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Rise to Prominence & Life Under the Emperors

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Presentation on theme: "Rise to Prominence & Life Under the Emperors"— Presentation transcript:

1 Rise to Prominence & Life Under the Emperors
Agrippina the Younger Rise to Prominence & Life Under the Emperors

2 Her Family She was born into the Imperial Family; her parents were Germanicus (named heir to the title of Princeps) and Agrippina the Elder (the granddaughter of Augustus). She was the eldest daughter of 6 surviving children; her brothers were Nero, Drusus and Gaius Caligula and her sisters were Drusilla and Julia Livilla.


4 Fate of her Family Germanicus – dies of illness in AD19 in Antioch.
Agrippina I, Nero and Drusus exiled under the order of Sejanus. All 3 die in exile. Sejanus was head of the Praetorian Guard and was relied on by Tiberius during his retirement to Capri.

5 Gaius Gaius becomes emperor in AD37 and is assassinated in AD41.
His rule was erratic and Agrippina was reportedly involved with Livilla and Lepidus (Drusilla’s husband) of plotting to overthrow him.

6 Her sisters Drusilla dies in AD38 of a fever.
Julia Livilla executed by Claudius no later than AD42 after being accused (though not proven) of adultery with Seneca by Messalina (Claudius’ wife).

7 The Marriages

8 Marriages – the first… Her first marriage was to Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in AD28. This was arranged by Tiberius as was the standard practice in Rome. He was consul in AD32 and was related to Augustus through his mother Antonia Major. He died while she was in exile.

9 Importance of the marriage.
He gave her status as a married woman. He was friendly with Tiberius and therefore she was ‘protected’ by the intrigues of Sejanus who had effectively removed her mother and 2 elder brothers. Ahenobarbus was by all accounts a ‘man utterly detestable’ (Tacitus) – therefore was the marriage a ‘punishment’? It gave her a son – Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (later called Nero) who was born 9 months after the death of Tiberius. Was this a coincidence? If not what does it tell us about her?

10 Marriages – the 2nd… She set her sights on the prominent Servius Sulpicius Galba, who later became Emperor after Nero. However she was publically slapped by his mother as he was grieving for his very recently deceased wife. She married the wealthy Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus who had been consul in 27 and again in 44. He had formerly been the husband of a sister of Domitius Ahenobarbus and so was her brother-in-law. Passienus died sometime before 47.

11 Importance of the marriage…
It her from Messalina (wife of Claudius) who saw her as a threat because: She was incredibly popular She also had a son to promote who was 4 years older than Brittanicus her own son. It provided her with: Legitimacy as a Roman matron Stability for herself and Nero (he had to grow up!) Incredible wealth as she inherited it all when he died Leadbetter argues that Crispus was the son of Livia’s confidante – a ‘keeper of secrets’ – and therefore she may have had access to some of this information about prominent Romans.

12 Marriages – the 3rd…. She married her uncle Claudius in AD49 after the execution of Messalina. There were reportedly 3 rivals to be his wife. Pallas, the financial secretary was supposedly her lover and supported her claim. Tacitus says she was able to ‘arouse his passions’ as she had a niece's ‘privilege of kissing him’. But there is no criticism of Claudius!!

13 Reasons for Marriage to Claudius
Did she seduce him into marrying her? Did she have to? Most sources will say she did as they liked to believe: Claudius was stupid She was a manipulative woman who’d do anything to gain power BUT… Leadbetter argues against this (as does Robert Graves interestingly) where he believes that Claudius had to marry her.

14 ….Then why did Claudius have to marry her?
The ‘marriage’ of Messalina to Gaius Silius (the consul-elect) was not just a personal betrayal – it was also a politically dangerous time for Claudius as Silius was young, virile, popular – all things Claudius was not. Therefore he needed to make a political marriage that would make his position as unassailable. Marriage to Agrippina II would do this. How? She was very popular with the army in her own right (examine later actions as evidence of this). She brought the Julian (and Augustan) line with her, Claudius was not descended from Augustus. She brought Nero with her – a much more suitable candidate as heir than Brittanicus. She was too dangerous to leave for someone else to marry. What do you think?

15 Importance of the marriage
It gave her the ultimate position for a woman in Imperial Rome – the wife of an Emperor (compare this with Livia as the only other wife and mother of an Emperor). It helped her to promote Nero’s position and claim to the principate. She received many honours including: She wore a military cloak at official state functions, Greeted foreign embassies in the capacity of full imperial authority Founded and had a colony named after her where she was born Appeared prominently on coinage Given the title ‘Augusta’ – the first living woman to get this Had her dictations recorded in official government documentation. Had Nero formally adopted by Claudius and engaged to his daughter Octavia. Had Seneca recalled (became Nero’s Tutor) and made Burrus sole prefect of the Praetorian Guard. In essence she ‘co-ruled’ Rome with Claudius.

16 The Sebasteion Relief This relief clearly shows the equity with which the provinces saw Claudius and Agrippina – note the equal height! (I think she’s a bit taller...). Also notice the cornucopia (Horn of Plenty) that Agrippina is holding in her left hand and which represents the prosperity of the Roman Empire.

17 Her Life Under The Emperors

18 Tiberius AD14-37 Essentially her life is quiet although she would have been aware of the accusations of her mother towards Tiberius. She was married at the age of 13 to Gaius Domitius Ahenobarbus which effectively ‘protected her’ from Tiberius. But was she really in any danger from him? What do you think she would have learnt from her mother’s behaviour and ultimate fate?

19 Gaius ‘Caligula’ AD37-41

20 Coin of Agrippina and her sisters
This coin was minted and distributed at the accession of Gaius. The 3 sisters are represented as – Securitas (security), Concordia (unity, agreement) and Fortuna (possessing divine favour is the closest translation). These qualities Gaius wanted associated with himself and his principate. The coin was a piece of propaganda spread deliberately by Gaius that used his sisters.

21 Privileges given to his sisters…
Agrippina with her younger sisters received various honours from their brother: They were given the rights of the Vestal Virgins such as the freedom to view public games from the imperial seats in the stadium. Issuing of coins depicting images of Caligula and his sisters. Roman coins like these were never issued before. Caligula added his sister's names in all loyalty oaths in the following terms: ‘I will not value my life or that of my children less highly than I do the safety of the Emperor and his sisters’ and in consular motions: ‘Good fortune attend to the Emperor and his sisters’.

22 But that all changed… After Gaius’ illness and Drusilla’s death in AD38, he appeared to become increasingly erratic and even manic. Leadbetter claims that Agrippina, along with Drusilla’s husband Lepidus and Livilla were involved in a plot to overthrow Gaius and replace him with Lepidus. If true, this shows a deliberate attempt from within the ruling dynasty to rectify an embarrassing mistake. Gaetulicus, the commander of Upper Germany was the mastermind who was supposed to replace Gaius with Lepidus. When the plot was discovered, he was put to death as was Lepidus. When she is forced by Gaius to return to Rome carrying the ashes of Lepidus it is the ultimate mockery of her mother’s actions in AD19. This is a deliberate humiliation as a sign of her defeat by Gaius. However she remained defiant and both sisters are exiled (recalled by Claudius). Nero lives with his paternal aunt Domitia Lepida (who is also the mother of Messalina).

23 Claudius AD41-54 The reasons for the marriage have already been discussed as has the honours she received. Lets look at what the coinage tells us: Below a golden aureas and a silver denarius

24 On her own… Gold coin minted AD50-54? What do they tell us?

25 Aureas of Nero and Agrippina II AD55
Nero AD54-68 One of the first coins struck by Nero upon his accession as emperor. The inscription reads “Agrippina Augusta, wife of the Divine Claudius, mother of Nero Caesar”. Nero's inscription appears only on the reverse of the coin around an oak wreath. Aureas of Nero and Agrippina II AD55

26 More coins… The third precious metal coinage of Nero as emperor. The inscription reads “Nero, son of the Divine Claudius, Imperator, holder of Tribunician power, consul”. How has Agrippina’s position changed? What does this indicate about their relationship?

27 Statue of Agrippina II & Nero
What does this statue mean?

28 Her death… While she enjoyed a brief period of stability and ‘rule’ under Nero within a year she had been replaced by Seneca and Burrus as Nero’s chief advisors. Why did he decide to kill her? His relationships with Acte & Poppaea The encouragement of Seneca & Burrus Her continued popularity Her support of Octavia & Brittanicus The perceived threat of her remarriage. In the end Nero could neither live with her nor without her.

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