Mutilated inscription of Sejanus of bronze coin of Tiberius.
Coin provided by Tom Cederlind Numismatics
|16 November 42 BC||Tiberius born in Rome to Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla|
|39 BC||Livia divorced Tiberius Claudius Nero and married Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus|
|19 BC||Tiberius married Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of general Marcus Agrippa|
|13 BC||Tiberius is appointed consul, and bore a son, Drusus Julius Caesar|
|11 BC||Tiberius divorces Vipsania and marries Augustus' daughter, Julia the Elder|
|6 BC||Tiberius is granted tribunician power, but suddenly resigns to Rhodes|
|2 - 4 CE||Both Lucius and Gaius Caesar, Augustus' heirs, both die|
|14||Augustus dies at age 75. Tiberius confirmed as Princeps of Rome|
|26||Tiberius moves to Capri|
|31||The plot against Tiberius by consul Lucius Aelius Sejanus is foiled|
|37 CE||Tiberius dies in Misenum at age 77|
Suetonius on Tiberius' lineage (Lives of the Twelve Caesars):
I.The patrician family of the Claudii (for there was a plebeian family of the same name, no way inferior to the other either in power or dignity) came originally from Regilli, a town of the Sabines. They removed thence to Rome soon after the building of the city, with a great body of their dependants, under Titus Tatius, who reigned jointly with Romulus in the kingdom; or, perhaps, what is related upon better authority, under Atta Claudius, the head of the family, who was admitted by the senate into the patrician order six years after the expulsion of the Tarquins. They likewise received from the state, lands beyond the Anio for their followers, and a burying-place for themselves near the capitol. After this period, in process of time, the family had the honour of twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven censorships, seven triumphs, and two ovations. Their descendants were distinguished by various prænomina and cognomina, but rejected by common consent the prænomen of Lucius, when, of the two races who bore it, one individual had been convicted of robbery, and another of murder. Amongst other cognomina, they assumed that of Nero, which in the Sabine language signifies strong and valiant.
II. It appears from record, that many of the Claudii have performed signal services to the state, as well as committed acts of delinquency. To mention the most remarkable only, Appius Cæcus dissuaded the senate from agreeing to an alliance with Pyrrhus, as prejudicial to the republic. Claudius Candex first passed the straits of Sicily with a fleet, and drove the Carthaginians out of the island. Claudius Nero cut off Asdrubal with a vast army upon his arrival in Italy from Spain, before he could form a junction with his brother Annibal. On the other hand, Claudius Appius Regillanus, one of the Decemvirs, made a violent attempt to have a free virgin, of whom he was enamoured, adjudged a slave; which caused the people to secede a second time from the senate. Claudius Drusus erected a statue of himself wearing a crown at Appii Forum, and endeavoured, by means of his dependants, to make himself master of Italy. Claudius Pulcher, when, off the coast of Sicily, the pullets used for taking augury would not eat, in contempt of the omen threw them overboard, as if they should drink at least, if they would not eat; and then engaging the enemy, was routed. After his defeat, when he was ordered by the senate to name a dictator, making a sort of jest of the public disaster, he named Glycias, his apparitor.
The women of this family, likewise, exhibited characters equally opposed to each other. For both the Claudias belonged to it; she, who, when the ship freighted with things sacred to the Idæan Mother of the Gods, stuck fast in the shallows of the Tiber, got it off, by praying to the Goddess with a loud voice, "Follow me, if I am chaste;" and she also, who, contrary to the usual practice in the case of women, was brought to trial by the people for treason; because, when her litter was stopped by a great crowd in the streets, she openly exclaimed, "I wish my brother Pulcher was alive now, to lose another fleet, that Rome might be less thronged." Besides, it is well known, that all the Claudii, except Publius Claudius, who, to effect the banishment of Cicero, procured himself to be adopted by a plebeian, and one younger than himself, were always of the patrician party, as well as great sticklers for the honour and power of that order; and so violent and obstinate in their opposition to the plebeians, that not one of them, even in the case of a trial for life by the people, would ever condescend to put on mourning, according to custom, or make any supplication to them for favour; and some of them in their contests, have even proceeded to lay hands on the tribunes of the people. A Vestal Virgin likewise of the family, when her brother was resolved to have the honour of a triumph contrary to the will of the people, mounted the chariot with him, and attended him into the capitol, that it might not be lawful for any of the tribunes to interfere and forbid it.
III. From this family Tiberius Cæsar is descended; indeed both by the father and mother's side; by the former from Tiberius Nero, and by the latter from Appius Pulcher, who were both sons of Appius Cæcus. He likewise belonged to the family of the Livii, by the adoption of his mother's grandfather into it; which family, although plebeian, made a distinguished figure, having had the honour of eight consulships, two censorships, three triumphs, one dictatorship, and the office of master of the horse; and was famous for eminent men, particularly, Salinator and the Drusi. Salinator, in his censorship, branded all the tribes, for their inconstancy in having made him consul a second time, as well as censor, although they had condemned him to a heavy fine after his first consulship. Drusus procured for himself and his posterity a new surname, by killing in single combat Drausus, the enemy's chief. He is likewise said to have recovered, when pro-prætor in the province of Gaul, the gold which was formerly given to the Senones, at the siege of the capitol, and had not, as is reported, been forced from them by Camillus. His great-great-grandson, who, for his extraordinary services against the Gracchi, was styled the "Patron of the Senate," left a son, who, while plotting in a sedition of the same description, was treacherously murdered by the opposite party.
IV. But the father of Tiberius Cæsar, being quæstor to Caius Cæsar, and commander of his fleet in the war of Alexandria, contributed greatly to its success. He was therefore made one of the high-priests in the room of Publius Scipio; and was sent to settle some colonies in Gaul, and amongst the rest, those of Narbonne and Arles. After the assassination of Cæsar, however, when the rest of the senators, for fear of public disturbances, were for having the affair buried in oblivion, he proposed a resolution for rewarding those who had killed the tyrant. Having filled the office of prætor, and at the end of the year a disturbance breaking out amongst the triumviri, he kept the badges of his office beyond the legal time; and following Lucius Antonius the consul, brother of the triumvir, to Perusia, though the rest submitted, yet he himself continued firm to the party, and escaped first to Præneste, and then to Naples; whence, having in vain invited the slaves to liberty, he fled over to Sicily. But resenting his not being immediately admitted into the presence of Sextus Pompey, and being also prohibited the use of the fasces, he went over into Achaia to Mark Antony; with whom, upon a reconciliation soon after brought about amongst the several contending parties, he returned to Rome; and, at the request of Augustus, gave up to him his wife Livia Drusilla, although she was then big with child, and had before borne him a son. He died not long after; leaving behind him two sons, Tiberius and Drusus Nero.
V. Some have imagined that Tiberius was born at Fundi, but there is only this trifling foundation for the conjecture, that his mother's grandmother was of Fundi, and that the image of Good Fortune was, by a decree of the senate, erected in a public place in that town. But according to the greatest number of writers, and those too of the best authority, he was born at Rome, in the Palatine quarter, upon the sixteenth of the calends of December [16th Nov.], when Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was second time consul, with Lucius Munatius Plancus, after the battle of Philippi; for so it is registered in the calendar, and the public acts. According to some, however, he was born the preceding year, in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa; and others say, in the year following, during the consulship of Servilius Isauricus and Antony.
Tacitus on Tiberius' character:
Tacitus ensures his readers that he holds no bitterness toward Tiberius, then spends a significant portion of Annals hurling every insult known to the ancient world at him as part of a diatribe against the Julio-Claudians' role in the the loess of the republic. He blames Tiberius for the death of Germanicus, Romans being plunged into poverty and slavery, persecutions, murderous paranoia, and every sort of wickedness. All of this conflicts with Tiberius having been viewed as a model emperor and lawmaker by the Flavians. Tacitus reports the arrest of anyone who had any connection at all with Sejanus, after his plot was put down:
[Annals 6.17] Hence followed a scarcity of money, a great shock being given to all credit, the current coin too, in consequence of the conviction of so many persons and the sale of their property, being locked up in the imperial treasury or the public exchequer. To meet this, the Senate had directed that every creditor should have two-thirds his capital secured on estates in Italy. Creditors however were suing for payment in full, and it was not respectable for persons when sued to break faith. So, at first, there were clamorous meetings and importunate entreaties; then noisy applications to the praetor's court. And the very device intended as a remedy, the sale and purchase of estates, proved the contrary, as the usurers had hoarded up all their money for buying land. The facilities for selling were followed by a fall of prices, and the deeper a man was in debt, the more reluctantly did he part with his property, and many were utterly ruined. The destruction of private wealth precipitated the fall of rank and reputation, till at last the emperor interposed his aid by distributing throughout the banks a hundred million sesterces, and allowing freedom to borrow without interest for three years, provided the borrower gave security to the State in land to double the amount. Credit was thus restored, and gradually private lenders were found. The purchase too of estates was not carried out according to the letter of the Senate's decree, rigour at the outset, as usual with such matters, becoming negligence in the end.
[6.18] Former alarms then returned, as there was a charge of treason against Considius Proculus. While he was celebrating his birthday without a fear, he was hurried before the Senate, condemned and instantly put to death. His sister Sancia was outlawed, on the accusation of Quintus Pomponius, a restless spirit, who pretended that he employed himself in this and like practices to win favour with the sovereign, and thereby alleviate the perils hanging over his brother Pomponius Secundus. Pompeia Macrina too was sentenced to banishment. Her husband Argolicus and her father-in-law Laco, leading men of Achaia, had been ruined by the emperor. Her father likewise, an illustrious Roman knight, and her brother, an ex-praetor, seeing their doom was near, destroyed themselves. It was imputed to them as a crime that their great-grandfather Theophanes of Mitylene had been one of the intimate friends of Pompey the Great, and that after his death Greek flattery had paid him divine honours.
[6.19] Sextus Marius, the richest man in Spain, was next accused of incest with his daughter, and thrown headlong from the Tarpeian rock. To remove any doubt that the vastness of his wealth had proved the man's ruin, Tiberius kept his gold-mines for himself, though they were forfeited to the State. 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. The force of terror had utterly extinguished the sense of human fellowship, and, with the growth of cruelty, pity was thrust aside.
In contrast, Edward Togo Salmon, in his 1968 A History of the Roman World from 30 BC to AD 138, reports that a total of twelve people were executed in connection with the overthrow attempt by Sejanus, and that:
Recent research, however, has shown that 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.
Ancient sources on Tiberius
Cassius Dio - Roman History Books 57–58
Josephus - Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18
Suetonius - Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Life of Tiberius
Tacitus - Annals
Velleius Paterculus - Roman History Book II, Chapters 94-131
Museo Archeologico Nazionale Napoli inv. 6051.
L. Polacco, Il Volto di Tiberio (1955) 154 f.
D. Kreikenbom, Griechische und römische Kolossalporträts bis zum späten ersten Jahrhundert nach Christus, 27. Ergh. JdI (1992) 194 f. Nr. III 56
Fittschen – Zanker I 15 Anm. 13
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. Inv. 6052
W. H. Gross, Gnomon 31, 1959, 527.
L. Fabbrini, BdA 49, 1964, 313 Anm. 76 Abb. 7. 8.
J. Inan, E. Alföldi-Rosenbaum, Römische und frühbyzantinische Porträtplastik aus der Türkei. Neue Funde (1979) 67 zu Nr. 12.
D.Boschung, in: E. Berger (Hrsg.), Antike Kunstwerke aus der Sammlung Ludwig III: Skulpturen (1990) 372 Nr. 2.
Fittschen, Zanker I 15 Anm. 2.
Vatican Inv. 9961
D. Boschung, Gens Augusta: Untersuchungen zu Aufstellung, Wirkung und Bedeutung der Statuengruppen des julisch-claudischen Kaiserhauses. MAR 32 (Mainz 2002) 85 f. Cat. no. 25.2
K. Fittschen – P. Zanker, Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen kommunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom 1. Kaiser- und Prinzenbildnisse, BeitrESkAr 3 (Mainz 1985)
M. Fuchs, Untersuchungen zur Ausstattung römischer Theater in Italien und den Westprovinzen des Imperium Romanum (Mainz 1987)
M. Fuchs - P. Liverani - P. Santoro, Caere 2. Il teatro e il ciclo statuario Giulio-Claudio (1989) 58 ff. Ill. 27–32 Cat. no. 2;
A. Giuliano, Catalogo dei ritratti romani del Museo Profano Lateranense (1957) p.32
D. Kreikenbom, Griechische und römische Kolossalporträts bis zum späten ersten Jahrhundert nach Christus (Berlin 1992) p.192
C. Maderna, Iuppiter, Diomedes und Merkur als Vorbilder für römische Bildnisstatuen (Heidelberg 1988) p.166
C. B. Rose, Dynastic Coommemoration and Imperial Portraiture in the Julio-Claudian Period (1997) 83 Ill. 71. 72
Vatican Museum, Museo Pio Clementino, Sala dei Busti. Inv. 650
L. Fabbrini, BdA 49, 1964, 311 Nr. 4 Anm. 42
H. Drerup, MM 12, 1971, 141 Anm. 3
K. Fittschen, Katalog der Antiken Skulpturen in Schloß Erbach (1977) 46 Anm. 4
Fittschen – Zanker I 11 Replik Nr. 9
Vatican inv. 1641
W. Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums I (Berlin 1903) 572 Cat. no. 400 Pl. 60
B. Andreae (Hrsg.), Museo Chiaramonti. Bildkatalog der Skulpturen des Vatikanischen Museums I, 1 (Berlin 1995) Pl. 165-169
D. Boschung, Gens Augusta: Untersuchungen zu Aufstellung, Wirkung und Bedeutung der Statuengruppen des julisch-claudischen Kaiserhauses. MAR 32 (Mainz 2002) 49 Cat. no. 7.4 Pl. 34,1. 3
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Inv. 1445 (Fayum Portrait and Ara Pacis cast)
N. Bonacasa, Contributo all'iconografia di Tiberio, BdA 47, 1962, 173 Ill. 7. 8
D. Boschung, Gens Augusta: Untersuchungen zu Aufstellung, Wirkung und Bedeutung der Statuengruppen des julisch-claudischen Kaiserhauses. MAR 32 (Mainz 2002) 132
L. Fabbrini, Il ritratto giovanile di Tiberio e la iconografia di Druso Maggiore, BdA 49, 1964, 304 ff
K. Fittschen – P. Zanker, Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen kommunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom 1. Kaiser- und Prinzenbildnisse, BeitrESkAr 3 (Mainz 1985) 11
F. Johansen, Catalogue Roman Portraits I. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (1994)
D. Kreikenbom, Griechische und römische Kolossalporträts bis zum späten ersten Jahrhundert nach Christus (Berlin 1992) 187
F. Poulsen, Catalogue of Ancient Sculpture in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Kopenhagen 1951)
V. Poulsen, Les Portraits Romains I (Kopenhagen 1962) 82 f
V. Poulsen, Drei antike Skulpturen im Residenzmuseum München, MüJb 19, 1968, 18 f