Last week, we discovered that Edward Gibbon takes a rather dim view of Septimus Severus, most notably because Severus tipped the balance of power in the empire markedly in favor of the military. Yet are we certain that Severus should be so easily dismissed? True, he was the architect of an imbalance of power that shifted too far into martial hands, but he remains intriguing for many other reasons.
First off, he was purportedly the first Emperor to have been born in Africa (Leptis Magna specifically, in present day Libya) and his father was of Punic (North African, Carthaginian) descent. Perhaps more importantly, Severus managed to hold onto the throne for far longer than his predecessors or fellow claimants, as he became the last man standing in the Year of Five Emperors and managed to perpetuate his position for almost two decades before passing it on to his sons.