Nerva (Marcus Cocceius Nerva), Roman emperor (A.D. 96–A.D. 98). Marcus Cocceius was a respected lawyer, statesman with a flawless reputation.In his early years he was a friend of Nero. After Nero’s death he made law his life and served as consul. He shared the consulship with Domitian.
The consuls were merely a figurative representative of Rome’s republican heritage and held very little power and authority, with the emperor acting as the supreme leader.
After the assignation of Domitian, Nerva was chosen emperor by the senate in a strong movement toward constitutionalism and senatorial influence and away from hereditary succession. To temper the dissatisfaction of the soldiers who resented the loss of Domitian and implication that Nerva was part of the assignation conspiracy he adopted a policy of generous reform, annulling taxes, building grain reserves, repairing aqueducts, courting the army with cash distributions, distributing land grants and toleration the Christians.
But, discontent in the ranks remained and with it disrespect of the emperor. When the praetorians, the household troops of the Roman emperors, requested that their two former prefects, responsible for Domitian’s murder be handed over. Nerva blocked the attempt and was forcibly moved. The prefects were captured and put to death. Nerva to save face had to thank the guard publicly for their vigilant effort.
Aged, disappointed and too tired to keep on fighting to maintain and build a name that would be respected Nerva selected in September 97, Markus Trajanus (Trajan) as his successor. Four month later in January 98, some 15 months in office he died having failed his desire to reverse the dissatisfaction of the army.