Pennsylvania State University Introduction Ti. Claudius Nero Germanicus b. His reign represents a turning point in the history of the Principate for a number of reasons, not the least for the manner of his accession and the implications it carried for the nature of the office. During his reign he promoted administrators who did not belong to the senatorial or equestrian classes, and was later vilified by authors who did.
Adrienne Gough The Power of Agrippina: Methods, Downfall and Motive Introduction Agrippina rose to eminence during the Principate of Claudius, she was determined to secure power for herself and her bloodline and was willing to use any means neccesary to achieve her ambitions.
In this paper I will be analysing how Agrippina managed to manipulate her situation and those around her in order to gain influence for herself and how she managed to install Nero in the place of Britannicus as heir to Claudius.
This included securing her own marriage to Claudius, after which she began to use the influence this brought to arrange the marriage between Nero and Octavia, the adoption of Nero into the Claudian household and the premature advancement of Nero's political career.
In order for these plans to occur Agrippina extended her network or alliances to include many prominent freedmen and senators who she bound to her in numerous ways; the most common of these would have been through a system of reciprocity or patronage.
Agrippina may also have used sexual bribery as a way to ensure loyalty as she had initially done to draw Claudius into marriage. Agrippina also used her reputation as a atrox femina fearsome woman to intimidate those who attempted to oppose her as it is evident that many who did were either exiled or executed on her orders.
Others were reliant upon her as they wished to see Nero replace Britannicus so that Britannicus would not seek revenge for their part in the execution of his mother Messalina.
Once this power base had been established Agrippina moved on to other projects. As the new partner of Claudius it became imperitive that she destroy the network of alliances left behind by Messalina, the restructuring of the Pretorian guard, demotion of Narcissus and cull of Britannicus's tutors saw this wish fulfilled.
After the discussion of these topics I will look at the manner in which she used the influence this brought her to shape her public image and relations with those outside the imperial court. To manage this Agrippina used a number of mediums, public displays of her influence were essential, as was the impact of coinage and the imagry they presented.
Furthermore the sculpting of political influence can be seen to be exhibited when Agrippina ensured she was paid homage to by the British chieftan Caractacus on a dais near Claudius and again when she was allowed to have a colony founded in her name.
I then discuss the way in which public displays such as these contributed to her downfall. The lost of influence and power she had gained is due to the fact she insisted on pushing for legitamatly acknowledge power in a way that was not socially acceptable for a woman.
The attempt made to preside beside Nero over political matters in the senate saw Agrippina overstep the boundaries between private advisor and public partner, a move that set Nero against her as she was becoming more of a hinderance than an asset.
Agrippina's subsequent attempt to prevent Nero's affair with the Freedwoman Acte compounded the rift and caused Nero begin to remove her power base turning instead to his other advisors for guidence. Chapter three will be focused on explaining the motives behind Agrippinas's decision to rise to such prominence.
I will argue that it is mainly her wish to achieve power for herself and her bloodline so that they will never again face persecution from those with higher rank. There would have also been other contributing factors, the intent to improve the prestige of her family for instance was important as was the desire to ensure that the Principate never again decended into such despotic tyranny as it had under Caligula.
Marriage to Claudius though important to this is not the only way she sought to advance. In reality prior to her marriage to Claudius, Agrippina had already been slowly expanding her influence within the Roman world. The first two marriages she entered into provided her with the neccesary requirements to ensure her general standing as a woman of noble birth, that of a child which provided her with legitamacy as a dutiful Roman woman.
The wealth she aquired gave suitable standards of living for a woman of her rank and this also provided her access to social gatherings with other nobility which would have allowed alliances and friendships to form.
The only thing she now needed to rise to supreme position was a husband of esteemed rank, and Claudius would have been by far the best option available. There were many reasons behind the marriage of Agrippina and Claudius beyond Agrippina's ambition, Tacitus again only offers limited insight through the mouthpiece of Pallas; "the princeps should espouse a noble stock such as the posterity of the Julian and Claudian families, lest a lady of proved fertility should take the brilliancy of the Caesars to another household".
This is because these were the desirable traits for a woman, whereas intelligence and cunning were seen as dangerous as Tacitus is keen to point out on numerous occassions.
Tacitus portrays Agrippina as a dux femina who controlled Claudius like a puppet rather than as a strong political ally who would help keep at bay the forces still threatening to topple his principate as this made for a more dramatic scene.
Agrippina however recieved more influence and power than she had previously enjoyed even under Caligula's reign. Agrippina realised she needed support to appear as the best candidate for the marriage, support she easily gained from freedmen and senators alike, as those with an understanding of the role Agrippina would play backed her as the best candidate for Claudius's third wife as she would then be bound to them by gratitude allowing them in return a limited chance of influence.
The senators also saw an important opportunity to establish a precidence whereby they could influence or choose the marriages of emperors, something that would give them back a mediocum of control over the principate. From this rank she had a much better chance of furthering her plans for 1 Tacitus Ann Tacitus and Dio are in agreement that from the outset Agrippina began training Nero for power whilst arranging that he appear the only viable option for sucession, not only for his own sake as would be expected, but so she could continue to enjoy such masculine power once Claudius died.
She cleverly ensured that attention would fall on her son, exploiting the memory of Germanicus, and the sympathy that Nero enjoyed as the last male survivor of the line.
To raise Domitius to the same level as Britannicus would require a great deal of effort on Agrippina's part; initially this meant deepening the ties between the two houses, ideally by both marriage and adoption. The adoption of Domitius, after which he took the name Nero was relatively easy to arrange, there had been many previous cases of two heirs being named in case anything should befall one of them, as ther was always a chance one might fall in ballte or to sickness.
Augustus, for instance adopted Gaius and Lucius as joint heirs though they died before they had chance to gain the principate, proving how dangerous it was to be an heir. It may have even been planned that they rule as co-emperors but as the will of Claudius was never publically read it cannot be acertained if this truely was Claudius's desire.
Agrippina would have had support from the freedmen and nobility who had been involved in Messalinas's death in promoting Nero, as he would not have any reason to seek reprisals unlike Britannicus. Indeed Claudius's health was well documented as being fragile so he would have seen the sense in ensuring that should he die unexpectedly the principate would pass to someone of his choosing rather than someone picked by the senate or even worse a return to the republic.
Even though Nero was only "four years older, as soon as he became of age he would be in a much stronger position to take up the reign than Britannicus"7, especially with the support of those Agrippina had won influence with.
The strategy to gain power using Nero as a front was a subtle maneuver that ensured she gained credibility for her son and by proxy exhalted status as the mother of the future emperor. Agrippina was not satisfied with settling only for the adoption of Nero into the imperial family, marriage ties would solidify this relationship.
Dual connection to the imperial house would mark him out as the favorite for sucession, as well as advertising the influential capabilities that Agrippina exhibited over Claudius.According to our sources, the freedmen were frequently to exert less beneficent influences throughout Claudius's reign.
In 38 A.D. Claudius had married Valeria Messalina, a scion of a noble house with impressive familial connections. If so, Claudius's reliance on his freedmen may have stemmed from this circumstance, in that the ex-slaves were (as far as he was concerned) more trustworthy than the sullen aristocracy.
For whatever reasons, there is no doubt that Claudius's reign is the first era of the great imperial freedman. Agrippina Seneca Burrus And Imperial Freedmen. Ancient Assessment – Agrippina – by Sophie Mulley Describe Agrippina’s relationship with other members of the imperial court.
(10 MARKS) “Agrippina was a formidable adversary. She had political allies at all levels, acquired during Claudius’ reign, and she knew how to exploit her Augustan lineage and descent from Germanicus to the full.”.
Claudius, much as he elevated freedmen in his government, passed laws (e.g. punishing freedmen who pretended to be eques) in their place. • They took the jobs of government which had hitherto been done by senators, and thus excluded them from influence and wealth.
Influence of freedmen on Claudius The term freedman refers to a former slave who has been liberated from slavery. The empire delegated his authority to senators, members of his family and personal staff.
Tiberius Claudius Narcissus (fl. 1st century) was one of the freedmen who formed the core of the imperial court under the Roman emperor regardbouddhiste.com is described as praepositus ab epistulis (in charge of correspondence)..
He reportedly had great influence over the emperor and amassed a great deal of money. He is said to have conspired with Claudius's third wife Valeria Messalina to manipulate.