts, had never been in Rome even during his reign. Although he seemed to be a powerful leader, the Crisis of the Third Century was said to start from his government. He is a conqueror in nature and he believed that his people would love him for his glorious battles and conquests. Even though these sound promising attributes of a great Roman leader, his actions against weak and innocent nations that pose no threat to Rome had planted hate in the hearts of his people.
5. Julia Agrippina
Agrippina was one of the Emperor Claudius’s wives and, fortunately, his last. Emperor Claudius had a reputation of having a ‘bad taste’ on women because of his wife Valeria Messalina (also part of this list of the most infamous Roman emperors and empresses). Unfortunately, he made the same mistake twice when he accepted Agrippina as his wife. One of the wicked doings of Agrippina was killing his own husband, Emperor Claudius, with the use of poisonous mushrooms. Furthermore, Agrippina also battled against both Nero and Tiberius, both Claudius’s heirs and her sons, and claimed succession to the throne.
Tiberius Caesar Divi Augustus fili Augustus, popularly known as Tiberius, was the stepson of Augustus Ceasar, the founder of the Roman Empire. Although Octavian adopted Tiberius, Tiberius has not adopted Octavian’s skills and passion to rule. Instead, Tiberius abandoned his obligations to the senators and indulged himself with earthly pleasures. His greatest crime against humanity was pursuing his pedophilic lust in a village built especially for him until his old age.
7. Valeria Messalina
Valeria Messalina was the wife of Emperor Claudius after his second marriage with Aelia Paetina. She was obviously a close relative of Nero and Caligula based on her immoral and mad actions. Her promiscuous acts enable her to reach the top of this list of the most infamous Roman rulers. One of her infamous conquests was her competition with a hooker to see who will have the most sexual partners in a span of 24 hours. Historical accounts said that she won the contest.
Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus, born on August 31, 161, was the son and successor of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Although his father was one of the Five Good Emperors of Rome, Commodus seemed to choose a different path apart from his father. Commodus became fanatic of gladiator games and even joined the gruesome activity himself. He took pleasure of killings and he even slain a hundred of lions a day. One of the most hideous crimes he committed was ordering the disabled and physically undesirable people in the city to kill each other in the arena. His gruesome leisure offended the senate who ordered his assassination.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, popularly known as Nero, was one of the infamous emperors who persecuted Christians and Jews up to the extent that he accused them of causing the Great Fire of Rome in 64 A.D. After 15 years of assassinating his critics and killing his own family (even his wife), Nero finally committed suicide because of his fear that the angry Roman populace would torture him to death.
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, infamously known as Caligula, topped at this top 10 list of the most infamous Roman emperors and empresses. He can be considered as a ‘mad emperor’ for bestowing great honors for his horse and even making it as his consul. He deified himself along with his sisters, who were suspected of committing incest with him. Numerous executions of his critics and morbid acts against his insulters triggered the entire Roman Empire to revolt against him. The anguish of the crowd was superb that they even smashed his daughter’s fragile head to the wall.
There are hundreds of infamous leaders and monarchs in the entire world history, not just in Rome. Some of them might have committed crimes against humanity in different ways, while others might have committed worse than Caligula did. Although they are not good examples as they were supposed to be, a lesson is learned. Cruelty, selfishness, sexual pleasures, and other hideous acts can never do good in the human society.