Agrippina the Younger -Rome a symbol of strength

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Rome a symbol of strength, empowerment and prosperity for many, leaving no doubt in modern historians thoughts that this utopia was one of the most prominent of the ancient era’s. One dynasty within this epoch stands out, as being one of the most provocative and influential was the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This period was introduced with the instigation of the emperor Julio Augustus, known as one of the most appreciated emperors in Roman history. After Augustus came the rulers Tiberius, Gaius Germanicus (Caligula), Claudius and Nero. With every new ruler the amount of power and wealth in the city swelled, some even say that it was the golden age of Roman literature and arts. Each of these power broker’s have one person in common, apart from imperial extravagance and notoriety, they all have felt the sting of Julia Agrippina’s manipulative powers (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013). When studying Agrippina it is found that many of the sources do not retain a sympathetic view of the During the Julio-Claudian era Agrippina the younger only retained her power through the manipulation of her son, husband and peers. By doing this she made herself on the most powerful women in Rome.

Growing up with the most loved general in Rome at that time, Agrippina was destined for greatness. In her teenage years the regrettable incident of her fathers passing occurred and the empire was left to Tiberius, during this time she was betrothed to Domitius Ahenobarbus, which she eventually bore a child with called Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Most sources state that she was forced into this marriage by the emperor Tiberius, a fact that is acknowledged by modern historian Donna Hurley when she states that Agrippina’s union with Cn.  Domitius Ahenobarbus was arranged by Tiberius. After this Hurley then goes on to state that it was practice for families of prominence in the ruling house to have the emperor arrange their marriages, which would explain why Agrippina was married at the tender age of thirteen. This period was probably one of the most controversial in Agrippina’s time as it instigated her impression that those in power were the ones with the most influence.

Ask any of the historians of the Julio Claudian era how Julia Agrippina was able to come to such inordinate power, each will give you a different answer, but they all start with Agrippina’s relationship with her brother. By honoring his sisters Gaius Germanicus Caligula was reprimanded and made an easy target. These honors gave the three sisters unparalleled status, they included; making them honorary vestal virgins, inclusion in the annual vows for the allegiance to the emperor and the emperors safety, inclusion of in the preamble to proposals submitted to the senate, being depicted on coins and many other. An account, now considered unlikely to be true, is mentioned by Suetonius [in 1914: XXIV], “He (Caligula) lived in habitual incest with his sisters… he is believed to have violated Drusilla when he was a minor”. The more realistic option is explored by Barrett, which states “ Caligula would have looked for affection from his three sisters… it was doubtless this affection that led to stories of incest with all three sisters”. This appeared as an opportunity for Agrippina to manipulate her way to becoming an influential power broker in that era. Agrippina’s sister Drusilla was Caligula’s favourite, and when he fell ill he immediately made her his heir, however this instigation was evaded as she died unexpectedly in AD 38, therefore Caligula reaped with grief deified his beloved sister making her the only woman to be deified in the Julio Claudian era. The controversy commenced when Agrippina’s husband, Domitius, died and the two remaining sisters conspired against Caligula, whom at the time was growing quite timeworn. This conspiracy was set about so the family could withhold its power and influence in the republic. Again, as before with Caligula the...
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