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THE GOOD TRAJAN
 THE wicked Domitian was succeeded by Nerva, a good,
wise, and generous old man, who did all he could to
repair the wrong which Domitian had done, and to induce
the Romans to lead better lives.
Unfortunately, however, Nerva was too old to reign
long, and after two years he felt that his death was
near. As he knew that the Romans would be happier in
the hands of a good man, he chose Trajan to be his
This Trajan was the Roman general who was in command of
the troops in Germany. He had recently become the
adopted son of Nerva, but he had staid at his post, and
was still in Germany when he heard that Nerva was dead,
and that he was now emperor in his turn.
The Romans were very eager to have Trajan return, that
they might welcome him; but the new emperor knew that
duty comes before pleasure, so he remained on the
frontier until the barbarians were all reduced to
Then, only, did he march southward. He entered Rome,
on foot, not as a conqueror, but as a father returning
to his waiting children. The people cheered him
wildly, and all approved when they heard him say, as he
handed a sword to the chief of the pretorian guard,
"Use this for me if I do my duty;
against me if I do not."
Trajan was so gentle and affable that he won the hearts
of all the people. This kindness never changed as long
as he lived; and it won for him the title "Father of
 Country," which has never been given to any except the
very best of men.
Ever ready to make his people happy and comfortable,
Trajan built large granaries in which wheat could be
stored in great quantities. This grain was sold to the
poor, in good honest measures, at the lowest possible
rate; for the emperor had said that they should never
again be at the mercy of the rich, who had sometimes
starved the people in their eagerness to get more money
for their grain.
Trajan's wife, Plotina, was as good and charitable as
he, and seconded him in all his generous plans. She
was dearly loved by all the Romans, and during the
emperor's absence she always looked after the welfare
of his people.