Gaius Avidius Nigrinus

Gaius Avidius Nigrinus (died 118) was a Roman who lived between the 1st and 2nd centuries.

Nigrinus’ ancestors were Romans of the highest political rank: he was the son of an elder Gaius Avidius Nigrinus, his brother was the consul Titus Avidius Quietus and his uncle was the consul Tiberius Avidius Quietus. Nigrinus’ family was wealthy, distinguished and well-connected politically in Faventia (modern Faenza, Italy), where he was born and raised. Nigrinus and his family may have been related to Gaius Petronius Pontius Nigrinus, who was consul in the year 37.

His family had strong links to Greece. The father of Nigrinus had served as Proconsul of Achaea during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96), as had his paternal uncle. His family was friendly with the Roman Senator Pliny the Younger and the Greek Historian Plutarch, who dedicated ‘On Brotherly Love’ to the elder Nigrinus and Quietus.

Nigrinus was a longstanding friend of the Roman Emperor Trajan and his family. He served Trajan as Tribune in 105. Nigrinus served as Legatus of Achaea and probably participated in Trajan’s attempt to recognize and stabilize the administration of the financially troubled province. Nigrinus later became the Roman Governor of Greece.

In 110, Nigrinus served as suffect consul. During the year of his consulship, Trajan sent Nigrinus to Delphi, Greece as a member of an advisory council to assist the politician, later Greek historian Arrian in settling boundary disputes. This event is recorded in Delphi, where there are honorific inscriptions dedicated to Nigrinus in Greek and Latin.

Nigrinus was a trusted lieutenant of Trajan. Trajan appointed him as a Roman Governor of Dacia. Nigrinus commanded considerable political respect, for he was a leading military general and could have been seen as a possible heir of Trajan's.

In 117, Trajan died and he was succeeded by his paternal second cousin Hadrian. In the summer of 118, the Roman Senate ordered the execution of Nigrinus, on the grounds that he had been one of four senators involved in a plot to overthrow Hadrian. Nigrinus was probably involved in the plot because of differences with Hadrian’s imperial policy. It is also possible that Hadrian could have viewed Nigrinus as a potential threat, given his previous high standing and close relationship with Trajan.

Nigrinus had at least one child, a daughter called Avidia Plautia. Plautia would marry Hadrian’s first adopted heir Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, and thus Nigrinus would become the grandfather of the Roman Emperor Lucius Verus, Gaius Avidius Ceionius Commodus, Ceionia Fabia, and Ceionia Plautia.

Nerva–Antonine family tree


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