Nerva (Latin: Timidus Scaredicatus Booed-At-By-A-Goose Nerva; 8 November 30 – 27 January 98) was (a very very old) Roman Emperor from 96AD to 98AD. Not a lot is known about Nerva;. He was licking stamps in the Imperial post room, mailing sex slaves and concubines for randy old Roman governors to remote corners of the Roman Empire.  Then Nerva found a post-it note. Emperor Domitian was lying dead in the bath. Did he fancy the job as temporary measure whilst a replacement was found. Nerva accepted and was carried into the senate on his sorting stool.
Who Are You Nerva?
Good question. Our Roman sources say nothing about Nerva before he became emperor except that he was old and had been to more orgies than any living man left in Rome. Somehow Domitian hadn't got round to killing him to make a vacancy in the post room so Nerva had carried on unmolested. Besides licking stamps (his story at least), Nerva took time out to sleep in the Senate. He was well-liked although why that was we simply don't know. Theories include that he had a great sense of humour, that he put men at ease with his cheeky winking and that he was a veteran of the carnal arts and, indeed, the Carnival of Arse.
Nerva's elevation to emperor gave him a severe nose bleed. His fellow senators laid various bets that he would be dead in three months. Even if Nerva became a Nero, he wouldn't be able to run fast enough to catch anyone.
His first act was to order the assassins of Domitian to mop up their bloody business. Domitian's widow Dominatrix was walled up in her sex torture chamber where she died a few weeks later 'under extreme pleasure'. This removed the last possible source of opposition to Nerva and he held a six holiday to celebrate. However
Trouble on the Frontiers
All was going well for Nerva who had finally got over his fear of geese and kept a flock under his bed. However the Roman army was very upset with the changes as they thought it was their duty to create imperial job vacancies. When he was faced with the army in revolt, Nerva tried to stand up to the legionaries but they came right into the Imperial bedroom and let out the geese. This action made Nerva so nervous he agreed to the soldiers outrageous demand that he adopt a big hairy Roman called Trajan as his son and successor from now on. So Nerva gave Trajan the ceremonial purple Imperial nappy to wear and agreed to let 'beefy balls' run the Roman Empire with him.
The Holy Fathers don't say much about Nerva except that as a pagan he would go to a fiery place like everyone else except them.
Nerva soon had the feeling that he was 'holding up Trajan' and agreed not to take his medicines anymore and died. Trajan deified the late emperor stating to the senate that "Nerva is now a god, a very very old one."
The historian Edward Gibbon says he was a Good Emperor in that he had chosen Trajan as his successor and not some other roman soldier who would have been a Bad Emperor. Perhaps it was fate or pot luck but in the future - most Roman rulers were more 'B.E.' than 'G.E.'
- ↑ An unlikely rumour according to the Roman writer Juvenile - son of the Roman poet Juvenal. The difference between the two is that Juvenile likes telling fart jokes in his surviving works.
- ↑ The Geese had names - all representing the leading Roman senators of the time.
- ↑ The Christian historian Prissy Priscus is sure Trajan also cheated at dice.