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Trajan (Traianus), Marcus Ulpius°


TRAJAN (Traianus), MARCUS ULPIUS ° (52/3–117), Roman emperor, ruled 98–117 c.e. In 114 c.e. Chosroes, king of Parthia, violated the arrangement between his country and Rome regarding Armenia. Trajan went to war immediately, conquered Armenia, and annexed it to his empire together with northern Mesopotamia, also including Adiabene. In 116 he captured Ctesiphon, the capital of the Parthians, and penetrated into Babylon. However, a violent uprising among the population of Mesopotamia in which the Jews of the country even earlier played an active role and the previous uprisings in Cyrenaica and Egypt (see below) compelled him to interrupt his campaign of conquest. Nothing definite is known about Trajan's attitude to the Jews. According to the papyrus Alilot Kedoshei Alexandria ("Deeds of the Martyrs of Alexandria"), Trajan and his wife Plotina preferred the Jews of Alexandria to its Greeks (see *Egypt). In 115, however, at the height of Trajan's war with the Parthians, a great revolt of Jews broke out in Cyrenaica that spread to Egypt and Cyprus the following year. Trajan ordered the disturbances put down with a strong hand. In the same year the revolt spread to Mesopotamia where it also involved the Jewish inhabitants of the country particularly. Trajan ordered Lusius *Quietus to subdue the Jews of Mesopotamia, and the order was carried out with savage cruelty. An allusion to this has been preserved in rabbinic literature which refers to the "war of Quietus" (Sot. 9:14 – according to the correct reading; Seder Olam), and also mentions the great destruction of Egyptian Jewry generally, and that of Alexandria in particular, with the crushing of the revolt (the destruction of its magnificent synagogue is ascribed to Trajan himself – tj, Suk. 5:1, 55b).

There is an aggadah that Trajan attacked the Jews because, when his son was born on the Ninth of Av, the Jews were mourning, while on the death of another child which occurred on Ḥanukkah, they kindled lamps in joy (tj, ibid.; Ta'an. 18b; Lam. R. 1:16 no. 45; et al.). Another aggadah states that before his death he decreed the death of *Pappus and Julianus in Laodicea. In rabbinic literature the name Trajan usually appears in a corrupt form: Trogianus, Tarkinus, etc.


Juster, Juifs, 2 (1914), 185–94; Tcherikover, Corpus, 2 (1960), introd., index; K. Friedmann, in: Giornale della Società Asiatica Italiana, 2 (1930), 108–24; A. Schalit, in: Tarbiz, 7 (1935/36), 159–80; J. Guttmann, in: Sefer Assaf (1953), 149–84; S. Apfelbaum, in: Zion, 19 (1954), 23–56; A. Fuks, ibid., 22 (1957), 1–9; Alon, Toledot, 1 (19583), index; R.P. Longden, The Wars of Trajan, in: Cambridge Ancient History, 11 (1936), R. Syme, Tacitus, 1 (1958), 86–99, 217–35; A. Fuks, in: Journal of Roman Studies, 51 (1961); V. Tcherikover, Ha-Yehudim be-Miẓrayim… (19632), 116–30, 160–79.

[Moshe David Herr]

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