previous next


1. emperor of Rome, A. D. 14-37. His full name was TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS NERO CAESAR. He was the son of T. Claudius Nero [NERO, No. 7] and of Livia, and was born on the 16th of November, B. C. 42, before his mother married Augustus. Tiberius was tall and strongly made, and his health was very good. His face was handsome, and his eves were large. He was carefully educated according to the fashion of the day, and became well acquainted with Greek and Latin literature. He possessed talent both as a speaker and writer, but he was fond of employing himself on trivial subjects, such as at that time were comprehended under the term Grammar (grammatica). His master in rhetoric was Theodorus of Gadara. He was a great purist, and affected a wonderful precision about words, to which he often paid more attention than to the matter. Though not without military courage, as his life shows, he had a great timidity of character, and was of a jealous and suspicious temper; and these qualities rendered him cruel after he had acquired power. He had more penetration than decision of character, and he was often irresolute. (Tac. Ann. 1.80.) From his youth he was of an unsociable disposition, melancholy and reserved, and this character developed itself more as he grew older. He had no sympathies nor affections, was indifferent about pleasing or giving pain to others : he had all the elements of cruelty; suspicion nourished his implacable temper, and power gave him the opportunity of gratifying his long nourished schemes of vengeance. In the latter years of his life, particularly, life indulged his lustful propensities in every way that a depraved imagination could suggest : lust and cruelty are not strangers. It is said, too, that he was addicted to excess in wine : he was not originally avaricious, but he became so. He affected a regard to decency and to externals. He was the prince of hypocrites; and the events of his reign are little more than the exhibition of his detestable character. [TACITUS.]

Tiberius was about thirteen years of age when he accompanied Augustus in his triumphal entry into Rome (B. C. 29) after the death of M. Antonius : Tiberius rode on the left of Augustus and Mareellus on his right. Augustus conferred on Tiberius and his brother Drusus titles of dignity, while his grandsons, Caius and Lucius, were still living : but besides Caius and Lucius, Marcellus, the nephew of Augustus had superior claims to the succession, and the prospect of Tiberius sueceeding to the power of his mother's husband seemed at one time very remote. The death of Agrippa made way for Tiberius being employed in public affairs, and Augustus compelled him, much against his will, to divorce his wife Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of Agrippa, by whom he had one son, and who was then pregnant, and to marry Julia (B. C. 11), the widow of Agrippa, and the emperor's daughter, with whom Tiberitius did not long live in harmony. He had one child by Julia, but it did not live.

He was employed on various military services during the lifetime of Augustus. He made his first campaign in the Cantabrian war as Tribunus Militum. In B. C. 20 he was sent by Augustus to restore Tigranes to the throne of Armenia. Artabazus, the occupant of the throne, was murdered before Tiberius reached Armenia, and Tiberius had no difficulty in accomplishing his mission. (D. C. 54.9.) It was during this campaign that Horace addressed one of his epistles to Julius Florus (1.12), who was serving under Tiberius. In B. C. 15, Drusus and his brother Tiberius were engaged in warfare with the Rhaeti, who occupied the Alps of Tridentum (Trento), and the exploits of the two brothers were sung by Horace (Hor. Carm. 4.4, 14; D. C. 54.22.) In B. C. 13 Tiberius was consul with P. Quintilius Varus. In B. C. 11, the same year in which he married Julia, and while his brother Drusus was fighting against the Germans, Tiberius left his new wife to conduct, by the order of Augustus, the war against the Dalmatians who had revolted, and against the Pannonians. (Dio Cass 54.31.) Drusus died (B. C. 9) owing to a fall from his horse, after a campaign against the Germans between the Weser and the Elbe. On the news of the accident, Tiberius was sent by Augustus, who was then at Pavia, to Drusus, whom he found just alive. (D. C. 55.2.) He conveyed the body to Rome from the banks of the Rhine, walking all the way before it on foot (Sueton. Tiber. 7), and he pronounced a funeral oration over his brother in the forum. Tiberius returned to the war in Germany, and crossed the Rhine. In B. C. 7 he was again in Rome, was made consul a second time, and celebrated his second triumph. (Vell. 2.97.)

In B. C. 6 he obtained the tribunitia potestas for five years, but during this year he retired with the emperor's permission to Rhodes, where he spent the next seven years. Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 1.53) says that his chief reason for leaving Rome was to get away from his wife, who treated him with contempt, and whose licentious life was no secret to her husband : probably, too, he was unwilling to stay at Rome when the grandsons of Augustus were attaining years of maturity, for there was mutual jealousy between them and Tiberius. During his residence at Rhodes, Tiberius, among other things, employed himself on astrology, and he was one of the dupes of this supposed science. His chief master in this art was Thrasyllus, who predicted that he would be emperor. (Tac. Ann. 6.21.) Augustus had not been very ready to allow Tiberius to retire to Rhodes, and he was not willing to let him come back; but, at the instance of Caius Caesar, Tiberius was allowed to return, A. D. 2. He was relieved from one trouble during his absence, for his wife Julia was banished to the island of Pandataria (B. C. 2), and he never saw her again. (D. C. 55.10.) Suetonius says that Tiberius, by letter, entreated the emperor to let Julia keep whatever he had given her.

Tiberius was employed in public affairs until the death of L. Caesar (A. D. 2). which was followed by the death of C. Caesar (A. D. 4). Augustus, now being without a successor of his own blood, adopted Tiberius, the son of his wife Livia, with the view of leaving to him the power that he had himself acquired; and at the same time he required Tiberius to adopt Germanicus, the son of his brother Drusus, though Tiberius had a son Drusus by his wife Vipsania. (Sueton. Tiber. 15 ; Vell. 2.103.) Augustus was not ignorant of the character of Tiberius, but, like others in power, he left it to a man whom he did not like, and could not esteem, rather than allow it to go out of his family. Augustus had indeed adopted Postumus Agrippa, the brother of C. and L. Caesares, but there was nothing to hope for from him; and Germanicus was too young to be adopted by Augustus with a view to the direct succession.

From the year of his adoption to the death of Augustus, A. D. 14, Tiberius was in command of the Roman armies, though he visited Rome several times. He was sent into Germany A. D. 4, and the historian Velleius Paterculus accompanied him as praefectus equitum. Tiberius reduced all Illyricumn to subjection A. D. 9; and in A. D. 12 he had the honour of a triumph at Rome for his German and Dalmatian victories. Tiberius displayed military talent during his transalpine campaigns ; he maintained discipline in his army, and took care of the comforts of his soldiers. In A. D. 14 Augustius held his last census, in which he had Tiberius for his colleague.

Tiberius being sent to settle the affairs of Illyricum, Augustus accompanied him as far as Beneventum, but as the emperor was on his way back to Rome he died at Nola. on the 19th of August, A. D. 14. Tiberius was immediately summoned home by his mother Livia, who managed affairs so as to secure the power to her son, so far as such precaution was necessary. If nothing more had been known of Tiberius than his conduct during the lifetime of the emperor, he might have descended to posterity with no worse character than many other Romans. His accession to power developed all the qualities which were not unknown to those who were acquainted with him, but which hitherto had not been allowed their full play. He took the power which nobody was prepared to dispute with him, affecting all the while a great reluctance; and lite declined the name of Pater Patriae, and only took that of Augustus when he wrote to foreign princes. He began his reign by putting Postumus Agrippa to death, and he alleged that it was done pursuant to the command of Augustus (Tac. Ann. 1.6.)

His conduct in other respects was marked by moderation and prudence; he rejected all flattery from the senate; he conferred offices according to merit, and he allowed persons to grow old in them. He endeavored to relieve the scarcity of bread, a kind of complaint at Rome, which occurred at intervals, notwithstanding, and perhaps, in consequence of, the efforts of the government to secure a supply of food for the city. His mode of life was frugal, and without ostentatious display, and there was little to find fault with in him. (D. C. 57.2, &c.) He had got rid of Agrippa, who was the nearest rival, and who, if he had possessed merit, would have seemed to have a better title to the imperial power than Tiberius, for he was the son of Julia. Germanicus was the son of his younger brother, and had a less direct claim than Tiberius ; but Tiberius feared the virtues and the popularity of Germanicus, and so long as he felt that Germanicus might be a rival, his conduct was exceedingly circumspect. (Tac. Ann. 1.14, 15.) When he felt himself sure in his place, he began to exercise his craft. He took from the popular assembly the election of the magistrates, and transferred it to the senate, for this is what Tacitus means in the passage of the Annals just referred to : the popular assembly still enacted laws, though the consulta of the senate were the ordinary form of legislation front the time of the accession of Tiberius. The emperor limited himself to the recommendation of four candidates annually to the senate, who of course were elected; and he allowed the senate to choose the rest. He also nominated the consuls.

The news of the death of Augustus roused a mutiny among the legions in Pannonia, which was quelled by Drusus, the son of Tiberius, aided by the terrors of an eclipse which happened very opportunely (27th September, A. D. 14). The armies on the Rhine under Germanicus showed a disposition to reject Tiberius, and a mutinous spirit, and if Germanicus had been inclined to try the fortune of a campaign, he might have had the assistance of the German armies against his uncle. But Germanicus restored discipline to the army by his firmness, and maintained his fidelity to the new emperor. Tiberius, however, was not yet free from his fears, and he looked with suspicion on Germanicus and his high-spirited wife Agrippina, who was also disliked by Livia, the mother of Tiberius. The first year of his reign was marked by the death of Julia, whom Augustus had removed from Pandataria to Rhegisum; her husband deprived her of the allowance that she had from her father, and allowed her to pine away in destitution. One of her lovers, Semipronius Gracchus, who was living in exile in a small island on the coast of Africa, was by the order of Tiberius put to death. (Tac. Ann. 1.53.)

Germanicus (A. D. 15) continued the Germanic war, though with no important results, but Agrippina's courage on a trying occasion aroused the emperor's fears, and he had now a man about him, Sejanus, who worked on the emperor's suspicious temper for his own sinister purposes [SEJANUS.] It became common at this time to listen to informations of treason or laesa majestas against the emperor; and persons were accused not of acts only, but words, and even the most indifferent matters were made the ground of such charges. Thus was established a pestilent class of men, under the name of Delatores, who became a terrible means of injustice and oppression (Tac. Ann. 1.73), and enriched themselves at the expense of their victims by encouraging the cruel suspicions of the emperor. In the lifetime of Augustus, Tiberius had urged the emperor to punish those who spoke disrespectfully of the emperor, but his more prudent step-father, content with real power and security, allowed the Romans to indulge their taste for satire and pasquinades. (Sueton. Aug. 100.51.) Tiberius followed this wise advice for a time, and made great profession of allowing liberty of speech, but his real temper at last prevailed, and the slightest pretence was sufficient to found a charge of laesa majestas (Sueton. Tiber. 100.28). He paid unwillingly and tardily the legacies left by Augustus to the people, and he began his payment with an act of cruelty, which was not the better for being seasoned with humour (Sueton. Tiber. 100.57; D. C. 57.14, tells the same story).

Vonones, the son of Phraates, once a hostage at Rome, had been invited back to his Parthian kingdom in the time of Augustus, but Artabanus of the royal house of the Arsacidae drove him out (A. D. 16), and he sought refuge in Armenia, which being then without a king accepted Vonones. The new king however was unable to maintain himself against a threatened attack of Artabanus. Tiberius did not wish to get into a quarrel with Artabanus, by giving Vonones aid, and the exiled king took refuge with Creticus Silanus, governor of Syria. (Tac. Ann. 2.12.) Germanicus was carrying on the war with success in Germany, and Tiberius, who had long been jealous of his rising fame, recalled him to Rome under the pretext of giving him a triumph. It seems somewhat inconsistent that Tiberius who was addicted to astrology and divination should have allowed this class of imposters to be banished from Italy (Tacit. Ann. ii 32); this, however, was one of the events of this year.

Germanicus enjoyed (26th of May A. D. 17) the triumph which had been decreed. Tiberius added to the Roman empire the kingdom of Cappadocia, the last king of which, Archelaus, had been summoned to Rome, and died there, probably of old age and grief combined, after being accused of some frivolous matters before the senate. Tiberius was enabled by the produce of the new province to reduce the tax of one per cent. on auctions to one half per cent. (Tac. Ann. 2.42.) The state of affairs in the East, where the kingdoms of Commagene and Cilicia were disturbed by civil dissensions and Syria and Judaea were uneasy at the weight of taxation, gave Tiberius an opportunity of removing Germnanicus from Rome by conferring on him by a decree of the senate the government of the East. Drusus, the son of Tiberius, was sent into Illyricum. This year is memorable for the great earthquake in Asia, the greatest on record at the time when it happened, and the more destructive from having happened by night. Twelve cities were damaged or destroyed, the earth opened and swallowed up the living, and even southern Italy and Sicily felt the terrific shock. Sardes suffered the most of the twelve cities. The emperor alleviated the calamity by his bounty, and in the case of Sardes by a remission of all payment to the aerarium or fiscus for five years. It is just to commemorate his refusal to take testamentary bequests, when not made by persons who were on terms of intimacy with him; but the emperor did not want money, nor yet prudence; and it was not prudent to be taking money from every body, even those of no character. In this year died Titus Livius, the historian, and Ovid in his exile at Tomi.

Germanicus restored quiet to Armenia (A. D. 18) by crowning with his own hands Artaxias as king in the city of Artaxata. His administration of the East was prudent and successful, hut he died in Syria A. D. 19, and the dislike of Tiberius and the enmity of Cn. Piso, the governor of Syria, gave credibility to the report that Germanicus was poisoned. About this time Maroboduus, king of the Suevi, being driven front his states by Roman intrigues, crossed the Danube, came to Italy and settled at Ravenna. A Thracian king Rhescuporis, who had murdered his nephew Cotys, who was king of part of Thrace, wrote to Tiberius to inform him that Cotys had been punished for his treachery. Tiberius artfully got Rhescuporis into his power, and had him brought to Rome, where he was convicted by the senate, and Thrace was divided between the son of Rhescuporis and the children of Cotys. (Tac. Ann. 2.64.)

A regard to external decency was one of the characteristics of the reign of Tiberius, and a decree of the senate was made against certain classes of women who professed the occupation of courtezans. (Sueton. Tiber. 100.35; Tac. Ann. 2.85.) But religious tolerance was not one of the merits of the time of Tiberius; a senatus consultum imposed penalties on those who practised the ceremonial of the Egyptian or Jewish worship, though this was not the first example of the kind of intolerance at Rome. (Tac. Ann. 2.85; compare Seneca, Ep. 108.) This year was memorable for the appearance of a new island above the sea near Delos. (Plin. Hist. Nat. 2.87.)

In the spring of A. D. 20 Agrippina landed at Brundisium with the ashes of her husband. The remains of Germanicus received a public interment, but Tiberius and Livia did not show themselves, for which Tacitus assigns a reason, which may be true or false. (Ann. 3.3.) Piso, who came to Rome, was accused before the senate of having taken the life of Germanicus. There was strong suspicion, but little or no proof; yet Piso, seeing that Tiberius gave him no support, released himself by a voluntary death, or was put to death by order of Tiberius. His wife Plancina, who was guilty if her husband was, escaped through the influence of Livia. There is certainly strong reason to believe that in this matter of the death of Germanicus as well as of Piso, Tiberius was guilty (Tac. Ann. 3.16), though Tacitus does not pronounce a positive opinion. Tiberius gave Julia, the daughter of his son Drusus, in marriage to Nero, the eldest son of Germanicus, which was a popular measure. He also moderated the penalties which the Lex Papia, passed in the time of Augustus, imposed on unmarried persons, with the double purpose of encouraging matrimony and filling the aerarium. (Tac. Ann. 3.25.)

The year A. D. 21 was the fourth consulship of Tiberius, and the second of his son Drusus Caesar, but it was considered a bad omen for Drusus, because all those who had been his father's colleagues in the consulship had come to a violent death. A great revolt broke out this year headed by Julius Florus, at Treves on the Mosel, and by Julius Sacrovir, among the Aedui. The alleged grounds of the revolt were the heavy taxation, and the oppression of the Roman governors. Sacrovir mustered forty thousand men at Autun (Augustodunum), eight thousand of whom were furnished with the arms of the legionary soldiers, which had been secretly fabricated. and the rest had staves, knives, and other implements of the huntsman. The rising was not unlike the style of insurrection that has often shown itself in France since 1789. The rebellion was put down; and Florus and Sacrovir only escaped from the Romans by dying by their own hands. (Tac. Ann. 3.40.)

The principle of treason against the princeps (laesa majestas) was already established under Tiberius in its utmost extent, for C. Lutorius Priscus was condemned by the senate for having written a poem upon the death of Drusus, in anticipation of the event, Drusus being then very ill. The senate seem to have proceeded in the mode of a bill of pains and penalties, for there does not appear to have been any law applicable to such a case. Priscus was executed, and Tiberius, in his usual perplexed mode of expression, blamed the senate; he praised their affectionate zeal in avenging insults to the princeps, but he disapproved of such hasty penalties being inflicted for words only. (Tac. Ann. 3.49.) It was on this occasion that a senatus consultum was enacted, that no decree of the senate should be carried to the Aerarium before the tenth day, and thus a reprieve of so many days would be allowed to the condemned (Tac. Ann. 3.51; D. C. 57.20). In the vear A. D. 22 the senate conferred on Drusus, at the request of Tiberius, the Tribunitia Potestas, the highest title of dignity, and an intimation that Drusus was to be the successor of Tiberius. Though the senate had conferred the honour in terms of great adulation, Drusus. who appears to have been in Campania at the time, did not think it worth while to come to Rome to thank them. (Tac. Ann. 3.59.) Tacfarinas, an African chieftain, had long troubled the province of Africa, and Junins Blaesas was sent as proconsul, with orders to catch him ; but it was no easy thing to take this wandering robber, and Blaesus only seized his brother. Tiberius allowed the soldiers to salute Blaesus with the title of Imperator, and he was the last Roman citizen, except the emperors, who enjoyed this ancient distinction. (Tac. Ann. 3.74.)

In A. D. 23 Drusus, the son of Tiberius, died, Being poisoned by the contrivance of Sejanus [SEJANUS]. His death was no loss to the state, for he gave indications of a character in no respect better than that of his father; yet he had lived on good terms with Germanicus, and after his death he had behaved well to his children, or at least had not displayed any hostility towards them. The emperor either did not feel much sorrow for the death of his son or he concealed it; and when the people of Ilium some time after sent him a message of condolence, he returned the compliment by condoling with them on the death of their fellowcitizen Hector (Sueton. Tiber. 100.52). It was remarked that the influence of Sejanus over Tiberius increased after the death of Drusus, and Tiherius began to display the vices of his character more and more. The same was remarked also after the death of Germanicus, and again when his mother Livia died. Tiberius allowed the cities of Asia to erect a temple to himself and his mother at Smyrna, the first instance of this flattery which he had permitted. But when the province of Hispania Ulterior asked permission to do the same thing, the emperor refused, and stated his reason in an oration to the senate, which is characterised by modesty and good sense. This singular man had a sound judgment, and if we formed our opinion of him from his words only, we should place him among the wisest and best of the Roman emperors. His measures too were often prudent and beneficial ; and yet such was his insincerity, that we can hardly know when to give him credit even for a good action.

Tacfarinas, who had given the Romans so much trouble, was at last defeated and killed by the proconsul P. Cornelius Dolabella (A. D. 24); but Dolabella did not obtain the triumphal honours, though with inferior forces he had accomplished that which his predecessors had in vain attempted : this was owing to the influence of Sejanus, who was unwilling that the glories of his uncle Blaesus should be eclipsed by honours conferred on Dolabella. The system of delations was now in full activity, and Rome witnessed the scandalous spectacle of a son accusing his father, Q. Vibius Serenus, of a conspiracy against the emperor, without being able to prove any thing against him. The abject senate condemned Serenus to death, but Tiberius used his tribunitian power to prevent the execution of the capital sentence, and the man against whom nothing could be proved even by putting his slaves to the torture, was banished to the island of Amorgus. Caecilius Cornutus, who had been charged with being an accomplice of Serenus, committed suicide. On this occasion a motion was made in the senate for giving no reward to informers, if the person accused of treason should die by his own hand before sentence was pronounced ; but Tiberius, seeing that this would weaken one of his engines of state-craft, in harsh terms, and contrary to his practice, openly maintained the cause of the informers; such a measure as the senate proposed would, he said, render the laws ineffectual and put the state in jeopardy ; they had better subvert all law than deprive the law of its guardians. Tiberius, always fearing enemies, thought his safety consisted in encouraging informers; here he spoke out fairly. and revealed one of his secrets of governing. Cremutius Cordus had written Annals, in which he had commended Brutus and Cassius : he was accused, and as he had made up his mind to die, he spoke boldly in his defence. After going out of the senate house he starved himself to death; the senate ordered the aediles to search for his works and burn them, but all the copies were not discovered, and his Annals were extant when Tacitus wrote (Ann. 4.35).

In the year A. D. 26 Tiberius left Rome, and never returned, though he care sometimes close to the walls of the city. He left on the pretext of dedicating temples in Campania, but his real motives were his dislike to Rome, where he heard a great deal that was disagreeable to him, and his wish to indulge his sensual propensities in private. Sejanus may have contributed to this resolution of leaving Rome, as it is said. but Tiberius still continued to reside out of Rome for six years after the death of Sejanus. (Tac. Ann. 4.57.) A great accident happened at Fidenae in the following year : a man named Atilius built a temporary amphitheatre, for the exhibition of a show of gladiators, but being ill-constructed, it fell down during the games, and twenty thousand people, it is said, were killed (Tac. Ann. 4.62; compare Sueton. Tiber. 40). Atilius was banished. About this time a great conflagration destroyed all the buildings on the Mons Caelius, and the emperor liberally relieved the sufferers in proportion to their losses, a measure which procured him the good-will of the people. His dislike of publicity was shown during his residence in Campania, by an edict which commanded the people not to disturb his retirement, and he prevented all assemblages of people by placing soldiers in various posts. In order, however, to secure the retirement which he loved, he went (A. D. 27) to the island of Capri (Capreae), which is about three miles from the promontory of Surrento. This retreat was further recommended by having an almost inaccessible coast. A poor fisherman, who had caught a large mullet, with difficulty made his way up the rocks to present it to the emperor, who rewarded him by ordering his face to be well rubbed with the fish. (Sueton. Tiber. 100.60.)

The new year (A. D. 28) was opened with the death of Titus Sabinus, a friend of Germanicus, whom Latinius Latiaris bad inveigled into very strong expressions against Sejanus and Tiberius, while he had placed persons in secret to be witnesses. The villains informed Tiberius of the words of Sabinus, and at the same time of their own treachery. The emperor let the senate know his wishes, and this servile body immediately put Sabinus to death, for which they received the thanks of Tiberius. (Tac. Ann. 4.68.) In this year Tiberius married Agrippina, a daughter of Germanicus, to Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus, and the result of this union was the emperor Nero [NERO]. The death of Livia (A. D. 29). the emperor's mother, released Tiberius from one cause of anxiety. He had long been tired of her, because she wished to exercise authority, and one object in leaving Rome was to be out of her way. He did not visit her in her last illness, nor come to the funeral, being, as he said, overwhelmed with public affairs, he who neglected all important affairs, and devoted himself to his solitary pleasures. (Tac. Ann. 5.2; D. C. 58.2.) Livia's death gave Sejanus and Tiberius free scope, for Tiberius never entirely released himself from a kind of subjection to his mother, and Sejanus did not venture to attempt the overthrow of Livia's influence. The destruction of Agrippina and her children was now the chief purpose of Sejanus, who had his own ambitious projects to serve, as it is shown in his life [SEJANUS; AGRIPPINA]; he finally got from the tyrant the reward that was his just desert, an ignominious death.

In A. D. 32 Latinius Latiaris, the infamous accuser of Sabinus, was executed. Cotta Messalinus, a notorious scoundrel, was accused before the senate. but Tiberius wrote to them in his favour. This memorable letter (Tac. Ann. 4.6) began with an admission, the truth of which will not surprise any one; but it is somewhat singular, that so profound a dissembler as Tiberius could not keep to himself the consciousness of his own wretchedness : "What to write to you, P. C., or how to write, I know not; and what not to write at this time, may all the gods and goddesses torment me more, than I daily feel that I am suffering, if I do know." This artful tyrant knew how to submit to what he could not help : M. Terentius was charged before the senate with being a friend of Sejanus, and he boldly avowed it. His courage saved him from death, his accusers were punished, and Tiberius approved of the acquittal of Terentius (D. C. 58.19). The emperor also prudently took no notice of an insult of the praetor L. Sejanus, the object of which was to ridicule the emperor's person. [SEJANUS, L.] Tiberius now left his retreat for Campania, and he came as far as his gardens on the Vatican; but he did not enter the city, and he placed soldiers to prevent any one coming near him. Old age and debauchery had bent his body, and covered his face with ugly blotches, which made him still more unwilling to show himself; and his taste for obscene pleasures, which grew upon him, made him court solitude still more.

One of the consuls of the year A. D. 33 was Serv. Sulpicius Galba, afterwards emperor. A great number of informers in this year pressed for the prosecution of those who had lent money contrary to a law of the dictator Caesar. The Romans never could understand that money must be treated as a commodity, and from the time of the Twelve Tables they had always interfered with the free trade in money, and without success. The law of Caesar was enforced, but as many of the senators had violated it, eighteen months were allowed to persons to settle their affairs, so as to bring them clear of the penalties of the lex. The consequence was great confusion in the money market, as every creditor was pressing for payment, and people were threatened with ruin by a forced sale of their property, to meet their engagements. The emperor relieved this distress by loans of public money, on security of land, and without interest. (Tac. Ann. 6.17.)

The death of Sex. Marius, once a friend of Tiberius, is given by Dio Cassius (58.22), as an example of the emperor's cruelty. Marius had a handsome daughter, whom he removed to a distance, to save her from the lust of his imperial friend. Upon this he was accused of incestuous commerce with his own daughter, and put to death; and the emperor took possession of his gold mines, though they had been declared public property. The prisons, which were filled with the friends or supposed friends of Sejanus, were emptied by a general massacre of men, women, and children, whose bodies were thrown into the Tiber.

About this time, when the emperor was returning to Capreae, he married Claudia, the daughter of M. Silanus, to C. Caesar, the son of Germanicus, a youth whose early years gave ample promise of what he would be and what he was, as the emperor Caligula. Asinius Gallus, the son of Asinius Pollio, and the husband of Vipsania, the divorced wife of Tiberius, died this year of hunger, either voluntarily or by constraint. Drusus, the son of Germanicus, and his mother Agrippina, also died at this time. The death of Agrippina brought on the death of Plancina, the wife of Cn. Piso, for Livia being dead, who protected her, and Agrippina, who was her enemy, there was now no reason why justice should not have its course; yet it does not appear what evidence there was against her. Plancina escaped a public execution by voluntary death. (Tac. Ann. 6.26.)

In the year A. D. 33 Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilatus, in Judaea. [PONTIUS PILATUS.]

It became the fashion in the time of Tiberius either for the accused or the accuser to be punished ; and there was perhaps justice in it at such a time. Abudius Rufo made it a charge against L. Gaetulicus, under whom he had served, that Gaetulicus had designed to give his daughter to the son of Sejanus, and Abudius was banished from the city. Gaetulicus was at that time in command of the legions in Upper Germany, and he is said to have written a letter to Tiberius, from which the emperor might learn that a general at the head of an army, by whom he was beloved, was not to be treated like a man who was within the walls of Rome.

Artaxias, whom Germanicus had placed on the throne of Armenia, was now dead, and Artabanus, king of the Parthians, had put his eldest son, Arsaces, on the throne. But Artabanus had enemies around him, who sent a secret message to Rome to ask the emperor to send them Phraates for their king, whom his father Phraates had given as a hostage to Augustus. Phraates was sent, but he died in Syria, upon which Tiberius nominated Tiridates, who was of the same family, and he sent L. Vitellius to direct affairs in the East (A. D. 35). It was the policy of Tiberius to give employment to Artabanus by raising up enemies against him at home, rather than by employing the arms of Rome against him. [TIRIDATES; ARTABANUS.]

Rome was still the scene of tragic occurrences. Vibulenus Agrippa, who was accused before the senate, after his accusers had finished their charge against him took poison in the senate-house, and fell down in the agonies of death; yet he was dragged off to prison, and strangled though life was already extinct. Tigranes, once king of Armenia, who was then at Rome, was also accused and put to death. In the same year (A. D. 36) a conflagration at Rome destroyed a part of the Circus contiguous to the Aventine hill, and the houses on the Aventine also; but the emperor paid the owners of property to the full amount of their losses.

Tiberius, now in his seventy-eighth year, had hitherto enjoyed good health; and he was accustomed to laugh at physicians, and to ridicule those who, after reaching the age of thirty, required the advice of a doctor to tell them what was useful or injurious to their health. (Tac. Ann. 6.46.) But he was now attacked with a slow disease, which seized him at Astura, whence he travelled to Circeii, and thence to Misenum, to end his life in the villa of Lucullus. He concealed his sufferings as much as he could, and went on eating and indulging himself as usual. But Charicles, his physician, took the opportunity of feeling the old man's pulse, and told those about him that he would not last two days. No successor was yet appointed. Tiberius had a grandson, Tiberius Nero Gemellus, who was only seventeen, and too young to direct affairs. Caius, the son of Germanicus, was older and beloved by the people; but Tiberius did not like him. He thought of Claudius, the brother of Germanicus, as a successor, but Claudius was too weak of understanding. Accordingly, says Tacitus, he made no declaration of his will, but left it to fate to determine his successor. Dio Cassius says (58.23) that he named C. Caligula, because he knew his bad disposition; but this is always Dion's fashion. Suetonius (Suet. Tib. 100.76) says that he made a will two years before his death, in which he instituted Caius and Tiberius Gemellus his coheredes, with mutual substitution; and this will might be a disposition of the empire as well as of his private property. Caius had for some time employed all his artifices to win the favour of the emperor, and also that of Macro, who was now allpowerful with the emperor. It seems that Tiberius certainly did not like Caius, and if he had lived longer, he would probably have put him to death, and given the empire to his grandson.

On the sixteenth of March A. D. 37, Tiberius had a fainting fit, and was supposed to be dead, on which Caius came forth and was saluted as emperor ; but he was alarmed by the intelligence that Tiberius had recovered and called for something to eat. Caius was so frightened that he did not know what to do, and was every moment expecting to be put to death; but Macro, with more presence of mind, gave orders that a quantity of clothes should be thrown on Tiberius, and that he should be left alone. Thus Tiberius ended his life. Suetonius, quoting Seneca, gives a somewhat different account of his death. Tiberius reigned twenty-two years, six months, and twenty-six days. His body was taken to Rome, and his funeral ceremony was conducted with the usual pomp. His successor Caligula pronounced the oration, but he spoke less of Tiberius than of Augustus, Germanicus, and himself. Tiberius did not receive divine honours, like Augustus. Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 6.51) has given, in a few words, his character, the true nature of which was not fully shown till he was released from all restraint. He was probably one of those men who, in a private station, might have been as good as most men are, for it is fortunate for mankind that few have the opportunity and the temptation which unlimited power gives.

In the time of Tiberius lived Valerius Maximus, Velleius Paterculus, Phaedrus, Fenestella, and Strabo; also the jurist Massurius Sabinus, M. Cocceius Nerva, and others.

Tiberius wrote a brief commentary of his own life (Sueton. Tiber. 100.61), the only book that the emperor Domitian studied : Suetonius made use of it for his life of Tiberius. Suetonius also made use of various letters of Tiberius to princes and others, and his Orationes to the senate. Tiberius made several public orations, such as that on his father, delivered when he was nine years old, but this we must assume to have been written by somebody else; the funeral oration of Augustus; that on Maroboduus, delivered before the senate A. D. 19, was extant when Tacitus wrote (Ann. 2.63). Tiberius also wrote Greek poems, and a lyric poem on the Death of L. Caesar. (Vell. 2.94; Tacitus, Annales, i.-vi. ; Dio Cassius, lvii. lviii.; Suetonius, Tiberius ; Tillemont, Histoire des Empereurs, vol. i.; Dc C. Suetonii Tranquilli Fontibus et Auctoritate, Scripsit A. Krause, Berlin, 1831; Oratorum Romanorum Fragmenta, H. Meyer, 2d ed.)


hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
14 AD (4)
4 AD (2)
37 AD (2)
33 AD (2)
2 AD (2)
19 AD (2)
November (2)
9 AD (1)
36 AD (1)
35 AD (1)
32 AD (1)
29 AD (1)
28 AD (1)
26 AD (1)
24 AD (1)
23 AD (1)
22 AD (1)
21 AD (1)
20 AD (1)
18 AD (1)
17 AD (1)
15 AD (1)
12 AD (1)
42 BC (1)
29 BC (1)
20 BC (1)
15 BC (1)
13 BC (1)
September (1)
July (1)
June (1)
February (1)
hide References (27 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (27):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.14
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.15
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.53
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.6
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.73
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.12
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.16
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.40
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.51
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.59
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.74
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.57
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.6
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.62
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.68
    • Tacitus, Annales, 5.2
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.17
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.21
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.26
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.46
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.80
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.42
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.64
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.85
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.25
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.49
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.51
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: