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Lecture 25 Civil War and the Flavians

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Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 25 (November 18) Civil War and the Flavians (and early Antonines) 1. Civil war after death of Nero (68-69 A.D.) a. Galba b. Otho c. Vitellius 2. Flavians a. Vespasian, 69-79 A.D. (term: Lex de imperio Vespasiani) b. Titus, 79-81 A.D. c. Domitian, 81-96 A.D. (term: damnatio memoriae) 3. Early Antonines a. Nerva, 96-98 A.D. b. Trajan, 98-117 A.D. c. Hadrian, 117-138 A.D. (Antonius) Death of Nero - struggle for imperial power after Nero’s death – no obvious successor - senators – wanted Galba - Galba • about 80 years of age • from old noble Roman family • openly opposed Nero toward the end of his reign • old republican virtue • choice – steer away from tyrannical rule • however – old fashioned rule blinded him to politics of the presence • immediately lost favour with the people – cancelled games • immediately lost support of praetorian guards – refused to bribe them • snubbed Otho – husband of Poppaea Sabina – believed that he was to be the successor to Galba • marked out someone else as his successor • support of Otho – by Praetorians, who murdered Galba in the Roman forum, along with his newly adopted successor in 69 A.D. - successor Otho – but not for long - armies declared Vitellius (their general) as new emperor – marched to Italy in the spring of 69 A.D. – defeated Otho and he committed suicide - reign of Otho lasted only a few months – February to April - reign of Vitellius was not long either – another army named their general emperor – Vespasian - hereditary principle was not the best one – response in the end was wiping out the entire Julio-Claudio clan - army was key – volatile year from mid-68 A.D. to mid-69 A.D. showed that an emperor could be made outside of Rome – general with strong military support could take over Vespasian - new man – equestrian - prominent and trusted general under the Julio-Claudians - was Nero who sent Vespasian to Judea to supress the first Jewish revolt - was still in Judea when his soldiers named him emperor - more prudent than others – unlike Vitellius he built up a power base and got troops on his side first, then marched into Italy - marched into Italy and defeated army of Vitellius – at site of clash between Otho and Vitellius – Cromona - marched on Rome itself and engaged in Roman warfare – destroyed large parts of the city – event major monuments such as temple to Jupiter - paraded Vitellius naked and bound though the streets and then executed him - this was civil strife on a scale not seen since the end of the republic - others did the dirty work – Vespasian took his time getting to Rome - left command over the suppression of the Jews to his son Titus - reign – reign from 69-79 A.D. - term Lex de imperio Vespasiani – instituted a law that defined the powers of the emperor - while Augustus attempted to conceal the extent of his power – other Julio- Claudians inherited this setup - however – Vespasian clearly defined that princeps was above the law and could do whatever he deemed beneficial – office that usurped the traditions of the senate and the people of Rome - institutionalized what was already in practice - made it clear that he was creating a dynasty – the Flavians - after Titus finished in Judea – was given tribunition power – successor - got under the skin of those with deep republican values – some were exiled, some even executed, all were removed from senate - maintained a fairly good relations with the senate and people of Rome - census in 63 A.D. – restored the senate to 600 again - once again a pretence was given to senate that they had a say – similarity to Augustus in this sense - senate had fallen apart under the reign of Nero and during civil war - began construction projects – began construction of the Coliseum (on the site of the palace of Nero) - attempt to show that there was a compete break from reign of Nero – built things over Nero’s Golden House - very popular with the people – put on games - after his death, Vespasian was remembered as a good emperor - honoured with deification Titus - eldest son of Vespasian - died in 81 A.D. – relatively at a young age - appears to have kept up positive relations with senate and people of Rome - noteworthy reign due to catastrophes beyond his control - eruption of Mount Vesuvius – in 79 A.D. - another major fire in the city of Rome in 80 A.D. – first fire under Nero in 68 A.D. - initial steps to mitigate both disasters but died before he could finish - succeeded by younger brother Domitian Domitian - ruled for 16 years - not a very stable rule - very bad terms with the senate - must hostility toward his rule - took most important senatorial positions for hims
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