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Tiberius (14-37 AD) Emperor of Rome

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Tiberius Julius Caesar was the second Roman Emperor and ruler from 14 – 37. Christ was crucified during his rule. Tiberius was the first child in the family of Tiberius Claudius Nero, who belonged to the branch of an ancient patrician family. Father Tiberius supported the Republicans and fought against Octavian. In the year 39 BC, Octavian proclaimed an amnesty, and Tiberius’ parents were able to return to Rome. Octavian fell in love and married Tiberius’ mother Livia and made her divorce her husband. Thanks to the second marriage of his mother, Tiberius became the stepchild of the most powerful man in the Roman Empire.

Augustus selected several people who could be declared successors in the event of his death. Among them was Tiberius. At the age of 17, he became a quaestor. At the same time, Augustus granted him the right to become a praetor and consul five years before the needed qualifications.

Military Career

Tiberius was sent to the east under the command of Agrippa. Having received a powerful army at his disposal, Tiberius went to Armenia to the border with Parthia. Under military pressure, the Parthians agreed to return to Augustus the eagles that remained with the Parthians from the time of the defeat of the legions of Marcus Crassus. In addition, for Armenia, he established the status of a neutral buffer state between the two empires, the Roman and Parthian. Tiberius fought several battles with the Transalpine Gauls. In 16 BC, the army of Tiberius reached the source of the Danube. In the year 13 BC, Tiberius returned to Rome, where he accepted the position of consul. When Agrippa died, Tiberius became the most likely successor Roman Emperor but soon he lost that status and was expelled from Rome.

Heir to Augustus

In the absence of other successors, Augustus had no other choice, and adopted Tiberius and named him Tiberius Julius Caesar. Augustus, in turn, forced Tiberius to adopt his nephew Germanicus. Tiberius took the post and power of the tribune so he officially became the second person in the state.

Tiberius again went to war. In the 6th year, he collected a large army in the middle Danube for a war with the German Marcomanni tribe, but was forced to abandon the campaign because he needed to suppress uprisings in Pannonia and Dalmatia. After the defeat of the Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest, Tiberius had to re-establish border across the Rhine.

In the year 13 he became Co-regent of Augustus, his consular authority was equal to the power of the Emperor. In year 14, the emperor Octavian August died. Tiberius and Livia personally were present at the death of the Emperor.


The problem facing Tiberius in the year 14 was primarily whether the Principate could ever continue in the same form as it was under Augustus. The senate proclaimed the so-called Statute of the Empire, in which Augustus bequeathed not to expand the existing state borders. However, Tiberius generally ignored the statute. Tiberius had no illusions about the complexity of the task entrusted to him, and responsibility to the Roman people.

During his reign, the state treasury increased, provincial governance improved, but the main result was the strengthening of the power of the emperor. Tiberius still could not abandon the republican traditions. He masked all his steps with decisions of the Senate, provided an external shine to the consuls, stayed in the shadows, lived in republican simplicity, and renounced the honorary titles that the servile Senate was ready to offer him.

The campaigns of Tiberius, Ahenobarbus, and Saturninus in Germania between 6 BC and 1 BC.


Under Tiberius, public finances were strengthened. The large construction projects built with public money stopped, with rare exceptions such as temples, and roads for military needs. The Senate passed laws against luxury, and on the initiative of Tiberius, the money from the treasury was no longer spent on public games.

At the same time, Tiberius did not skimp on spending in case of urgent circumstances. In year 17, the earthquake victims of the city received 10 million sesterces from him for restoration, as well as a five-year tax exemption. Millions were spent on the restoration of Rome after fires and floods in the year 27 and 36. In 33, after the adoption of the law on the liquidation of debts aimed at the same struggle with usurers, Tiberius allocated more than 100 million sesterces for the issuance of interest-free loans to the indebted landowners.

Tiberius suspended Germanic military operations. The new strategic concept was the division of the Rhine into the Upper and Lower Germany.

Last years

At the beginning of year 37, his health began to deteriorate rapidly, and on March 16, 37, he died in his villa in Mosen. Tiberius had simply lost consciousness, but all present decided that the emperor had died. When they had already begun to congratulate Caligula, Tiberius suddenly opened his eyes. This horrified everyone, and the assembled people fled. But Macron, who had not lost his temper and determination, ordered Tiberius strangled, throwing a heap of clothes on him. According to other versions, he was strangled by Caligula, or poisoned by him, or starved to death after a fever.

Tiberius left a double impression of himself in history. On one side, Tiberius was a gloomy, unsociable man, and the time of his reign was vague and terrible. In works of authors of that era, the personality of Tiberius is described differently in every version. Later in life, he became paranoid and frightened. He withdrew from the politics. The Empire was increasingly working from inertia and the bureaucracy of the Augustian period. He did not conduct unnecessary wars and he left behind a strong state. He was not popular among the people due to some of his policies. But his period of rule was crucial to the making of a system by which future rulers would rule. But we can say that Tiberius was a great Emperor that managed to control the situation of the Roman Empire.


  • Publius Cornelius Tacitus . ” Annals .”
  • Guy Suetonius Tranquill . “The life of the twelve Caesars .”
  • Dion Cassius . “Roman history.”
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