Year of 4 emperors- Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian (69-70 AD)

Tacitus, Histories; K. Wellesley, The Long Year AD 69 1975


Sack of Jerusalem (Masada), 70-72 AD


Lessons learned:

1.  the danger of letting army play a role in imperial succession

2.  Clear division of the empire into West/East

3.  Disloyalty of auxiliary troops

4.  Strength of the military, recruiting and organization, now rested plainly in the provinces


The Flavians


Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus – 70-79 AD

·      Asserted unquestionable principle of dynastic succession, but back to Augustan model of “man of the people”; modest behavior, lived with freedwoman concubine, elevated the equestrian class, suppressed power of imperial freedmen; raised senatorial ranks from 200=1000, recruited from outside Italy

·      Reorganized legions – permanent stone camps, moved away from large multi legion bases to dispersed ranks along the limes, almost complete elimination of Italians in army; new standards of efficiency

·      Reorganized provinces, long list of Flavian colonies

·      Pragmatism, realism, popular with senate and knights, restored finances, allowed divine ruler cult, tolerated rise of mysticism in empire, vectigal urinae


Imperator Titus Caesar Divi Vespasiani f. 79-81

Loved and respected by fellow officers and generals, viewed as potentially great emperor, but died young


Imp. Caesar Domitianus Augustus 81-96 – dominus et deus

·      Got a lot of bad press from Tacitus, Pliny, and Epictitus

·      Already showed his megalomania as a youth

·      No previous training or experience,

·      Reports of cruelty and wickedness

·      Impatient with senatorial order, elevated equestrian order and used knights for positions previously reserved for senators, praetorian prefect sent to war vs Dacians.

·      Completed a number of building projects, palace, T. of JOM, Janus, Castor, Apollo, collosseum, Odeon, stadium and circus, T. of Divine Vespasian, arch of Titus

·      Threats of conspiracies led to confiscations and judicial murders, return of delatores. Rebellion of Saturninus, general on the Rhine 88 AD, Domitian put an end to double leagion camps,

·      Invasion of Pannonia, Dacia, troubles on Danube frontier led to rearrangement of legions to that area from Rhine. Domitian cultivated troops, gave pay raises (1/3)

·      Expulsion of Stoic philosophers from Rome and Italy 89-95 AD (Epictitus and Dio Chrysostum, Herennius Senicio, Helvidius Priscus and Thrasia Paetus)

·      Imperial household began to feel insecure. 95 AD he executed his two praetorian prefects, conspiracy led by his sister Domitia and others. Damnatio memoriae by senate

·      Arrangement to secure collaboration with generals and Senate, appointment of M. Cocceius Nerva, old respected jurist and senator, who adopted Trajan, popular general

·      Domitian governed well but despotically


79 AD Eruption of Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum


The Antonines (The Era of the Five Good emperors)


M. Cocceius Nerva 96-97 AD

Alimenta – senators must invest 1/3 their assets in Italy


M. Ulpius Traianus 98-117 – from Spain (M. Ulpius Nerva Traianus Caesar), Optimus Princeps

Alimenta – (Baetica, Dressel 20 amphoras)


Description: Description: Description:


Imperial Fora (Trajan’s Forum, Library, Column of Trajan, Basilica Ulpia, baths of Trajan, market of Trajan)


Dacian Wars (metals, gold, in mts). 10 legions plus auxiliaries, poss. 100,000 men 101-105, thousands of Dacians deported and replaced by colonists


Trajan decides to follow Augustus’ example of annexing eastern client kingdom

Curators to take control of local finances in poorly run cities, Trajan institutes paternalism of central government, roads, bridges, aqueducts, appoints competent governors. Enormous expenditure but careful maintenance of in flow of booty from Dacian war.


Partian War 110 AD Parthians try to appoint Chosroes King of Armenia without consulting Rome, Alans pressed by Hunnic migrations, Trajan decides to annex Armenia and Mesopotamia. Possibly hoped the conquest would pay for itself. Too great a demand on manpower, warthquake in Antioch 116 AD behind the lines, He establishes Roman colony and garrison at Zeugma, marches to Ctesiphon, Chosroes flees, marches to Babylon and Persian Gulf, but rebellions flare up behind the lines. Plus Jewish revolt, still being forced to pay a tithe to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus, rebellion spreads to Mesopotamia, Cyrpus, Egypt, Cyrene 115 AD, reportedly 1 million people killed, Trajan 117 AD 64 years old, stroke, no chosen successor, his wife and praetorian prefect insist and he chooses  and adopts his second cousin 41 year old P. Aelius Hadrianus, governor of Syria, the army proclaims him Emperor, like Trajan born in Spain, yo8uth at Rome, excellent education, military service in Spain, Pannonia, Moesia, Germania and Dacia and was with Trajan in the east.  Returning home he died at Selinus in Cilicia


Hadrian 117-138 – secured his place with the troops, suppressed Jewish Revolt, Mauretania, Britain, Sarmatians, Roxolani on the Danube, renounced new provinces of Mesopotamia, leaving them to client kings, considered pulling out of Dacia,


Extreme opposition to regime in senate, 4 ex-consuls executed who were strong Trajanic supporters, the senate never forgave him for this, lasting reputation for cruelty


Restored frontiers to Flavian boundaries and fortified them, peace reigned throughout his reign but largely result of respect for Trajan’s expeditions. Hadrian spent half his reign in the provinces.


Antoninus Pius 138-161


M. Aurelius 161-180