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NERVA (Marcus Cocceius), born at Narni (Narnia), in Umbria, A.D. 32. He was the son of M.C. Nerva, of a family not particularly illustrious, though eminent from its consular honours; of Cretan origin. His mother was Sergia Plautilla, daughter of Laenas.
For his warlike virtues, or, as some have said, for his poetic talents, he was on good terms with Nero, who accorded him triumphal ornaments in the year of Rome 818; placed his statue in the imperial palace, and the following year appointed him Praetor.
In 824 (A.D. 71) he was consul with Vespasian; and in 843 (A.D. 90) consul for the second time, with Domitian for his colleague. On the day of that tyrant's death, Nerva was elected Emperor by the Senate and the Praetorians (A.D. 96).
Upright, moderate, merciful, wise, generous, and of a sweet disposition, this prince sought no other object than to restore happiness to the empire. Substituting for the horror's of his predecessor's reign a government of justice and equity, he reestablished the laws, reduced the taxes, protected and encouraged literature, and taking for his motto that a good conscience is worth a kingdom, displayed his humanity, fortitude, clemency and munificence, less as the master than as the father of his subjects.
Nevertheless being advanced in years, and under the impression that on that account the Praetorian guard failed to treat him with the consideration due to the exalted rank which he held, he completed his noble and virtuous administration of public affairs by adopting Trajan, A.D. 97, whom he created Caesar and made his colleague and successor.
Nerva died three months afterwards, in the 66th year of his age, having reigned sixteen months, leaving a name venerated by all good men. The inscriptions borne on his medals are IMP. NERVA CAES. AVG. GERM., and after his death DIVVS NERVA. Nerva's coins in the year of Christ 96 (the year of his accession), bear P.M. TR. P. COS. II. Those struck in 97 read COS. III. DES. IV. In the same year commences the title of GERMANICVS. On those of 98 he is called TR. P. II. COS. IV. IMP. II. GERM.
Notwithstanding the shortness of his reign, the coins of this prince are numerous. Some of them represent him with Trajan. The gold, especially those restored by Trajan, are very rare; so are the silver medallions. Silver of the ordinary size, common, except some reverses. The brass are for the most part common; but there are some rare reverses, and of great historical interest, as illustrative of the mild and equitable character of his government.