Ner'va, (Marcus Cocceius,) a Roman emperor, born
in Umbria in 32 A.D. He was consul with Vespasian
in 71, and with Domitian in 90 A.D. On the death of
Domitian, in the year 96, he was proclaimed emperor by
the army and the people. His administration was mild
and liberal. He recalled exiles who had been banished
by former emperors, and enforced penalties against informers.
He made and performed a vow that he would
not put any senator to death. His mutinous praetorian
soldiers compelled him to permit the execution of the
assassins of Domitian. He adopted Trajan as his son
and successor, and died in 98 A.D.
" Histoire des Empereurs;" Aurelius " Victor, De Viribus
illustribus ;" F. J. de Barrett,
" Histoire des deux
Regnes de Nerva et de Trajan," 1790
Marcus Cocceius Nerva (8 November 30 – 25 January 98),
commonly known as Nerva, was Roman Emperor from 96 to 98.
Nerva became emperor at the age of sixty-five, after a
lifetime of imperial service under Nero and the rulers of
the Flavian dynasty. Under Nero, he was a member of the
imperial entourage and played a vital part in exposing the
Pisonian conspiracy of 65. Later, as a loyalist to the
Flavians, he attained consulships in 71 and 90 during the
reigns of Vespasian and Domitian respectively.
On 18 September 96, Domitian was assassinated in a palace
conspiracy involving members of the Praetorian Guard and
several of his freedmen. On the same day, Nerva was declared
emperor by the Roman Senate. As the new ruler of the Roman
Empire, he vowed to restore liberties which had been
curtailed during the autocratic government of Domitian.
However, Nerva's brief reign was marred by financial
difficulties and his inability to assert his authority over
the Roman army. A revolt by the Praetorian Guard in October
97 essentially forced him to adopt an heir. After some
deliberation Nerva adopted Trajan, a young and popular
general, as his successor. After barely fifteen months in
office, Nerva died of natural causes on 27 January 98. Upon
his death he was succeeded and deified by Trajan.
Although much of his life remains obscure, Nerva was
considered a wise and moderate emperor by ancient
historians. Recent historians have revised this assessment,
characterizing Nerva as a well-intentioned but ultimately
weak ruler, whose reign brought the Roman Empire to the
brink of civil war. Nerva's greatest success was his ability
to ensure a peaceful transition of power after his death,
thus founding the Nerva-Antonine dynasty...
Marcus Coccēius. The thirteenth Roman emperor, was born at Narnia, in Umbria, A.D. 27 according to Eutropius (viii. 1), or A.D. 32 according to
Dio Cassius (lxviii. 4). His family originally came from Crete; but several of his ancestors rose to the highest honours of the Roman State. His
grandfather, Cocceius Nerva, who was consul A.D. 22, and a great favourite of the emperor Tiberius, was one of the most celebrated jurists of his
age. Nerva is first mentioned in history as a favourite of Nero, who bestowed upon him triumphal honours, A.D. 66, when he was praetor elect. The
poetry of Nerva , which is mentioned with praise by Pliny and Martial, appears to have recommended him to Nero; and he was employed in offices of
trust and honour during the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, though he incurred the suspicion of Domitian, who banished him to Tarentum. On the
assassination of Domitian, A.D. 96, Nerva succeeded to the sovereign power, through the influence of Petronius Secundus, commander of the
praetorian cohorts, and of Parthenius, the chamberlain of the palace.
The mild and equitable administration of Nerva is acknowledged and praised by all ancient writers, and forms a striking contrast to the bloody
reign of his predecessor. He discouraged informers, recalled the exiles from banishment, relieved the people from some oppressive taxes, and
tolerated the Christians. Many instances of his liberality and clemency are recorded by the younger Pliny ; he allowed no senator to be put to
death during his reign; and he practised the greatest economy, in order to relieve the wants of the poorer citizens. But his impartial
administration of justice met with little favour from the Praetorian Guard,
which had been allowed by Domitian to indulge in excesses of every kind. Enraged at the loss of their benefactor and favourite, they compelled
Nerva to deliver into their hands Parthenius and their own commander Petronius, both of whom they put to death. The excesses of his guards
convinced Nerva that the government of the Roman Empire required greater energy both of body and mind than he possessed, and he accordingly
adopted Trajan as his successor, and associated him with himself in the sovereignty. Nerva died A.D. 98, after a reign of sixteen months and nine
days. His life is sketched by Suetonius.