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fied her jealousy and revenge at the expense of the noblest in the state, especially the imperial princesses, without even a show of legal formality. At last she was executed for her crimes, and the emperor procured a law from the Senate which enabled him to marry his niece, Agrippina.
This princess appears to advantage only when compared with her predecessor. She recalled Seneca, the philosopher, from exile, and made him the tutor of her son, Nero. She protected many who were unjustly accused, and she advanced to power the faithful Burrhus, who proved a better servant, both to herself and her son, than either deserved. At the same time, Agrippina persuaded her husband to set aside his own son, Britannicus, in favor of her son by a former marriage. This youth bore his father's name, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, but by the emperor's adoption he became Nero Claudius Cæsar Drusus Germanicus. By the first of these names he is known in history as one of the most wicked of tyrants. Having gained all that she hoped from the weak compliance of Claudius, Agrippina poisoned him, and presented her son to the prætorian guards as their imperator. Some, it is said, cried out, "Where is Britannicus?" but there was no serious resistance, and the new emperor was accepted by the Senate, the people, and the provinces.
191. For the first five years, under the wise and honest administration of Seneca and Burrhus, the Romans believed that the golden age had returned. Taxes were remitted; lands were allotted to the needy and deserving. The delators, that infamous class of people who made their living by accusing others of crime, were suppressed or banished. The Roman arms prospered in Armenia, under the able command of Cor ́bulo, who captured the two capitals, Artax'ata and Tigranocerta, and completely subdued the kingdom. In Germany all was quiet, and the legions. on the lower Rhine had leisure to complete the embankments which protected the land from inundation.
None of this prosperity was due, however, to the character of Nero, who was a sensual and cruel tyrant even from his youth. In the second year of his reign he poisoned his foster-brother, Britannicus. A few years later, he murdered his mother, his wife, and the too faithful Burrhus, cast off the influence of Seneca, and thenceforth gave free course to his tyrannical caprices. He encouraged the informants again, and filled his treasury with the confiscated property of their victims.
192. He persecuted both Jews and Christians, charging upon the latter the great fire at Rome, which he was more than suspected of having himself caused to be kindled. By this terrible conflagration, ten of the fourteen wards, or 'regions," of the city were made uninhabitable. Nero watched the burning from a tower on the Esquiline, while, in the dress of an actor, he chanted the "Sack of Troy." Whether or not he
had ordered the destruction of Rome in consequence of his disgust with its narrow and winding streets, he wisely availed himself of the opportunity to rebuild it in more regular and spacious proportions. The houses were constructed of stone, and rendered fire-proof; each was surrounded with balconies, and separated from other houses by lanes of considerable width, while a plentiful supply of water was introduced into every tenement.
The palace of Nero having been destroyed, he built his Golden House on a scale of magnitude and splendor which Rome had never seen. The porticos which surrounded it were three miles in length; within their bounds were parks, gardens, and a lake which filled the valley afterward occupied by the Flavian Amphitheater. The chambers of this imperial mansion were gilded and inlaid with gems. The least of its ornaments, though probably the greatest of its objects, was a colossal statue of Nero himself, 120 feet in height.
193. Nero desired to be praised as a musician and a charioteer, and so far forgot his imperial dignity as to appear as an actor in the theaters. He gained prizes at the Olympic Games, A. D. 67, which had been delayed two years that he might be present. He took part, also, in the vocal performances at the Isthmian Games, on which occasion he ordered the death of a singer whose voice drowned his own. On his return, he entered Rome through a breach in the walls, after the ancient Hellenic custom; but the 1,800 garlands with which he had been laden by the servile Greeks, showed the decline of the old heroic spirit, rather than the glory of the victor.
194. The impositions of Nero caused revolts in the provinces, and, among others, Vespasian, the future emperor, was sent to pacify Judæa. But Nero was jealous of his most able and faithful officers. Cor'bulo, the conqueror of Armenia, Rufus and Scribo nius, the commanders in Germany, were recalled, and avoided public execution only by putting themselves to death. All the generals on the frontier perceived that they could escape a similar fate only by timely revolt, and insurrections broke out at once in Germany, Gaul, Africa, and Spain. The conspirators agreed, at length, in the choice of Galba, the governor of Hither Spain, as their leader and emperor.
Nero perceived that resistance was hopeless. Deserted by the prætorians and all his courtiers, he fled from his Golden House and hid himself in the cottage of Phaon, his former slave, a few miles from the city. After spending a night and part of a day in an agony of terror, he summoned courage to end his own life, just as he heard the tramp of the horsemen who were coming to take him. He was but thirty years of age, and had reigned nearly fourteen years. With him expired the line of Augustus. The imperial power never again remained so long
in any one family as it had among the members, by adoption or otherwise, of the Julian house.
Augustus (B. C. 30-A. D. 14) combines in himself all the dignities of the Republic, but carefully avoids the appearance of royalty. He leaves the peaceful provinces to the Senate, but assumes the command of those which are at war. The Germans, under Arminius, revolt and destroy the legions of Varus. The "Augustan Age" is distinguished for prosperity and enlightenment. Tiberius (A. D. 14-37) succeeds Augustus, but Sejanus rules the empire. Germanicus and many others are persecuted and put to death. Caius Cæsar (Caligula, A. D. 37–41) begins well, but, soon spoiled by power, exhibits "the awful spectacle of a madman, master of the civilized world." He is succeeded by his uncle Claudius (A. D. 41-54), a weak but honest man. Agrippina, having poisoned him, makes her son Nero emperor (A. D. 54-68). Upon the death of his instructors, he proves a reckless and cruel tyrant. He rebuilds Rome with unprecedented magnificence after the great fire. Having caused the death of his best generals, he kills himself only in time to escape the vengeance of his people.
DECLINE OF THE EMPIRE.
195. Galba, the most distinguished general of his time, had gained the favor of the emperor Claudius by refusing to assume the crown upon the death of Caligula. He had proved his ability and worth by his wise and just administration of the province of Africa, and had been honored at Rome with the highest dignities to which his patrician birth and eminent services entitled him. He was now more than seventy years of age, but learning that Nero had sent orders for his death, he resolved to rid the world of a tyrant by accepting the crown. He was a Roman of the ancient style, and the luxurious prætorians were equally disgusted with his strict discipline and his sparing distribution of money. By adopting Piso as his successor, he disappointed Otho, who easily raised a revolt against him, and the aged emperor and his adopted son were slain in the Forum, Jan. 15, A. D. 69.
196. Otho, the early favorite of Nero, had for ten years been governor of Lusitania. He was acknowledged, on the death of Galba, by the Senate and most of the provinces, but the legions in Germany had already (Jan. 3, 69) proclaimed their own general, Vitellius. The armies of the two generals met near the confluence of the Adda and the Po. Otho was defeated, and died by his own hand. Vitellius, having gained a crown by the skill and energy of his officers, lost it by his own unworthiness. Without the courage or ability of his predecessors, he surpassed them in contemptible self-indulgence. Vespasian, commander in Judæa, in revolting against this monster, was hailed by the acclamations of all good people, and supported by all the legions of the East. He took possession of Egypt, the grain-market of Rome, and sent his lieu
tenants into Italy. This time the generals of Vitellius were defeated on the Po, the capital was taken by assault, and the disgraced emperor put to death.
197. During the reign of Vespasian, order and prosperity succeeded to the storms which had convulsed the empire. The old discipline was revived, the revenues were re-organized, the capital was beautified, and the people employed by the construction of such great works as the Coliseum and the Temple of Peace. The space inclosed by Nero for his own enjoyment, was thrown open by Vespasian to the use of the people; and the materials of the Golden House served to enrich many public buildings. The revolt of the Batavians and other tribes on the lower Rhine was suppressed, A. D. 70; the Jewish War of Independence was finally subdued, the Holy City taken, and the people dispersed. Agricola completed the subjugation of Britain as far as the Tyne and the Solway, which he connected by earthworks and a chain of forts.
198. Titus, the son of Vespasian, having proved his military talent during the reign of his father, by the capture of Jerusalem, had been rewarded by a triumph, and by the title of Cæsar, which implied his association in the government. At the death of Vespasian, he became sole emperor without opposition. Whatever may have been his personal faults, Titus distinguished himself as a ruler by sincere and constant efforts to promote the happiness of his people. Recollecting, one evening, that he had performed no act of kindness, he exclaimed that he had lost a day.
The circumstances of his reign made peculiar demands upon the emperor's benevolence. The beautiful Campanian towns, Herculaneum and Pompe'ii, were destroyed by a sudden eruption of Vesuvius. A fire raged again three days and nights at Rome, followed by a general and fatal pestilence. Titus assumed the pecuniary loss as his own, and even sold the ornaments of his palace to defray the expense of rebuilding the ruined houses. He established public baths on the site of Nero's gardens on the Esquiline, and completed the Coliseum, or Flavian Amphitheater, which he dedicated by a festival of a hundred days, including combats of 5,000 wild beasts. After a reign of but little more than two years, Titus died of a fever, having named his brother as his successor, A. D. 81. 199. Domitian was regarded by the people with more favor than he deserved, on account of the virtues of his father and brother. His nature was morose and jealous; and when his ill-success in military matters began to be contrasted with the victories of his predecessors, he became cruel and tyrannical, reviving the false accusations, forfeitures, and death-penalties of the reign of Nero. He was partially successful in his wars in Germany, but he was defeated on the Danube with great disaster, and even consented to pay an annual tribute to the Dacians, to keep
them from invading Moesia. When the cruelties of Domitian began to excite the fears of his servants, he was murdered, Sept. 18, A. D. 96. 200. The Senate now asserted a power which it had failed to exercise since the days of Augustus, by naming Nerva as sovereign. He was a childless old man, but he chose for his successor M. Ul'pius Traja'nus, a general whose vigor and ability, already shown in war, promised well for the interests of the state. It was henceforth considered the duty of the emperor to select from all his subjects the man most fit to rule, without reference to his own family, and the heir thus adopted bore the name of Cæsar. The mild, beneficent, and economical government of Nerva afforded a pleasing contrast to the severe and sanguinary rule of Domitian. Upon his death, which occurred A. D. 98, his adopted heir was immediately recognized as emperor.
201. Trajan was born in Spain, and his youth had been passed in military service. The Romans regarded him as the best of all their emperors. In personal character he was brave and generous, diligent and modest; in his policy as a ruler he was both wise and liberal. He scrupulously regarded the rights and dignities of the Senate, and treated its members as his equals. He was most diligent in hearing causes that were presented for his judgment, and in corresponding with the governors of provinces, who consulted him on all important affairs in their administration.
He managed the finances so well, that, without oppressive taxes or unjust confiscations, he always had means for the construction of roads, bridges, and aqueducts; for loans to persons whose estates had been injured by earthquakes or tempests; and for public buildings in Rome and all the provinces. The Ulpian Library and the great "Forum of Trajan,” for the better transaction of public business, among many other useful and elegant works, bore witness to his liberality. The reign of Trajan was a literary epoch only second to that of Augustus. The great historian Tacitus, the younger Pliny, Plutarch, Suetonius, and Epictetus, the slave-philosopher, were all living at this time.
202. Augustus had enjoined his heirs to regard the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates as the limits of their dominion. Trajan, however, desiring to throw off the disgraceful tribute which Domitian had promised to the Dacians, made war twice against their king, Deceb ́alus. He was completely victorious; the king was slain, and his country became a Roman province guarded by colonies and forts. On his return, A. D. 105, Trajan celebrated a triumph, and exhibited games during 123 days. It. is said that 11,000 wild beasts were slaughtered in these spectacles, and that 10,000 gladiators, mostly Dacian prisoners, killed each other "to make a Roman holiday.”
In the later years of this reign, the Roman and the Parthian empires