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Drusus Claudius’ Histories: ‘Germanicus and Tiberius Campaign, pt. 1’ and ‘Germanicus and Tiberius campaign, pt 2’ (4,424 words)
Germanicus and Tiberius pt. 1: ‘Revenge of the Empire, Defeat in the Teutoburg Forest’
Betrayal by Arminius
Rebellion in Illyricum
Germanicus and Tiberius pt. 2: ‘Agrippina the Elder and Her Surviving Don’ or ‘Caligula’
Agrippina the Elder
The Timaeus by Plato
Financial Crisis and Famine
Deucalion and the Deluge
Germanicus Julius Caesar’s mother was Antonia minor. He was adopted by the Emperor Tiberius. He was born on the 15th of May BC, and died in October of 19 AD. He had a sister, Livia, and brother Claudius.
He shared the same biological father and was brother to the future emperor, Claudius, made so long after the death of Germanicus, and his son would go on to become the notorious future emperor Caligula.
Germanicus became a ‘quaestor’ in 7 AD at four years before the legal age of 25 years old. He was sent to Illyricum the same year to help Tiberius suppress a rebellion by the Pannonians and the Dalmatians.
The rebel position in Pannonia collapsed in 8 AD and they surrendered to the Romans. The Pannonians were left divided, and the Romans were able to subdue the Breuci without battle.
The pacification of the Breuci, with their large population and resources, was a significant victory for the Romans who would be reinforced by eight auxiliary cohorts of Breuci before the end of the war.
Then, in 9 AD, Roman forces took the initiative and pushed into Dalmatia. Tiberius divides his forces into three divisions: one under Silvanus, which advanced south east from Sirmium; another commanded by Lepidus which advanced north west along the Una valley; and the third led by Tiberius and Germanicus in the Dalmatian hinterland.
The Roman forces under Tiberius and Germanicus pursued Bato to the fortress of Andretium near Salona, to which they laid siege. When it became clear that Bato would not surrender Tiberius assaulted the fortress and captured him.
In the courts, Germanicus was a popular ‘quaestor’ because he acted as an advocate as much in capital jurisdiction cases before Augustus as he did before lesser judges. He successfully defended a quaestor accused of murder in 10 AD, in which the prosecutor demanded a trial before Augustus.
Betrayal by Arminius
In 9 AD three Roman Legions commanded by Varus were destroyed by a coalition of German tribes led by Arminius, a natural German raised Roman who had defected back to Germania and set a trap as his parting gift—and this sneak attack was the result of his calculated defection.
In 11 AD Germanicus and Tiberius were dispatched to defend the Empire against the Germans. The two Roman generals crossed the Rhine, their forces combined in an alliance with the Marcomannic federation of Marbod, which prevented the German coalition from crossing the Rhine themselves and invading Gaul and Italy in winter. In winter, Germanicus returned to Rome where he was, after five mandates as ‘quaestor’ and despite never having been ‘aedile’ or ‘praetor’ he was appointed consul in the year 12 AD.
Germanicus also courted popularity by ministering the ‘Ludi Martiales’, the games of Mars, as Pliny the Elder recounts, in which he had released 200 lions in the ‘Circus Maximus.’
In October of 12 AD Tiberius held a triumph for his victory over the Pannonians and Dalmatians, which he had actually postponed on account of the defeat of Varus at the Teutoburg Forest. Tiberius was accompanied by Germanicus, among his other generals.
The next year the Emperor Augustus appointed him commander of the forces on the Rhine, which totaled 8 Legions and was about one-third of Rome’s military force.
The next year Augustus died and the Senate met to confirm Tiberius as princeps. That day the Senate also dispatched a delegation to Germanicus’ camp to send it condolences for the death of his grandfather and to grant him proconsular ‘imperium.’
Rebellion in Illyricum
In Germany and Illyricum the Legions were in mutiny. In Germany, the Legions in mutiny were those of the lower Rhine: the V, XXI, and the XX. They had not been paid the bonuses promised them by Augustus and, when it became clear a response from Tiberius was not forthcoming, they revolted.
Germanicus dealt with the troops in Germania and Tiberius’s son, Castor, dealt with Illyricum.
The army of the lower Rhine sought an increase in pay, the reduction of their service to 16 years, down from 20 years, to mitigate the hardship of their military tasks, and vengeance against the centurions for their cruelty.
After Germanicus arrived the soldiers listed their complaints to him and attempted to proclaim him Emperor.
His open and affable manners made him popular with the soldiers, but he remained loyal to the Emperor. The news of the mutiny reached the upper Rhine; the Legions numbered II ‘Augusta’, XIV, and XIV held a meeting to meet their demands. The legacy left by Augustus to the troops was to be doubled and discharged. To satisfy the requisition promised to the Legions, Germanicus paid them out of his own pocket.
For the next two years he led his legions across the Rhine against the Germans, where they would confront the forces of Arminius and his allies. It is understood that the purpose of these campaigns was to avenge the defeat of Varus at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, and not to expand Roman territory.
In early spring of 15 AD Germanicus crossed the Rhine and struck the ‘Chatti.’ He sacked their capital Mattium, pillaging their countryside and then returning to the Rhine. Sometime this year, he received word from Segestes, who was held prisoner by Arminius’ forces and needed help. Germanicus’ troops released Segestes and took his pregnant daughter, Arminius’ wife Thusnelda, into captivity. Again he marched back victorious and at the direction of Tiberius accepted the title of ‘Imperator.’
Arminius called his tribe, the Cherusci, and the surrounding tribes to arms.
Germanicus coordinated a land and riverine offensive, with troops marching eastward across the Rhine, sailing in order to attack the Bructeri and Cherusci. Germanicus’ forces went through Bructeri territory where a general Lucius Stertinius recovered the lost eagle of the XIX Legion from among the equipment of the Bructeri after routing them in battle.
Germanicus’ divisions met up to the north, and ravaged the countryside between the Ems and the Lippe, and penetrated to the Teutoburg Forest, a mountain forest in Western Germany situated between these two rivers.
There, Germanicus and some of his men visited the site of the disastrous Battle at Teutoburg Forest, and began burying the remains of the Roman soldiers that had been left in the open. After half a day work he called of the burial of bones so that they could continue their war against the Germans.
He made his way into the heartland of the Cherusci. At a location Tacitus calls the ‘pontes longi’, or “long causeways,” in boggy lowlands near the Ems. Arminius’ troops attacked the Romans.
Arminius initially caught Germanicus’ cavalry in a trap, inflicting only minor casualties however. The Roman infantry reinforced the rout and checked them.
The fighting lasted for two days. Neither side achieving a decisive victory, afterward Germanicus’ forces withdrew to the Rhine.
In preparation for his next campaign, Germanicus sent an envoy to collect taxes in Gaul, and instructed Silius, Anteius, and Caecina to build a fleet.
A fort on the Lippe called ‘castra aliso’ was besieged. The attackers dispersed on sight of Roman reinforcements.
The Germans destroyed the altar dedicated to his father Drusus, but he had them both restored and celebrated funerary games with his legions in honor of his father.
In 16 AD Germanicus commanded eight legions with Gallic and German auxiliary units overland across the Rhine, up the Ems and Weser Rivers, and as part of his last campaign against Arminius was an engagement know as The Battle of Weser River.
The Roman soldiers involved on the battlefield honored Tiberius as ‘Imperator,’ and raised a pile of arms as a trophy with the names of the defeated tribes inscribed beneath them. The sight of the Roman trophy constructed on the battlefield enraged the Germans who were preparing to retreat beyond the Elbe, and they launched an attack on the Romans, beginning a second battle. The Romans had anticipated the attack and again routed the Germans.
Germanicus stated that he didn’t want any prisoners as the extermination of the Germanic tribes was the only conclusion he saw for the war.
The victorious Romans inscribed the mound: “The army of Tiberius Caesar, after thoroughly conquering the tribes between the Rhine and the Elbe, has dedicated this monument to Mars, Jupiter, and Augustus.”
Germanicus in Asia
After his Triumph in Rome was celebrated Germanicus was sent to Asia in order to reorganize the provinces and kingdoms there. It was deemed so bad and disorganized that a ‘domus Augusta’ was necessary to settle matters.
Tiberius had also notably at this time replaced the governor of Syria with a certain Calpurnius Piso, who turned out to be hostile to Germanicus and according to Tacitus this was his way of separating Germanicus from his troops and weaken his influence.
Germanicus had a busy year in 17 AD. He restored a Temple to Spes, and allegedly won a chariot race in the name of Tiberius at the Olympic Games. Not waiting to take up his consulship in Rome he left after his triumph but before the end of 17 AD. When he arrived at Nicopolis in 18 AD for his second consulship, he visited the sites associated with adoptive grandfather Augustus and his natural grandfather Mark Antony before crossing the sea on the way to Asia Minor. He then traveled to a city in Syria where he spent the rest of 18 AD where, evidently, he quarreled with the man Piso. He was angry because Germanicus hadn’t sent troops to Armenia when ordered. When an envoy was sent to Germanicus he had had a few political maneuverings that were a snub to Piso.
He then made his way to Egypt in 19 AD, arriving to a tumultuous reception. He had gone in order to relieve a famine in the country vital to Rome’s food supply.
The move had upset Tiberius. It had violated an order by Augustus that no senator shall enter the province, since Egypt was an imperial province and belonged to the emperor.
Germanicus entered the province in his capacity as proconsul without first seeking permission to do so. He returned to Syria by summer where he found that Piso had either ignored or revoked his orders to the cities and legions.
Germanicus in turn ordered Piso’s return to Rome although this action was probably beyond his authority.
In the midst of this feud Germanicus became desperately ill and despite the fact that Piso had removed himself to a different port, as if to create an alibi, and Germanicus was convinced that Piso was somehow poisoning him…there were even, as described by Tacitus, signs of black magic in Piso’s house, including hidden body parts and Germanicus’ name inscribed on lead tablets. Germanicus soon died after in October of that year.
A climate of fear followed in Rome, Tiberius was suspected of connivance in the death, along with his chief advisor Sejanus, who in the AD 20’s brought the atmosphere of fear to an industrialized scale by the use of treason trials and the mass employment of informers within the nobility of Rome.
Drusus Claudius’ Histories: Germanicus and Tiberius’ Campaign pt. 2: ‘Agrippina the Elder and her surviving son Caligula’
Agrippina the Elder
In August of 14 AD Augustus had died, and Tiberius quickly assumed power. He just as quickly dispatched Germanicus to Rome’s eastern provinces for a diplomatic mission. There, he fell ill and soon died, which invited theories to swell up that linked Tiberius to his political rival’s death.
Agrippina the Elder, Germanicus’s wife, fanned the flames. She publicly blamed Tiberius for her husband’s death and craved revenge.
Tiberius struck back against the grieving and furious widow. He imprisoned Agrippina the Elder on a remote island where she later starved to death.
The emperor then imprisoned her two older sons, one of whom killed himself; the other starved to death. Because of his young age Caligula, ‘Little Boots,’ was spared and forced to live with his great-grandmother Livia.
In the year 31 AD Caligula was summoned by Tiberius to the island of Capri where he was adopted by Tiberius—the man presumed to be his father’s killer—and was treated there like a pampered prisoner. Forced to suppress his anger and show Tiberius respect, despite what hatred he may have had for him, Caligula was likely severely traumatized by the situation.
It would help to explain some of the madness that came next.
In Rome Tiberius had consolidated his power among the military, the senate, and the aristocracy but I the meanwhile his heir apparent, Posthumous Agrippa, had died. This lead to Germanicus being dubbed Tiberius’ successor.
At this point it could be argued that Tiberius became paranoid of his nephew’s popularity and rising power, and in mid 15 AD the Emperor Tiberius put the young Germanicus on a test to which he showed unwavering loyalty. When the Legions on the Rhine and Danube had revolted they were cowed and in that time Germanicus sent the soldiers against the Germans, mercilessly. Other Germanic tribes attacked while Germanicus’ forces were retreating back to the Rhine, whereby he rallied his troops to victory and then made his way back to Rome.
Germanicus was allowed the privilege of a Triumph on his return.
In 16 AD Germanicus and the Roman forces had their showdown with the traitor Arminius, the liberator of the Germans. Arminius tried to goad Germanicus to attack a barrier, an earthwork barricade between a Swamp and a Forest, while the Cherusci cavalry and infantry hoped to lead the Roman forces into an ambush.
Germanicus had scouts and had witnessed the warriors assembling their barricade defenses and he developed a counter-strategy.
He drew up his army in front of the barricade. On the right side the battle group with the more arduous terrain would have Germanicus himself fighting beside them with the praetorian cohorts. The left flank, fighting on more level ground, was commanded to attack the barrier and drawing Germanic reinforcements back to them the left-flank of Romans managed to draw the back slightly. Meanwhile the Roman cavalry on the right engaged the Germanic forces in the Forest, who they were intending to use in ambush but were scouted, even though Germanicus knew they were there the Romans still encountered some losses in fighting them. Once the Archers and missile throwers, slingers and artillery launched their attack in the middle against the wall, Germanicus decided this was the moment and he led his praetorian cohorts up the slope and after some intense combat this elite formation managed to break through. In this brutal fighting Germanicus himself slew many other warriors, inspiring his soldiers to victory. After hours of intense fighting the Romans drove the enemy from the battlefield.
Eventually Arminius would be killed by his own people, without Rome as an enemy the infighting of Germanic tribes carried on, and eventually one tribe that thought he was becoming too powerful and his opponents eventually got the jump on him.
Caligula took his frustrated emotions out on others. He delighted in watching torture, as well as executions, and spent his nights in orgies of gluttony and passion. Even Tiberius, as unstable as ‘he’ was, saw that Caligula was unhinged, commenting: “I am nursing a viper for the Roman people.”
In 37 AD Tiberius fell ill. He died a month later and rumors swirled that Caligula had smothered him. It didn’t matter. Romans were ecstatic that the empire was falling into the hands of Caligula, Tiberius was known to be a brutal man, and the citizens believed that Caligula may hold the same qualities as his esteemed father Germanicus had.
Six months into his rule Caligula fell extremely ill. It seemed he hung in between life and death for a month. In 37 AD he had recovered, but it was quickly apparent that he was not the same person.
Caligula wandered the palace at night. He suffered from headaches and abandoned the customary yoga for silken gowns and often dressed as a woman. After his initial good run as leader, for the first six months, his reign is characterized by its cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion; many described his reign as that of an insane tyrant.
It is known that during his brief reign Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, and initiated the consult two aqueducts in Rome: the ‘Aqua Claudia’ and the ‘Anio Novus.’
On the day of the assassination of Caligula the praetorian guards declared Claudius, Caligula’s uncle, to be the next Roman emperor. Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire until the fall of his nephew Nero in 68 AD, Caligula’s death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares in the male line.
When on the island of Capri, in 31 AD where Caligula stayed for six years, Caligula was spared by Tiberius and it is said that this was due to Caligula’s ability as a natural actor—and recognizing the danger he hid all his resentment toward Tiberius. Supposedly Tiberius brought Caligula to Capri to, among other things, to allow Caligula to live in order that he “prove the ruin of himself and of all men,” and that he was “rearing a Phatheon for all men.”
In 33 AD Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestorship, a position he held until his rise to emperor. Meanwhile, both Caligula’s mother and his brother, (Drusus) Castor?, died in prison. Caligula was also briefly married in 33 AD but she had died in childbirth.
Caligula spent time befriending the Praetorian guard Macro. Macro became an important ally to Caligula. He spoke well of Caligula to Tiberius, quelling any suspicion or ill will the Emperor might feel towards Caligula. He was named joint heir to Tiberius’ estate
The myth of the Greeks about the son of the solar deity Helios. The name Phatheon means “shining one,” and was a name also given to Jupiter and as an adjective it was a word used to describe the sun and the moon. In some accounts the planet referred to by this name is Saturn and not Jupiter.
Phatheon was asked to provide some proof that his father was the sun god Helios and when he asked and the god agreed to give him whatever he wanted, he foolishly insisted on driving the sun chariot for the day.
According to some accounts Helios tried to dissuade Phatheon, telling him that even Zeus was not strong enough to steer these horses, but reluctantly he kept his promise. In some version Phatheon’s chariot went to far and things became frozen, and then too near and scorching the land so that Zeus felt he was forced to strike the chariot down with a thunderbolt.
Phatheon was killed in his fall to earth.
‘The Timaeus’ by Plato
In Plato’s ‘Timaeus’ Critias tells the story of Atlantis, as recounted to Solon by an Egyptian priest. He says there has been and will be many great destructions of mankind. He says the greatest have been brought in by the agency of fire and water…and the son of Helios, “who was unable to drive within the paths of his father, burnt up all that was upon by the earth and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt.”
Ovid’s version: “Suppose you are given the chariot. What will you do? Will you be able to counter the turning poles so that the swiftness of the skies does not carry you away? Perhaps you conceive in imagination that there are groves there and cities of the gods and temples with rich gifts. The way runs through the ambush, and apparitions of wild beasts! Even if you keep your course, and do not steer awry, you must still avoid the horns of Taurus the Bull, Sagittarius the Haemonian Archer, raging Leo and Lion’s Jaw, Scorpio’s cruel pincers sweeping out to encircle you from one side, and Cancer’s Crab-Claws reaching out from the other. You will not easily rule those proud horses, breathing out through mouth and nostrils the fires burning in their chests. They scarcely tolerate my control when their fierce spirits are hot, and their necks resist the reins. Beware, my boy, that I am not the source of a gift fatal to you, while something can still be done to set right your request!”
Fragments of Euripides play that survive suggest that, at least in his tragedy, Phaethon survives.
After October of 37 AD and Caligula’s illness it is believed that the young emperor is believed to have turned toward the diabolical. He started to kill off or exile those closest to him, or whoever he saw as a serious threat. He had his cousin and adopted son executed—Tiberius Gemellus, and it was an act which outraged their mutual grandmother Antonia Minor.
She is said to have committed suicide, though it has been hinted that Caligula actually poisoned her.
He had his father-in-law, a man by the name Silanus, and his brother-in-law, Marcus Lepidus, executed as well. His uncle Claudius was only spared because he preferred to keep him around as a laughingstock…
His favorite sister Julia Drusilla died in 38 AD from a fever, and his other two sisters, Livilla and Agrippina the Younger, were exiled. Caligula hated being the grandson of Agrippa, and slandered Augustus by repeating a rumor that his mother was actually conceived as the result of an incestuous relationship between Augustus and his own daughter, Julia the Elder.
Macro had even fallen out of favor, apparently, with the emperor and was forced to commit suicide. The Praetorian prefect probably seemed too eager to switch his alliances when Caligula was dealing with his month-long fever.
Financial Crisis and Famine
In Greek myth he is closely connected to the flood story. According to folk etymology the name comes from ‘deukos’ which translates to “sweet new wine, must, sweetness” and from ‘halieus’ which is “sailor, seaman, fisher.”
In the ‘Argonautica’ of the 3rd Century BC, it states: “…begat goodly Deucalion, who first founded cities and reared temples to the immortal gods, and first ruled over men.
The Deluge was triggered by an angry Zeus who had been disgusted upon witnessing a sacrifice of a young boy, and was appalled by this savage offering so unleashed a deluge, which flooding the coastal plain and rivers running in torrents, water engulfed the foothills with spray, and it washed everything clean.
In one account Deucalion with the aid of his father Prometheus, the Titan who brought man the invention of fire, saved humanity from the deluge by building a chest. Like the Biblical Noah, as well as his Mesopotamian counterpart, this device is used to survive the deluge with his wife.
He had been forewarned of the flood by his father, Prometheus. Once the deluge was over and the couple had given thanks to Zeus, Deucalion consulted an oracle about how to repopulate the earth. He was told to “cover your head and throw the bones of your mother behind your shoulder.” Deucalion and Pyrrha understood that “mother” is Gaia, the mother of all living things, and the “bones” to be signifying rocks. They threw the rocks behind their shoulders and the stones formed people. Pyrrha’s became women; Deucalion’s became men.
(Parts 7 & 8, of ‘Claudius the God’ story arc).
(Germanicus and Tiberius have of course been talked about since the first installment of ‘Claudius the God,’ but we will reserve the specific battle analyses until here of Germanicus’ success in Germany and Tiberius’ reaction to the success of Germanicus. The next battle focused upon should be one in which Tiberius had shown his military clout, perhaps after the early death of Germanicus, but maybe sooner than that).
(Parts 9 & 10 of ‘Claudius the God’ may be Caligula’s fever-dream campaign against Neptune, bringing in again some unreality, and then the very sober and real final conquest of Brittania by Claudius himself).
Drusus Claudius’ Histories: ‘Caligula’s Fever, the March Against Neptune’
Drusus Claudius’ Histories: ‘My Conquest of Britannia’
It was said that Caligula would have people executed for forgetting his birthday. He was only 24 when he became Emperor, in 37 AD. Besides he only ruled for 4 years, anyways. His great-great Grandfather was Julius Caesar.
Germanicus brought Gaius, or ‘Caligula,’ as young as three along with him on his military campaigns. In 19 AD Germanicus fell ill and died.
When Caligula came of age Tiberius felt it necessary to garner the young man’s loyalty. Tiberius summoned the young Caligula to the island of Capri where he was either treated like a prince…or a prisoner by the emperor.
It could be that Caligula was simultaneously treated like a prince while forced to remain on the island as Tiberius’s prisoner. This cognitive dissonance and confusing treatment perhaps left Caligula traumatized, and it’s thought that during this tumultuous period in Caligula’s life he started to relish in the macabre.
He once declared to the Senate that he’d be moving to Egypt because in Egypt, he asserted, he’d be worshipped as a living god. He ordered a bridge to be built that connected his palace to the temple of Jupiter. It’s said Caligula forced the parents of those he executed to watch their children die, and that he ordered the heads of various statues removed and replaced with his own.
Such madness was not well received by anyone. He dissolved pearls in vinegar for sustenance, gave his horse a jewel-encrusted collar, and declared war on the ocean. In early 41 AD he was assassinated by a group of guards after the Palatine Games celebrations.
Oddly enough the people of Ancient Rome were actually angry when Caligula was murdered. Revenge against the traitors who killed him was called for—which Caligula’s successor, his uncle Claudius, heartily provided.
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