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Roman General - Germanicus Caesar

Updated on November 2, 2009

Germanicus Caesar (15 B.C. - 19 A.D.), was one of the leading members of the family of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Nero Claudius Germanicus was the son of Nero Claudius Drusus, Augustus' stepson, and he married Agrippina Major (the Elder), Augustus' granddaughter. He inherited the name "Germanicus" from his father, who had been given it for his military exploits against German tribes.

In 4 A.D., Germanicus was adopted by his uncle Tiberius and added "Caesar" to his name, at the same time that Augustus adopted Tiberius. Thereby, Germanicus became, after Tiberius, the heir to the Roman Empire. After the adoption, he went with Tiberius to Pannonia and later to Germany. He was placed in command of the Rhine frontier in the year 13 A.D..

In the following year Augustus died, and Tiberius became emperor. Germanicus' legions on the Rhine mutinied because they wanted him as emperor, but he supported Tiberius and calmed his soldiers. However, the relationship between Germanicus and Tiberius was not friendly. Germanicus was more popular, and in favoring an offensive stance in Germany he opposed Tiberius.

Germanicus in the East. After several abortive attempts to conquer part of Germany, Germanicus was called to Rome in 17 A.D., honored with a triumph, and assigned to a command in the East. It was his task to reorganize and strengthen the eastern frontier threatened by the Parthians. He went to the East in 18 and devoted his attention to Armenia, Cappadocia, and Commagene. In 19 he visited Egypt without Tiberius' permission, which angered the Emperor. He then began to quarrel with Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, governor of Syria. Piso had been appointed by Tiberius, who apparently asked him to restrain the impetuous Germanicus.

Germanicus died under very mysterious circumstances, at Antioch, in 19 A.D. His wife Agrippina accused Piso of having poisoned him. Germanicus had several children by Agrippina, including the future Emperor Caligula and Agrippina Minor, Nero's mother. He was probably the most popular member of the Julio-Claudian family, but his achievements were limited.

The death of Germanicus, by Nicholas Poussin.
The death of Germanicus, by Nicholas Poussin.


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      10 years ago

      hey there, greatly enjoyed reading the hub as i am very interested in Roman history, especially the military side of it. You should check out my first hub if you can, its all about the roman empire :)


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