By Anthony A. Barrett
Agrippina the more youthful attained a degree of energy in first-century Rome unparalleled for a girl. in accordance with historic resources, she accomplished her good fortune via plotting opposed to her brother, the emperor Caligula, murdering her husband, the emperor Claudius, and controlling her son, the emperor Nero, by way of snoozing with him. smooth students are inclined to settle for this verdict. yet in his dynamic biography-the first on Agrippina in English-Anthony Barrett paints a startling new photo of this influential girl. Drawing at the most up-to-date archaeological, numismatic, and ancient proof, Barrett argues that Agrippina has been misjudged. even though she was once bold, says Barrett, she made her manner via skill and backbone instead of via sexual attract, and her political contributions to her time appear to have been optimistic. After Agrippina's marriage to Claudius there has been a marked decline within the variety of judicial executions and there has been shut cooperation among the Senate and the emperor; the payment of Cologne, based less than her aegis, was once a version of social concord; and the 1st 5 years of Nero's reign, whereas she was once nonetheless alive, have been the main enlightened of his rule. in accordance with Barrett, Agrippina's one genuine failing used to be her courting together with her son, the monster of her personal making who had her murdered in awful and violent conditions. Agrippina's influence used to be so lasting, besides the fact that, that for a few a hundred and fifty years after her loss of life no girl within the imperial family members dared suppose an assertive political position.
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Extra resources for Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire (Roman Imperial Biographies)
Long observed in the case of male ancestors, the first speech in commemoration of a woman was that given in 102 BC by the consul Quintus Lutatius Catulus on behalf of his mother Popilia. At the time of her death Popilia was elderly, and it was thirty years before the honour was granted to a young woman, when Julius Caesar delivered the oration at the funeral of his wife Cornelia. The custom became well established. 22 From this time we see an assault on the established tradition that had generally excluded females from the political arena.
Julia’s letter to her father, which was eventually to cost its co-author Sempronius his life, may have well been the last straw; the attack it contained on Tiberius, while intended to be personal, had inevitable political implications. While the full meaning of the Julia episode eludes us, it does contain elements that are recognizable. It illustrates the veil of secrecy and obscurity that falls over events when a female member of the imperial house is involved in any scandal. This was in the nature of things; since women could not seek power directly for themselves, any attempt to further their ambitions would need to involve intrigue and third parties.
There is no serious evidence in their actual behaviour of any antipathy. For his part, Germanicus, in all his public actions, demonstrated consistent loyalty towards Tiberius, who in turn treated his stepson courteously and fairly. Also, Tacitus claims that there was what he called typically feminine friction, muliebres offensiones, between Livia and Agrippina the Elder, for which he places the blame squarely on Livia. 6 Two Tacitean themes can be observed here, the notion of irrational hatred between women and the deft conversion of failings into qualities when it suited the historian’s purpose.