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Key information:


Birthdate: October 1, 208 CE. 

(Fasti Philocali – CIL I, 274) (Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 63)

Birthplace: Severus Alexander was born in the city of Arca Caesarea in the province of Syria (modern-day Tripoli, Lebanon). 

(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 1)

Reign: Declared emperor by the praetorian guard on March 13, 222 CE, after the assassination of his cousin and predecessor Elagabalus.

(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 6)


Sallustia Orbiana (225-227 CE)

Sulpicia Memmia

(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 20)          (Herodian 6.1.9)

Death: Severus Alexander was killed by his soldiers in March 235 CE near Mogontiacum (modern-day Mainz, Germany). He died alongside his mother, Julia Mamaea.

(Historia Augusta, Life of Alexander Severus, 59-60)                  (CIL XIII.2, 298)

Bust of Severus Alexander, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States of America, July 2023
Bust of Severus Alexander, Colosseum, Rome, Feb 2019
Bust of Severus Alexander, Capitoline Museums, Rome, March 2019

Famous facts and dates

Severus Alexander became emperor when he was only fourteen years old. During the early part of his reign, he shared power with his mother (Julia Mamaea) and grandmother (Julia Maesa).
(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 6 & 14) (Herodian 6.1.4-6)


Despite his youth and inexperience, the thirteen year reign of Severus Alexander was relatively stable and prosperous. He appointed well qualified administrators and advisors, completed multiple public works projects, and respected the rights of religious minorities.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 19, 22, 25)
During the final years of his reign, Severus Alexander was faced with invasions by the Sassanian Empire (231 - 233 CE) and Germanic tribes (234 - 235 CE). Severus Alexander was not skilled as a general, and military discipline began to break down under his leadership. In March 235 CE, he was killed by a mutinous legion led by Maximinus Thrax, who would take his place as emperor.
(Herodian 6.5 – 6.9)
Despite being assassinated, Severus Alexander was popular with the Roman Senate and people. After his death, the Roman Senate declared him a god, built him a tomb, and celebrated a feast in his memory.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 63)
The death of Severus Alexander marked the beginning of the Crisis of the Third Century. During this fifty year period, the Roman Empire nearly collapsed as it was beset by barbarian invasions, civil wars, disease, and multiple economic crises.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Severus Alexander, 64) (Pontius of Carthage, Life of Cyprian, 9) (Herodian 8)

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Severus Alexander,” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 8/10/2023.


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