Tiberius' emperorship

Early life, ch.4 (treason trials), frontier policy, Sejanus' influence



42 BC

Born a member of the 'gens Claudia"


14 AD - 37 AD

Predecessor - Augustus, step-father
Successor - Caligula, great-nephew

Augustus' death

14 AD

Tiberius' retirement from Rome

26 AD - 37 AD


37 AD

Early Life

Military experience

20 BC - 7 BC

Gaul, then as part of a 'triple spearhead' (Shotter) with Drusus & Marcus Agrippa of Roman sovereignty as far east as the River Elbe
"Marked Tiberius out as an efficient commander, yet a self-effacing a retiring man"

Marriage to Vispania

19 BC

Son, Drusus Julius Caesar born

13 BC

Tiberius married Julia

12 BC

Adopted her 2 sons Gaius and Lucius
For Tib, "the change was a disaster" - missed his old wife Vispania. According to Suetonius, he once followed her in the street, trying to talk to her.
According to Cassius Dio ROMAN HISTORY, Tiberius did not enjoy a good relationship with his new stepsons

Campaigned in Germania

9 BC - 7 BC

Granted tribunician power and control in the East

6 BC

Retirement to Rhodes

6 BC - 2 AD

Soon turned into an enforced exile from Augustus' discontent
GALLUS married Vispania + tried to adopt Drusus; bitter hostility rarely concealed until Gallus' death AD33

Divorce of Tiberius + Julia

2 AD

As insisted by Augustus on Julia's exile - "his daughter's waywardness"

Formally adopted by Augustus; recognised as his successor

4 AD

Pannonian revolt

6 AD - 9 AD

Chapter 4: The First Treason Trials

Urgulania's summon; Piso's speech in court

16 AD

Debate of elected officials 5 years in advance

16 AD

Gallus moved the debate
Tiberius refused - decision accepted. "So far ahead... a man's attitude, family connections, and resources are unpredictable."
Tacitus argues that "its effect was to safeguard Tiberius' dominant position".

Libo trial

16 AD

Marcus Scribonius Libo Drus accused of SUBVERSIVE PLOTTING. Thought to be a threat to Tiberius; "Libo, a nobleman, was secretly planning a revolt" (Suet. 25). TREASON TRIAL.
Accused originally by Firmius Catus; joined by Trio, Agrippa and Gaius Vibius Serenus
First of the treason trials documented in Tacitus/Suetonius.

Debate on extravagance

17 AD

Quintus Haterius & Octavius Fronto denounced current extravagance.
Gaius Asinius Gallus spoke against them - "The extension of the empire has meant the growth of private fortunes. This is nothing new..." (Tac.)
Tiberius observed it to be not a time for censorship.

Clemens & Agrippa Postumus

17 AD

Tacitus - "the country was nearly plunged into the horros of civil war by the darings of a single slave".
Clemens, slave, pretended to be the late Agrippa Postumus.
Clemens was caught and killed, but Tib in "two minds whether to use the army" - note Tacitus' use of "the naive public"
"Tacitus dared not execute him publicly, but ordered him to be killed in a secluded part of the palace"

Hortalus' appeal for money

17 AD

"He also gave certain senators financial assistance..." p94

Appealed for help for his children. "These boys... have been brought up at the emperor's wish, not mine"
Tiberius initially refused - "If every poor man is to come here..."
Senate changed his mind on mass dissatisfaction.

Eventually gave him the money for his children.

Appueleia Varilla trial

17 AD

Charged with treason for speaking insultingly about the divine Augustus, as well as about Tiberius and his mother, and for committing adultery. For adultery - her lover (Manlius) banned from Italy and Africa, and her relatives exiled within 200 miles of Rome.

Following this, Tiberius requested in his mother's name that no words uttered against her should result in a treason charge.

Aemilia Lepida trial

20 AD

Lepida held a "glorious Aemilian lineage" and was great-granddaughter of both Sulla and Pompey --> Treason trials hitting elite.
Accused of falsely claiming to bear a son to "the rich and childless Publius Sulpicius Quirinius".
Note Tacitus' presentation of this trial - "The emperor's attitude during this trial is not easy to reconstruct. Alternately, or simultaneously, both anger and indulgence were perceptible". Personal affiliations with the trials - not indifferent?

Clutorius Priscus trial

22 AD

"An informer attacked the knight... for writing a well-known poem about Germanicus' death... now accused of composing another poem while Drusus was ill".
He was imprisoned and immediately killed; against Tib's wishes?
Drew from Tiberius a "characteristically cryptic" reproof of the Senate. Declared that no senatorial decree should be registered at the Treasury for 9 days; executions to be deleted for that period.

Junius Silanus trial

22 AD

Accused of extortion by the people of Asia (his governorship)
Offences against the divinity of Augustus and the imperial majesty of Tiberius.


31 AD

Cases of Publius Vitellius and Publius Pomponius Secundus

32 AD

VITELLIUS - charged with offering the keys of the treasury and Military Treasury for seditious projects
POMPONIUS - accused by former praetor Considius of friendship with Gallus after Sejanus' execution.

L. Vitellius appointed as governor of Syria

35 AD

Example of a good governorship

Tiberius: Frontier Policy

Tacfarinas rebellion

17 AD - 23 AD

Defeated by Blaesus in AD22

Commegne made a new Roman province

17 AD

Death of client-king. (most wanted annexation by Rome, NB)

Piso appointed as governor of Syria and consul

17 AD

Germanicus given command of the East

17 AD

Sent by Tiberius - "could only be put right by the wisdom of [him]". Drusus "not sufficiently mature".

Cappadocia made a Roman province

17 AD

On death of client-king; death of Achelaeus. (who died on prosecution for having "shown no attention" to Tiberius)

Cherusci v Suebi // Arminius v Maroboduus

17 AD



Arminius/Cherusci. Maroboduus/Suebi
An appeal by the Suebi to Rome for help against the Cherusci; Tiberius refused to help.
Since Maroboduus had not helped Rome against the Cherusci, he was not inclined to offer his services. Instable region; bound to lose anyway.

Thracian king replaced with a Roman supervisor

19 AD

Thrace, Lower Danube, divided between 2 kings by AUGUSTUS.
Trouble arose when one killed the other; Tiberius replaced surviving king and appointed a Roman to supervise the 2 new kings.

Gallic rebellion by Florus and Sacrovir

21 AD

Rebellion led by Romanised noble Gauls leading the Aedui and Treviri. Put down easily by legions from Upper Germany, commanded by C. Silius; but Silius abused his victory and was later exiled by Tib. for extortion.

REASONS - Heavy debts, "desperate characters... penniless, frightened men driven to crime by their evil records"

Rebellion in Thrace

21 AD

3 strong tribes: Coelaletae, Odrysae and Dii, opened hostilities on implementation of unfamiliar Roman rule, and when Rhoematalces had been forcibly criticised for not avenging his peoples wrong.
Commander of the nearest Roman army, Publius Vellacus, sent auxiliary cavalry and infantry against the marauding and recruiting forces.
ANNIHILATED THEM: "what followed was not a battle or even a fight, but a massacre of half-armed stragglers, without Roman bloodshed"

Sejanus' influence

Sent with Drusus to Pannonia to deal with mutiny

14 AD

Became sole prefect of Praetorian Guard

17 AD

Sejanus' daughter betrothed to Claudius' son

20 AD

Tac p134

Sejanus' uncle Blaesus appt. governor of Africa

21 AD

Tac p137

Senate voted statue to Senajus at Pompey's theatre

22 AD

Sejanus praised by Tiberius for preventing fire from spreading beyond Pompey's theatre. Tac p154

Praetorian Guard concentrated in one camp and Livia poisoned husband Drusus

23 AD


Sejanus arrested then killed. Livilla committed suicide.

31 AD

Sejanus awarded proconsular imperium and joint-consulship with Tiberius

31 AD