Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus

Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus (45–136) was an Iberian Roman politician. He was a prominent public figure in the reigns of Roman emperors Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian. He was the last private citizen to receive a third consulship; such honors came to be reserved for members of the emperor's family.[1]

According to an inscription found, his full name is Gaius Julius Servilius Ursus Servianus, however in Augustan History, he is known as Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus.


Little is known on his origins. Before the accession of Trajan in 98, Servianus married Aelia Domitia Paulina, the elder sister of Hadrian, who was thirty years younger than he was. During Trajan's reign 98-117, Paulina and Servianus had a daughter called Julia Serviana Paulina.

When Nerva died on January 27 98, Hadrian travelled to Germany to find Trajan, to announce the death of Nerva. Servianus tried unsuccessfully to stop Hadrian's travel to Germany, because he was jealous of the favor shown Hadrian by Trajan. However, Servianus and Hadrian reconciled and were for a long time on good terms.

Servianus served twice as consul under Trajan, and once as consul under Hadrian in 134. As a senator he was a very influential and powerful man. Trajan appointed him Roman Governor of Germania Inferior in 98, and later made him Roman Governor of Pannonia granting him important military commands against Dacia.

Servianus was a friend to Roman Senator and historian Pliny the Younger. Through Servianus' influence, Trajan granted Pliny immunities only usually granted to a father of three, the jus trium liberorum. Before Trajan’s death in 117, Servianus and Paulina had arranged and married their daughter Julia to Gnaeus Pedanius Fuscus Salinator, a man of consular rank from Iberia. Pliny the Younger sent him and his wife a letter of congratulations about their daughter’s wedding.

When Trajan died on August 8, 117, his cousin and adopted son Hadrian became emperor. As Emperor, Hadrian treated Servianus with distinguished honor, considering him to be his first successor. When Paulina died in 130, Hadrian and Servianus shared a private ceremony for her.

For a long time, the emperor Hadrian had considered Servianus as his unofficial successor. As Hadrian's reign drew to a close, however, he changed his mind. Although the emperor certainly thought Servianus capable of ruling as an emperor after Hadrian's own death, Servianus, by now in his nineties, was clearly too old for the position. Hadrian's attentions turned to Servianus' grandson, Gnaeus Pedanius Fuscus Salinator II. Hadrian promoted the young Salinator, his great-nephew, gave him special status in his court, and groomed him as his heir. Servianus, who always cherished the idea that his youthful grandson would one day succeed his brother-in-law, was over-joyed.

However, in 136, Hadrian changed his mind and decided to adopt Lucius Aelius Caesar as his son and heir. Servianus and the younger Salinator were very angry at Hadrian and wanted to challenge him over the adoption. It is possible Salinator went so far as to attempt a coup against Hadrian in which Servianus was implicated. In order to avoid any potential conflict in the succession, Hadrian ordered the deaths of Salinator and Servianus.[2] Ironically, Aelius died before Hadrian in 138, leaving Hadrian to adopt Antoninus Pius.

Nerva–Antonine family tree



  1. Caillan Davenport, "Iterated Consulships and the Government of Severus Alexander", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 177 (2011), p. 288
  2. Anthony Birley, Hadrian the Restless Emperor, pp. 291-292.
Political offices
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus IV,
and Quintus Articuleius Paetus II
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Lucius Licinius Sura II
Succeeded by
Imp. Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus V,
and Manlius Laberius Maximus II
Preceded by
Marcus Antonius Hiberus,
and Publius Mummius Sisenna
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Titus Vibius Varus
Succeeded by
Titus Tutilius Lupercus Pontianus,
and Publius Calpurnius Atilianus

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