Septimius Severus was born on 11 April 145 in the African city of Leptis Magna, whose magnificent ruins are located in modern-day Libya, 130 miles east of Tripoli.
Although Severus was not a member of the Antonine Dynasty, he and his descendants had close ties with the Antonine emperors. Severus’ grandfather was a duumvir under Trajan, his cousins received suffect consulships in Rome under Antoninus Pius and his own career flourished under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.
But it does not stop here, Severus entered the Antonine Dynasty by declaring that he was Marcus Aurelius’ son. Not surprisingly, all official portraits of the emperor depict him with the long hair and beard of his Antonine “father”.
In about 175, he married a woman from Leptis Magna named Paccia Marciana of Punic origin, but the marriage was childless and Paccia died young, approximately 10 years later. In 187 Severus married Julia Domna, the daughter of Julius Bassianus, who was the high-priest of the Syrian Sun god Elagabalus.
Together, they had two sons, Lucius Septimius Bassianus (later nicknamed Caracalla) and Publius Septimius Geta.
Septimius Severus restored stability to the Roman empire after the tumultuous reign of the emperor Commodus and the civil wars that erupted in the wake of Commodus’ murder.
However, historian Edward Gibbon blames Severus for the fall of the Roman Empire because he annexed northern Mesopotamia and paid substantial bonuses to his soldiers, thereby placing taxing military and financial burdens on Rome. “Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman Empire.” Book I Chap. 5 Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire