Plautia'nus, L. Fu'lvius
or C. FU'LVIUS PLAUTIANUS, an African by birth, the fellow-townsman and probably a connection of Septimius Severus.
He served as praiefect of the praetorium under this emperor, who loaded him with honours and wealth, deferred to his opinion upon all important points of state policy, granted all his requests, and virtually made over much of the imperial authority into his hands. Intoxicated by these distinctions Plautianus indulged in the most despotic tyranny ; and perpetrated acts of cruelty almost beyond belief. His cupidity was boundless: no state, no province, no city escaped his exactions; in Rome he plundered all whose wealth excited his avarice, contrived the banishment or death of every one who impeded or thwarted his schemes, and venttired to treat with contumely even the empress Donna and her sons.
He reached the pinnacle of his ambition when Severus in the year A. D. 202 selected his daughter Plautilla as the wife of Caracalla, and on that occasion he presented the bride with an outfit which a contemporary historian declares would have sufficed for fifty queens.
But even gratified ambition brought him no happiness. His external appearance gave evidence of a mind ill at ease: when seen in public he was ever deadly pale, and shook with nervous agitation, partly, says Dio Cassius who was himself an eye-witness of these things, from the irregularities of his life and diet, and partly from the hopes by which he was excited, and the terrors by which he was tormented.
But the high fortunes of this second Sejanus were short-lived. having soon discovered the dislike cherished by Caracalla towards both his daughter and himself, and looking forward with apprehension to the downfall which awaited him upon the death of the sovereign, he resolved to anticipate these threatened disasters by effecting the destruction of his benefactor and of his son-in-law. His treachery was discovered, he was suddenly summoned to the palace, and there put to death in A. D. 203. His property was confiscated, his daughter banished, and his name erased from the public monuments on wkich it had been inscribed side by side with those of the emperor and the royal We ought to remark that the treason of Plautianus rests upon the testimony of Herodian, for Dio Cassius rather leans to the belief that this charge was fabricated by Caracalla for the ruin of an obnoxious favourite. (D. C. 75.14
; Herodian, 3.13.7, 4.6.7; Eckhel, vol. vii. p. 224.)