Nero was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He became Claudius' heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, was implicated in Claudius' death and Nero's nomination as emperor, she dominated Nero's early life and decisions. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered. During the early years of his reign, Nero was content to be guided by his mother, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca and his Praetorian prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus; as time passed, he started to play a more active and independent role in government and foreign policy. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire, his general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a major revolt in Britain, led by the Iceni Queen Boudica. The Bosporan Kingdom was annexed to the empire, the First Jewish–Roman War began. Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy and the cultural life of the empire, ordering theatres built and promoting athletic games.
He made public appearances as an actor, poet and charioteer. In the eyes of traditionalists, this undermined the dignity and authority of his person and office, his extravagant, empire-wide program of public and private works was funded by a rise in taxes, much resented by the middle and upper classes. Various plots against his life were revealed. In 68 AD Vindex, governor of the Gaulish territory Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled, he was supported by the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. Vindex's revolt failed in its immediate aim, but Nero fled Rome when Rome's discontented civil and military authorities chose Galba as emperor, he committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD, when he learned that he had been tried in absentia and condemned to death as a public enemy, making him the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide. His death ended the Julio-Claudian dynasty, sparking a brief period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Nero's rule is associated with tyranny and extravagance. Most Roman sources, such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio, offer overwhelmingly negative assessments of his personality and reign.
Suetonius tells that many Romans believed that the Great Fire of Rome was instigated by Nero to clear the way for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. According to Tacitus he was said to have seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive motivated not by public justice but by personal cruelty; some modern historians question the reliability of the ancient sources on Nero's tyrannical acts. A few sources paint Nero in a more favorable light. There is evidence of his popularity among the Roman commoners in the eastern provinces of the Empire, where a popular legend arose that Nero had not died and would return. At least three leaders of short-lived, failed rebellions presented themselves as "Nero reborn" to enlist popular support. Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus on 15 December 37 AD in Antium, he was the only son of Agrippina the Younger. His maternal grandparents were Agrippina the Elder, he was Augustus' great-great grandson, descended from the first Emperor's only daughter, Julia.
The ancient biographer Suetonius, critical of Nero's ancestors, wrote that Augustus had reproached Nero's grandfather for his unseemly enjoyment of violent gladiator games. According to Jürgen Malitz, Suetonius tells that Nero's father was known to be "irascible and brutal", that both "enjoyed chariot races and theater performances to a degree not befitting their position."Nero's father, died in 40. A few years before his death, Domitius had been involved in a political scandal that, according to Malitz, "could have cost him his life if Tiberius had not died in the year 37." In the previous year, Nero's mother Agrippina had been caught up in a scandal of her own. Caligula's beloved sister Drusilla had died and Caligula began to feel threatened by his brother-in-law Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Agrippina, suspected of adultery with her brother-in-law, was forced to carry the funerary urn after Lepidus' execution. Caligula banished his two surviving sisters and Julia Livilla, to a remote island in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Agrippina was exiled for plotting to overthrow Caligula. Nero's inheritance was taken from him and he was sent to live with his paternal aunt Domitia Lepida, the mother of Claudius' third wife Valeria Messalina. Caligula's reign lasted from 37 until 41, he died from multiple stab wounds in January of 41 after being ambushed by his own Praetorian Guard on the Palatine Hill. Claudius succeeded Caligula as Emperor. Agrippina became his fourth wife. By February 49, she had persuaded Claudius to adopt her son Nero. After Nero's adoption, "Claudius" became part of his name: Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. Claudius had gold coins issued to mark the adoption. Classics professor Josiah Osgood has written that "the coins, through their distribution and imagery alike, showed that a new Leader was in the making." David Shotter noted that, despite events in Rome, Nero's step-brother Britannicus was more prominent in provincial coinages during the early 50s.
Nero formally entered public life as an adult in 51 AD—he was around 14 years old. When he turned 16, Nero married Claudius' daughter (
Tiberius was Roman emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD, succeeding the first emperor, Augustus. Born to Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla in a Claudian family, he was given the personal name Tiberius Claudius Nero, his mother divorced Nero and married Octavian—later to ascend to Emperor as Augustus—who became his stepfather. Tiberius would marry Augustus' daughter, Julia the Elder, later be adopted by Augustus. Through the adoption, he became a Julian, assuming the name Tiberius Julius Caesar; the emperors after Tiberius would continue this blended dynasty of both families for the following thirty years. His relationship to the other emperors of this dynasty was as follows: Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, grand-uncle of Caligula, paternal uncle of Claudius, great-grand uncle of Nero, his 22-and-a-half-year reign would be the longest after Augustus's until Antoninus Pius, who surpassed his reign by a few months. Tiberius was one of the greatest Roman generals. So, he came to be remembered as a dark and sombre ruler who never desired to be emperor.
After the death of his son Drusus Julius Caesar in 23 AD, Tiberius became more reclusive and aloof. In 26 AD he removed himself from Rome and left administration in the hands of his unscrupulous Praetorian prefects Lucius Aelius Sejanus and Quintus Naevius Sutorius Macro; when Tiberius died, he was succeeded by Caligula. Tiberius was born in Rome on 16 November 42 BC to Tiberius Claudius Livia. In 39 BC his mother divorced his biological father and remarried Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus shortly thereafter, while still pregnant with Tiberius Nero's son. In 38 BC his brother, Nero Claudius Drusus, was born. Little is recorded of Tiberius' early life. In 32 BC Tiberius, at the age of nine, delivered the eulogy for his biological father at the rostra. In 29 BC, he rode in the triumphal chariot along with his adoptive father Octavian in celebration of the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. In 23 BC Emperor Augustus became gravely ill and his possible death threatened to plunge the Roman world into chaos again.
Historians agree that it is during this time that the question of Augustus' heir became most acute, while Augustus had seemed to indicate that Agrippa and Marcellus would carry on his position in the event of his death, the ambiguity of succession became Augustus' chief problem. In response, a series of potential heirs seem to have been selected, among them Tiberius and his brother Drusus. In 24 BC, at the age of seventeen, Tiberius entered politics under Augustus' direction, receiving the position of quaestor, was granted the right to stand for election as praetor and consul five years in advance of the age required by law. Similar provisions were made for Drusus. Shortly thereafter Tiberius began appearing in court as an advocate, it is here that his interest in Greek rhetoric began. In 20 BC, Tiberius was sent East under Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa; the Parthian Empire had captured the standards of the legions under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus, Decidius Saxa, Mark Antony. After a year of negotiation, Tiberius led a sizable force into Armenia with the goal of establishing it as a Roman client state and ending the threat it posed on the Roman-Parthian border.
Augustus was able to reach a compromise whereby the standards were returned, Armenia remained a neutral territory between the two powers. Tiberius married Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of Augustus’s close friend and greatest general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, he was appointed to the position of praetor, was sent with his legions to assist his brother Drusus in campaigns in the west. While Drusus focused his forces in Gallia Narbonensis and along the German frontier, Tiberius combated the tribes in the Alps and within Transalpine Gaul, conquering Raetia. In 15 BC he discovered the sources of the Danube, soon afterwards the bend of the middle course. Returning to Rome in 13 BC, Tiberius was appointed as consul, around this same time his son, Drusus Julius Caesar, was born. Agrippa's death in 12 BC elevated Drusus with respect to the succession. At Augustus’ request in 11 BC, Tiberius divorced Vipsania and married Julia the Elder, Augustus' daughter and Agrippa's widow. Tiberius was reluctant to do this, as Julia had made advances to him when she was married and Tiberius was married.
His new marriage with Julia turned sour. Tiberius once ran into Vipsania again, proceeded to follow her home crying and begging forgiveness. Tiberius continued to be elevated by Augustus, after Agrippa's death and his brother Drusus' death in 9 BC, seemed the clear candidate for succession; as such, in 12 BC he received military commissions in Germania. In 6 BC, Tiberius launched a pincer movement against the Marcomanni. Setting out northwest from Carnuntum on the Danube with four legions, Tiberius passed through Quadi territory in order to invade Marcomanni territory from the east. Meanwhile, general Gaius Sentius Saturninus would depart east from Moguntiacum on the Rhine with two or three legions, pass through newly annexed Hermundur
Philip the Arab
Marcus Julius Philippus known by his nickname Philip the Arab, was Roman Emperor from February 244 to September 249. He was born in the Roman province of Arabia, in a city situated in modern-day Syria, he went on to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. After the death of Gordian III in February 244, Praetorian prefect, achieved power, he negotiated peace with the Persian Sassanid Empire. During his reign, the city of Rome celebrated its millennium. Among early Christian writers, Philip had the reputation of being sympathetic to the Christian faith. For this reason, it was claimed by some that he had converted to Christianity, which would have made him the first Christian emperor, he tried to celebrate Easter with Christians in Antioch, but the bishop Saint Babylas made him stand with the penitents. Philip and his wife received letters from Origen. Philip was betrayed and killed at the Battle of Verona in September 249 following a rebellion led by his successor, Gaius Messius Quintus Decius.
Little is known about political career. He was born in what is today Shahba, about 90 kilometres southeast of Damascus, in the Trachonitis district. At the time this was in the Roman province of Arabia, Glen Bowersock believes that Philip was indeed of Arab origin, he was the son of a local citizen, Julius Marinus of some importance. Allegations from Roman sources that Philip had a humble origin or that his father was a leader of brigands are not accepted by modern historians. While the name of Philip's mother is unknown, he did have a brother, Gaius Julius Priscus, an equestrian and a member of the Praetorian Guard under Gordian III. In 234, Philip married daughter of a Roman Governor, they had three children, a son named Marcus Julius Philippus Severus, born in 238, a daughter called Julia Severa or Severina, known from numismatic evidence but is never mentioned by the ancient Roman sources and a son named Quintus Philippus Severus, born in 247. Philip's rise to prominence began through the intervention of his brother Priscus, an important official under the emperor Gordian III.
His big break came in 243, during Gordian III's campaign against Shapur I of Persia, when the Praetorian prefect Timesitheus died under unclear circumstances. At the suggestion of his brother Priscus, Philip became the new Praetorian prefect, with the intention that the two brothers would control the young Emperor and rule the Roman world as unofficial regents. Following a military defeat, Gordian III died in February 244 under circumstances that are still debated. While some claim that Philip conspired in his murder, other accounts state that Gordian died in battle. Whatever the case, Philip assumed the purple robe following Gordian's death. According to Edward Gibbon: His rise from so obscure a station to the first dignities of the empire seems to prove that he was a bold and able leader, but his boldness prompted him to aspire to the throne, his abilities were employed to supplant, not to serve, his indulgent master. Philip was not willing to repeat the mistakes of previous claimants, was aware that he had to return to Rome in order to secure his position with the senate.
However, his first priority was to conclude a peace treaty with Shapur I of Persia, withdraw the army from a disastrous situation. Although Philip was accused of abandoning territory, the actual terms of the peace were not as humiliating as they could have been. Philip retained Timesitheus’ reconquest of Osroene and Mesopotamia, but he had to agree that Armenia lay within Persia’s sphere of influence, he had to pay an enormous indemnity to the Persians of 500,000 gold denarii. Philip issued coins proclaiming that he had made peace with the Persians. Leading his army back up the Euphrates, south of Circesium Philip erected a cenotaph in honor of Gordian III, but his ashes were sent ahead to Rome, where he arranged for Gordian III’s deification. Whilst in Antioch, he left his brother Priscus as extraordinary ruler of the Eastern provinces, with the title of rector Orientis. Moving westward, he gave his brother-in-law Severianus control of the provinces of Moesia and Macedonia, he arrived in Rome in the late summer of 244, where he was confirmed Augustus.
Before the end of the year, he nominated his young son Caesar and heir, his wife, Otacilia Severa, was named Augusta, he deified his father Marinus though the latter had never been emperor. While in Rome, Philip claimed an official victory over the Persians with the titles of Parthicus Adiabenicus, Persicus Maximus and Parthicus Maximus. In an attempt to shore up his regime, Philip put a great deal of effort in maintaining good relations with the Senate, from the beginning of his reign, he reaffirmed the old Roman virtues and traditions, he ordered an enormous building program in his home town, renaming it Philippopolis, raising it to civic status, while he populated it with statues of himself and his family. This creation of a new city, piled on top of the massive tribute owed to the Persians, as well as the necessary donative to the army to secure its acceptance of his accession, meant Philip was short of money. To pay for it, he ruthlessly increased levels of taxation, while at the same time he ceased paying subsidies to the tribes north of the Danube that were vital for keeping the peace on the frontiers.
Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 to 117. Declared by the Senate optimus princeps, Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death, he is known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world. Trajan was born in the city of an Italic settlement in the province of Hispania Baetica. Although misleadingly designated by some writers as a provincial, his family came from Umbria and he was born a Roman citizen. Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in 89 Trajan supported Domitian against a revolt on the Rhine led by Antonius Saturninus. In September 96, Domitian was succeeded by Marcus Cocceius Nerva, an old and childless senator who proved to be unpopular with the army.
After a brief and tumultuous year in power, culminating in a revolt by members of the Praetorian Guard, Nerva was compelled to adopt the more popular Trajan as his heir and successor. He was succeeded by his adopted son without incident; as a civilian administrator, Trajan is best known for his extensive public building program, which reshaped the city of Rome and left numerous enduring landmarks such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column. Early in his reign, he annexed the Nabataean Kingdom, his conquest of Dacia enriched the empire as the new province possessed many valuable gold mines. Trajan's war against the Parthian Empire ended with the sack of the capital Ctesiphon and the annexation of Armenia and Mesopotamia, his campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest territorial extent. In late 117, while sailing back to Rome, Trajan fell ill and died of a stroke in the city of Selinus, he was deified by the Senate and his ashes were laid to rest under Trajan's Column. He was succeeded by his adopted son Hadrian.
As an emperor, Trajan's reputation has endured – he is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived nineteen centuries. Every new emperor after him was honoured by the Senate with the wish felicior Augusto, melior Traiano. Among medieval Christian theologians, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan. In the Renaissance, speaking on the advantages of adoptive succession over heredity, mentioned the five successive good emperors "from Nerva to Marcus" – a trope out of which the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon popularized the notion of the Five Good Emperors, of whom Trajan was the second; as far as ancient literary sources are concerned, an extant continuous account of Trajan's reign does not exist. An account of the Dacian Wars, the Commentarii de bellis Dacicis, written by Trajan himself or a ghostwriter and modelled after Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, is lost with the exception of one sentence. Only fragments remain of a book by Trajan's personal physician Titos Statilios Kriton.
The Parthiká, a 17-volume account of the Parthian Wars written by Arrian, has met a similar fate. Book 68 in Cassius Dio's Roman History, which survives as Byzantine abridgments and epitomes, is the main source for the political history of Trajan's rule. Besides this, Pliny the Younger's Panegyricus and Dio of Prusa's orations are the best surviving contemporary sources. Both are adulatory perorations, typical of the late Roman era, that describe an idealized monarch and an idealized view of Trajan's rule, concern themselves more with ideology than with actual fact; the tenth volume of Pliny's letters contains his correspondence with Trajan, which deals with various aspects of imperial Roman government, but this correspondence is neither intimate nor candid: it is an exchange of official mail, in which Pliny's stance borders on the servile. It is certain that much of the text of the letters that appear in this collection over Trajan's signature was written and/or edited by Trajan's Imperial secretary, his ab epistulis.
Therefore, discussion of Trajan and his rule in modern historiography cannot avoid speculation, as well as recourse to non-literary sources such as archaeology and epigraphy. Marcus Ulpius Traianus was born on 18 September 53 AD in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica, in the city of Italica. Although designated the first provincial emperor, dismissed by writers such as Cassius Dio as "an Iberian, neither an Italian nor an Italiot", Trajan appears to have hailed on his father's side from the area of Tuder in Umbria, at the border with Etruria, on his mother's side from the Gens Marcia, of an Italic family of Sabine origin. Trajan's birthplace of Italica was founded as a Roman military colony of Italian settlers in 206 BC, though it is unknown when the Ulpii arrived there, it is possible, but cannot be substantiated, that Trajan's ancestors married local women and lost their citizenship at some point, but they recovered their status when the city became a municipium with Latin citizenship in the mid-1st century BC.
Trajan was the son of Marcia, a Roman noblewoman and sister-in-law of the second Flavian Emperor Titus, Marcus Ulpius Traianus, a prominent senator and general f
Servius Sulpicius Galba was Roman emperor from 68 to 69, the first emperor in the Year of the Four Emperors. He was known as Lucius Livius Galba Ocella prior to taking the throne as a result of his adoption by his stepmother, Livia Ocellina; the governor of Hispania at the time of the rebellion of Gaius Julius Vindex in Gaul, he seized the throne following Nero's suicide. Born into a wealthy family, Galba held at various times the offices of praetor and governor of the provinces Aquitania, Upper Germany, Africa during the first half of the first century AD, he retired during the latter part of Claudius' reign but Nero granted him the governorship of Hispania. Taking advantage of the defeat of Vindex's rebellion and Nero's suicide, he became emperor with the support of the Praetorian Guard, his physical weakness and general apathy led to his being dominated by favorites. Unable to gain popularity with the people or maintain the support of the Praetorian Guard, Galba was murdered by Otho, who became emperor.
Galba was not related to any of the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, but he was a member of a distinguished noble family. The origin of the cognomen Galba is uncertain. Suetonius offers a number of possible explanations. One of Galba's ancestors had been consul in 200 BC, another of his ancestors was consul in 144 BC. Galba's grandfather was a historian and his son was a barrister whose first marriage was to Mummia Achaica, granddaughter of Quintus Lutatius Catulus and great-granddaughter of Lucius Mummius Achaicus. According to Suetonius, he fabricated a genealogy of paternal descent from the god Jupiter and maternal descent from the legendary Pasiphaë, wife of Minos. Servius Sulpicius Galba was born near Terracina on 24 December 3 BC, his elder brother Gaius fled from Rome and committed suicide because the emperor Tiberius would not allow him to control a Roman province. Livia Ocellina became the second wife of Galba's father, whom she may have married because of his wealth. Ocellina adopted Galba, he took the name Lucius Livius Galba Ocella.
Galba had a sexual appetite for males. He married a woman named Aemilia Lepida and had two sons. Aemilia and their sons died during the early years of the reign of Claudius. Galba would remain a widower for the rest of his life. Galba became praetor in about 30 governor of Aquitania for about a year consul in 33. In 39 the emperor Caligula learned of a plot against himself in which Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, the general of the Upper German legions, was an important figure; as commander of the legions of Upper Germany, Galba gained a reputation as a disciplinarian. Suetonius writes that Galba was advised to take the throne following the assassination of Caligula in 41, but loyally served Caligula's uncle and successor Claudius. Galba was appointed as governor of Africa in 44 or 45, he retired at an uncertain time during the reign of Claudius in 49. He was recalled in 60 by the emperor Nero to govern Hispania. A rebellion against Nero was orchestrated by Gaius Julius Vindex in Gaul on the anniversary of the death of Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, in 68.
Shortly afterwards Galba, in rebellion against Nero, rejected the title "General of Caesar" in favor of "General of the Senate and People of Rome". He was supported by the imperial official Tigellinus. On 8 June 68 another imperial official, Nymphidius Sabinus, falsely announced to the Praetorian Guard that Nero had fled to Egypt, the Senate proclaimed Galba emperor. Nero committed assisted suicide with help from his secretary. Upon becoming emperor Galba was faced by the rebellion of Nymphidius, who had his own aspirations for the imperial throne. However, he was killed by the Praetorians. While Galba was arriving to Rome with the Lusitanian governor Marcus Salvius Otho, his army was attacked by a legion, organized by Nero. Galba, who suffered from chronic gout by the time he came to the throne, was advised by a corrupt group which included the Spanish general Titus Vinius, the praetorian prefect Cornelius Laco, Icelus, a freedman of Galba. Galba seized the property of Roman citizens, disbanded the German legions, did not pay the Praetorians and the soldiers who fought against Vindex.
These actions caused him to become unpopular. On 1 January 69, the day Galba and Vinius took the office of consul, the fourth and twenty-second legions of Upper Germany refused to swear loyalty to Galba, they toppled his statues. On the following day, the soldiers of Lower Germany refused to swear their loyalty and proclaimed the governor of the province, Aulus Vitellius, as emperor. Galba tried to ensure his authority as emperor was recognized by adopting the nobleman Lucius Calpurnius Piso Licinianus as his successor. Galba was killed by the Praetorians on 15 January, followed shortly by Vinius and Piso, their heads were placed on poles and Otho was acclaimed as emperor. Sulpicia Galba Donahue, Jo