Last days of Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius was born into a senatorial family. He held various offices during the reign of Emperor Hadrian.
Later, He married Emperor Hadrian’s niece Faustina. Emperor Hadrian adopted him as his son and successor shortly before his death.
After the death of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius became Roman emperor in138 AD. As soon as he became emperor, he adopted Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Aurelius as his successor.
By 156 AD, Antoninus Pius turned 70 and old age caught up with him. He found it difficult to keep himself upright without the help of other people.
He found it difficult to stay awake through his morning receptions.
He started nibbling on dry bread to give him the strength to stay awake through his morning receptions. So, Antoninus asked Marcus Aurelius to take over more and more administrative duties.
In 156 AD, Marcus’s administrative duties increased again after the death of one of Antoninus’ most trusted advisers, Marcus Gavius Maximus.
By 160 AD, Antoninus Pius became seriously ill, so he made Marcus and Lucius as designated joint consuls for the following year.
Antoninus Pius Death
In March 161 AD, 2 days before his death, Antoninus visited his ancestral estate at Lorium about twelve miles (19 km) from Rome.
Following night, he ate Alpine Gruyere cheese for dinner. Few hours later, he started to vomit and in the morning he had a high fever.
Antoninus Pius felt that his end was near, so he summoned the imperial council, and passed the state and his daughter to Marcus.
During the night, when his guard came to him to ask for the password for that night, He spoke his last word, “aequanimitas” (equanimity). He then turned over and went to sleep. He soon died in his sleep.
Till then, his reign was the second longest reign of any Roman emperor(Except Augustus), surpassing Tiberius by a couple of months.
His record as longest reigning emperor stood for 168 years. His record was finally broken by Constantine the Great in 329 AD.
Funeral of Antoninus Pius
Marcus Aurelius organized an elebrote Funeral ceremony for Antoninus Pius. Prior emperors’ dead body were incinerated on a pyre at the Campus Martius. However, Antoninus’ body (and not his ashes) was buried in Hadrian’s mausoleum.
After a seven-day interval, Marcus and Lucius asked the senate to declare Antoninus Pius as divine and called for his deification. The senate did not oppose the emperors’ wishes and deified Antoninus.
The Senate appointed a cultic priest to minister the cult of the deified Antoninus, called Divus Antoninus. The Temple used to worship Antoninus still survive today as the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda.