Septimius Severus was born on 11 April 145 at Leptis Magna (in present-day Libya).

His father was Publius Septimius Geta. He belongs to a wealthy and distinguished family of equestrian rank.

Severus had Italic and Punic ancestry.

His mother had Roman ancestry while his father had a Punic ancestry.

Due to his family background on his father’s side he is considered the first provincial emperor as he was the first emperor not only born in the provinces but also into a provincial family of non-Italian origin.

Severus’ father, an obscure provincial, held no major political status, but he had two cousins, Publius Septimius Aper and Gaius Septimius Severus, who served as consuls under the emperor Antoninus Pius.

His mother’s ancestors had moved from Italy to North Africa and they belonged to an Italian patrician family that originated in Tusculum.

Septimius Severus had two siblings: an elder brother, Publius Septimius Geta; and a younger sister, Septimia Octavilla.
Severus’ maternal cousin was the praetorian prefect and consul Gaius Fulvius Plautianus.

Septimius Severus grew up in Leptis Magna.

He spoke the local Punic language fluently, but he was also educated in Latin and Greek, which he spoke with a slight accent.

Presumably, Severus received lessons in oratory: at the age of 17, he gave his first public speech.

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