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Second Thoughts on the Imperial Succession from Nerva to Commodus

Russel Mortimer Geer
Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association
Vol. 67 (1936), pp. 47-54
DOI: 10.2307/283226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/283226
Page Count: 8
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Second Thoughts on the Imperial Succession from Nerva to Commodus
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Abstract

According to the orthodox view, when Marcus Aurelius designated his son, Commodus, as his successor, he broke a century-old tradition that the best man available should be called to the purple. Actually no such tradition existed. Nerva's choice of Trajan was dictated by circumstances beyond the control of the aged emperor. Hadrian and Marcus were the nearest male kin of Trajan and Pius, and in each case the bond was strengthened by a dynastic marriage. Verus owed his elevation to his relationship to Aelius Caesar. Finally when Hadrian in his first settlement passed over two near kinsmen, he paid the highest tribute to the strength of the dynastic tradition by putting them out of the way. The succession was as definitely dynastic in the second century as in the first.

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