Top 10 facts about Tiberius – A Roman Emperor

Tiberius, a puzzling man, was not born to become an emperor. He had a very rough childhood and was full of hardships as most of his childhood was spent fleeing from one place to another with his parents.

Nero, the father of Tiberius, worked as Julius Caesar’s fleet captain and was loyal to him. Julius Caesar was assassinated during the Civil War. Since then, Nero changed his commitment towards Caesar’s enemy – Mark Antony- against Caesar and his supporters.

Julius Caesar’s nephew, Augustus, was not happy with the change in commitment. He went into battle with Mark Antony, defeated and empowered Antony. 

The Nero family had become Augustus’s enemy, so they had to flee away as a fugitive. 

The fleet of him and his family faced numerous hurdles as they were running away from being assassinated. They had to flee from Naples to Sicily, and Sparta.

Once, they were attacked in the middle of the night by Octavian’s men, when hiding in Naples. Tiberius was just an infant during that time.

The Nero family was not allowed to return to Rome until Tiberius was just the age of 3. Augustus was in power when they came back. Here is the top 10 facts about Tiberius, the roman emperor

10. Complex and obstructive family history

Tiberius Nero - father of Tiberius and a member of Claudian Family of ancient Rome
Tiberius Nero – father of Tiberius and a member of Claudian Family of ancient Rome
Source: Wikimedia Source

Tiberius was born to Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla on November 16, 42 BCE. He was originally named Tiberius Caesar and later changed to Tiberius – the second emperor.

Nero was a priest, a magistrate and a fleet captain of Julius Caesar. In contrast, Livia was an influential woman who advised her husband.

Livia gave birth to Tiberius when she was 13 years old. She wanted a secured life for her child and herself, so she left Nero and married Augustus.

Augustus was mesmerized by Livia’s beauty and wished to marry her. So, he divorced his wife and compelled Nero to divorce Livia. They got married, and Livia’s second child was born and named Drusus, but he was Nero’s son.

Tiberius and his brother, Drusus were adopted by Augustus and were trained to be a successful emperor. They were trained together with Marcellus – son of Augustus’s sister. The training included the learning of literature, diplomacy, and military skills. Tiberius was a good learner, so he was able at the age of 14. 

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Tiberius was married to Vipsania Agrippina – daughter of Augustus’s son-in-law, in 19 BC. They had a very smooth relationship, however, could not last for long. They were to be separated as Tiberius was asked to leave her and marry Julia, Augustus’s daughter. 

Julia had already been married twice before, but unfortunately was widowed. So, Tiberius and Vipsania divorced in 11 BC, and he was married to Julia in the same year. Whereas, Vipsania was made to marry a senator.

However, they both managed to see each other even after being separated. Knowing about this, Augustus ordered Tiberius never to see Vipsania again.

Tiberius had a son named Drusus and was trained to become an emperor. Unfortunately, he was murdered in 23 CE by Sejanus with the involvement of Livilla – Drasus’s wife.

9. Tiberius’s entry into politics at the age of 17

Tiberius and his idol Augustus
Tiberius and his idol Augustus

Tiberius was a sincere learner and closely followed the work skills of Augustus. He had gained enough knowledge and skills by the age of 14. 

He entered into politics at the age of 17 and was given the position of quaestor by Augustus. The position given was only based on his skills and capability.

As a quaestor, he impressively managed public revenue and expenditure. He was able to gain fame with his promising capability from an early age. 

Likewise, he was also given a chance to become a praetor and a consul. His selection as a consul was an amusement for everyone as he was selected five years before the required legal age.

8. Reason for leaving Politics and moving to Rhodes

Despite amusing everyone with his capability in a political career, Tiberius had to leave politics in the middle.

The decision of leaving politics and Rome was not an easy one for Tiberius. However, he had to do so as he was forced to marry Julia. He left politics in 6 BCE and moved to Rhodes. 

7. Tiberius, a capable emperor

At the age of 36, he had become capable of conducting a war, commanding a military, and ruling as an emperor.

Tiberius became the emperor in 14 BCE after the death of Augustus. He ruled until 37 CE.

However, becoming an emperor could not stop him from keeping himself in self-exile. He left for Italy in 26 CE after the death of his son, Drusus. 

6. Tiberius, an emperor with impressive commanding skills

An image depicting an event during the reign of Emperor Tiberius
An image depicting an event during the reign of Emperor Tiberius

Tiberius was able to gain huge respect at the age of 22 with his first military command. The command resulted in the betterment of the Roman Legions that were lost in Parthia. 

Impressed by his commanding skills, he was given another responsibility, where he commanded the pacification of the province of Pannonia on the Adriatic Sea.

He did not only work on conquering his enemy but gave priority to care for his team. So, he was loved and respected by all. His military skills were noticed by all and were also awarded a triumph.

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Also, the policies and rules, made by Tiberius were well thought of, with farsightedness and wisdom.

He had everything planned and worked at a slow pace. The new conquers were not attempted for some time. Also, he did not move armies until any valid reasons.

He also worked on saving the imperial treasury to leave enough even after he was gone. He also worked on making the Roman Navy strong. In addition to this, he stopped the gladiatorial games, the culture of naming calendars after him.

On the contrary, there were a few wars, but the provincial rebellion was decreased along with the bloodshed. Also, people who enacted laws were punished; a woman had been robbed by a few Jews, which resulted in the exaltation of the entire Jewish community.

After gaining fame in Rome, he started fighting commands away from Rome. It is also believed that he wanted to be away from Julia due to her adultery acts, so he chose to be far from Rome.

In 6 BCE, he was given the powers of a tribune for his skills. Working for a few years, he then decided for self-imposed exile and went on Rhodes’ islands.

Altogether, he managed to gather fame, respect, and awards by showcasing his skills and bringing Rome improvements.

5. Tiberius, known for poor judgement and a violent personality 

An image portraying Tiberius as a notorious emperor
An image portraying Tiberius as a notorious emperor

Tiberius, though, proved himself as a skilled and an influential military figure. He had become ruthless, and a violent personality by 14 BCE.

Despite being born to noble people like Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia, he turned out to be just the opposite of what his parents were. 

He was an emperor with poor judgemental skills with little knowledge about political responsibilities. He would be jealous of anyone with better skills, knowledge, or living standards than him and was greedy.

The drawbacks in his personality and role led to repression and terror during this reign. In addition to this, there was the dark age of terror, political pages, injustice, and murders.

Apart from this, he was infamous amongst Rome’s people, as he wanted citizens to worship him by making a statue of himself. Those who disagreed upon worshipping his statue were to be punished. 

The inhuman acts do not stop here as he also is responsible for the murders of numerous people including Roman Senate and Postumus – son of Julia.

4. A life under the shadow of Augustus

Tiberius stayed for some time under the shadow of Augustus. Despite him being a learned man with skills, his appearance and way of speaking could not convince Rome’s people.

He spoke very slowly, taking time to make sense, which was not accepted by the people for a long period. Fortunately, Augustus took him everywhere he went, be it to training or dinner with honourable people despite his drawbacks.

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He was taken to Gaul and Marcellus in 27 BCE to learn how to rule the marches, keep the garrisons alert, and keep fortifications intact. However, they did not get a chance to participate in any fight.

While he was gaining fame from his military commanding skills, his brother Drusus, died after he fell from a horse and broke his leg while he was out campaigning in Germany.

3. Tiberius’s relationship with one of his finest advisors, Sejanus

Sejanus and Tiberius have had a close relationship since the time Sejanus started serving the imperial family. He became the Praetorian Prefect after 20 years of serving Tiberius in the year 15 AD.

Tiberius considered Sejanus as one of this best advisors and took advice from him for most of his decisions. He also had statues of Sejanus erected in most of the city of Rome.

However, Sejanus had something else going on in his mind throughout his serving period. He wanted to be the next successor so was planning the execution of Tiberius and his son.

The rumour about Sejanus plan led Tiberius to be suspicious towards him. This led to the arrest and execution of Sejanus.

2. Tiberius’s decision for leaving Rome more than once

Tiberius left Rome twice for two different reasons. First, he moved to Rhodes, indicating self-exile.

His decision of self-exile was due to his forceful marriage with Julia. He decided to leave politics and Rome then moved to Rhodes in 6 BCE.

However, after staying for some time, Tiberius found nothing much to do in Rhodes. He began to realize that his skills and powers remained within himself and started getting annoyed, frustrated, and only focused on his satisfaction.

This led to him becoming a ruthless and proud person. He then decided on making a statue of himself and asked people to worship it.

He wished to go back to Rome, but could not until Augustus permitted him. He got a chance to go back to Rome in 2 BCE after being called by Augustus. 

The second time he decided to leave Rome was after the death of his son, Drusus. When Drusus died in 23 CE, Tiberius delegated his authorities and powers to Sejanus, a Praetorian Guard. He remained the emperor just for the name.

Tiberius planned on leaving Rome in 27 CE, at the age of 67, he went to Italy. Though he had gone saying he would return in a short period, he never came back.

1. Miraculous legend behind the death of Tiberius

Tiberius died on March 16, 37 AD in Misenum. He died at the age of 77, a few months before his birthday.

He was participating in a ceremonial game where he was to throw a Javelin. Unfortunately, he fell ill, unconscious, and went into a come before he could throw.

He was then checked by his physicians and was declared to be dead within a day. However, Tiberius regained his consciousness and was recurring his faculties.

Rumours go by saying that he was not offered any saying he needed warmth more than food when asked for food. Then, he was smothered by the Praetorian commander, Macro.

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