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Severus

Severus (fl. middle of C1 ad). Supposedly the designer (with the engineer Celer) of Emperor Nero's (b. 37, reigned 54–68) Domus Aurea (Golden House), a complex the octagonal hall of which was only rediscovered early in C20 buried within the substructures of the Thermae of Trajan on the slopes of the Oppian Hill, Rome (64–8). This huge palace contained a series of interior volumes of contrasting geometrical shapes illuminated by indirect and top lighting. It is unclear, however, if columnar and trabeated forms were expunged from the interiors of the vaulted, domed, and arcuated compartments, as many C20 commentators have claimed they were. Doubtless beguiled by the surviving bare walls and powerful, clear geometries, they have seen the octagonal hall and its ancillary spaces as original and as heralding a new aesthetic. Concrete was used for the basic structure, Orders were employed for the exterior, and it seems highly probable that Orders were used inside as well, as was the case in the vestibule of the ‘Piazza d'Oro’ at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli (118–34). The fact that the rich marble and stucco finishes have long since disappeared, and with them other internal embellishments (including Orders) does not mean they did not exist. There is no trace of stucco or marble finishes to the dome itself (though there is evidence that such finishes were employed on the walls and elsewhere), but it is likely that the space was covered by a ribbed structure, perhaps of bronze, from which fabric panels were suspended. As David Hemsoll has convincingly shown, the octagonal hall of the Golden House, ‘far from representing a “revolution” in architecture’, seems ‘to have been a design that actually was deeply rooted in tradition … Modernist aesthetic criteria’, such as efforts to define the design as ‘an heroic attempt to come to terms with advances in building technology and to free architecture from the constraints of the past’, are ‘inaccurate and misleading’. Nero and his architects bettered their predecessors by exploiting tradition and established forms, and taking advantage of technological developments. After all, halls and dining-rooms with sophisticated geometries and spatial elaboration were known before Nero's time, and there is evidence from tombs and other building-types of similar ingenious geometrical arrangements before the Domus Aurea was built. Severus and Celer may also have played roles in the rebuilding of Rome after the fire of AD 64 and the drawing up of the building regulations that set the agenda. They also proposed a vast canal (begun but unfinished c. AD 60) linking Lake Avernus near the Bay of Naples to the Tiber. Severus and Celer's works are described by Tacitus (c. AD 55–c.117) and Suetonius (c. AD 70–c.160), neither of whom was particulary sympathetic to the Imperial idea, yet both were impressed by the Domus Aurea, its grandeur, its rich interior décor, the bathing facilities, and the enchanting gardens.

Bibliography

Antiquity, xxx (1956), 209–19;
AH, xxxii (1989), 1–17;
Boëthius (1960);
W. MacDonald (1965–86);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Segala & and Sciortino (1999);
Ward-Perkins (1981, 1986)

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Severus ( (Lucius Septimius Severus), Roman emperor)

Severus or Septimius Severus (Lucius Septimius Severus) (sĕptĬm´ēəs sēvē´rəs), 146–211, Roman emperor (193–211), b. Africa. He was campaigning in Pannonia and Illyria when the emperor Commodus was murdered. His successor, Pertinax, lasted three months before he too was assassinated. The Pretorian guards arranged the succession of the weak Didius Julianus. With the empire in disarray, Severus marched on Rome. Proclaimed emperor, Severus went to the East to overthrow Pescennius Niger, the governor of Syria, who had also been proclaimed emperor by his legions. Severus defeated (194) the pretender. He took (196) Byzantium and subdued the rebellious Arabs of Mesopotamia. Returning to the West, he defeated (197) Clodius Albinus, another pretender, in Gaul and, returning eastward, attacked and expelled (198) the Parthians from Mesopotamia. In 208, Severus went to Britain. From there he harassed Scotland, but he died at York before completing his plans for a large invasion. Severus built a strong army, increasing the number of legions while eliminating the large commands that had been common for Rome, thus protecting himself against being overthrown while he protected Rome. He ruled with vigor and, when he found it useful, a calculated cruelty. Caracalla succeeded him.

See study by A. R. Birley (1971).

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Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus. Roman emperor 193–211. Lucius Septimius Severus was born at Lepcis Magna in north Africa. Consul in 190, he was governor of Pannonia Superior on the Danube when he was proclaimed emperor on the assassination of Commodus, gaining the support of the Senate. He was opposed by the governor of Britain, Clodius Albinus, whom he killed at the battle of Lyons in February 197. It may have been after this that the province and army of Britain were divided in two. After a series of wars against the Parthians, Severus' attention was drawn back to Britain by trouble with the Scottish tribes. He took the field with his sons Caracalla and Geta in 208 and reconquered the Lowlands, establishing a garrison fortress at Carpow on the Tay. Increasing ill-health led to his death early in 211 at York.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary

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Severus ( (Flavius Valerius Severus), Roman emperor)

Severus (Flavius Valerius Severus), d. 307, Roman emperor (306–7). He participated with Galerius in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Maxentius. Surrendering to Maximian (father of Maxentius) at Ravenna on the condition that his life be spared, Severus was taken to Rome. He was later, however, treacherously killed by Maxentius.

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Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus: see Severus.

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Severus

SeverusArras, embarrass, harass •gynandrous, polyandrous •Pancras • charas • Tatras • disastrous •ferrous • leprous • ambidextrous •Carreras, mayoress •scabrous •cirrus, Pyrrhus •chivalrous •citrous, citrus •ludicrous • tenebrous •Cyrus, Epirus, papyrus, virus •fibrous • hydrous • Cyprus •retrovirus • monstrous •brachiosaurus, brontosaurus, canorous, chorus, Epidaurus, Horus, megalosaurus, pelorus, porous, sorus, stegosaurus, Taurus, thesaurus, torus, tyrannosaurus •walrus •ochrous (US ocherous) •cumbrous • wondrous • lustrous •Algeciras, Severus •desirous •Arcturus, Epicurus, Honduras •barbarous • tuberous • slumberous •Cerberus • rapturous •lecherous, treacherous •torturous • vulturous • Pandarus •slanderous • ponderous •malodorous, odorous •thunderous • murderous •carboniferous, coniferous, cruciferous, melliferous, odoriferous, pestiferous, somniferous, splendiferous, umbelliferous, vociferous •phosphorous, phosphorus •sulphurous (US sulfurous) •Anaxagoras, Pythagorasclangorous, languorous •rigorous, vigorous •dangerous • verdurous •cankerous, cantankerous, rancorous •decorous • Icarus • valorous •dolorous • idolatrous •amorous, clamorous, glamorous •timorous •humerus, humorous, numerous •murmurous • generous • sonorous •onerous • obstreperous • Hesperus •vaporous • viviparous • viperous •Bosporus, prosperous •stuporous • cancerous •Monoceros, rhinoceros •sorcerous • adventurous • Tartarus •nectarous • dexterous • traitorous •preposterous • slaughterous •boisterous, roisterous •uterus • adulterous • stertorous •cadaverous • feverous •carnivorous, herbivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous •Lazarus

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