Antoninianus of Carus.jpg
Antoninianus of Emperor Carus
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign282–283 (alone);
283 (with Carinus)
SuccessorCarinus and Numerian
Co-emperorCarinus (283)
Bornc. 222
Narbo, Gallia Narbonensis
DiedJuly or August 283 (aged 61)
Beyond the River Tigris, Mesopotamia
IssueCarinus, Numerian, Aurelia Paulina
Full name
Marcus Numerius Carus
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Carus Augustus

Carus (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Carus Augustus;[1][2] c. 222[3] – July or August 283) was Roman Emperor from 282 to 283, and was 60 at ascension. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube frontier with success.

He died while campaigning against the Sassanid Empire, shortly after his forces sacked its capital Ctesiphon. He was succeeded by his sons Carinus and Numerian, creating a dynasty which, though short-lived, provided further stability to the resurgent empire.


An Antoninianus of Carus.

Carus, whose name before the accession may have been Marcus Numerius Carus,[4] was born, according to differing accounts, either in Gaul, Illyricum or Africa.[5] Modern scholarship inclines to the former view, placing his birth at Narbo (modern Narbonne) in Gaul[6][7] though he was educated in Rome.[8] Little can be said with certainty of his life and rule. Due to the decline of literature, the arts, and the want of any good historians of that age, what is known is almost invariably involved in contradiction and doubt.[9] He was apparently a senator[10] and filled various posts, bith civil and military before being appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard by the emperor Probus in 282.[11][12]

After the murder of Probus at Sirmium, Carus was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers.[13] Although Carus severely avenged the death of Probus, he was suspected as an accessory to the deed.[14] He does not seem to have returned to Rome after his accession, contenting himself with an announcement to the Senate.[15] This was a marked departure from the constitutionalism of his immediate predecessors, Tacitus and Probus, who at least outwardly respected the authority of the senate, and was the precursor to the formal establishment of military autocracy under Diocletian.[16]

Campaign against the Sassanids and death

The top panel at Naqsh-e Rustam depicts the victory of Bahram II over Carus. The victory of Bahram II over Hormizd I Kushanshah is depicted in the bottom panel.[17]

Bestowing the title of Caesar upon his sons Carinus and Numerian,[18][19] he left Carinus in charge of the western portion of the empire to look after some disturbances in Gaul [20] and took Numerian with him on an expedition against the Persians, which had been contemplated by Probus.[21] Having inflicted a signal defeat on the Quadi and Sarmatians on the Danube,[22][23] for which he was given the title Germanicus Maximus,[24] Carus proceeded through Thrace and Asia Minor, annexed Mesopotamia, pressed on to Seleucia and Ctesiphon, and marched his soldiers beyond the Tigris.[25]

The Sassanid King Bahram II, limited by internal opposition and his troops occupied with a campaign in modern-day Afghanistan, could not effectively defend his territory.[26] The victories of Carus avenged all the previous defeats suffered by the Romans against the Sassanids, and he received the title of Persicus Maximus.[27]

Rome's hopes of further conquest were cut short by his death, which occurred during a violent storm.[28] His death was variously attributed to disease,[29] the effects of lightning,[30] a wound received in the campaign against the Persians,[31] or an assassination planned by his Praetorian prefect, Lucius Flavius Aper.[32] According to a letter to the praefect of Rome from Carus' personal secretary, transcribed in the Augustan History, Carus died of a commonplace illness, but the firing of his tent by his servants, who were maddened by grief, and the violence of the storm which raged over the camp at the hour of his death gave rise to its attribution to lightning, which was generally accepted.[33] The fact that he was leading a victorious campaign, and his son Numerian succeeded him without opposition, suggest that his death was indeed a natural one.[34]

Other Languages
تۆرکجه: کاروس
Bân-lâm-gú: Carus
беларуская: Марк Аўрэлій Кар
čeština: Carus
Cymraeg: Carus
dansk: Carus
eesti: Carus
Ελληνικά: Κάρος
español: Caro
Esperanto: Karo
euskara: Karo
فارسی: کاروس
français: Carus
galego: Caro
hrvatski: Kar (car)
Bahasa Indonesia: Carus
עברית: קארוס
ქართული: კარუსი
Kiswahili: Kaizari Carus
македонски: Кар
norsk: Carus
occitan: Carus
polski: Karus
română: Carus
Scots: Carus
српски / srpski: Кар
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kar (car)
suomi: Carus
svenska: Carus
Tagalog: Carus
Türkçe: Carus
українська: Марк Аврелій Кар
Tiếng Việt: Carus
Yorùbá: Carus
Zazaki: Carus
中文: 卡鲁斯