Tiberius (full name: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus; born 42 BC as Tiberius Claudius Nero, died AD 37) was the second Emperor of Rome following the death of Augustus, ruling from AD 14 until his death in 37. He was the son of Livia Drusilla and her first husband Tiberius Nero. His mother's second husband was Augustus, who was the Princeps Civitatis (Translates to "first-citizen") better known to history as the first Roman Emperor. Tiberius grew up in his biological father's house. When his father died he went to live with his mother, his stepfather and his younger stepsister, Julia. Livia wanted to advance her sons as far as possible and used her position as Augustus' wife to advance Tiberius' career.
He married Vipsania, the daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Augustus' greatest general who defeated Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium. He had one son with Vipsania. Agrippa was also the husband of Tiberius' stepsister Julia, although he was much older. They had 3 sons together. When Agrippa died, Tiberius and Julia were forced by their parents to marry each other, even though it meant that Tiberius had to leave Vipsania. Although the marriage was reportedly peaceful at first the death of their young son Tiberillus caused the marriage to turn cold. Julia refused to acknowledge Tiberius as her equal and very soon she began petitioning to her father for a divorce. When Augustus refused, Tiberius and Julia separated. Tiberius left for Rhodes and Julia allied herself with Iullus Antonius, the son of Mark Antony who allegedly became her lover. Julia was later exiled and Iullus executed, both for adultery and treason.
Tiberius returned to Rome following the sudden death of his stepson, Lucius Caesar, the second son of Julia and Agrippa. Augustus finally adopted him when Tiberius's other stepson, Gaius Caesar, (Julia and Agrippa's eldest son and Augustus' principle successor), was killed. However, Augustus also adopted his youngest grandson, Agrippa Postumus. Postumus was exiled and later murdered following Tiberius' succession. Julia committed suicide following her father's death, or was helped along to starvation by edict of Tiberius.
As an emperor Tiberius was not well liked nor was he especially friendly. Well into his 50's when he took the throne, he showed signs of being bitter and frustrated. His relationship with his mother soured and they had little to do with each other until her death in 29 AD at the age of almost 90. A majority of the Roman people preferred Tiberius' nephew Germanicus to be emperor over Tiberius. Germanicus was the husband of Julia's youngest daughter, Agrippina. For the majority of Tiberius' rein, there was friction between him and his stepdaughter. Agrippina was the only living grandchild of Augustus left alive as her mother Julia had killed herself, her three brothers had all died and her elder sister Julilla had also died. Tiberius later exiled Agrippina (with the help of his right-hand man Sejanus) to the same island that Julia had been exiled to and she eventually committed suicide by refusing to eat. It is said that Tiberius ordered her guards to force her to eat, violently, and she lost an eye from the impact. The two elder sons of Agrippina, Drusus and Nero were both killed as well; one was exiled and the other locked away and starved to death. The only one of Agrippina's sons who survived was Gaius "Caligula", who Tiberius later made his heir. In 26 A.D. Tiberius left Rome for the island of Capri, where, it is recorded, he engaged in all manner of debauchery.
With Tiberius gone, the power of Sejanus in Rome increased. Sejanus had conspired with Livilla, who was Tiberius' niece and had been married to his son Drusus, to secretly poison Drusus years before. He died in 23 A.D. Sejanus tried to have himself married to Livilla but Tiberius prevented it. Now along with Livilla, Sejanus plotted to overthrow the Emperor in favor of the Julian line with either Caligula, his grandson Tiberius Gemellus, or himself as an adopted Julian as the new Emperor. However, the plot was foiled when Antonia mother of Livilla exposed it. Sejanus' wife exposed the role of Sejanus and Livilla in the poisoning of Drusus. Tiberius had all Sejanus' supporters (mostly supporters of Tiberius' ex-wife Julia's family) rounded up and executed. Sejanus and his children were also executed.
Tiberius was emperor when Jesus Christ was crucified, but he had no part in this action. When Jesus asked for a coin and asked whose face was on it, it would have been the face of Tiberius that was seen (unless it was an old coin).
- Suetonius, The Life of the Caesars