Following the end of the reign of emperor Nero in AD 68, Rome descended into chaos after a long era of peace and prosperity. The empire was embroiled in a year-long civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. During this period, four emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian. As one of Rome's most successful generals, for three years Vespasian was working to suppress a local revolt. But packed by his troops, he advanced towards Rome and seized the opportunity to ascend the imperial throne. As emperor of a deeply wounded empire, Vespasian instinctively knew that he needed to do something unusual to legitimise his rule. His attention turned to the construction of a great monument. He built the Roman Colosseum. His intention was to inject optimism - a sense that the empire was on course to achieve remarkable things. For Romans, Vespasian's rule marked the beginning of hope for a prosperous future. And as a revered ruler because of his approachable personality and common sense, Vespasian hung onto power for the next ten years. In this time, he turned Rome into one of the most exhilarating places to live. His legacy stemmed from easing Rome out of a violent era, ripped by civil war and hatred, and leaving it behind more resilient and stable than ever. However, Vespasian fell into the old trap of hereditary rule, and declared that no one would succeed him to the throne but his sons. His wish was granted, and in AD 81 Vespasian's son Domitian would become the third ruler of the Flavian dynasty after his father and elder brother. Domitian strengthened the economy by going on an expensive building rampage to glorify the Roman Empire. But proved to be a tyrant and an authoritarian ruler who clashed with the senate and terrorised the Roman elite. He also killed, exiled and silenced his critiques, even the ones with the mild voices. As an emperor, Domitian created an efficient system of governance, but unlike his father he was loathed by many including his own wife. So, for the next stage of choosing an emperor Domitian's unbearable rule taught Rome a hard lesson in the importance of true democracy.
“All around us how much things have changed. My work brought me success, then danger, then success again. Whether posterity will remember us, I do not know. But we certainly deserve distinction. Not for our genius, for this will sound arrogant. But for our dedication, hard-work, and concern for the future. We will continue on the road we have taken, which will carry few into the full light of fame but leads many from the shadows of oblivion." [Written by Pliny the Younger]