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For the personal name, see Tiberius (praenomen). For other persons named Tiberius, see Tiberius (disambiguation).
Emperor of the Roman Empire
A bust of the Emperor Tiberius
Reign AD 14 - AD 37
Predecessor Augustus
Successor Caligula
Spouse 1)Vipsania Agrippina, 20 to 12 BC
2) Julia the Elder, 11 to 2BC
By Vipsania: Drusus Julius Caesar; a miscarriage[citation needed]
By Julia: one child, daughter (?) (died in infancy);
Germanicus (adoptive)
Full name
Tiberius Claudius Nero (from birth to adoption);
Tiberius Julius Caesar (from adoption to accession);
Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus (as emperor)
Father Nero Claudius Drusus
Mother Livia Drusilla
Born November 16, 42 BC
Died March 16, AD 37 (aged 77)

Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus, born Tiberius Claudius Nero (November 16, 42 BC – March 16, AD 37), was the second Roman Emperor, from the death of Octavian Augustus in AD 14 until his own death in 37. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced his father and was remarried to Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian. Tiberius would later marry Augustus' daughter Julia the Elder (from his marriage to Scribonia) and even later be adopted by Augustus, by which act he officially became a Julian, bearing the name Tiberius Julius Caesar. The subsequent emperors after Tiberius would continue this blended dynasty of both families for the next forty years; historians have named it the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In relations to the other Roman Emperors of this dynasty, Tiberius was the stepson of the Emperor Augustus, great-uncle of the Emperor Caligula, paternal uncle of the Emperor Claudius, and great-great uncle of the Emperor Nero.

Tiberius was one of Ancient Rome's greatest generals, whose campaigns in Pannonia, Illyricum, Rhaetia and Germania laid the foundations for the northern frontier. But he came to be remembered as a dark, reclusive, and somber ruler who never really desired to be emperor; Pliny the Elder called him tristissimus hominum, "the gloomiest of men."[1] After the death of Tiberius’ son Drusus Julius Caesar in 23, the quality of his rule declined and ended in a terror. In 26, Tiberius exiled himself from Rome and left administration largely in the hands of his unscrupulous Praetorian Prefects Lucius Aelius Sejanus and Quintus Naevius Sutorius Macro. Caligula, Tiberius’ adopted grandson, succeeded the Emperor upon his death.


Early life


Tiberius was born on November 16, 42 BC to Tiberius Nero and Livia Drusilla, in Rome.[2] In 39 BC, his mother divorced his biological father and remarried Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus shortly thereafter, while still pregnant with Tiberius Nero's son. Shortly thereafter in 38 BC his brother, Nero Claudius Drusus, was born.[3] Little is recorded of Tiberius's early life. In 32 BC, Tiberius made his first public appearance at the age of nine, delivering the eulogy for his biological father.[4] In 29 BC, both he and his brother Drusus rode in the triumphal chariot along with their adoptive father Octavian in celebration of the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium.[4] In 23 BC, Augustus became gravely ill, and his possible death threatened to plunge the Roman world into chaos again. Historians generally agree that it is during this time that the question of Augustus's heir became most acute, and while Augustus had seemed to indicate that Agrippa and Marcellus would carry on his position in the event of his death, the ambiguity of succession became Augustus's chief problem.[5]

In response, a series of potential heirs seem to have been selected, among them Tiberius and his brother, Drusus. In 24 BC, at the age of seventeen, Tiberius entered politics under Augustus's direction, receiving the position of quaestor,[6] and was granted the right to stand for election as praetor and consul five years in advance of the age required by law.[7] Similar provisions were made for Drusus.[8]

Civil and military career

Shortly thereafter Tiberius began appearing in court as an advocate,[9] and it is presumably here that his interest in Greek rhetoric began. In 20 BC, Tiberius was sent East under Marcus Agrippa.[10] The Parthians had captured the standards of the legions under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus (53 BC) (at the Battle of Carrhae), Decidius Saxa (40 BC), and Marc Antony (36 BC).[7] After several years of negotiation, Tiberius led a sizable force into Armenia, presumably with the goal of establishing it as a Roman client-state and as a threat on the Roman-Parthian border, and Augustus was able to reach a compromise whereby these standards were returned, and Armenia remained a neutral territory between the two powers.[7]

Bust of Vipsania Agrippina, Tiberius' first wife, recovered from Leptis Magna

After returning from the East in 19 BC, Tiberius was married to Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of Augustus’s close friend and greatest general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa,[11] appointed praetor, and sent with his legions to assist his brother Drusus in campaigns in the west. While Drusus focused his forces in Gallia Narbonensis and along the German frontier, Tiberius combated the tribes in the Alps and within Transalpine Gaul, conquering Raetia. In 15 BC he discovered the sources of the Danube, and soon afterwards the bend of the middle course.[12] Returning to Rome in 13 BC, Tiberius was appointed as consul, and around this same time his son, Drusus Julius Caesar, was born.[13]

Agrippa's death in 12 BC elevated Tiberius and Drusus with respect to the succession. At Augustus’ request, Tiberius divorced Vipsania and married Julia the Elder, Augustus' daughter and Agrippa's widow.[11] This event seems to have been the breaking point for Tiberius; his marriage with Julia was never a happy one, and produced only a single child which died in infancy.[11] Reportedly, Tiberius once ran into Vipsania again, and proceeded to follow her home crying and begging forgiveness;[11] soon afterwards, Tiberius met with Augustus, and steps were taken to ensure that Tiberius and Vipsania would never meet again.[14] Tiberius continued to be elevated by Augustus, and after Agrippa's death and his brother Drusus' death in 9 BC, seemed the clear candidate for succession. As such, in 12 BC he received military commissions in Pannonia and Germania; both areas highly volatile and key to Augustan policy. He returned to Rome and was consul for a second time in 7 BC, and in 6 BC was granted tribunician power (tribunicia potestas) and control in the East,[15] all of which mirrored positions that Agrippa had previously held. However, despite these successes and despite his advancement, Tiberius was not happy.[16]

Retirement to Rhodes

Remnants of Tiberius' villa at Sperlonga, a Roman resort midway between Rome and Naples

In 6 BC, on the verge of accepting command in the East and becoming the second most powerful man in Rome, Tiberius suddenly announced his withdrawal from politics and retired to Rhodes.[17] The precise motives for Tiberius's withdrawal are unclear.[18] Historians have speculated a connection with the fact that Augustus had adopted Julia's sons by Agrippa Gaius and Lucius, and seemed to be moving them along the same political path that both Tiberius and Drusus had trodden.[19] Tiberius thus seemed to be an interim solution: he would hold power only until his stepsons would come of age, and then be swept aside. The promiscuous, and very public, behavior of his unhappily married wife, Julia,[20] may have also played a part.[15] Indeed, Tacitus calls it Tiberius' intima causa, his innermost reason for departing for Rhodes, and seems to ascribe the entire move to a hatred of Julia and a longing for Vipsania.[21] Tiberius had found himself married to a woman he loathed, who publicly humiliated him with nighttime escapades in the Forum, and forbidden to see the woman he had loved.[22]

Whatever Tiberius's motives, the withdrawal was almost disastrous for Augustus's succession plans. Gaius and Lucius were still in their early teens, and Augustus, now 57 years old, had no immediate successor. There was no longer a guarantee of a peaceful transfer of power after Augustus's death, nor a guarantee that his family, and therefore his family's allies, would continue to hold power should the position of princeps survive. Somewhat apocryphal stories tell of Augustus pleading with Tiberius to stay, even going so far as to stage a serious illness.[22] Tiberius's response was to anchor off the shore of Ostia until word came that Augustus had survived, then sailing straightway for Rhodes.[23] Tiberius reportedly discovered the error of his ways and requested to return to Rome several times, but each time Augustus refused his requests.[24]

Heir to Augustus

With Tiberius's departure, succession rested solely on Augustus' two young grandsons, Lucius and Gaius Caesar. The situation became more precarious in AD 2 with the death of Lucius. Augustus, with perhaps some pressure from Livia, allowed Tiberius to return to Rome as a private citizen and nothing more.[25] In AD 4, Gaius was killed in Armenia and, Augustus had no other choice but to turn to Tiberius.[26][27]

The death of Gaius in AD 4 initiated a flurry of activity in the household of Augustus. Tiberius was adopted as full son and heir and in turn, he was required to adopt his nephew, Germanicus, the son of his brother Drusus and Augustus' niece Antonia Minor.[26][28] Along with his adoption, Tiberius received tribunician power as well as a share of Augustus's maius imperium, something that even Marcus Agrippa may never have had.[29] In AD 7, Agrippa Postumus, a younger brother of Gaius and Lucius, was disowned by Augustus and banned to the island of Pianosa, to live in solitary confinment.[27][30] Thus, when in AD 13, the powers held by Tiberius were made equal, rather than second, to Augustus's own powers, he was for all intents and purposes a "co-princeps" with Augustus, and in the event of the latter's passing, would simply continue to rule without an interregnum or possible upheaval.[31] Augustus died in AD 14, at the age of 75.[32] He was buried with all due ceremony and, as had been arranged beforehand, deified, his will read, and Tiberius confirmed as his sole surviving heir.[33]

As Emperor

Early reign

Bust of emperor Tiberius from the Ara Pacis Museum, Rome

The Senate convened on September 18, to validate Tiberius's position as Princeps and, as it had done with Augustus before, extend the powers of the position to him.[34] These proceedings are fully accounted by Tacitus.[35] Tiberius already had the administrative and political powers of the Princeps, all he lacked were the titles—Augustus, Pater Patriae, and the Civic Crown (a crown made from laurel and oak, in honor of Augustus having saved the lives of Roman citizens).

Tiberius, however, attempted to play the same role as Augustus: that of the reluctant public servant who wants nothing more than to serve the state.[36] This ended up throwing the entire affair into confusion, and rather than humble, he came across as derisive; rather than seeming to want to serve the state, he seemed obstructive.[37] He cited his age as a reason why he could not act as Princeps, stated he did not wish the position, and then proceeded to ask for only a section of the state.[38] Tiberius finally relented and accepted the powers voted to him, though according to Tacitus and Suetonius he refused to bear the titles Pater Patriae, Imperator, and Augustus, and declined the most solid emblem of the Princeps, the Civic Crown and laurels.[39]

This meeting seems to have set the tone for Tiberius's entire rule. He seems to have wished for the Senate and the state to simply act without him and his direct orders were rather vague, inspiring debate more on what he actually meant than on passing his legislation.[40] In his first few years, Tiberius seemed to have wanted the Senate to act on its own,[41] rather than as a servant to his will as it had been under Augustus. According to Tacitus, Tiberius derided the Senate as "men fit to be slaves."[42]

Rise and fall of Germanicus

Bust of the adopted son of Tiberius, Germanicus, from the Louvre, Paris

Problems arose quickly for the new Princeps. The legions posted in Pannonia and in Germania had not been paid the bonuses promised them by Augustus, and after a short period of time, when it was clear that a response from Tiberius was not forthcoming, mutinied.[43] Germanicus and Tiberius's son, Drusus Julius Caesar, were dispatched with a small force to quell the uprising and bring the legions back in line. Rather than simply quell the mutiny however, Germanicus rallied the mutineers and led them on a short campaign across the Rhine into Germanic territory, stating that whatever booty they could grab would count as their bonus.[44] Germanicus's forces smashed across the Rhine and quickly occupied all of the territory between the Rhine and the Elbe. Additionally, Tacitus records the capture of the Teutoburg forest and the reclaiming of standards lost years before by Publius Quinctilius Varus,[45] when three Roman legions and its auxiliary cohorts had been ambushed by a band of Germans.[45] Germanicus had managed to deal a significant blow to Rome's enemies, quell an uprising of troops, and once again return lost standards to Rome, actions that increased the fame and legend of the already very popular Germanicus with the Roman people.[46]

After being recalled from Germania,[47] Germanicus celebrated a triumph in Rome in AD 17,[45] the first full triumph that the city had seen since Augustus's own in 29 BC. As a result, in AD 18 Germanicus was granted control over the eastern part of the empire, just as both Agrippa and Tiberius had received before, and was clearly the successor to Tiberius.[48] Germanicus survived a little over a year before dying, accusing Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, the governor of Syria, of poisoning him.[49] The Pisones had been longtime supporters of the Claudians, and had allied themselves with the young Octavian after his marriage to Livia, the mother of Tiberius; Germanicus's death and accusations indicted the new Princeps. Piso was placed on trial and, according to Tacitus, threatened to implicate Tiberius.[50] Whether the governor actually could connect the Princeps to the death of Germanicus will never be known; rather than continuing to stand trial when it became evident that the Senate was against him, Piso committed suicide.[51][52] Tiberius seems to have tired of politics at this point. In AD 22, he shared his tribunician authority with his son Drusus,[53] and began making yearly excursions to Campania that reportedly became longer and longer every year. In AD 23, Drusus mysteriously died,[54][55] and Tiberius seems to have made no effort to elevate a replacement. Finally, in AD 26, Tiberius retired from Rome altogether to the island of Capri.[56]

Tiberius in Capri, with Sejanus in Rome

Roman aureus struck in AD 36, depicting Tiberius, with Livia as Pax shown on the reverse

Lucius Aelius Sejanus had served the imperial family for almost twenty years when he became Praetorian Prefect in AD 15. As Tiberius became more embittered with the position of Princeps, he began to depend more and more upon the limited secretariat left to him by Augustus, and specifically upon Sejanus and the Praetorians. In AD 17 or 18, Tiberius had trimmed the ranks of the Praetorian guard responsible for the defense of the city, and had moved it from encampments outside of the city walls into the city itself,[57] giving Sejanus access to somewhere between 6000 and 9000 troops. The death of Drusus elevated Sejanus, at least in Tiberius's eyes, who thereafter refers to him as his 'Socius Laborum' (Partner in my labours). Tiberius had statues of Sejanus erected throughout the city,[58][59] and Sejanus became more and more visible as Tiberius began to withdraw from Rome altogether. Finally, with Tiberius's withdrawal in AD 26, Sejanus was left in charge of the entire state mechanism and the city of Rome.[60]

Sejanus's position was not quite that of successor; he had requested marriage in AD 25 to Tiberius's niece, Livilla,[61] though under pressure quickly withdrew the request.[62] While Sejanus's Praetorians controlled the imperial post, and therefore the information that Tiberius received from Rome and the information Rome received from Tiberius,[63] the presence of Livia seems to have checked his overt power for a time. Her death in AD 29 changed all that.[64] Sejanus began a series of purge trials of Senators and wealthy equestrians in the city of Rome, removing those capable of opposing his power as well as extending the imperial (and his own) treasury. Germanicus's widow Agrippina the Elder and two of her sons, Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar were arrested and exiled in AD 30 and later all died in suspicious circumstances. In Sejanus's purge of Agrippina the Elder and her family, Caligula, Agrippina the Younger, Julia Drusilla, and Julia Livilla were the only survivors.[65]

Ruins from the Villa Jovis at Capri, where Tiberius spent much of his final years, leaving control of the empire in the hands of the prefect Lucius Aelius Sejanus

In 31, Sejanus held the consulship with Tiberius in absentia,[66] and began his play for power in earnest. Precisely what happened is difficult to determine, but Sejanus seems to have covertly attempted to court those families who were tied to the Julians, and attempted to ingratiate himself with the Julian family line with an eye towards placing himself, as an adopted Julian, in the position of Princeps, or as a possible regent.[66] Livilla was later implicated in this plot, and was revealed to have been Sejanus's lover for a number of years.[67] The plot seems to have involved the two of them overthrowing Tiberius, with the support of the Julians, and either assuming the Principate themselves, or serving as regent to the young Tiberius Gemellus or possibly even Gaius Caligula.[68] Those who stood in his way were tried for treason and swiftly dealt with.[68]

In AD 31 Sejanus was summoned to a meeting of the Senate, where a letter from Tiberius was read condemning Sejanus and ordering his immediate execution. Sejanus was tried, and he and several of his colleagues were executed within the week.[69] As commander of the Praetorian Guard, he was replaced by Naevius Sutorius Macro.[69]

Tacitus writes that more treason trials followed and that whereas Tiberius had been hesitant to act at the outset of his reign, now, towards the end of his life, he seemed to do so without compunction. Hardest hit were those families with political ties to the Julians. Even the imperial magistracy was hit, as any and all who had associated with Sejanus or could in some way be tied to his schemes were summarily tried and executed, their properties seized by the state (in a similar way, in the few years after Valeria Messalina's death, Agrippina the Younger removed anyone she considered loyal to Messalina's memory, much in the same way that Sejanus's followers were executed).[70] As Tacitus vividly describes,

Executions were now a stimulus to his fury, and he ordered the death of all who were lying in prison under accusation of complicity with Sejanus. There lay, singly or in heaps, the unnumbered dead, of every age and sex, the illustrious with the obscure. Kinsfolk and friends were not allowed to be near them, to weep over them, or even to gaze on them too long. Spies were set round them, who noted the sorrow of each mourner and followed the rotting corpses, till they were dragged to the Tiber, where, floating or driven on the bank, no one dared to burn or to touch them.[70]

However, Tacitus' portrayal of a tyrannical, vengeful emperor has been challenged by several modern historians. The prominent ancient historian Edward Togo Salmon notes in his work, A history of the Roman world from 30 B.C. to A.D. 138:

"In the whole twenty two years of Tiberius' reign, not more than fifty-two persons were accused of treason, of whom almost half escaped conviction, while the four innocent people to be condemned fell victims to the excessive zeal of the Senate, not to the Emperor's tyranny".[71]

While Tiberius was in Capri, rumours abounded as to what exactly he was doing there. Suetonius records lurid tales of sexual perversity and cruelty,[72] and most of all his paranoia.[73] While sensationalized, Suetonius' stories at least paint a picture of how Tiberius was perceived by the Roman people, and what his impact on the Principate was during his 23 years of rule.

Final years

The Death of Tiberius by Jean-Paul Laurens, depicting the Roman emperor about to be smothered under orders of Naevius Sutorius Macro

The affair with Sejanus and the final years of treason trials permanently damaged Tiberius' image and reputation. After Sejanus's fall, Tiberius's withdrawal from Rome was complete; the empire continued to run under the inertia of the bureaucracy established by Augustus, rather than through the leadership of the Princeps. Suetonius records that he became paranoid,[73] and spent a great deal of time brooding over the death of his son. Meanwhile, during this period a short invasion by Parthia, incursions by tribes from Dacia and from across the Rhine by several Germanic tribes occurred.[74]

Little was done to either secure or indicate how his succession was to take place; the Julians and their supporters had fallen to the wrath of Sejanus, and his own sons and immediate family were dead. Two of the candidates were either A) Caligula, the sole surviving son of Germanicus, as well as B) his own grandson Tiberius Gemellus.[75] However, only a half-hearted attempt at the end of his Tiberius' life was made to make Caligula a quaestor, and thus give him some credibility as a possible successor, while Gemellus himself was still only a teenager and thus completely unsuitable for some years to come.[76]

Tiberius died in Misenum on March 16, AD 37, at the age of 77.[77] Tacitus records that upon the news of his death the crowd rejoiced, only to become suddenly silent upon hearing that he had recovered, and rejoiced again at the news that Caligula and Macro had smothered him.[78] This is not recorded by other ancient historians and is most likely apocryphal, but it can be taken as an indication of how the senatorial class felt towards the Emperor at the time of his death. In his will, Tiberius had left his powers jointly to Caligula and Tiberius Gemellus;[79][80] Caligula's first act on becoming Princeps was to void Tiberius' will and have Gemellus executed.[80] The level of unpopularity Tiberius had achieved by the time of his death with both the upper and lower classes is revealed by these facts: the Senate refused to vote him divine honors, and mobs filled the streets yelling "To the Tiber with Tiberius!"—in reference to a method of disposal reserved for the corpses of criminals.[81] Instead the body of the emperor was cremated and his ashes were quietly laid in the Mausoleum of Augustus.[82]


Publius Cornelius Tacitus


Were he to have died prior to AD 23, he might have been hailed as an exemplary ruler.[83] Despite the overwhelmingly negative characterization left by Roman historians, Tiberius left the imperial treasury with nearly 3 billion sesterces upon his death.[80][84] Rather than embark on costly campaigns of conquest, he chose to strengthen the existing empire by building additional bases, using diplomacy as well as military threats, and generally refraining from getting drawn into petty squabbles between competing frontier tyrants.[57] The result was a stronger, more consolidated empire. Of the authors whose texts have survived until the present day, only four describe the reign of Tiberius in considerable detail: Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio and Velleius Paterculus. Fragmentary evidence also remains from Pliny the Elder, Strabo and Seneca the Elder. Tiberius himself wrote an autobiography which Suetonius describes as "brief and sketchy," but this book has been lost.[85]

Publius Cornelius Tacitus

The most detailed account of this period is handed down to us by Tacitus, whose Annals dedicate the first six books entirely to the reign of Tiberius. Tacitus was a Roman of the equestrian order, born during the reign of Nero in 56 AD. His text is largely based on the acta senatus (the minutes of the session of the Senate) and the acta diurna populi Romani (a collection of the acts of the government and news of the court and capital), as well as speeches by Tiberius himself, and the histories of contemporaries such as Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus and Pliny the Elder (all of which are lost). Tacitus' narrative emphasizes both political and psychological motivation. The characterisation of Tiberius throughout the first six books is mostly negative, and gradually worsens as his rule declines, identifying a clear breaking point with the death of Drusus in 23 AD.[83] The rule of Julio-Claudians is generally described as unjust and 'criminal' by Tacitus.[86] Even at the outset of his reign, he seems to ascribe many of Tiberius' virtues merely to hypocrisy.[77] Another major recurring theme concerns the balance of power between the Senate and the Emperors, corruption, and the growing tyranny among the governing classes of Rome. A substantial amount of his account on Tiberius is therefore devoted to the treason trials and persecutions following the revival of the maiestas law under Augustus.[87] Ultimately, Tacitus' opinion on Tiberius is best illustrated by his conclusion of the sixth book:

His character too had its distinct periods. It was a bright time in his life and reputation, while under Augustus he was a private citizen or held high offices; a time of reserve and crafty assumption of virtue, as long as Germanicus and Drusus were alive. Again, while his mother lived, he was a compound of good and evil; he was infamous for his cruelty, though he veiled his debaucheries, while he loved or feared Sejanus. Finally, he plunged into every wickedness and disgrace, when fear and shame being cast off, he simply indulged his own inclinations.[77]

Suetonius Tranquilius

Suetonius was an equestrian who held administrative posts during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. The Twelve Caesars details a biographical history of the principate from the birth of Julius Caesar to the death of Domitian in AD 96. Like Tacitus, he drew upon the imperial archives, as well as histories by Aufidius Bassus, Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus and Augustus' own letters, but his account is more sensationalist and anecdotal than that of his contemporary. The most famous sections of his biography delve into the numerous alleged debaucheries Tiberius remitted himself to while at Capri.[72] Nevertheless, Suetonius also reserves praise for Tiberius' actions during his early reign, emphasizing his modesty.[88]

Velleius Paterculus

One of the few surviving sources contemporary with the rule of Tiberius comes from Velleius Paterculus, who served under Tiberius for eight years (from AD 4) in Germany and Pannonia as praefect of cavalry and legatus. Paterculus' Compendium of Roman History spans a period from the fall of Troy to the death of Livia in AD 29. His text on Tiberius lavishes praise on both the emperor[6][89] and Sejanus.[90] How much of this is due to genuine admiration or prudence remains an open question, but it has been conjectured that he was put to death in AD 31 as a friend of Sejanus.[91]


The tribute penny mentioned in the Bible is commonly believed to be a Roman denarius depicting Tiberius.

The Gospels record that during Tiberius' reign, Jesus of Nazareth preached and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. In the Bible, Tiberius is mentioned by name only once, in Luke,[92] stating that John the Baptist entered on his public ministry in the fifteenth year of his reign. Many references to Caesar (or the emperor in some other translations), without further specification, would seem to refer to Tiberius. Similarly, the "Tribute Penny" referred to in Matthew[93] and Mark[94] is popularly thought to be a silver denarius coin of Tiberius.[citation needed]


The palace of Tiberius at Rome was located on the Palatine Hill, the ruins of which can still be seen today. No major public works were undertaken in the city during his reign, except a temple dedicated to Augustus and the restoration of the theater of Pompey,[95][96] both of which were not finished until the reign of Caligula.[97] In addition, remnants of Tiberius' villa at Sperlonga, which includes a grotto where several Rhodean sculptures have been recovered, and the Villa Jovis on top of Capri have been preserved. The original complex at Capri is thought to have spanned a total of twelve villas across the island,[56] of which Villa Jovis was the largest.

Tiberius refused to be worshipped as a living god, and allowed only one temple to be built in his honor at Smyrna.[98] The town Tiberias, in modern Israel on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was named in Tiberius's honour by Herod Antipas.[99]

In fiction

Tiberius has been represented in fiction, both in literature and in film and television, though often as a peripheral character in the central storyline. One such modern representation is in the novel I, Claudius by Robert Graves,[100] and the consequent BBC television series adaptation, where he is portrayed by George Baker.[101] In addition, Tiberius has prominent roles in Ben-Hur (played by George Relph in his last starring role), the 1968 ITV historical drama The Caesars (by André Morell) [102] , in Caligula (played by Peter O'Toole) and in A.D. (played by James Mason). Played by Ernest Thesiger, he featured in The Robe (1953). He was an important character in Taylor Caldwell's 1958 novel, Dear and Glorious Physician, a biography of St Luke the Evangelist, author of the third canonical Gospel. He is featured as a young man in Michelle Moran's novel Cleopatra's Daughter, a novel about the life of Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios.


See also


  1. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural Histories XXVIII.5.23.
  2. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 5
  3. ^ Levick pp. 15
  4. ^ a b Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 6
  5. ^ Southern, pp. 119–120.
  6. ^ a b Velleius Paterculus, Roman History II.94
  7. ^ a b c Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 9
  8. ^ Seager, p. xiv.
  9. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 8
  10. ^ Levick, pp. 24.
  11. ^ a b c d Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 7
  12. ^ Strabo, 7. I. 5, p. 292
  13. ^ Levick, pp. 42.
  14. ^ Seager 2005, pp. 20.
  15. ^ a b Cassius Dio, Roman History LV.9
  16. ^ Seager 2005, pp. 23.
  17. ^ Seager 2005, pp. 23—24.
  18. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 10
  19. ^ Levick, pp. 29.
  20. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Roman History II.100
  21. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.53
  22. ^ a b Seager 2005, pp. 26.
  23. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 11
  24. ^ Seager 2005, pp. 28.
  25. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 13
  26. ^ a b Tacitus, Annals I.3
  27. ^ a b Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 15
  28. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LV.13
  29. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 21. For the debate over whether Agrippa's imperium after 13 BC was maius or aequum, see, e.g., E. Badian (December–January 1980–1981). "Notes on the Laudatio of Agrippa". Classical Journal 76 (2): 97–109, pp. 105–106. 
  30. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LV.32
  31. ^ Seager p. xv
  32. ^ Velleieus Paterculus, Roman History II.123
  33. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.8
  34. ^ Levick, pp. 68—81.
  35. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.9–11
  36. ^ Seager 2005, pp. 44—45.
  37. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 24
  38. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.12, I.13
  39. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 26
  40. ^ Tacitus, Annals III.32, III.52
  41. ^ Tacitus, Annals III.35, III.53, III.54
  42. ^ Tacitus, Annals III.65
  43. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.16, I.17, I.31
  44. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LVII.6
  45. ^ a b c Tacitus, Annals II.41
  46. ^ Shotter, 35-37.
  47. ^ Tacitus, Annals II.26
  48. ^ Tacitus, Annals II.43
  49. ^ Tacitus, Annals II.71
  50. ^ Tacitus, Annals III.16
  51. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 52
  52. ^ Tacitus, Annals III.15
  53. ^ Tacitus, Annals III.56
  54. ^ Tacitus, Annals, IV.7, IV.8
  55. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 62
  56. ^ a b Tacitus, Annals IV.67
  57. ^ a b Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 37
  58. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.2
  59. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LVII.21
  60. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.57
  61. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.39
  62. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.40, IV.41
  63. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.41
  64. ^ Tacitus, Annals V.3
  65. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 53, 54
  66. ^ a b Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 65
  67. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LVII.22
  68. ^ a b Boddington, Ann (January 1963). "Sejanus. Whose Conspiracy?". The American Journal of Philology 84 (1): 1–16. doi:10.2307/293155. 
  69. ^ a b Cassius Dio, Roman History LVIII.10
  70. ^ a b Tacitus, Annals VI.19
  71. ^ A history of the Roman world from 30 B.C. to A.D. 138, Page 183, Edward Togo Salmon
  72. ^ a b Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 43, 44, 45
  73. ^ a b Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 60, 62, 63, 64
  74. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 41
  75. ^ Tacitus, Annals VI.46
  76. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LVII.23
  77. ^ a b c Tacitus, Annals VI.50, VI.51
  78. ^ Tacitus, Annals VI.50
  79. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 76
  80. ^ a b c Cassius Dio, Roman History LIX.1
  81. ^ Death of Tiberius: Tacitus Annals 6.50; Dio 58.28.1–4; Suetinus Tiberius 73, Gaius 12.2–3; Josephus AJ 18.225. Posthumous insults: Suetinus Tiberius 75.
  82. ^*/Mausoleum_Augusti.html
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  84. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Caligula37
  85. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 61
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  87. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.72, I.74, II.27-32, III.49-51, III.66-69
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  89. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Roman History, II.103-105, II.129-130
  90. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Roman History II.127-128
  91. ^ Syme, Ronald (1956). "Seianus on the Aventine". Hermes (Franz Steiner Verlag) 84 (3): 257–266. 
  92. ^ Luke 3:1
  93. ^ Matthew 22:19
  94. ^ Mark 12:15
  95. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.45, III.72
  96. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius 47
  97. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Caligula 21
  98. ^ Tacitus, Annals IV.37-38, IV.55-56
  99. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.2.3
  100. ^ "I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius - Robert Graves". Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  101. ^ "BBC Four Drama - I, Claudius". BBC. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  102. ^ "Emperor Tiberius Caesar (Character)". Retrieved 2008-09-20. 


Primary sources

Secondary material

  • Ehrenberg, V.; Jones, A.H.M. (1955). Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. Oxford. 
  • Levick, Barbara (1999). Tiberius the Politician. Routledge. ISBN 0415217539. 
  • Mason, Ernst (1960). Tiberius. New York: Ballantine Books.  (Ernst Mason was a pseudonym of science fiction author Frederik Pohl)
  • Seager, Robin (1972). Tiberius. London: Eyre Methuen. ISBN 978-0413276001. 
  • Seager, Robin (2005). Tiberius. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1405115297. 
  • Shotter, David (1992). Tiberius Caesar. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07654-4. 
  • Salmon, Edward (1968). History of the Roman World, 30 B.C.-A.D.138, Part II: Tiberius. Methuen. ISBN 978-0416107104. 
  • Southern, Pat (1998). Augustus. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415166314. 
  • Syme, Ronald (1986). The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0198148593. 

External links

Born: 16 November 42 BC Died: 16 March AD 37
Political offices
Preceded by
Marcus Licinius Crassus Dives and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Publius Quinctilius Varus
13 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus Appianus and Quirinius
Preceded by
Gaius Marcius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius Gallus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso
7 BC
Succeeded by
D. Laelius Balbus and Gaius Antistius Vetus
Preceded by
Roman Emperor
14 – 37
Succeeded by
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
14 – 37
Preceded by
Lucius Pomponius Flaccus and Gaius Caelius Rufus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Germanicus
Succeeded by
Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus and Lucius Norbanus Balbus
Preceded by
Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus and Marcus Aurelius Cotta Maximus Messalinus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Drusus Julius Caesar
Succeeded by
Decimus Haterius Agrippa and Galba
Preceded by
Marcus Vinicius and Lucius Cassius Longinus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Sejanus
Succeeded by
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Lucius Arruntius Camillus Scribonianus


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar (November 16, 42 B.C. - March 16, 37 A.D.) was a Roman emperor (14 A.D. - 37 A.D) and general


  • Quem maxime casum timens, partes sibi quas senatui liberet, tuendas in re p[ublica]. depoposcit, quando universae sufficere solus nemo posset nisi cum altero vel etiam cum pluribus.
    • Fear of this possibility in particular led Tiberius to ask the senate for any part in the administration that it might please them to assign him, saying that no one man could bear the whole burden without a colleague, or even several colleagues.
    • Variant translation (by Robert Graves): "Pray assign me any part in the government you please; but remember that no single man can bear the whole burden of Empire — I need a colleague, or perhaps several colleagues."
    • From Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, ch. 25
  • In civitate libera linguam mentemque liberas esse debere (jactabat).
    • In a free state there should be freedom of speech and thought.
    • Variant translation: In a free state, both the tongue and the mind ought to be free.
    • From Suetonius, The Twelves Caesars, ch. 28
  • Siquidem locutus aliter fuerit, dabo operam ut rationem factorum meorum dictorumque reddam; si perseveraverit, in vicem eum odero.
    • If So-and-so challenges me, I shall lay before you a careful account of what I have said and done; if that does not satisfy him, I shall reciprocate his dislike of me.
    • From Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, ch. 28
  • Dixi et nunc et saepe alias, p[atres]. c[onscripti]., bonum et salutarem principem, quem vos tanta et tam libera potestate instruxistis, senatui servire debere et universis civibus saepe et plerumque etiam singulis; neque id dixisse me paenitet, et bono et aequos et faventes vos habui dominos et adhuc habeo.
    • Let me repeat, gentlemen, that a right-minded and true-hearted statesman who has had as much sovereign power placed in his hands as you have placed in mine should regard himself as the servant of the Senate; and often of the people as a whole; and sometimes of private citizens, too. I do not regret this view, because I have always found you to be generous, just, and indulgent masters.
    • Variant translation: Conscript Fathers, I have often said it both now and at other times, that a good and useful prince, whom you have invested with so great and absolute power, ought to be a slave to the senate, to the whole body of the people, and often to individuals likewise: nor am I sorry that I have said it. I have always found you good, kind, and indulgent masters, and still find you so.
    • To the Senate, from Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, ch.29
  • Boni pastoris est tondere pecus, non deglubere.
    • Translation: A good shepherd shears his sheep, he doesn't flay them.
    • From Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, ch. 32
    • Said to his regional commanders, telling them not to tax the populace excessively
  • Quid scribam vobis, p[atres]. c[onscripti]., aut quo modo scribam, aut quid omnino non scribam hoc tempore, dii me deaeque peius perdant quam cotidie perire sentio, si scio.
    • My Lords, if I know what to tell you, or how to tell it, or what to leave altogether untold for the present, may all the gods and goddesses in Heaven bring me to an even worse damnation than I now daily suffer!
    • Variant translation: What to write to you, Conscript Fathers, or how to write, or what not to write at this time, may all the gods and goddesses pour upon my head a more terrible vengeance than that under which I feel myself daily sinking, if I can tell.
    • Letter to the Senate, from Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, ch. 67 (cf. Tacitus, Annals, VI 6.1.)

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Latin Tiberius, probably of Etruscan origin, but associated by folk etymology with the river Tiber.

Proper noun




  1. A male given name of mostly historical use, in particular, the praenomen of the second Roman emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus, reigning AD 14-37.



Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The second Roman emperor (A. D. 14-37), b. 16 November, 42 B. C., d. 16 March, A. D. 37. He was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia. By the marriage of his mother with Emperor Augustus he became the latter's stepson, and was adopted by Augustus in A. D. 4. In the year 10 he was appointed coregent with Augustus. Hard and secretive by nature and embittered by the neglect with which his step- father allowed him to be treated, he did not arouse personal enthusiasm, and until recently was described by historians as a bloody tyrant. It is only during the last sixty years that he has been more fairly judged, and at present the opinion begins to prevail that he was a genuine Roman, a ruler faithful to his duties, just, wise, and self-contained. In his internal policies especially he is one of the most distinguished of all Roman emperors. Like Augustus he reformed and improved every department of the government, and promoted in every direction the prosperity of the empire of which Augustus had laid the foundation. He developed imperial power by declining to have his authority renewed from time to time by the Senate, as Augustus had done. The strong opposition which grew up against him was due to his taciturn and domineering disposition, and to the influence of the prefect of the guard, Ælius Sejanus, who alone possessed his confidence. The persecutions and executions for lese-majesty, which rapidly increased during the second half of his reign, and the gloom which pervaded Rome induced Tiberius to leave the capital altogether in the year 26 and to live partly in Campania and partly on the Island of Capri. Before this date the question as to the succession to the empire had led to a terrible family tragedy. By his first marriage Tiberius had a son called Drusus, while his second marriage with the immoral Julia, daughter of Augustus, was childless. After the death of his nephew Germanicus (A. D. 19), whom he had been obliged to adopt at the command of Augustus to the exclusion of his own son, he hoped to secure the succession for Drusus. A low intrigue was formed against this plan, in which the wife of Drusus, Livilla, who had illicit relations with Sejanus, took part. In the year 23 Drusus was poisoned by Sejanus and Livilla. However, when in 31 Sejanus formed a conspiracy to secure the throne for himself, Tiberius was warned at the last moment and had Sejanus executed. Tiberius spent his last years in constantly increasing seclusion, misanthropy, and cruelty on the Island of Capri, where it is said he abandoned himself to debauchery. However, these reports are at least coloured by prejudice and have not been satisfactorily proved. Neither is it probable that Tiberius was murdered.

The ministry and death of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ occurred during the reign of Tiberius. According to St. Luke (iii, 1), St. John the Baptist was called by God, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, to prepare the way for Christ as His precursor. Shortly before his death Tiberius recalled the procurator Pontius Pilate from Judea. Tertullian (Apologeticum, v, xxi), from whom Eusebius and Orosius take the story, relates that Tiberius received a report concerning Christ and that he called upon the Senate to place Christ among the gods. The Senate rejected the request; Tiberius then threatened the accusers of the Christians with punishment. The narrative is not worthy of belief, still it is probable that Tertullian knew a document that professed to be a report of Pilate.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

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