Sevērus, Marcus Aurelius Alexander in Harpers Dictionary

, usually called Alexander Sevērus. A Roman emperor (A.D. 222-235), the son of Gessius Marcianus and Iulia Mamaea, and first cousin of Elagabalus. He was born at Arcé, in Phœnicia, in the temple of Alexander the Great, to which his parents had repaired for the celebration of a festival, on the 1st of October, A.D. 205. His original name appears to have been Alexianus Bassiānus, the latter appellation having been derived from his maternal grandfather. Upon the elevation of Elagabalus, he accompanied his mother and the court to Rome, a report having been spread abroad that he also, as well as the emperor, was the son of Caracalla. In 221 he was adopted by Elagabalus and created Caesar. The names Alexianus and Bassianus were laid aside, and those of M. Aurelius Alexander substituted; M. Aurelius in virtue of his adoption; Alexander in consequence, as was asserted, of a direct revelation on the part of the Syrian god. On the death of Elagabalus, on the 11th of March, A.D. 222, Alexander ascended the throne, adding Severus to his other designations, in order to mark more explicitly the descent which he claimed from the father of Caracalla. After reigning in peace some years, during which he reformed many abuses in the State, he was involved in a war with Artaxerxes, king of Persia, who had lately founded the new Empire of the Sassanidae on the ruins of the Parthian monarchy. Alexander gained a great victory over Artaxerxes in 232; but he was unable to prosecute his advantage in consequence of intelligence having reached him of a great movement among the German tribes. He celebrated a triumph at Rome in 233, and in the following year (234 A.D.) set out for Gaul, which the Germans were devastating; but before he had made any progress in the campaign, he was waylaid by a small band of mutinous soldiers, instigated, it is said, by Maximinus, and slain, along with his mother, in the early part of 235, in the thirtieth year of his age and the fourteenth of his reign. Alexander Severus was distinguished by justice, wisdom, and clemency in all public transactions, and by the simplicity and purity of his private life. His life is written by Lampridius. See Porrath, Der Kaiser Alexander Severus (1876).