We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Tiberius – Roman Empire

The whole doc is available only for registered users
  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1473
  • Category:

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

“Tiberius was the second emperor of Rome and a highly-successful soldier whose reputation for arrogance and debauchery is probably unfounded” (BBC History) Tiberius was a significant Julio-Claudian emperor who applied a great deal of contributions to the Roman Empire during his reign… The Julio-Claudian dynasty refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula (also known as Gaius), Claudius, and Nero and the family to which they belonged. They ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century 27 BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line, Nero, committed suicide.

The ancient historical writers, Suetonius and Tacitus, write from the point of view of the Roman senatorial aristocracy, and portray the Emperors in generally negative terms. The reign of Tiberius ( 42 B. C- 37 A. D) is a particularly important one for the Principate, since it was the first occasion when the powers designed for Augustus alone were exercised by somebody else. In contrast to the approachable and polite Augustus, Tiberius emerges from written and archaeological sources as a mysterious and darkly complex figure, intelligent and sneaky. Tacitus refers to Tiberius as a “villainous emperor. (Tacitus, Annals)

His severe depression and dark moods had a great impact on his political career as well as his personal relationships. He contributed to significant political, social, legal and military developments; he became involved with both domestic and foreign diplomacy as well as building programs which all aided his significance within the Roman Empire during his reign. There are four main aspects of Tiberius’ impact on the empire that deserve special attention: political, social, legal and military developments which contributed to continuity and change during this Julio Claudian dynasty.

Throughout his reign, Tiberius embarked on major wars of conquest, which contributed to significant military developments. Tiberius enjoyed a long and distinguished military career before he became ruler. In AD23, Tiberius recruited soldiers from the Romanised people in the provinces and the descendants of the veterans, which enabled an army to eventually be formed. These soldiers began to play a role not only on the events in the empire but also within Rome itself.

Such as, the praetorian prefect who cleverly controlled the flow of information between Rome, the emperor and the vigils, which helped play a part in the downfall of Sejanus. Tiberius later became heavily involved in military campaign which helped reduce robbery by decreasing the distances between the military posts. His first military campaign was against the Cantabria’s. He was sent to govern the “long-haired” Gaul’s and fought in the Alps, Pannonia, and Germany. While he was in Germany he conquered various Germanic peoples and took 40,000 prisoners, where he then settled them in homes in Gaul.

Tiberius received an ovation and a triumph in 9 and 7 B. C due to his succession in the Alps and domination of the Germanic peoples. However, he postponed the triumph out of respect to the disasters in Germany; this further enhanced his significance and duty as a roman leader. When he accepted his triumph he put on a triumphal banquet with 1000 tables. This event was a major contributor to the significance of Tiberius as he was able to, with the sales of his spoils; restore the temples of Concord, Castor and Pollux.

The consuls then awarded Tiberius with joint control of the provinces with Augustus. As well as his campaigns against the Germans and control of the revolt in the Alps, he also assisted in the control of a persistent guerrilla war in North Africa under Tacfarinas in A. D. 17-24. Tiberius assigned military campaigns to able generals. He avoided aggressive action unless it was necessary, preferring to win by “diplomacy rather than force. ” (Tacitus, Annals II) Tiberius provided reliable military leadership and cultivated ties with legions.

His success as a military commander stands in contrast to the inexperience of his successors who lacked confidence in themselves and suspicion of military talents in others. Therefore, Tiberius’s military success and notable actions add to the continuity and change during this period. Just like Augustus, Tiberius assisted in the political developments of the empire, which contributed to both the continuity and change in the Julio-Claudian period. He had regularly attended the senate which caused him to bring great significance of political debate.

As his reign progressed, Tiberius became increasingly frustrated with the senate. He became so annoyed that he commended that they were ‘men fit to be slaves. ’ Levick notes that “the senate, functioning as a court, was being exploited by rival factions…and incapable of operating as a serious deliberative body. ” (Levick, Tiberius, p. 113). This led to Tiberius’s escape from Rome to settle on Capri in AD 26 as he didn’t want the responsibility of emperorship anymore. This had a significant impact on Rome as the centre of government changed, with Sejanus rise in the provinces.

Tiberius also assisted individuals to meet the financial qualifications of the senatorial group. The senate offered Tiberius titles and honours, which he refused, due to the failure of senators to uphold their responsibilities. An example of this is in AD 21; Tiberius reminded the senate that the province of Africa required a new governor who would control the rebellion that was occurring there. The senate showed itself to be inadequate at this point, for it wanted Tiberius to make the choice. This suggests his significance politically which enabled him honours.

Another political contribution developed by Tiberius was his attempt to restore the traditional rights and dignity of the senate by consulting it on every issue. He commended to the senate that son of Germanicus, Nero Caesar be permitted to stand for the quaestorship five years ahead of the legal age. Being a traditionalist, Tiberius always entered the senate house without an escort and rose to greet the consuls. This emphasises his political power which was quite influential during his reign as it gave him honours and power to change the senate impacting the politics within the empire.

Tiberius also tried to encourage the senate to become a significant legislative body, by concentrating more power in his own hands and taking a direct role in the electoral process. This was a significant political contribution which caused change during this period. Along with Tiberius’ military and political developments, he had a significant legal influence which overall, contributed to continuity and change in this period. At the meeting of the Senate in September A. D. 14 when Augustus’s will was read, another document was produced. A document called, “State of the Empire” that listed all the resources and army postings of the state.

Part of the document included Augustus’ testament for future rulers to leave things as they were, and not to expand the empire further. This testament appears to be the basic reason why Tiberius did not expand the empire. However, this did not stop him from making necessary developments and changes. Tiberius abolished the consilium of Augustus and instead established a council of his friends plus a group of twenty men chosen for him from the senate. This allowed Tiberius to be advised on administrative matters. Tiberius expanded the judicial role of the senate by making every member involved and responsible for their own political actions.

He did this by introducing maiestas- or treason trials. This law was used to remove people that threatened the princeps, who were referred to as a “class invented to destroy the commonwealth” (Annals IV. 30) It was misused and resulted in many innocents being killed as well as Tiberius years in power being referred to as the “reign of terror”. This unfortunately overshadowed much of the positive contributions that he made to the Empire, as well as being wheeled out by successive emperors as a means of controlling the Roman people.

The continuity and change in this period is greatly seen through the social significance Tiberius had on the emperor. During his reign the senatorial commissions were set up to deal with the problems of the flooding of the Tiber in Italy, the care of public buildings, the maintenance of public records, investigation of catastrophes such as the collapse of the amphitheatre in AD 27 and the periodic earthquakes in Asia. Therefore, despite Tacitus powerful portrayal of Tiberius as a villainous emperor, it is obvious even in the evidence Tacitus cites against him that Tiberius was an exceptional emperor.

This can be seen from his generosity to Asia after the earthquake, grants to impoverished senators, effective financial administration, lack of personal greed or recklessness, refusal of excessive titles and divine honours even in the provinces. The use of “Moderatio” on coins is evidence for his contributions and worthy emperorship. Suetonius states that Tiberius showed himself “a citizen on equal terms. ” Therefore Tiberius is remembered as a tyrant but was in fact responsible for many victories and for administrative reforms that ensured the successful continuity of the empire.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59