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Roman Emperor - Galba

Updated on October 31, 2009

Servius Sulpicius Galba born near Terracina in 3 B.C. Roman emperor from June 68 to January 69 A.D.,

He was a member of the distinguished Sulpician family. Under emperors Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero he held important imperial posts. As praetor in 20 A.D. he commanded with success in Gaul, Germany and Africa.

He was consul in 33 and became governor of Hispania Tarraconensis in 60, under Nero.

In 61 he was living in retirement when Nero appointed him governor of Hispania Tarraconensis.

In March 68, Vindex, the governor of one of the Gallic provinces, revolted against Nero. Eventually most of the western legions joined the revolt, and in June, after Nero had committed suicide, the Senate recognized Galba as emperor.

Galba arrived in Rome at the head of his legions in October 68.

His short reign was a catastrophe. He had good intentions and tried to correct the worst of Nero's abuses, but he offended almost everyone by his rigid economic reforms. At the same time he was unable to control his associates, who were as unscrupulous as Nero's friends. The legions of Germany, objecting to the way Galba treated their commanders, revolted in January 69 and named as emperor their commander Vitellius. Galba adopted a senator, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Licinianus, as his heir, but this offended his most powerful supporter, Marcus Salvius Otho. Otho secured Galba's assassination in the Roman Forum on January. 15, 69, and succeeded him as emperor.

His character is summed up in the immortal phrase of Tacitus: Capax imperil nisi imperasset (Worthy of empire had he never been emperor).


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