Reign as emperor
Although the opening years of Tiberius’s reign seem almost a model of wise and temperate rule, they were not without displays of force and violence, of a kind calculated to secure his power. The one remaining possible contender for the throne, Postumus, was murdered, probably at Tiberius’s orders. The only real threat to his power, the Roman Senate, was intimidated by the concentration of the Praetorian Guard, normally dispersed all over Italy, within marching distance of Rome.
Apart from acts such as these, Tiberius’s laws and policies were both patient and far-seeing. He did not attempt great new conquests. He did not move armies about or change governors of provinces without reason. He stopped the waste of the imperial treasury, so that when he died he left behind 20 times the wealth he had inherited, and the power of Rome was never more secure. He strengthened the Roman navy. He abandoned the practice of providing gladiatorial games. He forbade some of the more outlandish forms of respect to his office, such as naming a month of the calendar after him, as had been done for Julius Caesar and Augustus.
There were, to be sure, occasional wars and acts of savage repression. Tiberius’s legions put down a provincial rebellion with considerable bloodshed. In Rome itself, on the pretext that four Jews had conspired to steal a woman’s treasure, Tiberius exiled the entire Jewish community. The most ominous and least defensible aspect of Tiberius’s first years as emperor was the growth of the practice called “ delation.” Most crimes committed by well-to-do citizens were, under Roman law, punished in part by heavy fines and confiscations. These fines contributed in large part to the growth of the imperial treasury, but the money did not all go to the fiscus. Because there were no paid prosecutors, any citizen could act as a volunteer prosecutor, and, if the person he accused was convicted, he could collect a share of the confiscated property. These volunteers, called delatores, made a profitable career of seeking out or inventing crime. Many of the prosecutions were based on rumour or falsified evidence, and there were few Romans who were so honoured or so powerful that they did not need to fear the attack of the delatores on any suspicion, or on none at all.
In 23 ce Tiberius’s son Drusus died. He had not been particularly loved by his father, but his death saddened Tiberius. From then on he spared less and less thought to the work of empire. More and more he delegated his authority in the actual running of affairs over to the man he had entrusted with the important command of the Praetorian Guard, Sejanus. Before long Tiberius was emperor only in name.
Ironically, the death of Drusus, the event that brought Sejanus to power, may have been Sejanus’s own doing. Apparently Sejanus had seduced the wife of the younger Drusus, Livilla, and induced her to become his accomplice in murdering her husband. The evidence is not absolute and has been questioned by many historians, but it was not questioned by Tiberius. In 27 ce , at age 67, Tiberius left Rome to visit some of the southern parts of Italy. En route he paused to go to the island of Capri. His intention appears to have been only to stay for a time, but he never returned to Rome. It is the remaining decade or so of Tiberius’s life that has given rise to the legend of Tiberius the monster. It seems probable, to begin with, that Tiberius, never handsome, had become repulsively ugly. First his skin broke out in blotches, and then his complexion became covered with pus-filled eruptions, exuding a bad smell and causing a good deal of pain. He built himself a dozen villas ringing Capri, with prisons, underground dungeons, torture chambers, and places of execution. He filled his villas with treasure and art objects of every kind and with the enormous retinue appropriate to a Caesar: servants, guards, entertainers, philosophers, astrologers, musicians, and seekers after favour. If the near-contemporary historians are to be believed, his favourite entertainments were cruel and obscene. Even under the most favourable interpretation, he killed ferociously and almost at random. It is probable that by then his mind was disordered.
Tiberius had not, however, lost touch with the real world. He came to realize just how strong he had made Sejanus and how weak he had left himself. In 31 ce he allowed himself to be elected consul of Rome for a fifth time and chose Sejanus as his co-consul. He gave Sejanus permission to marry Livilla, the widow of Tiberius’s son. Now Sejanus not only had the substance of power but its forms as well. Golden statues were erected to him, and his birthday was declared a holiday. But Tiberius had come to fear and mistrust him. With the aid of Macro, Sejanus’s successor as commander of the Praetorians, Tiberius smuggled a letter to the Senate denouncing Sejanus and calling for his execution. The Senate was shocked and taken aback by the swift change, but it complied instantly—perhaps moved by the justice of Tiberius’s charges or by the strength of the Praetorian Guard.
Apparently Tiberius now reached a peak of denunciation and torture and execution that lasted for the remaining six years of his life. In the course of this reign of terror his delatores and torturers found evidence for him of the murder of his son, Drusus, by Livilla and Sejanus. Many great Roman names were implicated, falsely or not, and while that inquisition lasted no one on Capri was safe. Tiberius’s chief remaining concern for the empire was who would rule it when he was gone. There were few living successors with any real claim, and Tiberius settled, as Augustus had done before him, on the least offensive of an undesirable lot. His choice was Gaius Caesar, still a young boy and known by the nickname the Roman legions had given him when he was a camp mascot, Caligula, or Little Boots. Caligula, a great-grandson of Augustus through Julia and her daughter, had a claim to the throne as good as any. If his morals and habits were less than attractive, Tiberius did not seem to mind. “I am nursing a viper in Rome’s bosom,” Tiberius observed, and named Caligula his adopted son and successor.
In the spring of 37 ce , Tiberius took part in a ceremonial game that required him to throw a javelin. He wrenched his shoulder, took to his bed, became ill, and lapsed into a coma. His physicians, who had not been allowed to examine him for nearly half a century, now studied his emaciated body and declared that he would die within the day. The successor, Caligula, was sent for. The Praetorian Guard declared their support for the new emperor. The news of the succession was proclaimed to the world. Then Tiberius recovered consciousness, sat up, and asked for something to eat. The notables of Rome were thrown into confusion. Only the Praetorian commander, Macro, kept his head, and on the next day he hurried to Tiberius’s bed, caught up a heap of blankets, and smothered Tiberius with them.
Head of Emperor Tiberius from Çemberlitaş - History
Tiberius (42 B.C. – 37 A.D.) was the 2nd Roman emperor and a highly successful soldier. He was born on November 16, 42 B.C. in Rome to Livia Drusilla and Tiberius Claudius Nero. In 39 B.C. his mother divorced Nero and married Augustus, making Tiberius Octavian’s step-son. Tiberius was the first outsider to take over the system which had been set up by Emperor Augustus.
Critics say that he was not highly skilled at stabilizing Augustus’ Empire, but this remains as a debatable topic. All in all, he was considered a last resort in succeeding Augustus. Moreover, his general lack of concern in the Empire and mental imbalance resulted in a highly incompetent reign.
Early Life and Accomplishments
Little information is known about Tiberius’ early life. His first public appearance was in 32 B.C. at the age of 8, where he read the eulogy of his biological father. Emperor Augustus got very ill in 23 B.C. and his imminent death exposed the Roman Empire to chaos again. Among those who were selected to be the potential heirs included Agrippa, Marcellus, Tiberius, and his brother Drusus. Augustus directed Tiberius to join politics in 24 B.C.
Despite being 17 years old at that time, Tiberius got a position of quaestor (an elected/appointed official). He also received the right to stand for election as praetor (title given to a man serving in one of 2 official capacities in the government of the Ancient Rome) and consul, 5 years in advance of the legal age. In 19 B.C., he married to Vipsanius Agrippina, the daughter of Marcus Agrippa, one of Augustus’ great generals. He was appointed as governor of Gaul in 16 B.C. and as first consulship in 13 B.C.
When Marcus died in 12 B.C., Augustus forced Tiberius to divorce Vipsanius and marry Marcus’ widow, Julia (Augustus’ only daughter). Tiberius became very frustrated by the forced marriage. He would still see Vipsanius in secret from time to time.
Eventually, the affair between Julia and Tiberius was known by the public, forcing him to retire to Rhodes. Augustus did not like the actions which Tiberius had taken and sacked him from all positions of power. At that time, most of Augustus’ potential heirs had already died. As a last resort, Tiberius was recalled to Rome where Augustus restarted to build Tiberius’ power. Eventually, both men shared power equally, with the assumption that after the death of Augustus there would be a smooth power transfer.
After the death of Augustus in 14 A.D., the senate assembled so as to transfer power formally and entirely to Tiberius. Augustus’ will that had named Tiberius as the successor was read. This proved to be a difficult issue to solve, since Tiberius pretended not to be interested in succeeding Augustus and assuming the sole power. The Senate became confused by the situation, and at one point one of the senators asked Tiberius whether he was planning to become the Emperor or not.
In the end, Tiberius gave in to the request of the Senate and took all regal titles except Augustus. At that time, mutinies had started to sprout in the provinces especially in Rhine area. Tiberius was forced to introduce taxes and a reduction in public spending, since the public treasury had little money. This made Tiberius unpopular very rapidly.
Although Tiberius had a stale relationship with the Senate and there were rising mutinies in Rhine region, his first few years of reign went well. He favored Germanicus (his adopted son and Augustus’ great-nephew) over Drusus (his biological son) for the succession. It is believed that, Tiberius wanted to follow Augustus’ plans for the succession.
Germanicus was granted consular power by the emperor and became a commander of the major military zone in Germany where he crushed one of the rebellions. In 17 A.D., Germanicus was recalled to Rome, becoming a consul with the emperor. Later, he was sent to the east where he died in 19 A.D. This prompted Tiberius to start grooming his son, Drusus, as the successor to the throne.
Drusus died in 23 A.D., throwing open the issue of the succession. In an attempt to find out the murderer of Drusus, 63 treason trials took place. At that moment, Tiberius was relying heavily on Lucius Sejanus who was the head of the imperial bodyguards. However, in 23 A.D. Sejanus started to undermine Tiberius after embarking on a relationship with Drusus’ wife (Livilla). After the death of Drusus, Sejanus sought permission from the emperor to marry Livilla. Tiberius did not grant the permission but this did not Sejanus discourage from pursuing his quest to gain power.
Sejanus was a determined man and in 26 A.D., he managed to persuade the emperor to retreat to his villa in Capri. Sejanus was left in charge and was granted all Tiberius’ influence and command of the armies. By 31 A.D., Sejanus had become betrothed to Livilla’s daughter and had managed to do away with a few members of the royal family. His connection to the Imperial line was now assured. Later on in that year,
Tiberius sent a letter to the Senate and denounced Sejanus as a traitor. He also accused him of Drusus’ murder and wanted him to be arrested. The Praetorian Guard (Imperial bodyguards) arrested Sejanus immediately. Shortly after his arrest, Sejanus was executed and an entanglement of treason cases followed. People linked with Sejanus were tried and most of them were executed.
The End of the Reign
After Sejanus’ execution, Tiberius drew his will where he left Gemellus and Gaius as joint heirs. However, it was obvious that Gaius would be the one to succeed Tiberius. This was due to the fact that, Gemellus was an infant at that time and Tiberius also suspected that Gemellus was Sejanus’ adulterous child. By that time, the emperor was still living in his villa but he still communicated with Rome through correspondence.
The administration of Augustus was therefore running the empire. There were many treason trials during the last few years of Tiberius reign. Some critics say that, he enjoyed seeing people being tortured and executed. In 37 A.D., Tiberius got sick when travelling to Campania. He died on March 16, 37 A.D., in his Misenum villa.
The cause of death still remains uncertain up to date, with some claiming that he was smothered with a cushion on his death bed, while some claim that Tiberius died of old age. After his death, Tiberius was succeeded by Gaius. Throughout Tiberius’ reign, Rome did not participate in any wars. Tiberius was therefore devoted in governing the empire and as a result he left a full treasury and a good economy.
The second wife of Octavian (Caesar Augustus), Livia Drusilla, had two children, Tiberius and Drusus. Drusus was a very successful general campaigning in what became Germany. However while on campaign he was thrown from his horse and died of his injuries a few days later. Tiberius was in the military as well and took over the command of the Roman troops in Germany after his brother's death.
- 42 BCE: Tiberius, whose birth name was Tiberius Claudius Nero, was born on November 16th. He was named after his father who was a fleet captain in the forces of Julius Caesar. His mother was Livia Drusilla, a cousin of his father and a very young bride.
For a short period of time Tiberius banished the entire Jewish community from Rome.
Sejanus requests permission from Tiberius to marry the widow of his son Drusus, Livilla. Tiberius grants that permission.
Evidence is brought to Tiberius that Sejanus had collaborated with Livilla, his son's wife, in murdering Drusus, his son.
You might think that with the Julio-Claudians gone, the depravity would end, but nothing could be further from the truth. Still, Rome had 150 madness-free years before it was introduced to Elagabalus.
Like Caligula, Elagabalus’ mother had delusions of grandeur—but not for herself. For her son. Instead of a legacy, however, she created a monster when she conspired to put him on the throne. Her plan worked, and like the proud mother she was, she hung her son’s portrait over a statue of the goddess Victoria, insinuating that those who offered sacrifices there were to acknowledge Elagabalus’ divinity, too.
This went over poorly with the people, but it did a lot for Elagabalus’ self-confidence. Believing himself divine, he offered the scandalous suggestion that he marry a vestal virgin in order to produce godlike children. His associates were understandably confused about how this would work, given that Elagabalus had promised vast sums to any doctor who could give him female genitalia.
Then again, Elagabalus wasn’t picky. He took both male and female lovers, though that wasn’t what outraged people most. His profligate spending and disregard for laws and tradition turned even his mother against him. Though she loved her son, she plotted to have him replaced. Elagabalus retaliated by trying to murder his successor.
After Severus Alexander became emperor, Elagabalus tried to flee Rome but was killed in the scuffle. The Romans, tired of Elagabalus and his mother, beheaded them both while Elagabalus’ mother cradled his body in her arms.
Murderous stepfathers, incest, meddlesome mothers, and mental illness. Is it any wonder that these dysfunctional families and situations produced some of the most repugnant rulers in Roman history?
Pity them or revile them, there’s no doubt that Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, and Elagabalus top the list of the most depraved and perverted Roman emperors.
2. Tiberius [14CE – 37CE] – The Recluse Emperor
Bust of Emperor Tiberius , ca. 13 AD, via The Louvre, Paris
The second emperor to Rome, Tiberius , had his own personal battle being a prince, and it is possible to see him as a very reluctant ruler of Rome. On at least two notable occasions, Tiberius shunned his princely status and withdrew entirely from public life. As the adopted son of Augusts, Tiberius was a very different kind of emperor.
Tiberius might not have come to power at all had it not been for the fact that Augustus’s natural heirs [his grandsons Lucius and Gaius Caesar] did not survive him. It’s arguable that even Augustus felt any love towards his number three choice:
“Oh, unhappy people of Rome to be ground by the jaws of such a slow devourer.” [Suetonius, Augustus, 21]
Characterized as moody and vindictive, on a personal level Tiberius is depicted as a difficult, detached man who took offense easily and held long-smoldering grudges. In his early rule, which started promisingly, he walked a delicate and often ambiguous path with the Senate and state, paying lip service to Republican freedoms:
“In a free state both the mind and tongue, ought to be free.” [Suet, Aug 28.]
He even feigned some reluctance in taking up the Principate, though the consensus was that this was not genuine:
“But grand sentiments of this kind sounded unconvincing. Besides, what Tiberius said, even when he did not aim at concealment, was – by habit or nature – always hesitant, always cryptic.” [Tacitus, Annals of Rome, 1.10]
Genuine or not, few if any senators felt confident enough to take him at his word and propose the restitution of the Republic. That would have been suicide, and thus did Tiberius hold power, though he pretended it was a burden:
“A good and useful prince, who you have invested with so great and absolute a power, ought to be a slave to the state, to the whole body of the people, and often to individuals likewise …” [Suet, Life of Tiberius, 29]
Such devotion to duty had not always been present. In analyzing Tiberius’s desire to rule, we cannot ignore that he utterly rejected royal life before his accession in a very public way.
The First Exile Of Tiberius
Statue of Emperor Tiberius , via historythings.com
Before the death of Augustus’s heirs in 6 BCE, we are told that in an act of self-imposed exile, Tiberius suddenly and unexpectedly excused himself from Roman political life and took off to the island of Rhodes. There he lived for some years as a private citizen, rejecting all insignia of rank and effectively living as a private citizen. The sources make it clear that Tiberius left Roman political life very much of his own will and against that of both Emperor Augustus and his mother. Having spent two years on the island, Tiberius was rather caught-out when permission to return to Rome was not granted by Augustus, who was clearly not well-favored to his prodigal heir. Indeed, only after a total of eight years away, when Augustus’s natural heirs had perished, was Tiberius allowed to come back to Rome.
It was all a bit of a scandal, and the histories themselves do not offer much in the way of explanation. Was Tiberius seeking to avoid his infamous wife Julia (the original good time had by all), or was he, as reported ‘satiated with honors’? Perhaps he was actually seeking to distance himself from the dynastic succession politics that inevitably did not favor him at that time? It’s not entirely clear, but when set against his later reclusive behavior, a strong case can be made that Tiberius was indeed amongst the reluctant Roman emperors. He was a man who, more than once, utterly shunned the pressures of imperial life.
Prolonged Withdrawal Of An Unhappy Recluse
The Imperial Island of Capri – Tiberius’s Retreat , via visitnaples.eu
Although Tiberius began his reign solidly enough, our sources are clear that his rule deteriorated greatly, with the latter part descending into tense, bitter periods of political denunciations, false trials, and a malevolent rule. “Men Fit to be Slaves” was reportedly an insult that Tiberius frequently used against the Senators of Rome.
This being the reported insult that this Roman emperor frequently leveled at the Senators of Rome. Over several compounding years, Tiberius increasingly withdrew from Roman life and the capital, living first in Campania and then on Capri’s island, which became his private and secluded retreat. His rule descended into a most public rejection of Rome’s expected duties, and he prevented delegations from visiting him, ruling via agent, imperial edict, and messengers. All sources agree that the death of his son Drusus, then his mother, and the eventual coup [31BCE] of his most trusted praetorian prefect, Sejanus , the ‘partner of his labors’ on whom he relied heavily, all soured the emperor into deeper isolation and reproachful bitterness. Governed by grief and seclusion, Tiberius ruled reluctantly and at a distance, only returning to Rome on two occasions, but never actually entering the city.
Tiberius became a true recluse, that if vicious rumor in Rome was to be believed was an increasingly deranged deviant and doer of many distasteful acts (Suetonius’s accounts are shocking). Friendless and in weak health, Tiberius died of ill health, though there were rumors that he was eventually hastened on his way. The populace of Rome was said to have rejoiced at the news. Cicero would have disapproved, but he would not have been surprised :
“That is how a Tyrant lives – without mutual trust, without affection, without any assurance of mutual goodwill. In such a life suspicion and anxiety reign everywhere, and friendship has no place. For no one can love the person he fears – or the person he believes himself to be feared by. Tyrants are courted naturally: but the courting is insincere, and it only lasts for a time. When they fall, and they usually do, it becomes very evident how short of friends they have been.”
[Cicero, Laelius: On Friendship14.52]
It’s important to say that Tiberius is not viewed by history as one of history’s terrible Roman emperors. Although very unpopular, we must balance his relatively stable rule with the really destructive periods of reigns like that of Caligula or Nero . Well could Tacitus ask through the mouth of Lucius Arruntius:
“If Tiberius in spite of all his experience, has been transformed and deranged by absolute power, will Gaius [Caligula] do better?” [Tacitus, Annals, 6.49]
Oh, dear! This was a question so gloriously understated – in light of events – as to be funny in the darkest of ways. Caligula [37CE – 41CE], who succeeded Tiberius, was not at all reluctant, though the same could not be said of his many victims.
Ruling [ edit ]
Tiberius and the fleet arrived outside Constantinople. Perhaps to their surprise, the gates were closed against them and for the next six months Tiberius was obliged to lay siege to the city. Eventually someone forgot to lock a particular door and soon Tiberius and his friends were inside the walls and looking for Leontius. Tiberius could have easily slain Leontius, after all, wasn't he also a usurper and without family or friends? In the end Tiberius just settled for Leontius's nose. By disfiguring a rival, it was believed you made it impossible for them to return as apparently the job description was 'I am of sound and healthy body and I have kept all my eyes, hands and tongue. Oh, and add in a nose'. Leontius was made in illegible for a comeback (so it was believed) and shut up in a monastery to ponder the cruel twists of fate.
Now that Tiberius has his thrown, what was he going to do with it? North Africa was now totally lost except for a far outpost opposite the coast of Spain in what is now Morocco. As a naval rather than military man, Tiberius reorganised the Byzantine held islands of Sicily and Sardinia. He also had time for some work on the military provinces bordering both the Umayyad empire in the Middle East.
Unlike Leontius, Tiberius appears to have become from a large family. He had a brother called Heraclius and son named Theodosius who would later long outlive his father and become an influential bishop in the reigns of Leo III and Constantine V. Tiberius showed enough intelligence and skill that showed he could have become an important ruler of the Byzantine Empire but out there was another man who was looking for a Frank Sinatra comeback. The deposed (and mutilated) Justinian II, now gathering an army of supporters in the Balkans.
Strengthening the frontier
Tiberius went to the front. He didn’t do anything glamorous. He did not lead armies out on a revenge mission. Instead, he rode up and down the Rhine frontier solidifying the river fortifications.
He sourced men and horses from across Gaul. He rebuilt Rome’s legions, he rebuilt its cavalry and then two years on, he was ready to start launching punitive strikes into Germany.
But even when he was doing that, he was taking the utmost care. And so, as a result of that, the Rhine frontier held and the Roman Empire did not collapse and the only impact of this disastrous defeat is that Germany was lost. Nothing else was lost.
A map highlighting Tiberius’ forays into Germania Superior after he reinforced the Rhine frontier following the Teutoburg disaster. Credit: Cristiano64 / Commons.
The History of Rome
59- To the Tiber with Tiberius: The History of Rome
Tiberius's final years were consumed with treason trials and private licentiousness. After he died in 37 AD, the infamous Caligula ascended to the throne.
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have you decided not to accept sponsorship anymore? i didn't hear anything about a sponsor during this episode! an oversight, perhaps?
I just noticed on iTunes that there's a new pop singer calling herself "Little Boots". It'd be interesting to know whether she's picked the name simply because it sounds cute or if she understands the darker side to it.
Great episode, as usual. I find myself eagerly anticipating each one, and then listening to them over and over. You have a gift, Mike. I hope and pray that your "career" grows and grows. I think it will.
Great series, love them all. However is there corruption of the file? Seems to jump just after Caligula gets ill and all Rome is praying. Tried downloading several times but the jump is always in the same place. Thanks for a fabulous series!
Any chance of continuing into the Byzantine Empire? Just asking because 12 byzantine rulers only handled small pinpricks (essentially) of history, whilst you seem you have broad, but detailed strokes in your storytelling.
Amd any plans for a new podcast after this one is finished. On the old blogspot site I read you were planning to do one about the US presidents of the 20th century.
Hi, I am completely addicted.
There is an issue that I just realized I was very curious about but that somehow just got ignored during Augustus' reign. At what point was the title "Imperator" or "Emperor" picked, and for what reason? At one point, it seems we just stop using one title and start using another one. Wasn't "Pinceps" good enough? Thanks,
I see you have a lot of well deserved praise here Mike. I find that your podcast is very well produced and the content is excellent. One problem I have recently added the RSS feed to a new setup here and I find that the first few episodes have fallen off of the feed. Any chance this might be fixed?
Resonant Frequency Podcast
Linux in the HAM Shack Podcast
A great series very informative and a pleasure to listen to. I look forward to each weeks episode. Great Stuff well done
Great episode Mike! A follow up to Marc Andre's question above, Did Augustus or any of the Ceasars actually use the title 'Imperator'? I always thought that was a title used by later rulers and applied across the board by historians. I know the title goes back to, I believe Scipio Africanus, whose troops hailed him as imperator. Also, what were the early years of Caligula's life like? Robert Graves portrayed him as a 'demon child', is there anything to that? I hope in the next few episodes we can back track a bit like you did with Julius Ceasar and deal in detail with the early life of Claudius and his relationships with Tieberius, Caligula the rest of his family and those around the imperial family like Sejanus and Herod Agrippa.
I wanted to write and say thank you. I recently discovered your podcast and over a brief vacation caught up and currently anticipate each new episode. Very cool.
Mike (I can call you Mike can't I?),
I've been wondering about the nature of Roman purges from the Late Republic onwards. Were they an empire-wide phenomenon or did they purely effect the citizens of Rome? If Marcus so-and-so was fingered out for execution could he flee to the farthest provinces and therefore escape an untimely death? Or would agents of whoever signed his death warrant track him down and finish the job?
I don't usually write fan letters but this is a superb podcast. (I donated you $10 too Mike which probably means more). I did Latin for two years at high school many years and pretty much lost interest at "The fields of the Carthaginians should have been laid waste by the Romans" - apart from I Claudius - but you have truly brought it alive. Great humorous asides too. Don't ever stop!
I recently was apprised of your audioblog via the Europa Barbarorum TW mod forum. I just took three days to catch up with everything, and I think it's really good. Though I'm a little sceptical about some historical analogies (like compairing the early republic to the founding of the US) But that's probably just my history degree ascerting itsself. Eagerly awaiting the next episode.
Hey Mike, a few episodes ago you mentioned in closing the cruxifiction of Jesus Christ. I'm wondering what state is Roman religious life at now? Where is the common citizen? Where is Caligula at in this aspect and what effects are the eastern cults (i.e. the cult of Isis Caligula is supposed to have been involved in) playing in Roman life. How does Roman society see the migration of eastern religions (including the Jews) into the Italian homeland?
I have been listening for a long time now, and it's way overdue to join in on the praise for this podcast. It even inspired me to take up a university course on the classical world, which makes me enjoy the material even more. Thank you, Mike!
As others have mentioned, I would also appreciate more theme based episodes, like the Christmas one. For instance on Roman religion, which seems to me a rather complex issue. Or more on military tactics. Or on sponsorship of the arts under the emperors. (Yes, I'm addicted, too).
Mike: thanks for the Father's Day in the USA wishes. Amazingly enough, I am caught up on episodes and heard this one on June 22, which is close enough for government work.
In case you were all wondering: Mike and his fantasy baseball team, The Hurms, showed absolutely no mercy in walloping his father's team, Grandpa D, in the Western Amateur T-Ball League. He beat us head-to-head about 9-3.
[This post should have enough American-isms and idioms to drive all of you loyal international listeners right up the wall. Sorry about that. We're just that way.]
Here is what I do not understand about Tiberius. On one hand he mercilessly persecuted all those whom he saw as a threat to his power. On the other hand, according to your characterization, he hated his own position as an emperor. These two do not add up.
This is great stuff. I look forward to each new episode. I minored in the classics and could have used this podcast back when I was in college. Can't wait until the late anquity era is covered.
1 James Brooke
Sir James Brooke was born at the height of the British Empire and would found one of its strangest corners. He was raised in India but sent to a school in England, from which he ran away and returned to India.  He joined the army of the East India Company and gained a taste for warfare. When his father died and left him £30,000, James bought a large ship called (appropriately) Royalist, thinking to engage in adventuring, exploring, and trading.
The sultan of Brunei was trying to put down a rebellion in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Brooke sailed his vessel to help. He was offered a good deal: If Brooke crushed the rebellion, he would be given Sarawak to rule. Brooke enthusiastically set about putting down the raiders, pirates, and rebels of Sarawak. In 1842, the sultan made Brooke the rajah of Sarawak. Brooke was succeeded by family members, each becoming the white rajah. The last white rajah abdicated in 1946 and ceded the state to Britain as a colony.
Read about more people through history who went from nothing to ruling on 10 Incredible True Stories Of Peasants Who Became Monarchs and 10 Nobodies Who Founded Huge Empires.