A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic, ancient Romans considered the consulship the highest level of the cursus honorum. Each year, the citizens of Rome elected two consuls to serve jointly for a one-year term; the consuls alternated in holding imperium each month, a consul's imperium extended over Rome and the provinces. However, after the establishment of the Empire, the consuls became mere symbolic representatives of Rome's republican heritage and held little power and authority, with the Emperor acting as the supreme authority. After the legendary expulsion of the last Etruscan King, Tarquin the Proud, a harsh ruler at the end of the Roman Kingdom, most of the powers and authority of the king were ostensibly given to the newly instituted consulship; this change in leadership came about when the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius, raped the wife and daughter of powerful Roman nobles. A group of nobles led by Lucius Junius Brutus, with the support of the Roman Army, expelled Tarquinius and his family from Rome in 509 BC.
Consuls were called praetors, referring to their duties as the chief military commanders. By at least 300 BC the title of Consul became used. Ancient writers derive the title consul from the Latin verb consulere, "to take counsel", but this is most a gloss of the term, which derives—in view of the joint nature of the office—from con- and sal-, "get together" or from con- and sell-/sedl-, "sit down together with" or "next to". In Greek, the title was rendered as στρατηγὸς ὕπατος, strategos hypatos, simply as ὕπατος; the consul was believed by the Romans to date back to the traditional establishment of the Republic in 509 BC, but the succession of consuls was not continuous in the 5th century BC. During the 440s, the office was quite replaced with the establishment of the Consular Tribunes, who were elected whenever the military needs of the state were significant enough to warrant the election of more than the two usual consuls; these remained in place until the office was abolished in 367/366 BC and the consulship was reintroduced.
Consuls had extensive powers in peacetime, in wartime held the highest military command. Additional religious duties included certain rites which, as a sign of their formal importance, could only be carried out by the highest state officials. Consuls read auguries, an essential step before leading armies into the field. Two consuls were elected each year, serving together, each with veto power over the other's actions, a normal principle for magistracies, it is thought that only patricians were eligible for the consulship. Consuls were elected by the Comitia Centuriata, which had an aristocratic bias in its voting structure which only increased over the years from its foundation. However, they formally assumed powers only after the ratification of their election in the older Comitia Curiata, which granted the consuls their imperium by enacting a law, the "lex curiata de imperio". If a consul died during his term or was removed from office, another would be elected by the Comitia Centuriata to serve the remainder of the term as consul suffectus.
A consul elected to start the year - called a consul ordinarius - held more prestige than a suffect consul because the year would be named for ordinary consuls. According to tradition, the consulship was reserved for patricians and only in 367 BC did plebeians win the right to stand for this supreme office, when the Lex Licinia Sextia provided that at least one consul each year should be plebeian; the first plebeian consul, Lucius Sextius, was elected the following year. The office remained in the hands of a few families as, according to Gelzer, only fifteen novi homines - "new men" with no consular background - were elected to the consulship until the election of Cicero in 63 BC. Modern historians have questioned the traditional account of plebeian emancipation during the early Republic, noting for instance that about thirty percent of the consuls prior to Sextius had plebeian, not patrician, names, it is possible that only the chronology has been distorted, but it seems that one of the first consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus, came from a plebeian family.
Another possible explanation is that during the 5th century social struggles, the office of consul was monopolized by a patrician elite. During times of war, the primary qualification for consul was military skill and reputation, but at all times the selection was politically charged. With the passage of time, the consulship became the normal endpoint of the cursus honorum, the sequence of offices pursued by the ambitious Roman who chose to pursue political power and influence; when Lucius Cornelius Sulla regulated the cursus by law, the minimum age of election to consul became, in effect, 41 years of age. Beginning in the late Republic, after finishing a consular year, a former consul would serve a lucrative term as a proconsul, the Roman Governor of one of the provinces; the most chosen province for the proconsulship was Cisalpine Gaul. Although throughout the early years of the Principate, the consuls were still formally elected by the Comitia Centuriata, they were in fact nominated by the princeps.
As the years progressed, the distinction between the Comitia Centuriata and the Comitia Tributa appears to have disappeared, so for the purposes of the consular
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome; the Roman Empire was ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and Ravenna, an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Roman Senate sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople; the fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict.
In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC; the following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus making him the first emperor; the first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan. A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West.
Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, the Western Roman Empire collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD; the Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453. Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, architecture, philosophy and forms of government in the territory it governed Europe; the Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of republics such as the United States and France; the corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian peninsula until the 3rd century BC, it was an "empire" long before it had an emperor. The Roman Republic was not a nation-state in the modern sense, but a network of towns left to rule themselves and provinces administered by military commanders, it was ruled, not by annually elected magistrates in conjunction with the senate. For various reasons, the 1st century BC was a time of political and military upheaval, which led to rule by emperors.
The consuls' military power rested in the Roman legal concept of imperium, which means "command". Successful consuls were given the honorary title imperator, this is the origin of the word emperor since this title was always bestowed to the early emperors upon their accession. Rome suffered a long series of internal conflicts and civil wars from the late second century BC onward, while extending its power beyond Italy; this was the period of the Crisis of the Roman Republic. Towards the end of this era, in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was perpetual dictator before being assassinated; the faction of his assassins was driven from Rome and defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC by an army led by Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavian. Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, ending the Final War of the Roman Republic. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian princeps ("first citi
Nerva was Roman emperor from 96 to 98. Nerva became emperor when aged 66, after a lifetime of imperial service under Nero and the rulers of the Flavian dynasty. Under Nero, he was a member of the imperial entourage and played a vital part in exposing the Pisonian conspiracy of 65; as a loyalist to the Flavians, he attained consulships in 71 and 90 during the reigns of Vespasian and Domitian, respectively. On 18 September 96, Domitian was assassinated in a palace conspiracy involving members of the Praetorian Guard and several of his freedmen. On the same day, Nerva was declared emperor by the Roman Senate; this was the first time. As the new ruler of the Roman Empire, he vowed to restore liberties, curtailed during the autocratic government of Domitian. Nerva's brief reign was marred by financial difficulties and his inability to assert his authority over the Roman army. A revolt by the Praetorian Guard in October 97 forced him to adopt an heir. After some deliberation Nerva adopted a young and popular general, as his successor.
After fifteen months in office, Nerva died of natural causes on 27 January 98. Upon his death he was deified by Trajan. Although much of his life remains obscure, Nerva was considered a wise and moderate emperor by ancient historians. Nerva's greatest success was his ability to ensure a peaceful transition of power after his death by selecting Trajan as his heir, thus founding the Nerva–Antonine dynasty. Marcus Cocceius Nerva was born in the village of Narni, 50 kilometers north of Rome, as the son of Marcus Cocceius Nerva, Suffect Consul during the reign of Caligula, Sergia Plautilla. Ancient sources report the date as either 30 or 35, he had at least one attested sister, named Cocceia, who married Lucius Salvius Titianus Otho, the brother of the earlier Emperor Otho. Like Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty, Nerva was a member of the Italian nobility rather than one of the elite of Rome; the Cocceii were among the most esteemed and prominent political families of the late Republic and early Empire, attaining consulships in each successive generation.
The direct ancestors of Nerva on his father's side, all named Marcus Cocceius Nerva, were associated with imperial circles from the time of Emperor Augustus. His great-grandfather was Consul in 36 BC, Governor of Asia in the same year, his grandfather became Consul Suffect in July of either 21 or 22, was known as a personal friend of Emperor Tiberius, accompanying the emperor during his voluntary seclusion on Capri from 23 onwards, dying in 33. Nerva's father attained the consulship under the emperor Caligula; the Cocceii were connected with the Julio-Claudian dynasty through the marriage of Sergia Plautilla's brother Gaius Octavius Laenas, Rubellia Bassa, the great-granddaughter of Tiberius. Not much of Nerva's early life or career is recorded, but it appears he did not pursue the usual administrative or military career, he was praetor-elect in the year 65 and, like his ancestors, moved in imperial circles as a skilled diplomat and strategist. As an advisor to Emperor Nero, he helped detect and expose the Pisonian conspiracy of 65.
His exact contribution to the investigation is not known, but his services must have been considerable, since they earned him rewards equal to those of Nero's guard prefect Tigellinus. He received triumphal honors—which was reserved for military victories—and the right to have his statues placed throughout the palace. According to the contemporary poet Martial, Nero held Nerva's literary abilities in high esteem, hailing him as the "Tibullus of our time". Another prominent member of Nero's entourage was Vespasian, an old and respected general who had celebrated military triumphs during the 40s, it appears Vespasian befriended Nerva during his time as an imperial advisor, may have asked him to watch over Vespasian's youngest son Domitian when Vespasian departed for the Jewish war in 67. The suicide of Nero on 9 June 68 brought the Julio-Claudian dynasty to an end, leading to the chaotic Year of the Four Emperors, which saw the successive rise and fall of the emperors Galba and Vitellius, until the accession of Vespasian on 21 December 69.
Nothing is known of Nerva's whereabouts during 69, but despite the fact that Otho was his brother-in-law, he appears to have been one of the earliest and strongest supporters of the Flavians. For services unknown, he was rewarded with a consulship early in Vespasian's reign in 71; this was a remarkable honour, not only because he held this office early under the new regime, but because it was an ordinary consulship, making him one of the few non-Flavians to be honoured in this way under Vespasian. After 71 Nerva again disappears from historical record continuing his career as an inconspicuous advisor under Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian, he re-emerges during the revolt of Saturninus in 89. On 1 January, 89, the governor of Germania Superior, Lucius Antonius Saturninus, his two legions at Mainz, Legio XIV Gemina and Legio XXI Rapax, revolted against the Roman Empire with the aid of a tribe of the Chatti; the governor of Germania Inferior, Lappius Maximus, moved to the region at once, assisted by the procurator of Rhaetia, Titus Flavius Norbanus.
Within twenty-four days the rebellion was crushed, its leaders at Mainz savagely punished. The mutinous legions were sent to the front of Illyricum, while those who had assisted in their defeat were duly rewarded. Domitian opened the year following the revolt by sharing t
Domitian was Roman emperor from 81 to 96. He was the younger brother of Titus and the son of Vespasian, his two predecessors on the throne, the last member of the Flavian dynasty. During his reign, the authoritarian nature of his rule put him at sharp odds with the senate, whose powers he drastically curtailed. Domitian had a minor and ceremonial role during the reigns of his father and brother. After the death of his brother, Domitian was declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard, his 15-year reign was the longest since that of Tiberius. As emperor, Domitian strengthened the economy by revaluing the Roman coinage, expanded the border defenses of the empire, initiated a massive building program to restore the damaged city of Rome. Significant wars were fought in Britain, where his general Agricola attempted to conquer Caledonia, in Dacia, where Domitian was unable to procure a decisive victory against king Decebalus. Domitian's government exhibited strong authoritarian characteristics. Religious and cultural propaganda fostered a cult of personality, by nominating himself perpetual censor, he sought to control public and private morals.
As a consequence, Domitian was popular with the people and army, but considered a tyrant by members of the Roman Senate. Domitian's reign came to an end in 96, he was succeeded the same day by his advisor Nerva. After his death, Domitian's memory was condemned to oblivion by the Roman Senate, while senatorial authors such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius propagated the view of Domitian as a cruel and paranoid tyrant. Modern revisionists instead have characterized Domitian as a ruthless but efficient autocrat whose cultural and political programs provided the foundation of the peaceful second century. Domitian was born in Rome on 24 October 51, the youngest son of Titus Flavius Vespasianus—commonly known as Vespasian—and Flavia Domitilla Major, he had an older sister, Domitilla the Younger, brother named Titus Flavius Vespasianus. Decades of civil war during the 1st century BC had contributed to the demise of the old aristocracy of Rome, which a new Italian nobility replaced in prominence during the early part of the 1st century.
One such family, the Flavians, or gens Flavia, rose from relative obscurity to prominence in just four generations, acquiring wealth and status under the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Domitian's great-grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, had served as a centurion under Pompey during Caesar's civil war, his military career ended in disgrace when he fled the battlefield at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Petro managed to improve his status by marrying the wealthy Tertulla, whose fortune guaranteed the upward mobility of Petro's son Titus Flavius Sabinus I, Domitian's grandfather. Sabinus himself amassed further wealth and possible equestrian status through his services as tax collector in Asia and banker in Helvetia. By marrying Vespasia Polla he allied the Flavian family to the more prestigious gens Vespasia, ensuring the elevation of his sons Titus Flavius Sabinus II and Vespasian to senatorial rank; the political career of Vespasian included the offices of quaestor and praetor, culminated in a consulship in 51, the year of Domitian's birth.
As a military commander, Vespasian gained early renown by participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43. Ancient sources allege poverty for the Flavian family at the time of Domitian's upbringing claiming Vespasian had fallen into disrepute under the emperors Caligula and Nero. Modern history has refuted these claims, suggesting these stories circulated under Flavian rule as part of a propaganda campaign to diminish success under the less reputable Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and to maximize achievements under Emperor Claudius and his son Britannicus. By all appearances, the Flavians enjoyed high imperial favour throughout the 60s. While Titus received a court education in the company of Britannicus, Vespasian pursued a successful political and military career. Following a prolonged period of retirement during the 50s, he returned to public office under Nero, serving as proconsul of the Africa Province in 63, accompanying the emperor Nero during an official tour of Greece in 66.
That same year Jews from the Province of Judaea revolted against the Roman Empire, sparking what is now known as the First Jewish-Roman War. Vespasian was assigned to lead the Roman army against the insurgents, with Titus — who had completed his military education by this time — in charge of a legion. Of the three Flavian emperors, Domitian would rule the longest, despite the fact that his youth and early career were spent in the shadow of his older brother. Titus had gained military renown during the First Jewish–Roman War. After their father Vespasian became emperor in 69 following the civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors, Titus held a great many offices, while Domitian received honours, but no responsibilities. By the time he was 16 years old, Domitian's mother and sister had long since died, while his father and brother were continuously active in the Roman military, commanding armies in Germania and Judaea. For Domitian, this meant that a significant part of his adolescence was spent in the absence of his near relatives.
During the Jewish–Roman wars, he was taken under the care of his uncle Titus Flavius Sabinus II, at the time serving as city prefect of Rome.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus known as Suetonius, was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire. His most important surviving work is a set of biographies of twelve successive Roman rulers, from Julius Caesar to Domitian, entitled De Vita Caesarum, he recorded the earliest accounts of Julius Caesar's epileptic seizures. Other works by Suetonius concern the daily life of Rome, politics and the lives of famous writers, including poets and grammarians. A few of these books have survived, but many have been lost. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was born about 69 AD, a date deduced from his remarks describing himself as a "young man" twenty years after Nero's death, his place of birth is disputed, but most scholars place it in Hippo Regius, a small north African town in Numidia, in modern-day Algeria. It is certain that Suetonius came from a family of moderate social position, that his father, Suetonius Laetus, was a tribune of equestrian rank in the Thirteenth Legion, that Suetonius was educated when schools of rhetoric flourished in Rome.
Suetonius was letter-writer Pliny the Younger. Pliny describes him as "quiet and studious, a man dedicated to writing." Pliny helped him buy a small property and interceded with the Emperor Trajan to grant Suetonius immunities granted to a father of three, the ius trium liberorum, because his marriage was childless. Through Pliny, Suetonius came into favour with Hadrian. Suetonius may have served on Pliny’s staff when Pliny was Proconsul of Bithynia Pontus between 110 and 112. Under Trajan he served as secretary of studies and director of Imperial archives. Under Hadrian, he became the Emperor's secretary, but Hadrian dismissed Suetonius for the latter's excessive informality with the empress Sabina. He is remembered as the author of De Vita Caesarum—translated as The Life of the Caesars although a more common English title is The Lives of the Twelve Caesars or The Twelve Caesars—his only extant work except for the brief biographies and other fragments noted below; the Twelve Caesars written in Hadrian's time, is a collective biography of the Roman Empire's first leaders, Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Claudius, Galba, Vitellius, Vespasian and Domitian.
The book was dedicated to his friend Gaius Septicius Clarus, a prefect of the Praetorian Guard in 119. The work tells the tale of each Caesar's life according to a set formula: the descriptions of appearance, family history, a history are given in a consistent order for each Caesar. De Viris Illustribus, to which belong: De Illustribus Grammaticis De Claris Rhetoribus De Poetis De Historicis Peri ton par' Hellesi paidion Peri blasphemion The two last works were written in Greek, they survive in part in the form of extracts in Greek glossaries. The below listed lost works of Suetonius are from the foreword written by Robert Graves in his translation of the Twelve Caesars. Royal Biographies Lives of Famous Whores Roman Manners and Customs The Roman Year The Roman Festivals Roman Dress Greek Games Offices of State On Cicero’s Republic Physical Defects of Mankind Methods of Reckoning Time An Essay on Nature Greek Objurations Grammatical Problems Critical Signs Used in BooksThe introduction to Loeb edition of Suetonius, translated by J. C.
Rolfe, with an introduction by K. R. Bradley, references the Suda with the following titles: On Greek games On Roman spectacles and games On the Roman year On critical signs in books On Cicero's Republic On names and types of clothes On insults On Rome and its customs and mannersThe volume goes on to add other titles not testified within the Suda. On famous courtesans On kings On the institution of offices On physical defects On weather signs On names of seas and rivers On names of windsTwo other titles may be collections of some of the aforelisted: Pratum On various matters Edwards, Catherine Lives of the Caesars. Oxford World’s Classics.. Robert Graves, Suetonius: The Twelve Caesars Donna W. Hurley, Suetonius: The Caesars. J. C. Rolfe, Lives of the Caesars, Volume I. J. C. Rolfe, Lives of the Caesars, Volume II. C. Suetonii Tranquilli De vita Caesarum libros VIII et De grammaticis et rhetoribus librum, ed. Robert A. Kaster. Suetonius on Christians Barry Baldwin, Suetonius: Biographer of the Caesars.
Amsterdam: A. M. Hakkert, 1983. Gladhill, Bill. “The Emperor's No Clothes: Suetonius and the Dynamics of Corporeal Ecphrasis.” Classical Antiquity, vol. 31, no. 2, 2012, pp. 315–348. Lounsbury, Richard C; the Arts of Suetonius: An Introduction. Frankfurt: Lang, 1987. Mitchell, Jack “Literary Quotation as Literary Performance in Suetonius.” The Classical Journal, vol. 110, no. 3, 2015, pp. 333–355 Newbold, R. F. “Non-Verbal Communication in Su
The gens Cornelia was one of the greatest patrician houses at Rome. For more than seven hundred years, from the early decades of the Republic to the third century AD, the Cornelii produced more eminent statesmen and generals than any other gens. At least seventy-five consuls under the Republic were members of this family, beginning with Servius Cornelius Maluginensis in 485 BC. Together with the Aemilii, Fabii and Valerii, the Cornelii were certainly numbered among the gentes maiores, the most important and powerful families of Rome, who for centuries dominated the Republican magistracies. All of the major branches of the Cornelian gens were patrician, but there were plebeian Cornelii, at least some of whom were descended from freedmen; the origin of the Cornelii is lost to history, but the nomen Cornelius may be formed from the hypothetical cognomen Corneus, meaning "horny", that is, having thick or callused skin. The existence of such a cognomen in early times may be inferred from Corneolus.
Such a derivation implies a Latin origin for the Cornelii, there is no evidence to contradict this, but beyond this no traditions survive relating to the family's beginning. The Cornelii employed a wide variety of praenomina, although individual families tended to favor certain names and avoid others. Servius, Lucius and Gnaeus were common to most branches, while other names were used by individual stirpes. Other names occur infrequently; the Cornelian gens included both patricians and plebeians, but all of its major families were patrician. The surnames Arvina, Cethegus, Cossus, Lentulus, Mammula, Merula, Scapula, Scipio and Sulla belonged to patrician Cornelii, while the plebeian cognomina included Balbus and Gallus. Other surnames are known from freedmen, including Chrysogonus, Culleolus and others. A number of plebeian Cornelii had no cognomen; the first of the Cornelii to appear in history bore the surname Maluginensis. This family seems to have divided into two stirpes in the 430s, the senior line retaining Maluginensis, while the younger branches assumed Cossus.
From their filiations, the first of the Cornelii Cossi would seem to have been younger sons of Marcus Cornelius Maluginensis, a member of the Second Decemvirate in 450 BC. Both families produced a number of consuls and consular tribunes during the fourth and fifth centuries BC; the Maluginenses disappeared before the period of the Samnite Wars, although the Cornelii Scipiones appear to have been descended from this family, while the surname Cossus appears as late as the beginning of the third century. Cossus itself seems to belong to a class of surnames derived from objects or animals, referring to the larva of certain beetles that burrow under the bark of trees; the Cornelii Lentuli subsequently revived Cossus as a surname. The Cornelii Scipiones derived their surname from a legend in which the first of the family served as a staff for his blind father. Since the first of the Scipiones seems to have borne the cognomen Maluginensis, he would seem to have been the son of Publius Cornelius Maluginensis, one of the consular tribunes in 404 BC.
The Scipiones produced numerous consuls and several prominent generals, of whom the most celebrated were Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Members of this family held the highest offices of the Roman state from the beginning of the fourth century BC down to the second century of the Empire, a span of nearly six hundred years, its members bore a large number of additional surnames, including Barbatus, "bearded", Scapula, "shoulder blade", Asina, "she-ass", Calvus, "bald", Hispallus, "little Spaniard", Nasica, "nosed", Corculum, "little heart", in addition to those derived from their military exploits: Africanus and Asiaticus. The last generations of this great family were adopted from the Salvidieni, so bore the additional names of Salvidienus Orfitus; the Scipiones had a large family sepulchre at Rome, which still exists, having been rediscovered in 1780. The cognomen Lentulus belongs to a class of surnames deriving from the habits or qualities of the persons to whom they were first applied.
An alternative explanation is that the name is a diminutive of lens, a lentil, so belongs to the same class of surnames as Cicero, a chickpea, Caepio, an onion. The Cornelii Lentuli were famed for their pride and haughtiness, so that Cicero uses Lentulitas, "Lentulusness", to describe the most aristocratic of the patricians; the Lentuli appear in history from the time of the Samnite Wars to the first century of the Empire, a period of about four hundred years. Their origin is uncertain. According to Livy, early in the Second Samnite War, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus described his father as the only man who, during the Gallic sack of Rome in 390 BC, had opposed paying a ransom to ensure the departure of the Gauls from the city; the filiations of other early Lentuli suggest that their ancestors used the name Gnaeus, suggesting that they could have been descendants of the Cornelii Cossi. The Lentuli used a number of additional surnames, including Caudinus referring to the Battle of the Caudine Forks, crus, a leg, or the shin, bestowed upon the conqueror of the Gaetuli, Lupus, a wolf, black, Spinther, a bracelet, Sura, the calf.
The Lentuli revived several
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 (