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Galba | The Life and Legacy of a Roman Emperor

Galba was a Roman emperor of Latin origin. His full name was Servius Galba Caesar Augustus, while his original name was Servius Sulpicius Galba.


A thorough examination of Emperor early years

Galba’s ancient name has a previously unknown origin. According to some historians, specifically Svetonio, there are several possibilities for his name, one of which is that he was the first member of the Sulpicia family to have this name and thus could have been influenced by the term “Galba,” which is a Roman word that the Galli used.

It is also possible that the name derives from an inset called “galbae,” according to legend. He had two forefathers who had served the state as consuls years before, around 200 a. C.

For this reason, Galba was very proud to have the figure of Catullus among his ancestors. It was claimed that he had written a kind of “descent,” according to which he claimed to be descended from Jupiter on his father’s side and Pasiphaë.

Galba’s mother died shortly after giving birth; she gave birth to him while his widowed father married Livia Ocellina. She was well-known for her magnificence as well as her wealth. Only married her father, Gaius, because she was of high rank. Livia went by the name Lucius Livius Galba Ocella after that.


Overview of the life of Emperor Galba

Galba was born on December 24, BC. Over nearly seven months, he served as the Roman emperor. He is said to have surrounded himself with dishonest individuals. He was regarded highly by both Emperors Augustus and Tiberius since he was the son of the consul Gaius Sulpicius Galba and Mumma Achaia.

Galba began his political career as an adult by joining the senate; in fact, he was made a consul in 33 AD, served as the proconsul in Africa in 44–45, and oversaw the army of Upper Germania from 40–42.

Galba held many political positions throughout his career, including praetor, consul, and governor of the Aquitaine, Upper Germania, and African provinces. Later, while Claudius was in command of the kingdom, he resigned from his government position. However, Nero soon appointed him as the representative of Hispania power.

He was the first in a long line that year to assume the title of Emperor after the Vindex insurrection was put down and Nero was assassinated. Galba ruled Rome with the help of the Praetorian Guard and was thus given the title.


Revolt against Nero and Galba’s status in the society

Gaius Julius Vindice devised a plan to revolt against Nero around the year 68 in Gaul on the anniversary of the death of Nero’s mother, Agrippina Minor. After a short time, Galba rebelled, rejecting the title of “Caesar’s general” and accepting the title of “General of the Senate and People of Rome.” Tigellinus, a prefect of the Roman personal guard, was certain to back Galba up.

Tigellinus was initially very loyal to the figure of Nero. Still, it wasn’t until Emperor Nero’s fame began to fade that he drifted away to be closer to Galba. Lucius Verginius Rufus, the leader of Germania Superior, thus put down Vindice’s revolt. Nonetheless, before this event, Vindice was persuaded to oppose Nero.

After several months, Nero had complete control of the situation. Still, in the meantime, there was the figure of Galba, who was gaining popularity among his subjects. As a result, Emperor Nero began to regard him as his adversary. Moreover, the upper classes could not accept the Emperor’s luxurious lifestyle.

Still, they also could not accept his political program because they were the ones who had to finance all of these projects. While the lower classes admired him because they benefited from his works, he, like the others, belonged to the upper class and was forced to pay dues to fund public works.


The death of Nero and the ascension to the throne

Galba eventually received word of Nero’s suicide from his Icelandic freedman and his recognition as a prince on June 8 from the Praetorian Guard and the Senate. From then on, he was known as Imp. Ser. Galba Caesar August, and he left his title. He would take the name Caesar only after leaving Hispania for Rome.

Meanwhile, Nymphidius strengthened his position in Rome. They began to consider taking the throne himself. Still, they assassinated him when he sought to be proclaimed an imperator by the praetorians. When he learned of this, he killed Nymphidius’ allies.

However, before he could reach Rome, he was met with a rough band of men who wanted to deploy Nero as a legion against Vindex and now demanded legion standards and real barracks. Galba’s troops attacked them because they refused to move, and many died.


He was the first Emperor to have his legionaries install him

Galba sat on the throne in 68 with the assistance of the Praetorian Guard, led by Nympidius Sabinus. He was the first emperor to be installed as Emperor by his legionaries. On the other hand, he lacked the Caesars’ agility and foresight.

He rewarded the people who responded to Vindice’s appeal by forgiving a quarter of their tributes and granting them Roman citizenship. Still, he punished Lugdunum and the cities that had not participated in the revolt by confiscating property and inciting Rufus’ legions to revolt.

He made numerous enemies, such as Sabinus, who supported him and demanded command of the praetorians, which he gave to others instead. Sabinus attempted to revolt against the Emperor with his former cohorts but was killed. Fontejo Capitone, governor of Africa, and Clodius Macro, a military leader who had refused to recognize the new Emperor, were also killed.

To give the appearance of dynastic continuity, he chose Lucius Calpurnius Piso Licinianus. A young man of impeccable character and lineage (Calpurnia was also a family originally from Sabina).


The decline and death of Galba 

Galba delegated public administration to greedy, arrogant men who sold favors and privileges. And impunity against the wishes of the people waiting to punish the Neronian.

Galba, who was now very weak and shaky, decided to adopt the figure of Lucius Calpurnius Piso Licinianus as his successor. But this was frowned upon by his supporter, Othon, who considered himself his true heir. So, with the assistance of military men, Othon had Galba and Piso beheaded inside the Roman Forum.

When he died, the rioters’ rage was directed at his advisers and friends. Titus Vinius was discovered in front of Caesar’s temple and was slaughtered despite shouting that he was a conspirator. Piso, who had sought refuge in the temple of Vesta with one of his loyal centurions. He was apprehended, dragged out, and killed. In 69, Othon has proclaimed the new Emperor.