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The role of Agrippina Dr David W.J. Gill University of Wales Swansea.

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Presentation on theme: "The role of Agrippina Dr David W.J. Gill University of Wales Swansea."— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of Agrippina Dr David W.J. Gill University of Wales Swansea

2 Introduction l Agrippina’s role l The people behind Nero l Agrippina’s death

3 The role of Agrippina l Suetonius probably read her memoirs (now lost) l Tacitus Ann. 13: ‘The senate voted her two official attendants and the Priesthood of Claudius’ l appears on coinage with Nero

4 The role of Agrippina l favoured Claudius’ son Britannicus in 55 l 59 opposed Nero’s affair with Poppaea Sabina –prefect of Misenum to drown her –this marked the end of the golden age

5 The death of M. Junius Silanus l Tacitus, Ann. 13: ‘The first casualty of the new reign was the governor of Asia, M. Junius Silanus. His death was treacherously contrived by Agrippina, without Nero’s knowledge... Agrippina was afraid that he would avenge her murder of his brother...’

6 Death of Narcissus l Tacitus, Ann. 13 –‘Equally hurried was the death of Claudius’ freedman Narcissus. … Imprisoned and harshly treated, the threat of imminent execution drove him to suicide. The emperor, however, was sorry: Narcissus’ greed and extravagance harmonized admirably with his own still latent vices’

7 Restraints on Agrippina l Tacitus Ann –Sex. Afranius Burrus l ‘by a soldier’s attention to detail and strictness of behaviour’ –L. Annaeus Seneca l ‘by his lessons in eloquence and his combination of dignity with affability’ –‘Agrippina’s violence, inflamed by all the passions of ill-gotten tyranny, encountered their united opposition’

8 Sex. Afranius Burrus l equestrian procurator of Livia Drusilla, Tiberius and Claudius l from Gallia Narbonensis l favourite of Iulia Agrippina l sole prefect of Praetorian Guard in 51 (Claudius) –continued under Nero

9 Sex. Afranius Burrus l 55: survived charge of conspiracy l 59: controlled Nero’s affairs after murder of his mother l opposed Nero’s divorce from Octavia l died in 62: –Suetonius and Cassius Dio suggest that he was poisoned

10 L. Annaeus Seneca l from Corduba in southern Spain, 4BC-AD 1 l equestrian family l second son of Elder Seneca –brother was Gallio, governor of Achaia l exiled for adultery in 41 under Claudius –recalled through Iulia Agrippina 49 l appointed tutor to Nero

11 Responsibilities of Seneca l amicus principis l write the emperor’s speeches l exercise patronage l manage intrigue!

12 Seneca’s fall from power l compromised by murder of Britannicus (55) l 59 criticised for murder of Agrippina l 59 criticised in the Senate –Tac. Ann : how did he made 300 million HS in four years? l 62 death of Burrus l 65 forced to commit suicide for alleged links with Piso’s conspiracy

13 Jealousy over Acte l Nero had affair with a slave Acte l Agrippina saw her as a ‘rival’ (Tac. Ann. 13) l Nero tried to win back his mother’s favour

14 Britannicus l Agrippina claimed that Britannicus was the true heir –son of Claudius l When Britannicus acquired the toga virilis Nero invited him to sing –growing jealousy and hated him (Tac. Ann. 13) –‘afraid that the common people might be less attached to Claudius’ adopted son than to his real one’ (Suet. Nero 33)

15 Britannicus l Britannicus poisoned at dinner –assisted by Locusta, a poisoner (Suet. Ner. 33) –‘Nero lay back unconcernedly’ –‘here was Nero murdering a relation’ –‘the poor boy had “long been subject to these epileptic seizures”’ (Suet. Nero 33)

16 Murdering relations l Nero later referred to mushrooms as ‘food of the gods’ –Suet. Ner. 33

17 Agrippina’s reaction l supported Octavia, Nero’s wife l Nero tried to alienate her by –removing her bodyguard –giving her a separate palace l Nero started plotting to kill his mother

18 Nero’s reaction l Suet. Nero. 34 –‘The over-watchful, over critical eye that Agrippina kept on whatever Nero said or did proved more than he could stand. He first tried to embarrass her by frequent threats to abdicate and go into retirement in Rhodes’

19 The plot to kill Agrippina l Suet. Nero 34 –tried to poison her 3 times –‘he rigged up a machine in the ceiling of her bedroom which would dislodge the panels and drop them on her while she slept’ –a collapsible cabin-boat –accidental collision with her galley near Baiae l and offered her a collapsible boat for return trip! –but Agrippina swam to safety –eventually had her killed

20 Death of Agrippina l Tacitus, Ann. 13 –Anicetus broke into her home –‘Strike here!’ - pointing to her womb


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