Marcus Cocceius Nerva (November 8, 30 or 35, Narnia, – January 25, 98, Rome), better known as Nerva, was a Roman emperor from September 18, 96, to January 25, 98, founder of the Antonine dynasty and the first of the “five good emperors.”
Nerva belonged to the senatorial aristocracy and had a career in politics under Julius-Claudius and Flavius. He distinguished himself in revealing the conspiracy of Pison (65), was praetor in 66, consul in 71 and 90. After assassination of Domitian by conspirators in 96, he was proclaimed emperor. He restored the rights of senate and ruled in agreement with it in all his actions. Nerva”s reign lasted only sixteen months; during this time Marcus Cocceius was able through austerity to put the imperial treasury in order, began distributing land to the poorest citizens, and created an alimentary fund for children of poor families. Faced with the discontent of the military, in 97 he adopted Marcus Ulpius Trajan, governor of Upper Germany, making him his co-ruler and heir to the supreme power. Shortly thereafter Nerva died. With his reign the era of the adopting monarchy begins in Roman history.
The Roman History of Dion Cassius recounted the reign of Nerva, but from the relevant part of this work (LXVII, 15 – LXVIII, 3) remain only the epitome compiled by John Xiphilinus, and separate extracts in John Zonara”s “Abridged Histories” and Byzantine chronographs. There is a brief account of Nerva in Eutropius” Breviary of Roman History and in Paul Orosius” History Against the Gentiles. The most informative source on this topic is considered by researchers to be the “Extracts on the Life and Morals of Roman Emperors”, in which a relatively voluminous chapter is devoted to Nerva.
The latter is a very important source of information about Nerva”s reign in the letters of Pliny the Younger, a contemporary of these events, and in his “Panegyric to Trajan”. The epigrams of Marcial, the Life of Apollonius of Tiana and the Biographies of the Sophists by Flavius Philostratus are valuable sources on private matters (in particular, the latter work contains the text of a speech by Dion of Prusa, a friend of Nerva). Finally, one specific topic, the water supply in Rome, is revealed by Sextus Julius Frontinus, whom Nerva appointed overseer of the city”s aqueduct (curator aquarum) in 97. After the emperor”s death, Frontinus published his work “On Roman Aqueducts” in two books.
It is known that Tacitus wanted, after completing his History, to proceed to a description of the reigns of Nerva and Trajan. He later abandoned this plan, both because of his disappointment with the Antonine regime and because of the sensitivity of the subject. Ammianus Marcellinus began to write the General History from the reign of Nerva, but the relevant part of his work is lost. The same fate befell the work of Suetonius” successor, Lucius Marius Maximus, which recounted the emperors from Nerva to Elagabalus.
Origins and Early Years
The Plebeian family of Cocceae became part of the Roman aristocracy rather late in the Imperial period. The first members of this family supposedly lived in the city of Narni in Umbria, 85 kilometers north of Rome. The two brothers, the older of whom was either Gaius Cocceius Balb and the younger Marcus Cocceius Nerva, made a career in the entourage of Augustus and obtained consular posts for 39 and 36 BC, respectively. The second of these was the great-grandfather of Emperor Nerva. The son of the consul of 36 B.C., who bore the same name, was consul-supreme in 22 A.D., a prominent jurist and friend of Tiberius; he committed suicide in 33 A.D. His son, also a jurist, was consul-in-office under Caligula, in 40, and was married to Sergius Plautilla, daughter of Gaius Octavius Lenatus (consul-in-office in 33). To this marriage were born a son, the future emperor of Rome, and a daughter, who became the wife of Lucius Salvius Othon Titian.
In general, the Coccei are characterized in the sources as an “ancient Italic family” in the first century AD. Nevertheless, Emperor Nerva had three generations of ancestors who received the highest Roman magistracy, and his family belonged to the most respected and influential. It was related to Julius-Claudius not only by ties of friendship, but also by property: Sergius Plautilla”s brother was married to Rubellia Bassa, great-granddaughter of Tiberius. Judging by circumstantial evidence, at some point the Cocceae family became patrician. Dion Cassius calls it “the noblest.
Marcus Cocceius Nerva, better known afterwards only by his cognomen Nerva, was born in Narni, for which reason in the sources he received the epithet Narniensis (from the city of Narni. Thanks to the inscriptions, we know his date of birth as November 8. As for the year, there is a divergence of opinion. Antique authors give different data about the age of Marcus Cocceus at the time of his death, 25 January 98. In Pseudo-Aurelius Victor it is 63 years, in Dion Cassius it is 65 years, 10 months and 10 days. Nevertheless, M. Grant writes presumably about the year 30 leans toward the year 35: this date, in their opinion, correlates better with the date of Nerva”s pretture.
Almost nothing is known about Nerva”s life before the year 65. Presumably he began his career, as was customary among members of the senate, as a military tribune. One of the inscriptions found at Sassoferrato reports that Marcus Cocceius was a member of the Salian priestly college and was a city quaestor (he also held the position of prefect of the Latin games.
In 65 Emperor Nero, having disposed of the conspirators of Pison, among whom were many senators and high-ranking military officers, rewarded three of his cronies for their help in exposing the conspirators. They were Gaius Sophonius Tigellinus, Publius Petronius Turpilianus, and Marcus Cocceius Nerva. Nothing is known of their specific merits, but the reward was extraordinary. Thus, Nerva received triumphal insignia and a statue in the forum, as if he had won the great war; later, deciding that this was not enough, Nero ordered a statue of Nerva also to be placed in his palace on the Palatine. At the time of these events Marcus Cocceius was praetor-designate, that is, he apparently received a praetorship in 66. At about the same time he became a member of two other priestly colleges, the Augustians and the Augustinians, and also became patron of one of the Italian cities, possibly Sentinus.
During these years Nerva was considered a friend of the emperor, perhaps because of his poems, which Nero liked and which gave Marcus Cocceius reason to call Marcus “the Tibullus of our time. Another friend of Nerva was Titus Flavius Vespasian, an honored military man who participated in the conquest of Britain. It is hypothesized that he asked Nerva to look after his youngest son Domitian when he went to war with the Jews in 67. Suetonius relays the rumor that young Domitian was the lover of Marcus Cocceius.
A protracted political crisis soon broke out in the Roman Empire. After a rebellion by a number of provincial viceroys, Nero was forced to commit suicide, which marked the end of the Julius-Claudian dynasty (July 68). The supreme power passed to Servius Sulpicius Galba, but he was assassinated in January 69 by Praetorians, who proclaimed Marcus Salvius Othonus emperor. The latter was defeated in a war with Aulus Vitellius, governor of Upper Germany, and also committed suicide (April 69). Finally, Vespasian opposed Vitellius. In December 69 he was victorious, and after that the situation gradually stabilized. Nothing is known about Nerva”s participation in all these tumultuous events. He was in league with Othon (it is hypothesized that Marcus Cocceius supported Vespasian in the final stage of the civil war. The reward for his support could have been the consulship of ”71, which Nerva shared with the new emperor (in the vast majority of cases Vespasian himself and his sons became ordained consuls in these years).
After ”71 Nerva”s name again disappears from the sources; perhaps he remained in the entourage of Vespasian and his successors, Titus and Domitian. The next reference is to 91, when Marcus Cocceius became consul for the second time, again with the emperor (Domitian). There is a supposition, that also this appointment was a reward for support of dynasty Flavius – now during mutiny of the governor of Upper Germany Lucius Antony Saturninus in January 89. Saturninus proclaimed himself emperor and gained the support of the Germanic tribe of the Hutts, but was defeated within twenty-four days and executed.
Flavius Philostratus reports through Apollonius of Tiana that Nerva was “an excellent consul”, but later “was so afraid of the burden of public office that he withdrew completely from business”. Apparently, he remained loyal to Domitian; nevertheless, in 93 AD the emperor accused Marcus Cocceius of conspiracy and only thanks to the intercession of some senators he did not execute him, but only exiled him to Tarentus for a while. The basis of the accusation was, according to Dio Cassius, a horoscope according to which Nerva was destined to gain power over the empire.
Coming to Power
On September 18, 96, Domitian was assassinated by conspirators. The immediate perpetrators were several freedmen in the emperor”s service, but the conspiracy was sympathetic to both prefects of the praetorium, Titus Flavius Norban and Titus Petronius Secundus. A few hours later the Senate convened for an extraordinary session and proclaimed Nerva the new emperor. Some scholars explain this choice by Marcus Cocceius” belonging to the aristocracy, his great political experience (including that related to the higher magistracy) and the authority of a serious lawyer, while others believe that the proclamation of Nerva specifically is a strange event that cannot be explained on the basis of available sources.
The old age of Marcus Cocceius and his lack of sons could be arguments against the fact that he was elected by the senators without being involved in the conspiracy. This suspicion has been raised by both ancient and modern historians. Thus, Dion Cassius writes about Nerva having reasons for wanting Domitian dead: the latter had decided to execute him, but some astrologer convinced the emperor that, judging by his horoscope, Marcus Cocceius would die in the next few days anyway. The conspirators, according to the same author, while still preparing to assassinate the ruler, offered a number of senators to succeed him. Having been refused by all, they persuaded Nerva “without much difficulty.” Suetonius in his biography of Domitian does not report such details, but he may have had special considerations: he lived under Trajan and clearly did not want to tarnish the reputation of his adoptive father. Thus, it is possible that Nerva was at least informed of the conspiracy.
In any case, the senators needed to proclaim their emperor urgently. Perhaps they did so to seize the initiative from the conspirators and prevent a general destabilization of the situation. Nerva”s advanced age could be a plus in a sense: an elderly man with poor health seemed a safer option and was seen as a temporary compromise between different pressure groups. In addition, Marcus Cocceius, a friend of Vespasian, inspired confidence in the senate majority, which was generally sympathetic to Flavius. He was able to agree to assume the supreme power primarily because he did not want a repeat of the civil war of 68-69, which he had experienced as a mature man.
The people were indifferent to the change of power, and riots broke out among the soldiers who were loyal to Domitian. Demands were made to deify the dead emperor and to punish his murderers; but the soldiers quickly calmed down, since none of the higher officers led them. Nevertheless, the new ruler”s position remained shaky. When word spread that Domitian had survived the assassination, Nerva was so frightened that, according to Pseudo-Aurelius Victor, he “lost his voice, changed his face and barely survived”. It soon became clear that the rumor was false, and the emperor “cheered up again and turned to the usual pleasures of life.
When Nerva first came to the Senate in his new capacity, he was greeted with great enthusiasm: with the death of Domitian the senators were free from mortal danger and now expected the new emperor to rule justly and gently. Nerva himself was to expect only greater difficulties, and this was best articulated by the consul Gnaeus Arrius Antoninus (grandfather of Antoninus Pius):
Arrius Antoninus, a man of wit and very devoted to him, having skillfully represented the conditions of the rulers, said, after embracing him, that he congratulated the senate, the people and the provinces, but in no way congratulated him himself, who would rather have been constantly ridiculing bad princes than to take upon himself not only such burdens of government and danger, but also to subject himself to the judgment of enemies as well as friends, who think that they are entitled to everything and that if they do not get something, they become worse than any enemies.
At the same meeting, the senators decided to curse the memory of Domitian. Coins depicting the murdered emperor were henceforth minted for new ones with the inscription Libertas publica (“freedom of the state”), his statues were destroyed, the arches built in his honor were destroyed, and Domitian”s name was erased from all public records. In some cases, portraits of Domitian were simply altered to achieve a resemblance to Nerva; this allowed new images to be quickly created and portraits of the deceased ruler to be destroyed. The huge palace erected on Palatine Hill and known as the Palace of Flavius was renamed the “House of the People,” and Nerva settled in the former Villa Vespasian in the gardens of Sallustius.
Beginning of the reign
After Marcus Cocceius came to power, he was officially called Emperor Caesar Nerva Augustus (less frequently, Imperator Caesar Nerva Augustus). In 97 he adopted the honorary nickname Germanicus and was proclaimed emperor in the original sense of the term, so that his full name became Imp. Nerva Caesar Aug., Germanicus, pontifex maximus, tribuniciae potestatis II, imp. II, cos. IV, pater patriae. One inscription names his original prenomen and nomen (Marcus Cocceius), but this is a clear anomaly. Another inscription calls Nerva proconsul, but this is also a mistake: the emperor did not assign this position because he never needed to leave Italy during his reign. Antique authors usually refer to him simply as Nerva, sometimes as Cocceius Nerva or divine Nerva.
The proclamation of Nerva to the Senate may have had the direct consequence of increasing the authority of this body of government. The new emperor solemnly swore that during his reign no senators would be put to death, and he kept his word; in addition, he did not make important decisions without first discussing them in the Senate. Coins began to be minted with the inscription Providencia senatus (“will of the senate”). Nerva declared an end to the trials for insulting the majesty of the emperor and for treason, frequent under Domitian; he released all those suspected of this crime from prison and granted amnesty to those who had been convicted. All the property wrongfully confiscated under his predecessor was returned to the owners. In one of his epigrams, Marcian described the attitude of Roman society toward these changes:
Many informers were condemned to death in the first days of the new reign. Among them Dio Cassius names a certain philosopher, Seru, in whom scholars see Palfurius Sura, mentioned in Juvenal. Some wanted to take advantage of the change of power to settle personal scores, Pliny the Younger wrote: “In the first days after liberty had returned, every man for himself, with disorderly and indiscriminate shouting, brought his enemies to trial and punished them. Nerva had to stop persecuting Domitian”s adherents with this in mind. As a result, some odious figures retained not only life and property but also political influence: Marcus Aquilius Regulus sat in the Senate until at least 100, Avlus Didius Gallus Fabricius Weyenton even became consul in 97.
Without reliable support outside the Senate, Nerva was forced to take a series of populist measures to win the sympathy of the townspeople and the soldiers (in addition, both were expecting generous gifts because of the change of rulers). The emperor raised the congiarium (cash distributions to the urban plebs) to 75 denarii per person, and the soldiers probably received a donation of up to 5 thousand denarii per person. Later on, Nerva tried to alleviate the tax burden on the neediest Roman citizens. He ordered the poor and homeless to be given free allotments of land, on the purchase of which he spent up to sixty million sesterces of public money (the emperor even sold some of his possessions to finance this project. Nerva abolished the five percent inheritance tax for those cases in which children inherited their parents; introduced loans to Italian landowners (on condition that they would pay five percent of these loans to their municipalities to support the children of the neediest families); created alimentary funds, which were later expanded by his successors Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. These funds were administered by a prefect, most often a member of the senatorial class. In addition, Nerva put an end to the abusive collection of the Jewish tax. Under Domitian, not only those who were openly of Jewish origin, but also those who concealed their Jewishness had to pay this tax. Nerva abandoned this practice, and a series of coins was issued bearing the inscription fisci Iudaici calumnia sublata (“false charges relating to the tax on Jews ceased”).
All these measures seemed to have cost the treasury a great deal of money, so the emperor had to think about reducing public expenditure. A special commission was set up, which cancelled some religious festivals and sacrifices, as well as gladiatorial fights and chariot races (the silver and gold statues of Domitian were melted down (Nerva forbade erecting statues of precious metals in his honor), and the property of the late emperor was put up for auction along with a substantial part of Nerva”s own property. It is true that Dion Cassius reports that the princepsus “did not care about the prices of all this and thus benefited many people”.
The Crisis and Trajan”s Adoption
Despite the populist measures taken by Nerva, his regime was still fragile. The main reason for this was the lack of reliance on the army and the Praetorian Guard, which retained the good memory of Domitian. Immediately after the change of power there was unrest in the provincial armies. Thus, Pliny the Younger has a reference to the preparation for mutiny of some commander of a “great and illustrious army” in the East or Cappadocia). This threat was dealt with, but it is not known how exactly. An open rebellion broke out in the Danubian legions; presumably it was Dion Chrysostom who was able to put an end to it by his intervention.
Rome, too, was in turmoil. Gaius Calpurnius Crassus Frugi Licinianus (a brother of Galba”s adopted son) at the beginning of ”97, he conspired and began to incite the soldiers to rebellion, promising them generous distributions if he came to power. This conspiracy was discovered in time, and sources report a very mild reaction by Nerva: respecting the oath taken at the beginning of his reign, he merely expelled Crassus and his wife, Agedia Quintina, to Tarentus, although “the senators reproached him for his leniency”.
More dangerous was the performance of the Praetorian Guard. Under Domitian it regained its independence after a break, and so it was more difficult for the guards than for the soldiers of the provincial armies to accept the impunity of the emperor”s assassins. In addition, one of the two praetorian prefects involved in the conspiracy, Titus Flavius Norban, died, and Nerva made an unfortunate personnel decision: he appointed Casperius Elian, who had already held that position under Domitian (in 84-94), to replace him. Elian used his high position to launch an open rebellion: in the autumn of ”97, the Praetorians, led by him, besieged the imperial palace and actually took Nerva hostage. It was not a coup, but an attempt to exert pressure on the emperor: the Guardians demanded that Domitian”s murderers be handed over to them for reprisal. According to Dion Cassius, “Nerva resisted them so vigorously that he even bared his collarbone and set his throat.” Pseudo-Aurelius Victor writes that the emperor during these events “was so frightened that he could not hold back his vomiting and defecation, but still he resisted strongly, saying that it was better for him to die than to lower the authority of power by betraying those who helped him to achieve it. But he still had to betray these men, Titus Petronius Secundus and the former chamberlain Domitianus Parthenius. Petronius was killed by the Praetorians with a single blow, while Parthenius “first had his genitals cut off and thrown into his face. Nerva then had to make a speech before the people in which he thanked the Praetorians for this massacre.
It was now clear that Nerva was not strong enough to hold on to power and maintain stability within the empire; what made the emperor especially vulnerable was the lack of an official successor, with Nerva being old and not in good health. Marcus Cocceus needed an heir to whom both the people and the army were loyal. So he rejected his relatives and decided to make a successor of one of the prominent military commanders. For a time he may have considered Marcus Cornelius Nigrinus Curius Maternaeus, the governor of Syria, as suitable, but in the end Marcus Ulpius Trajan, who ruled Upper Germany, was chosen.
The deciding factors in this choice may have been Trajan”s popularity in the army and his connections. Marcus Ulpius had made a career “from below,” from a mere legionary, and was a capable military leader, so the soldiers loved him. He commanded one of the strongest military groups in the empire, the Upper Germanic legions, and the viceroy of Lower Germany with its three legions was his closest friend Lucius Licinius Sura. Another friend of Trajan”s, Quintus Glitius Agricola, ruled Upper Mesia, and three more legions were under his command; finally, Trajan had close relations with the governors of Syria and Cappadocia, and presumably also with the governors of Lower Mesia and Britain. Thus, the adoption of Marcus Ulpius guaranteed Nerva the loyalty of most of the key provinces with their frontier armies. Finally, Trajan was relatively young and full of strength.
Nerva ignored the provincial origins of Trajan, who was a native of Betica, “for he believed that it was proper to look at a man”s valor and not at the place of his birth. Soon after the Praetorian rebellion, in September ”97, the emperor announced the adoption of Trajan as Nerva Caesar. On October 25 the formal adoption procedure was carried out, after which Marcus Ulpius received the title of Caesar, a consulship for 98 (jointly with Nerva), the authority of a people”s tribune, and proconsular power over all of Roman Germany, thus becoming Nerva”s de facto co-consul. Dio Cassius writes that when he notified Trajan of all this, the emperor sent him a letter with a line from the Iliad, “My tears avenge the Argives with thy arrows!”; some scholars admit that this is a fictional episode.
When Trajan learned of his adoption, he remained on the Rhine border, so that Nerva was the sole bearer of supreme power in the capital until his death. There are three source accounts of border conflicts for this time. On the day of Trajan”s adoption, the Romans received news of some victory won on the banks of the Danube (one inscription from Nerva”s time mentions a war with the Svebs (finally, at the end of ”97, both Nerva and Trajan received an honorary addition to their names, Germanicus. It is possible that in all three cases we are talking about the same events – the victory over the Germanic tribe of the Svebs in Pannonia.
Antique authors mention a number of laws of Nerva in addition to those related to the improvement of the financial and economic system. In particular, the emperor forbade marriages between uncle and niece (they were permitted in 49 by Claudius) and forbade lords to castrate slaves. Regarding the latter law, it is believed that such a prohibition was introduced under Domitian, and that Nerva expanded its scope of application. The Digests report that according to the law of Nerva, a man who gave his slave to be castrated lost half of his property.
Because of the brevity of his reign, Nerva paid relatively little attention to public works; he only finished the projects begun under Flavius. In particular, road repairs and the enlargement of the aqueducts continued. The latter program was directed by Consul Sextus Julius Frontinus, who put an end to abuses in this area and later published an extensive work on Rome”s water supply. In view of the increased supply of grain to the capital, Nerva organized the construction of a large granary, called Horrea Nervae. A small imperial forum, called the Forum of Nervae, was completed (it connected the Forum of Augustus and the Temple of Peace). Under Nervae a road connecting Naples and Puteoli in Campania appeared, and road construction was underway in Pannonia, Asia Minor, Africa, and Spain.
Nerva”s military activities were limited to establishing veteran colonies in Africa (a practice later continued by Trajan). Some units of auxiliary troops were named after him – Nervia or Nerviana.
On January 1, 98, at the beginning of his fourth consulate, Nerva suffered a stroke during one of his private audiences. Shortly thereafter he contracted a fever and died on January 25 at his villa in the gardens of Sallustius. By decision of the Senate, the deceased was deified, and his ashes were buried in the mausoleum of Augustus. The transition of power to Trajan took place without incident. Pliny the Younger reports that Trajan built a temple in honor of his adopted father, but no trace of this temple has ever been found. Ten years later a series of coins dedicated to the divine Nerva was issued.
Aurelius Victor describes Nerva as wise, reserved, and shrewd. According to Eutropius, Nerva was “a husband of moderation and vigor in private life. By the time Marcus Cocceius received supreme power, he was an elderly and sickly man, which may have affected the conduct of his affairs. It is known that he “suffered from an addiction to wine.
In statues and coins, the emperor appears as a thin man with close-set eyes, a hooked nose, and a long neck. The most famous surviving statue of Nerva is his statue of Jupiter the Thunderer, seated on his throne. His raised arm, extended forward, and his slightly set leg together in a system of cross-balance create the impression of free and wide movement in space. The heavy and deep folds of the imperial toga reinforce the impression of a three-dimensional sculpture through the contrast of light and shadow. The face shows that this is an elderly and tired man. The contrast between the head of an elderly ruler and the powerful body of a god can be explained by the fact that the Romans sought to combine the heroization of the image with an individual interpretation of the portrait.
The sources do not report anything about Nerva”s hypothetical wife and children. On this basis, scholars rather confidently assume that there were none. Dion Cassius reports some distant relatives to whom Marcus Cocceius could theoretically pass his power instead of adopting Trajan. It is known that Nerva had a nephew, Lucius Salvius Othon Cocteian (son of his sister), but he was executed under Domitian.
For ancient authors, Nerva is invariably an example of a good and just ruler, with whom positive changes in Roman society were associated. For example, Tacitus, in his preface to the biography of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, writes that in his reign Nerva “brought together things that had hitherto been incompatible – principality and freedom. Almost a century later, Septimius Severus, who seized imperial power, found it necessary to resort to fictitious adoption in order to trace his lineage back to Nerva; his son Caracalla included the cognomen Nerva in his full name, and Alexander Severus called himself a descendant of Marcus Cocceius.
Based on positive assessments in the sources, historian Edward Gibbon in his History of the Decline and Destruction of the Roman Empire calls Nerva the first of the five good emperors under whom the Roman Empire “was ruled by absolute power under the guidance of wisdom and virtue. Even Gibbon notes, however, that compared to his successors and predecessors, Nerva lacked the experience to rule successfully:
“As soon as he took the crown from the hands of Domitian”s murderers, Nerva realized that, in view of his advanced years, he was no longer able to curb the rampant social unrest that the long years of his predecessor”s tyrannical rule had engendered. The good people appreciated his gentleness; but the Roman rebels and daredevils could only be restrained by a firm hand, by a stern justice that would instill terror in the guilty.
Modern scholars characterize Nerva as a well-intentioned but weak and ineffective ruler. The Roman senate under him received its former privileges, but Nerva”s inept handling of finances and lack of credibility with the soldiers eventually led the empire into crisis. Only the appointment of Trajan as heir increased his support. Historian Charles Leslie Murison concludes that Nerva was not suited for the role of emperor: he was more of a “chamber man” and felt more confident within a small group, “where his measured and calm approach to the solution of an issue made the right impression on people. Nerva proved to be a helpless ruler, and his performance, according to Murison, is a vivid illustration of what is now called “the Peter principle.
In general, the reign of Nerva is estimated as a transitional period between the Domitian tyranny and the “golden age” of Antoninus. In this connection, the anticologist S. Platner found the following fact eloquent: the only structure built under Nerva was the forum named after him, which also had another name – Forum Transitorium (lat. Forum Transitorium).
The assassination of Domitian and the proclamation of Nerva as emperor is considered in historiography as a result of the prolonged confrontation between Flavius and the Senate, which on the one hand was caused by dissatisfaction of the Nobility with the strengthening of the dynastic principle and on the other hand by the increased representation of the provincial nobility in the Senate. Beginning with Nerva, emperors cooperated with the senate and, as proof of this, they swore when accepting power that they would not execute senators. Trajan and Hadrian followed Nerva”s example in this regard.
Gibbon believed that Nerva established a new tradition of succession, but the following generations of historians were skeptical: having chosen “from the best” an adopted son and heir to the supreme power and thus combining the conditionally republican principle with the dynastic one, Marcus Cocceius repeated Galba”s experience, but significantly more successfully. As emperor proclaimed by the senate, Nerva is placed on a par with Tiberius and Titus. At the same time the opposition to the army he actually lost.