TIBERIUS (Tiberius Claudius Nero Cæsar) (42 b.c.–37 a.d.). The second Emperor of Rome (14–37 a.d.). He was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla (q.v.), and was adopted by Augustus (q.v.) when the latter married Livia in 38 b.c., after her compulsory divorce. He was carefully educated, and early manifested intellectual power and military skill. His first important command was the expedition sent in 20 b.c. to restore Tigranes (q.v.) to the throne of Armenia. A more noteworthy commission was given him in 15 b.c., when, in company with his younger brother Drusus (q.v.), he defeated the Rhætians. Two years later he was consul with P. Quintilius Varus, and in 11 b.c. he fought successfully against the Dalmatians and Pannonians. The death of Drusus in 9 b.c. recalled Tiberius to Germany, but in 7 b.c. he held the consulship for the second time. The troubles which were to overshadow his life had, however, already begun. In 11 b.c. he had been forced by Augustus to divorce his wife, Vipsania Agrippina, whom he loved deeply, and to marry the Emperor's daughter Julia, the widow of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (q.v.). Her conduct, and perhaps his own jealousy of the growing favor of Gaius and Lucius Cæsar, the two grandsons of Augustus, children of Julia and Agrippa, led him to retire, against the Emperor’s will, to Rhodes in 6 b.c., the year in which the tribunician power was conferred upon him for five years. He remained in Rhodes seven years, and before his return Julia had been banished for life to the island of Pandataria. The death of Lucius Cæsar in 2 a.d. and of Gaius in 4 led Augustus to adopt Tiberius as his heir. From this time until the Emperor’s death Tiberius was in command of the Roman armies, and campaign followed campaign. In 4 a.d. he reduced Germany from the Rhine to the Elbe, from 6 to 9 he waged war again in Dalmatia and Pannonia, and from 10 to 11 he held the Rhine against the Germans who had defeated Varus (q.v.). In 12 he was honored with a well-earned triumph.
When the death of Augustus occurred, August 19, 14, Tiberius was on his way to Illyricum. He was summoned home by his mother, and at once assumed control of the Empire. Despite his execution of Postumus Agrippa, the grandson of Augustus, his reign was at first beneficent. Gradually, however, a change took place in Tiberius. He minimized the power of the people, and transferred the election of magistrates from them to the Senate. At the same time he watched with suspicion the increasing popularity of Germanicus Cæsar (q.v.), his nephew. In 19 Germanicus died, poisoned, reports current at the time declared, at the instigation of his uncle. About this time the evil genius of the reign of Tiberius, Ælius Sejanus (q.v.), gained his ascendancy over the Emperor. Under his influence a system of espionage was instituted which doomed all who in any way opposed Tiberius. Freedom was abolished in Rome, the Senate was demoralized, and the Emperor sank to the level of a cruel and ruthless tyrant. In 23 Sejanus abetted the murder of the only son of Tiberius, Drusus Cæsar (q.v.). Three years later the Emperor left Rome with Sejanus, going first to Campania and in 27 to Capri, where he remained till his death.
In 29 Livia Drusilla died, thus removing one of the last barriers to the complete degeneration of her son. Two years later Tiberius learned of the treachery and ambition of Sejanus, who was put to death, only to be replaced by Macro, as corrupt as his predecessor. In 37 Tiberius died, smothered, though already on his death bed, by Macro, and was succeeded by Caligula (q.v.). The reign of Tiberius was beneficial to the Empire at large, and the provinces especially flourished under his sway. Only in Rome, and. only where his personal interests were at stake, was he merciless.
The writings of Tiberius have been lost. His style is said to have been obscure, archaic, and affected. He wrote a brief autobiography, a lyric on the death of Lucius Cæsar, and a number of Greek poems.
The New International Encyclopaedia, Vol. XXII (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1920) 255-256.