Posted on 27th December 2020
He was born ‘Tiberius Claudius Nero’ on 16 November 42BC, the stepson of Augustus and the son of Augustus’ third wife Livia.
Augustus became very involved in Tiberius’ life when he was nine. The first public appearance of Tiberius had been at his father’s funeral in 32BC where he delivered the eulogy (speech).
In 29BC Tiberius also rode along with his brother Drusus, and Augustus on the triumphal chariot in the celebration following the defeat of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
As Tiberius grew, Augustus sent him on many missions to gain experience of government and he fought and won many battles.
When returning to Rome in 19BC Tiberius married Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of Augustus’ great friend Marcus Agrippa; this is believed to have been a happy marriage.
At this time Tiberius was appointed praetor (government official), and sent on further military campaigns by Augustus. When he returned in 13BC, he was appointed consul.
In 11BC Augustus insisted that Tiberius divorce Vipsania and marry his own daughter Julia the Elder. This was not a happy marriage and was to be the turning point in his relationship with Augustus.
In 6BC Tiberius was very unhappy and he quit politics, left Rome and went to live on the Island of Rhodes. This decision angered Augustus and he banned Tiberius from returning to Rome to visit his mother.
Livia wanted Tiberius to be Augustus’ heir to the throne, but Augustus had two grandsons Gaius and Lucius. Following Lucius’ death in 2AD Augustus allowed Tiberius to return to Rome, but he was not yet Augustus’ heir. Gaius died in 4AD; now both grandsons were dead, Augustus adopted Tiberius as his son and heir; Livia had attained her goal. Augustus insisted that Tiberius adopt his eighteen year-old nephew Germanicus, making him Tiberius’ heir. It is believed that Livia was involved of the deaths of Gaius and Lucius, her ruthless determination to make her son emperor.
Emperor 14AD – 37AD
Tiberius became Emperor in 14AD following the death of Augustus.
His rule was very positive at the start and he improved Rome’s financial position, however he was a reluctant ruler. It is believed that he never wished to be Emperor.
Tiberius was unpopular with the senate and seemed to want them to rule without him. When he did give direct orders, these were not clear for the senate to act upon and they spent most of their time debating on what the orders actually meant.
In 26AD Tiberius moved to the Island of Capri, never to return to Rome. He left the rule of Rome to Lucius Aelius Sejanus who was the Pretorian prefect and head of the Praetorian Guard (Royal Guard).
Sejanus now wanted to be emperor and he set about killing all possible heirs to the throne. When Tiberius became aware of this, he had Sejanus arrested and executed; his body dragged through the streets of Rome and thrown into the Tiber.
The Roman successor would now be Caligula, the surviving son of Germanicus who himself had died in 19AD.
Tiberius ruled for twenty-three years, he died on 16 March 37AD at the age of seventy-eight. He had always been a reluctant emperor and is remembered as a miserable and reclusive tyrant. Speculation still exists on whether Tiberius died naturally or was murdered.
Natural philosopher Pliny the Elder called Tiberius ‘tristissimus hominum’, the gloomiest of men..
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Rome
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