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TWO SHORT REIGNS
GALBA, the new emperor, was more than seventy years old
at the time of his election; and he soon discovered
that he could not do all that he wished. He tried very
hard to curb the insolence of the soldiers, to punish
vice, and to fill the empty state treasury; but he was
not able to accomplish any of these ends.
He had several favorites, and according to their advice
he was either too severe or too lenient. His lack of
firmness soon gave rise to discontent and revolts. As
he had no son to succeed him, Galba wished to adopt a
fine young man named Piso Licinianus, but the
senate and soldiers did not approve of this choice.
Otho, a favorite of Galba, had hoped to be adopted as
heir; but when he saw that another would be selected,
he bribed the soldiers to uphold him, with money which
 he stole from Galba's treasury. The mob believed all
that Otho told them, and declared that he should be
emperor in Galba's stead.
Rushing off to the Forum, they met the emperor, and
struck off his head. This was then placed on a lance,
and carried around the camp in triumph, while the
deserted body was carried away and buried by a faithful
After a very brief reign, Otho heard that the Roman
legions on the Rhine had elected their commander
Vitellius as emperor, and were coming to attack him.
He bravely hastened northward to meet them, and in the
first encounters his army had the advantage.
In the great battle at Bedriacum, however, his
troops were completely defeated, and two days later
Otho killed himself to avoid falling into the enemy's
hands. Soon Vitellius entered Rome as emperor, and as
the successor of Galba and Otho, whose combined reigns
had not lasted even one year.