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Title: Nerva and the Roman Succession Crisis of AD 96-99
Author: Grainger, John D
Publisher: Routledge/Taylor & Francis; Publication Date: 2002
Paperback; ISBN: 9780415349581
Volumes: 1; Pages: 224
List Price in Paper: $39.95 Our price: $39.95
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The imperial succession at Rome was notoriously uncertain, and hereditary succession was preferred. But when the infamous emperor Domitian was assassinated in A.D. 96, he had no sons and had executed several family members who might have succeeded him; the situation provoked a dangerous crisis. John Grainger's detailed study looks at this period of intrigue and conspiracy and explores Domitian's murder, the rule of his successor Nerva, and finally Nerva's own choice of successor, Trajan, who became a strong and respected emperor against the odds. Grainger also investigates the effects of this dynastic uncertainty both inside and outside the ruling group in Rome, asking why civil war did not occur in this time of political upheaval. By the third century civil war was institutionalized, and was one of the main reasons for the eventual downfall of the entire imperial structure. Though the period of this study stands out as the civil war that didn't happen, it was perilously close.
"... the book's strengths are readily apparent. They will be found in [Grainger's] prosopographical analysis of the key players of the period, his synthesis of the epigraphic evidence, and in his reconstruction of the volatile political stiuation that Nerva partly inherited, partly helped to create. In feel and presentation, the book is as beautifully presented as it is lucidly written, and has been thoroughly proofed to Routledge's high standards throughout. [Grainger's] study is a pleasure to read thanks to the author's engaging and accessible style. The author is to be commended for a worthwhile addition to Routledge's series of imperial biographies."--P. A. Roche, University of Otago