Death of Galba. A.R. 819

WAG 7738


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. One of the inscriptions on the margin, September No. 9, seems to refer to the month in a calendar for which Burney created this frontispiece drawing. He executed many headpieces of this kind for pocket calendars and memorandum books between 1796 to 1829. [See correspondence between Patricia Crown and Edward Morris, in the docket file] Galba (3 BCE - 69 CE) succeeded Nero after his death in 68 CE and ruled as emperor for eight months. This scene shows his assassination. His policy of cutting back Nero's extravagant spending proved unpopular, and the Praetorians were displeased at the absence of any donative (gift to them) from him upon his succession. After a series of outbreaks of revolt and military mutinies in the regions of Germania, Galba adopted Piso as his heir and successor to gain the support of the Senate. However, this move alientated Otho, Galba's early supporter, and Galba and Piso were assassinated in the Roman Forum in January 69 CE by a troop of Otho's cavalry.