The term adoptive emperor (AE) is applied to the emperors from Nerva to Marcus Aurelius because they each adopted their respective successor. The special characteristic was that the successor supposedly came from outside the family: sed Augustus in domo successorem quaesivit, ego in re publica ( Galba in his speech at the adoption of L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, Tac. Hist. 1,15,2). Among the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Rome was supposed to have been unius familiae quasi hereditas. The reason why the successor, per adoptionem, should be the ideal form of rulership…
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Eck, Werner (Cologne),
“Adoptive emperors”, in:
Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry.
Consulted online on 20 October 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e103800>