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Grainger - Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of 96-99

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:21 pm
by Tarquinius Dionysius
New books arrived in the mail today, among which "African Emperor: Septimius Severus", by Anthony Birley, and John Grainger's "Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of 96-99".

I've begun to read a little in the book on Nerva, but so far, I'm slightly disappointed at some of the conclusions Grainger reaches, particularly Nerva's involvement in Domitian's assassination. Other authors, like Jones or Murison, have, I think, argued quite persuavely that Nerva's involvement in the conspiracy against Domitian is highly unlikely, but Grainger seems to present this almost as a given. This really ignores some glaring evidence like:

* the fact that Nerva was a known Flavian loyalist, and would be an extremely odd choice for any group of conspirators
* he was practically dying by the time he was made emperor. If Nerva was indeed the man behind Domitian's assassination, there is no rational motive to be deduced from this action. What was he hoping to gain at this stage in his life?
* Nerva had a proven record of lifelong diplomacy. He knew very well that, for any aspiring emperor, support of the army was crucial to successfully secure power.
* his record indicates he operated largely behind the screens, shifting his allegiances pretty much with every regime change. But he was a well respected member of Domitian's government, so there was no need to act rash all of the sudden and assassinate him.