The Twelve Caesars
From the beginning of the Roman Empire a series of imperial archives was kept, records which covered the rulers of Rome including their personal behavior, their interaction with those around them, and most importantly their achievements during their reign over the empire. Suetonius, the author of The Twelve Caesars, produced the biography during the reign of Emperor Hadrian for whom he served as the imperial secretary gaining access to the imperial archives. Suetonius used the imperial archives and a series of first hand accounts to produce his work which covered in vast detail the inner working and personal aspects of their roman leaders beginning in 70 BC to 96 CE. Divius Julius and Augustus were the first two of the twelve Caesars which began the development of Rome, beginning with Julius’ first consulship and coming to an end with Augustus’ passing. During their reign Rome became the most powerful and prosperous empire at the time through the conquering of territories such as Africa, Egypt, Spain and parts of Germany. Following the death of Augustus in 14 CE., the reign of the last four Caesars of the Julian bloodline began. These final four Caesars of the Julian bloodline included Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, and Nero. All of these Roman rulers had their own differing personalities, vices and means of ruling the Roman Empire. This paper will thoroughly explore the development of the final four Caesars over the course of 14 AD to 68 CE. Along with the changes that the Roman civilization experienced during the Caesars reign, the decisions of these Roman Emperors that lead to Rome’s changes, the analysis of their decisions, the personalities of the four Caesars, how the public viewed the Caesars and finally my own opinion on the Caesars.
The successor of Augustus and inheritor of the largest Roman Empire was Augustus’ stepson Tiberius. Tiberius gained his status as Emperor following Augustus’ death in 14 AD. Tiberius was born on November 16th, 42 BC to his mother Livia and father Nero. Nero later gave up his wife to the current Roman Emperor at the time, Augustus, who made her his wife and Tiberius his stepson in 4 CE. Tiberius went on to marry Augustus’ daughter Julia, who he divorced when she was banished and exiled from the empire for her inappropriate and outlandish behavior. These familial ties to Augustus allowed Tiberius to grow politically and eventually inherit the Roman Empire once Augustus passed. Tiberius’ career begins as a military leader running a campaign through the Alps with his brother Drusus in the year 16 BC. His success during this campaign allowed him to gain his first consulship beginning in 13 BC. Tiberius continued prospering militarily as he stopped the Illyrian revolts in the German region which eventually led to the overall submission of the Illyrians. Upon his return Tiberius learned of Augustus’ death and began his reign of the Roman Empire. Tiberius’ reign as the Emperor of the Roman Empire lasted from 12 CE until his death in 37 CE. Suetonius discussed the overall appeal of Tiberius’ rule in his writings, stating that the people of the Roman Empire were not very satisfied and disliked him as a ruler. In particular, the people of the German region disliked Tiberius due to his suppression of the people in this region. His popularity did not grow either when he decided to banish the Jewish people from the Roman Empire and allowed for parts of the empire to be taken over by surrounding nations. Under Tiberius’ rule he did almost nothing to the empire and lead the republic to fall apart. Tiberius’ decisions or lack there of during his rule were shaped primarily by the kind of person Tiberius was. His banishment of the Jews can be explained based off of Tiberius’ strong personal belief in fate which opposes the Jewish belief in God and that a person is capable of controlling their own fate. The lack of governing that Tiberius had over the Roman...
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