Why does this man feel cheated by economic instruments?

Meet Didius Julianus

didius.jpg

I’ve been listening to some introductory lectures on the Byzantine Empire.

A nice fact I didn’t know is that those Romans were way ahead of us economists in the use of economic instruments. Didius Julianus was a little too short term in his thinking.

After the murder of Pertinax, the praetorian guard decided that the throne should go to the highest bidder at auction. A bidding war ensued between Didius Julianus and his rival Titus Flavius Sulpicianus (father-in-law of the late Pertinax). The bidding reached 25,000 sesterii per soldier before Julianus was proclaimed emperor.

There was considerable disaffection among the population over this turn of events and the governors of Syria (Pescennius Niger), Upper Pannonia (Septimius Severus) were appealed to for support. Severus marched on Rome, however, Julianus was murdered on June 1 before he could arrive.

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