Latin in full CAESAR DIVI NERVAE FILIUS NERVA TRAIANUS OPTIMUS AUGUSTUS, also called (AD 97-98) CAESAR NERVA TRAIANUS GERMANICUS, original name MARCUS ULPIUS TRAIANUS (b. Sept. 15 abt, AD 53, Italica, Baetica [now in Spain]--d. Aug. 8/9, 117, Selinus, Cilicia [now in Turkey], Roman emperor (AD 98-117), the first to be born outside Italy. He sought to extend the boundaries of the empire to the east (notably in Dacia, Arabia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia), undertook a vast building program, and enlarged social welfare.
The patria of the Ulpii family was Italica, in Spanish Baetica, where their ancestors had settled late in the third century B.C. Trajan's father was the first member of the family to pursue a senatorial career; it proved to be a very successful one. Born probably about the year 30, he perhaps commanded a legion under Corbulo in the early sixties and then was legate of legio X Fretensis under Vespasian, governor of Judaea. Success in the Jewish War was rewarded by the governorship of an unknown province and then a consulate in 70. He was thereafter adlected by the emperor in patricios and sent to govern Baetica. Then followed the governorship of one of the major military provinces, Syria, where he prevented a Parthian threat of invasion, and in 79/80 he was proconsul of Asia, one of the two provinces (the other was Africa) which capped a senatorial career. His public service now effectively over, he lived on in honor and distinction, in all likelihood seeing his son emperor. He probably died before 100. He was deified in 113 and his titulature read "divus Traianus pater". Since his son was also the adoptive son of Nerva, Trajan officially had two fathers, a circumstance with precedent among Roman Emperors, the first being Octavius Augustus Caesar. Trajan was born in Italica on September 18, 53; his mother was Marcia, who had given birth to a daughter, Ulpia Marciana, five years before the birth of her son. In the mid seventies, he was a legionary legate under his father in Syria. He then married a lady from Nemausus (Nimes) in Gallia Narbonensis, Pompeia Plotina; was quaestor about 78 and praetor about 84. In 86, he became one of the young Hadrian's guardians. He was then appointed legate of legio VII Gemina in Hispania Tarraconensis, from which he marched at Domitian's orders in 89 to crush the uprising of Antonius Saturninus along the Rhine. He next fought in Domitian's war against the Germans along Rhine and Danube and was rewarded with an ordinary consulship in 91. Soon followed the governorship of Moesia Inferior and then that of Germania Superior, with his headquarters at Moguntiacum (Mainz), where Hadrian brought him the news in autumn, 97 that he had been adopted by the Emperor Nerva, as co-ruler and his intended successor. Already recipient of the title Imperator and possessor of the tribunician power, when Nerva died on January 27, 98, Trajan became emperor in a smooth transition of power which marked the next three quarters of a century.
His sister Marciana, five years his elder, and Trajan shared a close affection. She received the title Augusta, along with Plotina, in 105 and was deified in 112 upon her death. Her daughter Matidia became Augusta upon her mother's death, and in her turn was deified in 119. Both women received substantial monuments in the Campus Martius, there being basilicas of each and a temple of divae Matidiae. Hadrian was responsible for these buildings, which were located near the later temple of the deified Hadrian, not far from the column of Marcus Aurelius.
Matidia's daughter, Sabina, was married to Hadrian in the year 100. The union survived almost to the end of Hadrian's subsequent principate, in spite of the mutual loathing that they had for each other. Sabina was Trajan's great niece, and thereby furnished Hadrian a crucial link to Trajan.