Antoninus, a name borne by several Roman Emperors: -
1. Antoninus Pius, whose other names were Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius, was born at Nemansus (Nimes) in 86 A.D. He was educated by his maternal grandfather, Arrius, a trusted friend of Nerva. The young Antoninus, who possessed considerable abilities and a high character, strengthened by Stoic principles, served with distinction under Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian, the latter adopting him as successor into the purple a few weeks before his death in 138. Antoninus reigned for twenty-three years over the vast Roman Empire, which during all that period enjoyed almost unbroken peace. He was distinguished for his equity, moderation, and simplicity of habits. Under him Christianity was allowed to develop without interference; the reform of Roman law was steadily carried out, and great public works were undertaken. His wife, Faustina, notorious for her profligacy, received from him more consideration and honour than she deserved. At her death she was deified and an institution for the education of destitute or orphan girls was raised to her memory. During this reign Lollius Urbicus built the wall of Antonine from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Clyde as a barrier against the Keltic tribes of the North. Antoninus died at Lorium in 161.
2. Antoninus, Marcus AElius Aurelius Verus, was born in 121 A.D., being the grandson of Annius Verus, and a member of a most distinguished family. Hadrian early marked him out for high place, and when he chose Antoninus as his heir, made him adopt Aurelius as his successor. The latter surpassed his adoptive father in virtue, and approached very nearly to the Christian standard, though he is credited on somewhat doubtful evidence with having permitted the persecution of the followers of Christ. His Meditations, which consist of notes made in his diary for his guidance in the affairs of life, testify to his sweet and noble character, his freedom from worldliness, his sense of duty, and his appreciation of the littleness of human things. He married Faustina, the younger, whose depravity rivalled that of her mother, and she was treated with no less leniency. Marcus Aurelius had a stormy reign. In his first year war broke out in Parthia and in Germany, and was threatening in Britain, whilst a devastating flood brought destitution in Rome, and was followed by a fearful pestilence. The Emperor was assiduous in relieving distress, in reforming laws, and in controlling their administration, whilst exercising keen vigilance in foreign and military affairs. To avoid excessive taxation he sold his imperial treasures. After defeating the Quadi and Marcomanni in 169, he visited the eastern provinces and returning to Rome received a triumph in 177, the famous column being erected in his honour. Fresh troubles broke out in Germany in 178, and Marcus, proceeding thither, defeated the barbarians, but worn out with fatigue and disease died in 180 either at Sirmium or Vienna.
For the other Antonines see Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus.