Chapter Five

The Crisis of 96–97

The murder of Domitian in September 96 was part of a conspiracy whose organization and execution was a clear improvement on all the previous plots against ruling emperors. Lessons had already been learned from the previous cases of Scribonianus, Piso, Galba and others, and the whole affair against Domitian went off most competently. A member of the Palace administration suborned a servant of the emperor’s to do the actual killing; contact was made with a disaffected group of senators and with one of the prefects of the Guard. A strategically-placed door was locked to prevent the emperor’s loyal servants from interfering in the murder, and the knife the emperor kept handy in his bedroom for such events was disabled. Also, as a grace note to the achievement, when the murder had been successfully committed, the murderer himself, one of the palace servants, was killed by a Guardsman who had also been suborned by the official, so preventing the truth from being broadcast and hiding the names of the plotters. Finally the chosen successor was already in the Palace, waiting for the good word.

Needless to say, several of the plan’s details went wrong. Domitian almost succeeded in fighting off his attacker; the chosen successor, M. Cocceius Nerva, was frightened almost out of his wits as he waited, fearing that the killing might fail. Above all, the one element of power in the state that had not been squared beforehand, the army on the frontier, proved to be very unhappy over the whole affair. The army had not been involved – apart from some of the Guard – for the very good reason that Domitian was well-liked by the officers and men. So it turned out that, by killing Domitian and installing Nerva as the new emperor, the conspirators had only created an even bigger crisis. Also there was a witness, a boy who attended to the family shrine in the emperor’s bedroom and who had hidden under the imperial bed as the killing took place; he was able to relate what had happened later, which is why we know the details. So the plot worked, but the unexpected also happened.1

The killing took place on the evening of 18 September 96 in the Palace in Rome. By the morning of the next day the Senate had been summoned to meet by the consul Ti. Catius Caesius Fronto, and Nerva was invested in the by now time-honoured way with the tribunician and proconsular powers. (He dated his reign from the 18th, the day of Domitian’s death, but the Senate’s inauguration was actually the next day; the implication of such dating, of course, was that the Senate’s approval was not necessary, an interpretation Nerva would probably have contested while he was still only a senator.)

To men who were not involved in the plot, the installation of Nerva himself as emperor may have come as a considerable surprise, but a moment’s consideration would have convinced them that he was a likely candidate, given that Domitian was dead and that his own chosen successors (the two boys he had adopted) were not to be considered. Nerva had been twice consul already, he had been the intimate of every emperor since Nero – who had awarded him triumphal insignia for his part in exposing the Piso conspiracy – and he had been one of the first to be made consul (ordinarius) with Vespasian after the latter’s victory; he had also been a member of Domitian’s consilium, the near formal group of advisers the emperor gathered around him. Nerva’s age – he was in his 60s – and experience made him exactly the sort of emperor the Senate would always choose if it was given the chance, a man likely to reign for only a short time, and one without personal heirs; the Senate would, in theory, have the opportunity of making another choice soon.2

This coup d’état may well have been well-organized, but even in hardened Roman political mouths, a bad taste was surely left. If anyone had been particularly favoured by the Flavian dynasty it was Nerva, both by the father and by the sons. Both of his consulships had been awarded in moments of political difficulty – in 70 as Vespasian struggled to establish himself as emperor and in 91 in the aftermath of an exceptionally serious conspiracy against Domitian – and these emperors had clearly relied on Nerva as a source of stability at difficult moments. His betrayal of Domitian and the memory of his work with the Flavian emperors must have sickened quite a few men.

Not only that, but it had been the emperor’s plan to go off to Germany to conduct a major war with the aim of conquering the German tribes of the Marcomanni and the Quadi in the Bohemian area. An army of no fewer than ten legions had been gathered in Pannonia for the purpose, and a whole web of diplomatic contacts throughout Germany from the Rhine frontier to the Vistula had been woven. Domitian’s death prevented this plan from being carried out, a plan that looks very much as though, had it succeeded, would have significantly altered the balance of power on the northern frontier, allowing much of Germany to be absorbed, and resuming the processes of imperial expansion for the first time since the reign of Augustus. It follows from the situation that Nerva’s main problem as emperor was the army, and that force on the northern frontier was hardly pleased, having made all the preparations and found that no orders came. Nerva began this relationship badly by apparently not directly informing that army of Domitian’s death and his own accession.

Nerva was also an old man, 63 at his accession, and in poor health; he was unmarried, had no children, nor did he have, so far as can be seen, any close relatives. His only in-laws were either unsuitable as candidates for the succession or vehemently refused to be considered. His father had been married to the sister of a man who had married Rubellia, a granddaughter of Tiberius and the sister of Rubellius Plautus, who was one of Gaius’ victims; their grandson was alive but, since he eventually reached the consulship in 131, he was still only an infant. Nerva himself had a sister who was married to L. Salvius Otho Titianus, the brother of the deceased brief emperor Otho. This was a reminder of Nero’s days, as was Nerva’s own early career. Nerva’s nephew, L. Salvius Otho Cocceianus, had been consul in 82 and was possibly of an age and experience suitable for a potential emperor, but the Otho connection immediately condemned him. Nevertheless, it is a sign of the widespread connections within the Roman aristocracy that Nerva was related, in however distant a way, to two previous emperors.

So, in addition to his age and poor health, the new emperor had no obvious successor. The various disabilities ruled out Nerva’s few relatives, but it is likely that they were not disabilities in the eyes of the senators who chose him as their candidate. To them, the point of removing the young and healthy Domitian, who had several younger relatives, and putting in his place an old man without relatives, was precisely that he had no heirs to be his successors. The coup against Domitian was a senatorial coup. The fact that the army in the north was unable to intervene, at least immediately, was a bonus for the conspirators, but it is likely that that was all. The Senate was reclaiming the right to choose the emperor which had been taken from it by Augustus and by Vespasian in their emphasis on hereditary succession. The historian Tacitus (who became consul by Nerva’s choice the next year) pointed out in his history of the events of 68–69 that it had been shown in that crisis that ‘an emperor could be made elsewhere than in Rome’; the coup of 96 by a group of senators implied that this judgement would need to be reversed and that emperors really had to be made in Rome. Nerva’s lack of heirs meant that the Senate would have to choose one for him, and since he was sickly they would be able to do so fairly soon. No doubt several of the conspirators would have had the possibility of an early succession choice in the forefront of their minds.

Nerva had to take the lead in the choice, of course, and, given his age, it was one of his more important and urgent tasks. His age was in this sense an advantage, for it could be supposed that he would not live very long – and apart from his age he was not in good health – so whoever he chose would probably become emperor within a fairly short time. This might persuade whoever was chosen to wait for his demise rather than carrying out his own coup, but it could only intensify the competition. From the time of his accession, the issue of who was to follow him once again arose, but his age meant that all interested parties – above all, the Senate and the army in the north – could wait, and in the meantime, develop their plans.

Since the new emperor had no relatives considered suitable as candidates, the pool of possible successors automatically widened to include many other senators. Every emperor had been a senator before his accession, except for the youngsters Gaius and Nero, and Nerva’s main qualification for the post had been that he was old. He never displayed much capability as emperor, and he was completely unfamiliar with either the army or the provinces.3 He had, so far as can be seen at this distance, never travelled more than 100 miles from the city of Rome, and he had never, so far as we know, performed any military duties. Any experience and knowledge he had of the Empire came therefore only from his activity as a senator or as the adviser to emperors in the privacy of the royal council. This was a man of the politics of the court and the Senate; his ability to rule the Empire was clearly minimal.

The senators from whom he would need to choose a successor were men who were a generation younger than he was but who were also adult and mature; they should therefore preferably complement Nerva’s deficiencies. The pool of possible candidates included senior senators who had held the office of consul, especially those who had held the post more than once, the generals in command of the major armies, and the governors of the major provinces, in so far as all these were distinct. Generally a consul would have been either an army commander or a governor before becoming consul, and would go on to other posts afterwards. However, Nerva’s own life showed that this sequence and experience was not necessarily always the case, as did those of Gaius, Claudius and Nero, and, for that matter, Domitian. Nerva was an insider, a Roman politician; that is, a politician operating within the hothouse politics of the city and the royal court, and the danger was that he would choose a man in his own image, one of his fellow senators who had as little experience of the rest of the Empire as Nerva himself.

These requisites would have produced a shortlist of perhaps a round dozen or so men. There were three men besides himself who had held two consulships. In 97 one of them, M. Verginius Rufus, held his third, by the gift of Nerva, and another man, Cn. Arrius Antoninus, his second. Verginius was an interesting case, for he now became by far the most distinguished consular alive, apart from Nerva himself, but he was also notable for having once refused to allow himself to be proclaimed emperor, in 68 at the time of Galba’s insurrection. He was also notable for having been on Otho’s side in the Battle of Cremona in 69 and a month later he had emerged on Vitellius’ side, and he was a consul later in 69 on Vitellius’ nomination. Yet he had safely survived the Flavian emperors as well as the emperors of the crisis year. He was, however, a man of Nerva’s age and generation, and so his age tended to rule him out. Of the generals, the commanders of the major armies who were also the provincial governors in Syria, in Britain, on the Rhine and on the Danube, were also obvious candidates.

Then there were the perennials. Ser. Cornelius Dolabella had been consul in 86; he was the son of the Dolabella who was Galba’s nephew and had been one of the casualties in the civil war of 69. There was C. Calpurnius Piso Licinianus, consul in 87, and the nephew of Galba’s chosen and murdered heir. Both of these men clearly felt that their ancestry alone was sufficient to make them candidates, and their connections with Galba, the martyred emperor – another ideal emperor for senators – only enhanced their self-esteem. They had the same attitude as the several near-nonentities to whom Tiberius had married off his female relatives in that their ability, or rather lack of it, was of no account in the imperial competition; birth alone in their view was the criterion to adopt. Dolabella had the sense to stay out of affairs, if he was still alive, but Piso Licinianus, true to his ancestry, concocted a plot.

He did so in such a staggeringly incompetent fashion as to make it quite clear why every emperor who knew him automatically crossed him off the list of candidates. He chatted to his gossiping friends about forming a conspiracy, so that all the details became well-known to Nerva beforehand; he spoke to some of the Guard, making promises of great rewards, a detail that also reached Nerva. He had obviously made some of the right moves, the sort of things everyone knew had to be done in a plot, but he had done it all so publicly that his case was closed before he made his first open move. He was also plotting against one of the masters of the genre: Nerva had not only conspired his way to the throne, but he had earned triumphal insignia from Nero for his part in exposing the plot of Piso – the new plotter’s grand-uncle – in 65. This, of course, made the Piso of 96 an automatic target for Nerva’s investigators even before the plot had been hatched. So here was another failure of Piso’s imagination. In the end Nerva, weary of waiting, pre-empted any actual move. He called Piso and his friends into the imperial box at the games, gave him a sword and invited him to get on with it. He backed down, of course, and was exiled to Tarentum.4

The army could not be dealt with in such a straightforward and easy fashion, and in fact Nerva had virtually no control over any of the generals. The campaign in the north involved a huge army that was gathered together from several provinces, which brought together the legionary commanders and provincial governors of all these areas, all of whom had been given their posts by Domitian, whose war it also was. These men then selected their own candidate for emperor, who they proposed to Nerva as his successor. This was M. Ulpius Traianys, governor of Germania Inferior and a former longtime commander of the VII Gemina legion in northern Spain. He was also a provincial, from southern Spain.

If Nerva was a link with Nero’s time, Trajan was a Flavian. His father had been a legionary commander in Judaea under Vespasian and Titus, was made a patrician by Vespasian and consul in 70, had been governor of several provinces during Vespasian’s reign, and he had married a sister of Titus’ former wife. Trajan himself had been consul in 91, the year after Nerva’s second consulship. He and his family hailed from Italica in Spain, but both father and son, being senators and Roman politicians, were well domiciled at Rome.5 Nevertheless, as a provincial by origin he would have been automatically excluded from consideration by any group of the power set except the army.

Trajan was by no means the most obvious man to be the army’s candidate. The commander-in-chief of the expeditionary force was the governor of Pannonia, Cn. Pinarius Cicatricula Pompeius Longinus, and he might have been the obvious choice. He was Trajan’s almost exact contemporary, and had been consul the year before Trajan, but he was not a patrician. The other generals were plebeian and only first-generation nobles. Trajan therefore seems to have owed his selection by the generals to his birth, his father’s achievements and his patrician rank rather more than to his military ability, which in truth was only modest. That is, it would seem that the criteria of the generals were much the same as those favoured by the senators. Their pool of candidates was as restricted as that of the Senate.

Trajan was already known, if only briefly and at intervals, to Nerva, and also, no doubt, to many other senators. The two men had been consuls in adjacent years – Nerva in 90 and Trajan in 91 – and Trajan’s father had been consul in the year before Nerva’s first consulship; Trajan had been in Rome in September 96 at the time of the plot and had probably attended the Senate meeting that awarded the imperial powers to Nerva. His appointment as governor of Germania Superior was one of Nerva’s earliest actions, though it was probably something already intended by Domitian.

The message from the north was unlikely to have come as a total surprise to the emperor, and he was not presented with a completely unknown candidate as successor. Nerva had apparently made no move to nominate his own choice of successor by this time, and the proposal from the generals in the north arrived at Rome at some point during 97 at a time when matters in Rome were becoming seriously unsettled, probably as a consequence of Nerva’s dithering. The Guard had turned on their prefect, who had participated in the plot against Domitian, and had murdered him, despite the personal appeals of Nerva for him to be spared. The Guardsmen were in fact demanding the punishment of all the participants in the murder of Domitian, one of whom was their own prefect, but this was also an indirect threat to Nerva himself, who had clearly been involved in the plot and was thus also indirectly responsible for Domitian’s death. All it had needed at the time was a man to head the riot and there would have been a repetition of the putsch against Galba, imperial murder and all.

Similarly, the generals were demanding the appointment as successor to Nerva of a man who had been a Domitianic loyalist, indeed a man whose family owed its very rise to the sponsorship of the Flavian family, and who had been closely associated with both Vespasian and Domitian. Nerva therefore, faced by the enmity of the Guard and by a manifesto from a group of generals who between them commanded no fewer than thirteen legions – half of the whole army of the Empire – had no option but to accept Trajan as his successor. There is no sign that he liked having to do so, but at least he was now relieved of the necessity of making his own choice.6

Needless to say, this was not a situation with which everyone was happy. There were two other major armies, in Britain and in Syria, whose sizes gave the governors of those provinces plenty of clout. The British governor was probably P. Metilius Nepos, consul in 91 along with Trajan (though this is not wholly certain); he was also the brother-in-law of Ser. Cornelius Dolabella, which might have made him dangerous except that Dolabella showed no interest in the throne, if he was still alive; it was also the case that the army in Britain, three or four legions strong, was no match for the force of thirteen legions that had been concentrated for the German war under the command of Pompeius Longinus. In Syria the governor was M. Cornelius Nigrinus Curiatius Maternus, another Spaniard, consul in 83 and so perhaps a decade older than Trajan, which put him in his 50s; possibly rather too old to be a candidate but he would not perhaps have agreed. He certainly made a fuss of some sort, but seems to have been bought off with the second consulship that he held late in 97; again, his army was also no match for the great concentration of force in Pannonia.7

Once Nerva’s agreement had been obtained to Trajan as his successor, all was in place. Nerva publicly announced it in Rome in October 97, without Trajan’s presence. The mechanism, as in earlier cases going back as far as Augustus, was for Nerva to adopt Trajan as his son, and to announce that he would be consul ordinarius for the next year, along with Nerva himself (holding his fourth consulship). At once the Senate, fully alert no doubt to the situation, awarded the imperial powers to Trajan, who thus became joint emperor just as Titus or Tiberius or Agrippa had been.8 The precedent was, in particular, that of Augustus and Tiberius in the last decade of Augustus’ life: Nerva, like Augustus, stayed in Rome while Trajan, like Tiberius, fought the wars on the frontier. All this swiftly solved Nerva’s problem in Rome and stifled any further plots that might have been under contemplation. The Guard was both mollified by their murder of their guilty prefect and deterred from further action by the looming Trajan and his army. There was no point in plotting to kill an aged emperor in Rome when there was another already installed elsewhere, surrounded by several tens of thousands of soldiers who were only too pleased that their man had been ‘chosen’. Galba should have thought of this ploy.

This was a succession crisis on a par with that in 68–69 and that in 193–197, more than a century later, though without the violence. In connection with the events of 68 Tacitus had remarked that it was revealed that an emperor could be made elsewhere than in Rome. This, like many of Tacitus’ bons mots, is memorable but not wholly accurate: Augustus had been made emperor in Greece at the battle of Actium; Tiberius and Gaius had been emperors in Campania before they ever reached Rome. Galba’s, Vitellius’ and Vespasian’s assumptions of the powers of emperor were thus occasions even more distant from Rome than these earlier cases. Location, in fact, had no relevance and never had had. What was still important was senatorial acceptance, and this, of course, was what Tacitus really meant.

The elevation of Trajan was different for another reason: it was the first time that an emperor had been chosen and successfully installed by the army. This army was not the Guard, nor a small section of the army such as Galba’s Spanish legion or Vitellius’ Rhine Army, but actually a committee of the commanders of about half of the whole imperial military force stationed on the Danube frontier; Longinus’ thirteen legions did amount to almost half the imperial army, which counted twenty-five or twenty-six legions. Tacitus’ comment would have been more apposite if it had been applied to the situation in 96–97. (Perhaps it was, but we do not have his version of events.) Also, because it was a decision of this cabal of generals, it was a rather more important matter than the confused events of 68–69. For the revelation of 96–97 was that the army was able to impose its imperial candidate not just on the reigning emperor, but on the Senate as well, and from outside Rome, and it was able to do this not by killing a reigning emperor (as with Gaius, Galba, Vitellius or Domitian) but from a distance. The army was revealed, for the first time, as the supreme determining political factor in the state.

The killing of Domitian had been the third case of imperial murder in Rome, Gaius and Galba being the two earlier ones. (Nero, Vitellius and Otho were effectively no longer emperors when they died; Claudius was a doubtful case, as was Tiberius.) It had been a neat and sleek deed, well-prepared and, given the likely glitches always to be expected in such an affair, well executed. Above all, the pre-selection of Nerva was a masterstroke, for it pre-empted any immediate action by the Guard and guaranteed immediate support in the Senate, while the personality of Nerva himself virtually ensured no subsequent blood-letting. In addition, his age showed everyone that the real issue was not him but the person of his successor. In 41 the Guard had been able to put forward Claudius as their candidate because they had him in their power in the barracks. The Senate had not been compelled to accept him, as the debate that then took place showed. If the senators had chosen differently, they may have faced a massacre by the Guard, or the Guard may have been bought off and would then have killed Claudius. In 96 a part of the Senate met early in the morning of the day following the murder and swiftly and without debate installed Nerva as emperor. The attendance at the meeting had been pre-selected, the consul having summoned only those on whom he could count to support the coup, but there were certainly enough in attendance to convince everyone else that this had been a legal and quorate meeting. In 41 100 senators had accepted Claudius; there were probably more than that who accepted Nerva. The Guard had liked Domitian, as their later actions in hunting out and killing the murderers showed, but they did accept Nerva as emperor, if grudgingly, partly because one of their prefects was in on the plot, but also mainly because the Senate had itself accepted and proclaimed him. The sequence of events showed that the Senate’s authority was clear and accepted.

The imposition of Trajan as Nerva’s successor, however, was a new development. Until 97 every successor had been chosen by his predecessor, except for the cases of Claudius and Nero. The year 69 had produced clearly anomalous cases that could be argued away. In every succession except that of Piso chosen by Galba, the successor had been the previous emperor’s nearest male relative, if one stretched the point with Augustus and Tiberius (the latter had, of course, been adopted in the end); again the exception was Galba/Piso. Emphasis had always been on hereditary male succession. It was, of course, as the events of 97 made clear, the Augustus/Tiberius case that provided the most compelling precedent for both the army and the Senate, but even there Augustus had had his hand forced by Tiberius and Livia, and by the repeated failure of his own choice of successors, not by the army.

However, to ascribe to ‘the army’ the nomination of Trajan as emperor-successor is to attribute a collective will to a force of tens of thousands of men. Clearly this was not the case. The choice was made by a group of senior commanders from among themselves. They did not look outside the small set of governors and legionary legates involved in the war on the Danube, even though there were several men with equal or better qualifications than Trajan in their midst. They clearly felt that any wider trawl through the ranks of senators was unnecessary since they evidently believed they had an acceptable candidate in their own group.

The principle of heredity could no longer operate in the conditions of 97, thanks to the Senate’s installation of Nerva. It was still just possible to imagine the candidature of the two adolescent Flavians, Domitianus and Vespasianus, if they were still alive. Their emergence might well have been popular among the Domitian loyalists, of whom there clearly were many, particularly in the Guard and the army. However, the situation in 97 demanded someone who could take over from Nerva at a moment’s notice, who could command the army, which was fighting a difficult war in the north, and whose very name would calm the fraught situation in Rome, and this included being accepted by the Senate. The announcement of two adolescent boys as the slain emperor’s successors would not be a good move (and would imply that Domitian’s death had been wrong, and would open his successor and his clique to recriminations). The announcement of the immediate adoption of Trajan and the immediate award of imperial powers to him was a response to the situation in Rome that was construed as an emergency by the army, by Nerva and by the Senate, and it worked.

However, no matter what reasons or excuses are found for what had happened, the fact remains that the imposition of Trajan was a military coup d’état. It was to a degree, of course, disguised. An official letter – ‘laurelled’ – claiming a victory on the frontier, was sent to Nerva, who thereupon announced that he adopted Trajan as his son. The swift acceptance of Trajan’s candidature by both Nerva and the Senate argues that the whole business was a prearranged stunt. Yet the fact was that neither of these had chosen him, and probably he was not even on any list of candidates being considered, officially or unofficially, in Rome. Trajan was imposed on the emperor and the Senate by a military cabal.

Trajan became sole emperor in January 98 when Nerva died suddenly, as was probably always expected.9 There was no need for Trajan to travel to Rome, for he already had the necessary imperial powers, granted the year before; like Titus and Tiberius he was already in office as joint emperor. The surprise occasionally voiced in modern accounts, and the resentment no doubt felt in Rome itself, at his failure to visit the city for over a year and a half is overdone. Like Tiberius, he did not require the Senate’s approval for taking up sole power for it had already been given, and the war in Germany was still on and required his close attention, as it would have Domitian’s.

The whole process of the nomination and accession of Trajan marked a decisive change in the method of the succession of emperors. The action of the army and its generals was the source of the nomination of Trajan, and this meant that the Senate had been effectively sidelined. The selection of Nerva, on the other hand, had been a senatorial matter; the killing of Domitian may have been a conspiracy but it is evident that a large number of men were involved: senators, including Nerva himself and at least one of the consuls, one of the Guard Prefects and some of his men, officials and servants in the Palace. This was in effect a representative sample of the Roman establishment, with the crucial exception only of the generals of the frontier army. Next morning the Senate, under no obvious pressure even if lightly purged, had met in a regularly constituted session and had freely voted to have Nerva as the next emperor. Neither the Guard nor the army had any say in the matter, and had exerted no pressure on the Senate. They had clearly accepted the new emperor simply by not protesting. This was the process of imperial succession that the Senate had always wanted.

The Guard may well have complained that the murderers of Domitian had not been punished. Some of the men did so nearly a year later, but by those very complaints, which they expected Nerva and the Senate to address, they indicated their acceptance of the new regime. Similarly the army, by staying where it was and fighting the war that Domitian had designed but was now waged in Nerva’s name – he was hailed as imperator after some victory late in 96 – accepted his authority as emperor. Yet the army was scarcely pleased with Nerva as emperor in place of Domitian, particularly since the new emperor had no military experience or authority. When the news arrived of riots in Rome and threats by the Guard, the generals took action.

However, the imposition of Trajan changed the game. Neither the Senate nor the emperor had any choice in the matter, except to accept the army’s decision. If Trajan’s name had been rejected by either of them, the implication was that the army would take action to insist. In earlier crises the Senate had been menaced, to be sure, but in 41 there had been negotiation and a senatorial decision, and in 69, Otho and Vitellius had been overthrown almost at once. At the end of 69 and in early 70, the Senate debated matters with vigour, even though Vespasian’s troops occupied the city. Yet accepting Vespasian was to accept the result of the civil war; the balance between senate and army was then already tilting the army’s way. In 97 the army emerged as the main political arbitrator; the Senate could not discuss or debate, it was Trajan or force. The result was that a different succession process emerged for the next century, and emperors had to pay much more attention to the army; hence Trajan’s wars, Hadrian’s travels and Marcus Aurelius’ wars. The one restraint on the army’s interference was heredity, and none of the next three emperors, like Nerva, had sons; the Senate could be used in the succession issue, but only to confirm an emperor’s previous choice, or that of the army, which was there and knew its power.

The First Antonines

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Nerva (96–98).

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Trajan (98–117).

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Hadrian (117–138).

The Later Antonines

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Antoninus Pius (138–161).

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Marcus Aurelius (161–180).

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Lucius Verus (161–169).

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