The Hesitation of Tiberius

Andrew Pettinger

in The Republic in Danger

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199601745
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741524 | DOI:

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Chapter nine investigates Tiberius’ famous reluctance to accept supreme power. Evidence is presented to show that, when Augustus died, Tiberius was in control and his position as ruler beyond question. Reluctance was not, therefore, due to a lack of legal power/s. The chapter points out that Tiberius did not accept the supreme power, as is often supposed, at the senate meeting of September 17 AD 14, but rather, ceased to deny his right. No positive statement was however forthcoming: the question was left up in the air. The prevailing modern views do not provide adequate answers. Tiberius was not sincere, nor did he feign reluctance for decency’s sake. As Suetonius wrote, Tiberius was distressed by the unfolding of real political events: Agrippa’s death, legions in mutiny, and Drusus Libo.

Keywords: hesitation; supreme power; Augustus; Tiberius; legal power; Agrippa; legions; mutiny; Drusus Libo

Chapter.  4638 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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