Bust of Germanicus in the Louvre
Germanicus Julius Caesar Claudianus, possibly Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus before adoption (15 BC–AD 19) was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty of the early Roman Empire. Germanicus' parents were Nero Claudius Drusus, son of Livia Drusilla, wife of Caesar Augustus, and Antonia Minor, daughter of Marc Antony. Claudius was his brother. Germanicus married Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of Augustus, who gave him nine children. Two died whilst very young, another Gaius Julius Caesar died in early childhood. The other six survived to grown age:
Germanicus was very popular among the citizens of Rome, who celebrated enthusiastically all his victories. He was also a favourite with Augustus, his grandfather in law, who, for some time, considered him as heir to the Empire. In AD 4, he finally decided in favor of Tiberius, his stepson, but compelled him to adopt Germanicus as a son and name his heir.
Germanicus assumed several military commands leading the army in the campaigns in Pannonia and Dalmatia. He is recorded to be an excellent soldier and inspired leader, loved by the legions. In the year 12 he was appointed consul after five mandates as quaestor.
After the death of Augustus in 14, the Senate appointed Germanicus commander of the forces in Germania. A short time after, the legions rioted on the news that the succession befell on the unpopular Tiberius. Refusing to accept this, the rebel soldiers cried for Germanicus as emperor. But he chose to honor Augustus' choice and put an end to the mutiny, preferring to continue only as a general. In the next two years, he subdued the Germanic tribes east of the Rhine, and assured their defeat in the Battle of the Weser River in 16. Whilst on the Rhine frontier, Germanicus found the remains of the three legions massacred in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9 (the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth legions), buried them with high honors and recovered the legion's eagles.
After the victories in Germania, Germanicus was sent to Asia , where in the year 18 he defeated the kingdoms of Cappadocia and Commagena, turning them into Roman provinces.
In the following year, Germanicus died in Alexandria, Egypt. His death was surrounded with speculations, and several sources refer to claims that he was poisoned by Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, governor of Syria, under orders of the emperor Tiberius. This was never proven and Piso was afterwards executed for murder, but Suetonius suggests Tiberius' jealousy and fear of his adopted son's popularity and increasing power as a motive.
See also: Julio-Claudian family tree
Last updated: 08-02-2005 09:38:47