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11. Germanicus

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About this Lecture


In this lecture we think about the figure of Germanicus, the son of Drusus and Antonia, focusing in particular on: (i) Germanicus’ connections to Augustus: as his step-grandson (via his grandmother Livia) and as his great nephew (via his grandmother Octavia, Augustus’ sister); (ii) the story in Tacitus that Augustus was considering making Germanicus his heir, but was dissuaded by his wife, Livia (Annals 4.57, J66); (iii) the story of Germanicus following Augustus’ death: his military achievements and popularity, Tiberius’ jealousy, his death under suspicious circumstances in 19 AD, and the trial of Piso; (iv) the extent to which Augustus’ plans for the succession (i.e. forcing Tiberius to adopt Germanicus) continue to play out long after he had died; and (v) Augustus’ difficulty in keeping everyone happy in such a large and complex family tree.


In this course, Professor Matthew Nicholls (University of Oxford) explores the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Across twenty-one lectures, we consider a range of issues including: (i) the historical sources for reign of Augustus and their reliability; (ii) the events that led to the creation of the principate, particularly the Battle of Actium; (iii) the various constitutional settlements that formalised Augustus’ powers; (iv) his military achievements; (v) the importance of contemporary poetry (Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid) and coinage for understanding his reign; (vi) the significance of key figures around Augustus, such as Livia, Marcus Agrippa, Tiberius and Germanicus; (vii) the extent to which Augustus really ‘restored the republic’ as he claimed he did; (viii) Augustus’ involvement in religious life at Rome and in the provinces; (ix) his administrative changes in Rome and in the provinces; (x) his management of various different sections of Roman society – the senatorial elite, the equestrian order, the army, the people of Rome and the provincial elites; (xi) challenges to his rule; (xii) his management of the succession; and (xiii) the importance of his own record of his achievements, the Res Gestae.


Matthew Nicholls is a visiting professor of classics at the University of Reading and Senior Tutor at St John's College, Oxford, specialising in the political and social history of the Romans, and the way the built environments of Rome and cities around the empire expressed their values and priorities. In 2014, Matthew was presented with a Guardian Teaching Award for his 'Virtual Rome' project, a digital model of the city of Rome, showing the city as it appeared in c. AD 315.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Nicholls, M. (2023, May 23). Augustus - Germanicus [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Nicholls, M. "Augustus – Germanicus." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 May 2023,