Agrippina the Younger’s three marriages were significant in her rise to prominence as they all served her political advancement; protection from enemies, fortune and eventually, power in politics. Her first marriage was to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, a man seventeen years her senior, described as a “wholly despicable character” (Suetonius). Her second marriage was to Gaius Sallustius Passienus Crispus, cut short by his death, but gaining her immense fortune. Her third and final marriage was to her uncle, Emperor Claudius, giving her the political power she craved, just as her mother did before her.
Agrippina’s first marriage was at the age of 13, to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, 30 years old at the time. Gnaeus was born into a famous, noble family, the Domitii Ahenobarbi. His family was granted in 30BC by Octavian the patrician status. It was Gnaeus and Tiberius (ruler of the time) who organised the marriage, described by Leadbetter as “a match to benefit the family, not Agrippina”. Tiberius at the time was pontifex maximus, and thus, it was likely that he conducted the ceremony. One reason that the union between Gnaeus and Agrippina was the fact it provided her with protection. It was perceived that this marriage most likely saved her, and her brothers from Sejanus’ scheming. Upon their marriage, Agrippina moved from the house on the Palatine to Gnaeus’ house on the Via Sacra.
Both Agrippina and Gnaeus gained something from their marriage. By Gnaeus marrying a “Julian Princess”, or woman from the Julian bloodline, he was made consul in AD32 for a year by Caligula, extended from the usual six month period. Apart from the protection Gnaeus provided for Agrippina, the birth of Agrippina’s only child, Nero, was another. Nero, born as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus was born in AD37, breech. A baby being born breech was widely perceived as ill-omened, however, ill-omened was how Agrippina’s life was said to be, predicted by a soothsayer that her son, in the...
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