In the early first century AD, the Roman Empire was subject to autocratic rule and the old Republic was long dead. Augustus had been ruling for forty years and most of that time he was loved and praised by the Senate and the people of Rome. Throughout his reign, Augustus had the one lingering problem of finding a successor to take over the role of Emperor. He had chosen 3 different heirs in his time of rule; however, they all passed before they had the chance to inherit Augustus’ esteemed power. His fourth choice, Tiberius, was the one to succeed Augustus. He was often referred to, by Augustus, as an outstanding general and the only one capable of defending Rome against her enemies. The statement, ‘Tiberius is condemned by many ancient historians (including Tacitus), and his reign is often portrayed as being detrimental to the welfare of the Roman Empire’ is invalid as he treated the senate fairly, created strong economics and security in the state and boosted the empire into an unprecedented state of prosperity. This hypothesis will be proven through this essay by analyzing factors such as Tiberius’ administration of the Empire, his relationship with the senate, his financial control, the effect of Sejanus over his rule and why were his last years as Emperor referred to as a ‘reign of terror’ by Tacitus.
At an early age, Tiberius was given military command and in his first campaign he won great renown with his troops and the Senate. He followed this up with another victory in Pannonia and for his efforts he received a triumph in Rome, the single greatest honor any general could receive. Augustus granted him the powers of a Tribune. Tiberius cared greatly for the welfare of his soldiers and they responded with respect and deep affection (A.J.K, 1989). Augustus granted Tiberius permission to retire to Rhodes, however, after seven years of retirement, Augustus adopted Tiberius as his son and his succession was assured. However Tiberius still was not pleased as he knew he was being used again for political purposes as Augustus did not want Tiberius as heir (A.J.K, 1989). Tiberius was then given an army to pacify Germany. Following the great success there, the Illyricum revolt was stopped which made the region safe for Rome. As a reward for his efforts Tiberius was named co-reagent with Augustus in 13AD (A.J.K, 1989).
Following Tiberius’ succession, two mutinies broke out; one in lower Germany on the Rhine and another in Pannonia on the Danube due to the troops’ conditions of service and the pay. Tiberius quickly responded and ordered Germanicus to resolve the mutiny on the Rhine and Drusus to resolve the Danube mutiny. Drusus succeeded; however, Germanicus did not, showing his lack of strength and decisiveness. Germanicus later died and Tiberius then adopted Drusus as his son and made his heir (M.K, 1989).
The mutinies in Pannonia and on the Rhine were not a good start to Tiberius’ rule and the Senate saw that. Tiberius disregarded the mutinies...