Ancient Personalities Assessment
Agrippina the Younger
Describe the basis of Agrippina’s power and influence in her time (10 marks) The female role models in her life were the Imperial Women. Livia, wife of Augustus was a great influence. She was a powerful woman who held the title of Augusta after her death. The Julio-Claudian women held great prominence and would have acted as role models to Agrippina. Her Claudian grand-mother, Antonia retained her status after the death of her husband Drusus and was the woman who uncovered the plot of Sejanus. These great examples of power would have acted as a guide to young Agrippina. Tacitus, in his writings, often has a negative view of Agrippina the Younger’s power, stating that her “Exceptionally illustrious birth is indisputable” and he also refers to her as “This always terrible and now insincere woman”. This suggests that her power was not accepted by many Roman men, as it was plainly against typical tradition. That of course being that women should not have such influence on powerful men, especially the ‘emperor’. Agrippina’s particular power was exercised most effectively during the reigns of Claudius and Nero, as portrayed in modern and ancient sources through her actions and the symbols of her power. Even from the reign of Caligula, however, she exercised more power than the average Roman woman, largely due to her Julian blood and connection with Gaius, who made her an honorary Vestal Virgin and allowed her to sit with him at the games. The title of Vestal Virgin was significant, as it allowed her to have legal advantages. But this is insignificant when compared with the power she rose to during her later life. Such an action was a reflection of the perseverance and determination to cease power, not plainly for herself, but for her son, which was not a common action displayed by many Roman women at the time. This further emphasises how important, influential...