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10. Tiberius

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About this Lecture


In this lecture we think about the figure of Tiberius, Augustus’ step-son and the man who would eventually succeed him as emperor, focusing in particular on: (i) Tiberius’ military achievements, most notably his campaigns in Germany and Pannonia; (ii) his unpopularity as emperor, including his reputation for being gloomy and morose, the unpopularity of his chief advisor, Sejanus, and his self-imposed exile to the island of Capri; (iii) the potential awkwardness of his position as Augustus’ step-son, and the fact that Augustus only settles on Tiberius as successor once everyone else has died; (iv) Tiberius’ marital problems, including his divorce from Vipsania and his disastrous marriage to Julia; (v) his self-imposed exile to Rhodes in 6 BC, and his return to Rome following the death of Lucius in 2 AD; (vi) his position as chosen successor following the death of Gaius in 4 AD; and (vii) Tiberius’ (potential) reluctance to be emperor.


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 - Tiberius [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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