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Ancient Rome from the Earliest Times Down to 476 A.D.

A History of Rome, by Robert F. Pennell

Ancient Rome from the Earliest Times Down to 476 A.D.

By Robert F. Pennell


Ancient Rome.

Chapter XL.

The Five Good Emperors.

Nerva (96-98).

Nerva was appointed by the Senate to succeed Domitian, and was the first Emperor who did not owe his advancement to military force or influence. He associated with himself Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, then in command of the army on the Rhine. Nerva ruled only sixteen months; but during that time he restored tranquillity among the people, conferring happiness and prosperity upon every class.

Trajan (98-117).

Nerva was succeeded by Trajan, whose character has its surest guaranty in the love and veneration of his subjects; and it is said that, long afterwards, the highest praise that could be bestowed on a ruler was that he was "more fortunate than Augustus, and better than Trajan." Trajan was a soldier, and, if he lacked the refinements of a peaceful life, he was nevertheless a wise and firm master.

He added to the Empire Dacia, the country included between the Danube and the Theiss, the Carpathians and the Pruth. This territory became so thoroughly Romanized that the language of its inhabitants to-day is founded on that of their conquerors nearly eighteen centuries ago. It was in honor of this campaign into Dacia that the famous Column of Trajan, which still remains, was erected.

Trajan also annexed to the Empire Arabia Petraea, which afforded an important route between Egypt and Syria. His invasion of Parthia, however, resulted in no permanent advantage.

During the reign of Trajan the Roman Empire reached the summit of its power; but the first signs of decay were beginning to be seen in the financial distress of all Italy, and the decline of the free peasantry, until in the next century they were reduced to a condition of practical serfdom.

The literature of Trajan's reign was second only to that of the Augustan age. His time has often been called the Silver Age Its prose writers were, however, unlike those of the Augustan age, far superior to its poets. The most famous prose writers were Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Quintilian.

The poets of this period were Juvenal, Persius, Martial, Lucan, and Statius, of whom the last two were of an inferior order.

Hadrian (117-138).

Trajan was succeeded by his cousin's son, Hadrian, a native of Spain. One of the first acts of Hadrian was to relinquish the recent conquests of Trajan, and to restore the old boundaries of the Empire. The reasons for this were that they had reached the utmost limits which could lend strength to the power of Rome, or be held in subjection without constant and expensive military operations. The people occupying the new conquests were hardy and warlike, scattered over a country easy of defence, and certain to strive constantly against a foreign yoke.

Hadrian displayed constant activity in travelling over the Empire, to overlook personally its administration and protection. He visited Britain, where he crushed the inroads of the Caledonians and built a fortified line of works, known as the Picts' Wall, extending from sea to sea. The remains of this great work are still to be seen, corresponding nearly to the modern boundary between England and Scotland. He also visited the East, where the Jews were making serious trouble, and completed their overthrow.

On his return to the city, the Emperor devoted himself to its adornment. Several of his works, more or less complete, still remain. The most famous of these is the mausoleum (Tomb) of Hadrian, now known as the Castle of San Angelo.

Hadrian was afflicted with bad health, suffering much from diseases from which he could find no relief. On account of this, and to secure a proper succession, he associated with himself in the government Titus Aurelius Antoninus, and required him to adopt Marcus Annius Verus and Lucius Verus. In 138, soon after this arrangement was made, Hadrian died, leaving the Empire to Titus.

Titus Aurelius Antoninus Pius (138-161).

Antoninus, a native of Gaul, was fifty-two years old when he succeeded to the throne. The cognomen PIUS was conferred upon him by the Senate on account of the affectionate respect which he had shown for Hadrian. He was a man of noble appearance, firm and prudent, and under him the affairs of state moved smoothly.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (161-180).

On the death of Antoninus, Marcus Annius Verus succeeded him under the title of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

The Moors made an invasion into Spain; the barbarians broke into Gaul; the army in Britain attempted to set up another Emperor; and the Parthians in the East were in an uneasy state. The Eastern war, however, ended favorably, and the Parthian king purchased peace by ceding Mesopotamia to Rome. But the returning army brought with it a pestilence, which spread devastation throughout the West. The Christians were charged with being the cause of the plague, and were cruelly persecuted. Among the victims were Justin Martyr at Rome, and Polycarp at Smyrna.

The death of Lucius Verus in 168 released Aurelius from a colleague who attracted attention only by his unfitness for his position. The Emperor was thus relieved of embarrassments which might well have become his greatest danger. The remainder of his reign, however, was scarcely less unhappy.

The dangers from the troublesome barbarians grew greater and greater. Rome had now passed the age of conquest, and began to show inability even to defend what she had acquired. For fourteen years Aurelius was engaged on the frontiers fighting these barbarians, and endeavoring to check their advance. He died at Vienna while thus occupied, in the fifty-ninth year of his life (180).

Peace was shortly afterwards made with the barbarians, a peace bought with money; an example often followed in later times, when Rome lacked the strength and courage to enforce her wishes by force of arms.

Marcus Aurelius was the Philosopher of the Empire. His tastes were quiet; he was unassuming, and intent on the good of the people. His faults were amiable weaknesses; his virtues, those of a hero. His _Meditations_ have made him known as an author of fine tastes and thoughts. With him ended the line of the Good Emperors. After his death, Rome's prosperity and power began rapidly to wane.

The Christians.

The Christians, who were gradually increasing in numbers, were persecuted at different times throughout the Empire. One ground for these persecutions was that it was a crime against the state to refuse to worship the gods of the Romans under whom the Empire had flourished. It was also the custom to burn incense in front of the Emperor's statue, as an act of adoration. The Christians not only refused homage to the Roman gods, but denounced the burning of incense as sacrilegious. Aurelius gave his sanction to the most general persecution this sect had yet suffered. The last combined effort to suppress them was under Diocletian, in 284, but it ended with the Edict fo Milan in 312, which famous decree gave the imperial license to the religion of Christ.

Chapter I Geography of Italy.
Chapter II The Early Inhabitants of Italy.
Chapter III The Romans and Their Early Government.
Chapter IV The Early Growth and Internal History of Rome.
Chapter V The Dynasty of the Tarquins.
Chapter VI The Consuls and Tribunes.
Chapter VII The Comitia Tributa and the Agrarian Laws.
Chapter VIII The Contest of the Plebeians for Civil Rights.
Chapter IX External History.
Chapter X Wars With Pyrrhus (281-272).
Chapter XI Divisions of the Roman Territory. -- Noted Men of the Period.
Chapter XII Foreign Conquest.
Chapter XIII Rome and Carthage Between the First and Second Punic Wars (241-218).
Chapter XIV The Second Punic War. -- From the Passage of the Pyrenees to the Battle of Cannae. (218-216.)
Chapter XV The Second Punic War. - From Cannae to the Battle of Zama (216-202).
Chapter XVI Rome in The East.
Chapter XVII The Syrian War.
Chapter XVIII Conquest of Macedonia and Greece. (I71-146.)
Chapter XIX The Third Punic War, and Fall of Carthage.
Chapter XX Rome and Spain. - The Numantine and Servile Wars. (206-132.)
Chapter XXI Internal History. -- The Gracchi.
Chapter XXII External History. -- Pergamum. -- Jugurthine War (118-104).
Chapter XXIII The Cimbri and Teutones. -- Political Quarrels.
Chapter XXIV Internal History. - The Social War (90-88).
Chapter XXV Marius and Sulla. - Cinna.
Chapter XXVI Sertorius. -- Spartacus. -- Lucullus. -- Pompey and Crassus.
Chapter XXVII Caesar. -- Cicero. -- Verres.
Chapter XXVIII Troubles at Rome. -- Conspiracy of Catiline.
Chapter XXIX The First Triumvirate.
Chapter XXX Caesar's Campaigns in Gaul.
Chapter XXXI Clodius and Milo -- Death of Crassus.
Chapter XXXII Caesar's Struggle With Pompey. -- Battle of Pharsalia.
Chapter XXXIII Caesar's Operations in Egypt, Asia, Africa, and Spain.
Chapter XXXIV Murder of Caesar.
Chapter XXXV The Second Triumvirate. -- Philippi and Actium.
Chapter XXXVI Augustus (30 B.C.-14 A.D.)
Chapter XXXVII The Augustan Age.
Chapter XXXVIII The Julian and Claudian Emperors.
Chapter XXXIX The Flavian Emperors.
Chapter XL The Five Good Emperors.
Chapter XLI Period of Military Despotism. -- Decline of the Empire.
Chapter XLII Invasions and Distribution of the Barbarians.
Chapter XLIII Roman Literature.
Chapter XLIV Roman Roads. -- Provinces.
Chapter XLV Roman Officers, Etc.
Chapter XLVI Houses, Customs, Institutions, Etc.
Chapter XLVII Public Buildings, Squares, Etc.
Chapter XLVIII Colonies. -- The Calendar. -- Religion.
Chapter XLIX The Roman Army in Caesar's Time.
Chapter L Legendary Rome.
Specimen Examination Papers

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Pennell - History of Rome

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