Extremely shortlived emperor
, 3 BCE
- 69 CE
Servius Sulpicius Galba (SARE-wee-uhs Suhl-PIH-kee-uhs GAHL-bah) was one of a series of emperors of Rome after the death of Nero. Like most who ascended to the throne, he was a military man. He was born to a patrician family 65 miles from Rome in a town named Tarracina. Early in his life he was adopted by the mother of emperor Tiberius, and by her influence gained much prestige within the Roman court. He took various political positions such as praetor and governor, his most notable early accomplishment being that he'd found a new way to entertain the masses: elephants walking on ropes (yeah, at this point Rome in somewhat of a decline). His style of governorship was rigid and uncompromising, doling out military punishment generously in the fashion of the old Republicans. By his early sixties he was one of the most distinguished politicians in the Roman empire.
A rebellion in western Gaul gave Galba his chance for glory he desired. Coming very close to his death, Nero was about to leave a power vacuum which many were eager to fill. Taking advantage of the situation, Gaius Julius Vindex (GAI-yuhs YOU-lee-uhs WIN-dex) declared revolution and invited Galba to replace the aging Nero. Vindex's revolution was quickly put down, however with some bribery the imperial guard was convinced to abandon Nero and root for Gabla nonetheless. Nero duly committed suicide, and Galba declared himself the Caesar. He marched for Rome with Otho, another governor who hoped his aid would result in being designated as heir to throne. Galba proved to be an extremely inept politicion, renegging on his promises of financial rewards to those he'd bribed and angering the military establishment. In the chaos it looked like Galba's heir would be designated for him, and in order to preempt any forced succession, Galba designated an inexperienced and unknown aristocrat to serve as next emperor.
Otho was not happy in the least. He felt betrayed. Acting quickly, he organized a conspiracy against Galba among the jibbed praetorian guards. They murdered him in 69, only six months after he'd declared himself emperor. Otho took his place (his reign would only last eight weeks).
Howatson, M. C. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Donahue, John. Roman Emperors - DIR Galba. http://www.roman-emperors.org/galba.htm