The Twelve First Roman Emperors -- By: E. G. Sihler

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 090:360 (Oct 1933)
Article: The Twelve First Roman Emperors
Author: E. G. Sihler

The Twelve First Roman Emperors

III. Conclusion

E. G. Sihler

Orosius of Spain, the younger coworker of Augustine fl. about 410 A. D.), entitled his survey of history, Historia adversum Paganos, and it is true; from its first beginnings the Church of Christ was hostile to the pagan life and conduct environing the Christians. The present articles in their survey strive to bring out the contrast, which indeed was not academic or philosophical, as between Stoics and Epicureans, but one of the daily life of the new sect: after the terrible persecution by Nero, in the capital of the World, the name Christian involved danger, obloquy, death. The Rulers of Rome, here briefly presented, show us that paganism in high places; and must we not infer that these unspeakable courts poisoned mankind, especially in higher society? But we must limit ourselves to a small number of characteristic acts or facts. Antiquarian detail must not detain us here. The Romans indeed received Galba with joyous acclamations, especially in the huge assemblies at the public shows. But he too was manipulated by greedy and unscrupulous favorites. Some Romans of rank perished, from slight suspicions. Some of the wicked tools of Nero he spared. His chief deities were Fortuna and Venus. Otho was grievously disappointed, because Galba had adopted Piso and not himself, organized a plot, and secured the support of the Praetorians. Galba was slain near the pool of Curtius. A common soldier cut off his head and brought it to Otho. Suetonius (c. 22) tells us that Galba too was a sodomite, and this the historian gives with a detail with which I must not stain this page.


His relations to Nero had been unspeakable, he had given his wife Poppaea to be the paramour and later the empress of Nero. Contemporary satire had called Otho “the seducer of his own wife”. Governing Lusitania, for

10 years, honestly and efficiently, we are told, he was encouraged to look for supreme power by the monitions of an astrologer; there were few members of the aristocracy who did not determine much of their life by such consultations.

The common people of Rome, who had enjoyed the great shows of Nero (partem et circenses), joyously acclaimed Otho as Nero, or perhaps Nero II. But soon he had to hasten to the Po-Country to meet the trained legions from Gaul and Germany, who had proclaimed Vitellius emperor. His commander lost the great battle of Bedriacum (near Cremona). On his last evening Otho divided his money among his servants and said (Suet, c. 11): “Let us add this night too to life!” He slept his last night with a sharpened dagger under his pillow. At daybreak he drove the dag...

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