THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE FIRST CENTURY: Years Of Eruption
With Nero's death, the dynasty of Augustus comes to an end.
Nero had committed suicide due to a series of revolts, including one by his own Praetorian Guard. Once again, the Empire faces an uncertain future. Rival generals fight for supremacy in the streets of Rome.
A new dynasty brings another tyrant to the throne.
Mount Vesuvius erupts in AD79, burying Pompeii and thousands of people beneath a torrent of ash and mud. The cinders and ashes that preserved the ruins of the city with magnificent completeness—down to the fresh colors of the wall paintings.
The long-forgotten site of the city was rediscovered in 1748 and has been sporadically excavated since that time. The habits and manners of life in Roman times have been revealed in great detail at Pompeii by the plan of the streets and footpaths, the statue-decorated public buildings, and the simple shops and homes of the artisans.
The houses and villas have yielded rare and beautiful examples of Roman art. Among the most famous are the house of the Vetti, the villa of the Mysteries, and, in the suburbs of Pompeii, the villa of the Boscoreale.
A teenager called Pliny the Younger survives the disaster and records the night of terror.
But the Empire weathers the traumas.
As the first century draws to a close, the Emperor Trajan sets the course for generations to come, and projects the collective voice of ancient Rome across the ages.
Born in Spain, Trajan was the first non-Italian to become head of the empire. He was adopted in AD; 97 by Emperor Nerva, who died shortly afterward. A capable man, Trajan set about strengthening his regime by embarking on an aggressive foreign policy.
In two wars against Dacia, he brought that region, the parent of modern Romania, under Roman control. This conquest is commemorated by the sculptured Trajan's Column, which stands in the Forum of Trajan in Rome.
Trajan then annexed Arabia Petraea, and in three campaigns he conquered the greater part of the Parthian empire, including Armenia and Upper Mesopotamia.
On his way home from this campaign, he died in Cilicia. He was succeeded by Hadrian. Trajan was an able military organizer and civic administrator. He partially drained the Pontine Marshes and restored the Appian Way, and at Rome he built an aqueduct, a theater, and the immense Forum of Trajan, containing basilicas and libraries