Emperor Tiberius

Emperor Tiberius

Tiberius Julius Caesar was the second Roman Emperor of ancient Roman Empire, who ruled from 14 to 37 CE. The emperor was adopted by Augustus Caesar (adopted son of Julius Caesar), the first emperor. However, he didn’t follow his father’s ideas and projects, but rather was listening to his mother, Livia Drusilla. Tiberius was born in 42 BCE and his real father was Tiberius Claudius Nero, who didn’t support Augustus’ views. Parents of the emperor divorced when he was only 4 years old and mother, Livia, chose another man whom she found better than Nero. This man was the enemy of her ex-husband – Augustus, who married her in 39 BCE.

Biography

During the reign of Tiberius, which lasted for 23 years, he lived a life full of suspicions. Moreover, he made the island of Capri the place for sentence to death of all people whom he suspected. Also, historians claim that he was a depraved sexual predator with exceptional fantasy. However, Tiberius was talented military commander and highly respected leader of the Senate, but he almost didn’t have friends.

Tiberius on Capri

Augustus didn’t want Tiberius to become an emperor, but because of his death and the death of his grandsons Gaius and Lucius, Tiberius came in line for the imperial throne

To become a candidate to the imperial throne, Tiberius was forces to divorce his beloved and pregnant wife Vispania Agrippa (daughter of Marcus Agrippa). This decision was based on orders of Augustus who wanted Tiberius to marry Julia. In 12 BCE they married, but of Julias’ reputation pushed Augustus had to exile her from Rome and she dead in 14 CE because of starvation. Importantly, Tiberius never shown great enthusiasm for coming to the power. Moreover, he was adopted by Augustus when he was in his forties, which was uncommon practice in Rome.

Tiberius’ mother always thought that it was she, who led him to power and Livia wasn’t satisfied to have a leadership in equal rules with him. Many historians claim that Livia somehow influenced the death of Augustus, after which she was removed from public affairs. At the same time, Tiberius refused to have any contact with her until her death in 29 CE, when she already was 86 years old.

Period of Reign

It was obvious that Tiberius didn’t want to become emperor because he always tried to get rid of political arena. Undoubtedly, his military skills and talent of being a general were amazing, but in 6 BCE, Tiberius went into self-imposed exile on Rhodes island without returning to Rome up until 2 CE. He had to receive an official permission from Augustus to come back to Rome and after the death of the first Emperor, Tiberius acquired an allowance to become a new emperor. Despite the fact that his first years of leadership went well, he allowed the Senate to take many decisions instead of deciding by himself.

Tiberius began many public projects that were finished by emperor Caligula later on

Germanicus and Agrippina

Germanicus Julius Caesar Claudianus was the adopted son of Tiberius, who he adopted at the request of Augustus. Moreover, Germanicus was chosen by many of the generals and supported Tiberius by making his opponents silent. However, Germanicus died suddenly after his illness in 18CE.His widow, Agrippina the Elder, came back to Rome assuming that it was Tiberius, who ordered the death of her son.

Agrippina wanted her sons: Nero Caesar, Drusus Caesar, and Gaius Julius Caesar (Caligula) to be considered next in line to the throne

However among them only Caligula survived and become new emperor of Roman Empire. Drusus was starved to death, while Nero was assassinated. Agrippina also was exiled and dead soon, so Caligula and his sisters started to live with Tiberius on Capri. The death of Germanicus made Tiberius more cruel and historians describe him as a person who loved seeing people suffer.

Aelius Sejanus and Livillia

Tiberius moved to Capri in 26 CE, leaving most of the responsibility on the Praetorian Guard, Lucius Aelius Sejanus. The emperor trusted to his main advisor and Sejanus started to believe that he has all chances to become the next emperor, but he made a fatal mistake. The son of Tiberius by Vispania (Julius Caesar Drusus) was married to Livillia, named after Livia, and Sejanus started having an affair with her, considering Drusus his main rival. Later, Drusus died by poisoning in 23 CE.

In addition, Sejanus divorced with his wife and left his children, but Tiberius denied the request of Livillia and Sejanus to marry in 25 CE. At that period of time, Sejanus already had the forces consisted of 12.000 people and started to work on treason trials to weed out any possible opposition. The period was difficult for citizens since lived in fear.

In 31 CE, the couple announced their marriage without an official permission from the emperor

Mother of Livilla wrote to the emperor to inform him that Livilla and Sejanus have a plan to kill Tiberius and Caligula. Tiberius immediately returned to Rome and together with the Senate forced Sejanus to answer to the accusations. Consequently, Sejanus was found guilty and strangled in public.

Moreover, his death was definitely cruel since his body was torn limb from limb and remains left to the dogs. Moreover, his sons and followers and were executed, while Livillia was starved to death under the control of her own mother.

Death

Tiberius - List of Roman Emperors

All these occasions led Tiberius to paranoiac way of life and imposed him to increase the number of treason trial. In 37 CE, he died on Capri at the age of 77.

Interesting Facts

  1. Tiberius never really wanted to become an emperor
  2. He was dark, gloomy and unhappy person
  3. His reign and moral condition were affected by the death of his son, so the whole empire started to suffer from his insane acts
  4. The last years of his life he was completely absent from Rome
  5. He did nothing to prevent the rise of Caligula, his adopted grandson, who became one of the most cruel emperors in the history
  6. Tiberius suffered from paranoia
  7. Tiberius reigned for 22 years and first part of his work was excellent
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Author: Kate Zusmann

For the last five years I live in Rome, Italy. Recently, I've graduated from the American university of John Cabot with major in communication and minor in entrepreneurship. I have a passion for writing, traveling, and exploring new things.