The Julio-Claudians are the four emperors that succeeded Augustus following his death in AD14. The Julio-Claudians were Roman Nobles with an impressive and significant ancestry in the Roman Empire. It was during the Julio-Claudian reign that the Roman Empire reached an optimum level of power and wealth, and has been seen as the golden age of Roman arts and literature. The beginning of the Julio-Claudian dynasty was signified by the succession of Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar, most commonly known as Tiberius, to the throne in AD14. Tiberius appears to have been the most capable and experienced of the Julio-Claudian emperors, due to his military, administrative and diplomatic abilities. He was a capable and forceful leader, who enforced justice within the government of the provinces, maintained the integrity of the frontiers, and monitored the finances of the empire. Despite his abilities, he became unpopular in Roman society, and his time as emperor has been described as a reign of terror due to his cruel nature, and the events that occurred during his reign. The significance of Tiberius’ reign as emperor is most evident in the political, social, legal and military developments during his reign; foreign and domestic diplomacy; and the role of building programs during this period. The portrayal of Tiberius in sources, and the reliability of these sources also has an influence on the significance if his time as Princeps.
During his reign, Tiberius followed the instructions left by Augustus to not undertake any expansive foreign wars and avoid any major expansion , and chose to follow an Augustan pattern in his administration, to allow for a degree of continuity within the empire . Tiberius made two important innovations during his reign as emperor . The first was the lengthening of the tenure of provincial governors, and the second was the centralisation of the government system. Tiberius wanted the provinces to be governed by men of merit. To allow for this, he gave permission for governors to remain in their provinces for extended periods of time . Through lengthening the provincial commands, Tiberius’ provincial governors were able to familiarise themselves with the demands of their province . Tiberius centralised the provincial administration through allowing selected governors to rule their province from Rome, much in the same way that Tiberius himself had ruled from Capri. An example of this was Aelius Lam, who governed the office legate of Syria whilst remaining in Rome for 11 years between 21 and 32 AD .
Social reforms that took place during Tiberius’ reign include the abolishment of the Consilium of Augustus; the establishment of a council consisting of friends and allies of Tiberius, and a group chosen by the Senate; and the providing of assistance to individuals to allow for them to meet the financial qualifications of the Senatorial group . Under the rule of Tiberius, Rome did not fight in any wars or conflicts, to ensure that the emperor was able to devote himself to govern the empire efficiently. He also ensured that the provinces were not given any further burdens, and that they were secure from the greed of their governors . Tiberius’ attempt to follow the example of the Augustan rule is seen in the foreign policy that was implemented during his time as princeps. Similarly to Augustus, the newly elected princeps wanted to keep Rome at peace through the limitation of activities of the army to defend the Empire’s frontiers.
Tiberius was also the Julio-Claudian emperor who was responsible for the introduction of the treason trials (Maiestas). The main concern of this policy for both ancient and modern historians was not the policy itself, but rather the application to the Roman people, especially the Senatorial classes. The treason trials were often misused in order to remove potential threats to the princeps. This misuse resulted in the reign of Tiberius becoming known as the ‘reign of terror’ . After...
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