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Publius Quinctilius Varus

(13 bc)


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Of a patrician family that had been unimportant for centuries. He owed his career to the favour of Augustus. He was consul 13 bc with the future emperor Tiberius; like him, Varus was at the time the husband of a daughter of Vipsanius Agrippa. Later he married Claudia Pulchra, the grand‐niece of Augustus, and was able to acquire political influence. Varus became proconsul of Africa (see africa, roman), and then legate of Syria. When Judaea revolted after the death of Herod (1) the Great, he marched rapidly southwards and dealt firmly with the insurgents. Varus is next heard of as legate of the Rhine army in ad 9. When marching back with three legions from the summer‐camp near the Weser, he was treacherously attacked in difficult country by Arminius, war‐chief of the Cherusci, whom he had trusted. The Roman army was destroyed in the Teutoburgian Forest, and Varus took his own life. The defeat had a profound effect on Augustus (the regime noticeably deteriorates in the last few years). Varus was made the scapegoat for the signal failure of Augustus' whole German policy. He is alleged to have been grossly extortionate in Syria, torpid and incompetent in his German command.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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