The period of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian emperors of Rome had an erratic pattern regarding how humane, competent, wicked and foolish they were. After one competent emperor, there would sometimes be another emperor who was very incompetent.. The emperors from the Julio-Claudian dynasty were Julius, Augustus, and Tiberius Caesar, Gaius (who was known as Caligula), Claudius, and Nero. The rulers of the Flavian dynasty were Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. It was a turbulent time, especially since there was no set plan of succession during this period. Sometimes, the Praetorian guard would set up someone over the empire, sometimes the son of the previous emperor would rule the empire, or another relative, among other things.
Historians look on the age of the five good emperors more favorably than they do on the age of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian emperors. The reason for this is that the emperors in this period had a set plan of succession and were much more competent and humane than many of the emperors of the 1st century rulers. The emperors of this period were Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. All of these emperors except Marcus Aurelius picked a trusted person under their command as their successor. This system worked especially well for these emperors because none of them except Marcus Aurelius had any children. After Marcus Aurelius, his son Commodus succeeded him as the Roman emperor. Commodus was vicious and incompetent, and as a result he was assassinated and there was a general breakdown in the empire.