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Old August 12th, 2018, 02:52 AM   #1

JulioClaudian Historian's Avatar
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Death of Tiberius

After investigating Caligula, I focused now on Tiberius.
Tiberius's death is really interesting to me and I will be happy to hear your opinion for his death.
Now, there two main theories how Tiberius died :
1 Somebody killed him
2 He died naturally
Both theories could happened, because Tiberius was old (he died when he was 78) and there was big chance for Caligula to kill him (with poison, knife, even to smother him).
So, I am young amateur historian and I want you to tell me how you think he died and tell me more ancient sources about his death.
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Old August 12th, 2018, 08:19 AM   #2
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Likely Caligula heard of Tiberius' death and immediately started to secure his position. Then he hears that Tiberius isn't dead after all, and now he's in a dificult position. It's quite possible that Tiberius, once recovered, and hearing that Caligula had started to take over, will (wrongly) have him arrested for treason. So rather than wait for this to happen he takes his chance and murders Tiberius. Macro may also be concerned that he will be implicated in a conspiracy against the emperor, or maybe he takes advantage of the situation and ensures himself a place by Caligula's side.

Both knew that Tiberius was deeply unpopular by both the citizens of Rome and by the Senate, so that few questions would be asked about the old emperor's death, and even if it DID come to light that he had been murdered, few would have said anything about it, certainly not against the 'golden boy, son of Germanicus' Caligula , nor dare say anything against the head of the Praetorian guard Macro.

So in answer to your question, yes I do think he was murdered, but it wasn't pre-meditated.
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Old August 12th, 2018, 12:01 PM   #3

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Everyone thought Tiberius was dead. Not only did Caligula start positioning himself to take over, some Senators publicly supported him.

When Tiberius recovered, they all knew he would quickly learn how fast they changed loyalties. He was known for executing anyone he suspected of treason. They would all die (including Caligula) if Tiberius lived.

I see the possibilities like this:
1) Tiberius actually did die of whatever it was that knocked him out in the first place. He was not very healthy. He did "recover" ... not exactly clear what that meant. Maybe he had a quick relapse that killed him.
2) He was smothered (no reports of any wounds):
a) By Caligula himself
b) By Macro

Theoretically, I guess, Caligula could have given Tiberius a heart attack holding a pillow close to his face to scare him. Then again, Tiberius was a pretty tough old bird.

Tiberius could have been poisoned, although no historian mentions the possibility that I know of. Historians seemed to think that poisoning inevitably leaves some kind of marks ... clots under the skin, different skin color, or some such. I don't believe this is necessarily true.
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Old August 12th, 2018, 12:22 PM   #4
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Caligula was now emperor. Who wants to accuse the new emperor of murdering the old? Even if there WERE signs of violence on Tiberius' body, nobody would say.

The threat of him being arrested and executed was likely what gave him the determination to carry it out; what did he have to lose? It could also be argued that Caligula would want to be the dominant partner in the co-rulership of Rome, which would be easier whilst Gemellus was still quite young.

I don't know whether Caligula loved his uncle, was in awe of him or was simply terrified of him - but I don't think he wanted him dead. If he had, Tiberius would not have lasted as long as he did. Everyone knew Caligula would be next emperor, and before you kill the old one you want to make sure that the new one will be okay with it.
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