Tiberius Claudius Nero, often simply referred to as Tiberius, was Roman Emperor from A.D. 14 to his death in 37. He succeeded Augustus, his adoptive father. Before becoming Emperor, Tiberius was a successful military commender, serving first in the east and later in northern Europe.
Tiberius Claudius Nero was born on 16 November 42 B.C., the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. Though the elder Tiberius Claudius Nero had initially been a supporter of Julius Caesar he ended up supporting his assassins. Tiber Claudius Nero fathered another son by Livia (Nero Drusus) but divorced his wife before the child was born. Octavian, later the Emperor Augustus, divorced his own wife and married Livia. The younger Tiberius Claudius Nero therefore became the step-son of the man who would become Emperor of Rome after a civil war in which he defeated Mark Antony.
As the wife of the Emperor, Livia was hugely influential and along with Marcus Agrippa was one of Augustus’ main confidents. Though Tiberius was Augustus' step-son, this was by no means a guarantee that he would succeeded him as Emperor. In 22 B.C. Augustus arranged for his daughter, Julia, to marry Agrippa and when they had children Augustus adopted the eldest two boys marking them as his heirs. In the 20s B.C. Tiberius was militarily active, serving in the east where Rome was establishing its dominance. Later, his military career took him to northern Europe where he earned a reputation as an efficient commander.
Tiberius married Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of Agrippa. Together they had a son, Nero. In 13 B.C., while still in Germany, Tiberius was made consul for the first time. When Agrippa died in 12 B.C. his sons, Gaius and Lucius, were left without a father. In a move to ensure the imperial heirs were properly cared for, Augustus ordered Tiberius to dissolve his marriage with Vipsania and marry Julia. Historian David Shotter described Tiberius marriage to Vipsania as “the happiest and most rewarding feature of [his] life”. Tiberius struggled to adjust to the new reality of his marriage to Julia, and having once tried to talk to Vipsania in the street had been warned off by the Emperor.
When Nero Drusus died in Germany in 9 B.C., Tiberius escorted the funeral procession on its route back to Rome. Tiberius was made consul in 7 B.C., and in 6 B.C. was made a tribune. However, in 6 B.C. Tiberius chose to retreat from political life and travelled to Rhodes where he lived in near seclusion. Augutus was unhappy with his son-in-law's choice, feeling that Tiberius was abandoning his duties. While he was on Rhodes news reached Tiberius that his former wife Vipsania had been married to Gaius Asinius Gallus; this was the start of an animosity between the two that lasted until Gallus died in A.D. 33. One factor contributing to Tiberius' misanthropy was the fact Julia had frequent affairs and as he had been ordered to marry her by the Emperor himself he was powerless to divorce her. In 2 B.C. Augustus sent his daughter into exile for her numerous affairs and arranged for her to divorce Tiberius.
In A.D. 2 Tiberius was recalled to Rome. Though his former wife Julia was in exile, her sons remained imperial heirs. However, they died within two years of each other, and in A.D. 4 there was a dynastic crisis as Augustus had to decide who would succeed him. He adopted Tiberius and Agrippa Postumus (the only surviving son of Agrippa and Julia) as his heirs, with the provision that Tiberius would adopt Germanicus, his nephew.
- Shotter, David (2004). Tiberius Caesar, 2nd edition (1st edition in 1992). London: Routledge. pp. 4–7. ISBN 0-415-31945-5.
- Shotter, Tiberius, pp. 8–10.
- Shotter, Tiberius, p. 94.
- Shotter, Tiberius, pp. 10–11.
- Shotter, Tiberius, pp. 11–12.
- Shotter, Tiberius, p. 13.