Tiberio, l’imperatore schivo

Successor (at age 56) at Augusto, the first emperor in Rome, Tiberius ruled the Roman empire from 14 to 37 AD.

Descendant of Gens Claudia, Tiberius Claudio Nerone changed his name to Tiberius Julius Caesar in 4 AD, the year he was adopted by Augusto. His investment was, in fact, a forced rejection, as Augustus himself pointed out in his will, clarifying that he had chosen Tiberius only because fate had cruelly deprived him of all other possible heirs.

Tiberius, however, was always faithful to his cunning patrician and father-in-law, distinguishing himself as one of his most valued generals, and adapting to the choices Augusto wanted to impose on his life, and he continued predecessor’s policy.

Tiberius did not enjoy good fame with the writers of the age, who wanted to characterize him as a suspicious sovereign, at times tyrannical and prone to debauchery.

In fact, Emperor Tiberius was a shy and reserved person; he was not happy with the role he had to have at a late age; he did not like honors and treats; he appreciated the figurative arts and despised the games of the gladiators. For the rest of his life, he remained in the shadow of Augustus, and he also faced choices even when they painfully invested his private sphere, for example, when he was forced to divorce his beloved Vipsania to marry the dissolute Giulia, the Augustus daughter.

His life was also marked by another great pain, the death of his son Druso, who deprived him, at the age of sixty-four, of his son and herd.

In 27 AD, 67, Tiberio decided to leave Rome and settle in Capri, where he retired to the highest and most inaccessible point: Villa Jovis. According to tradition, 12 of them would have been the villas built by Tiberius in the island of Capri and the famous Blue Grotto would be nothing but one of its private pools.

Far from Rome, the emperor continues to take care of the affairs of the empire, yet his voluntary exile coincides with what, for the chroniclers of time, was the darkest moment of his kingdom, the conspiracy of Seiano.

Tiberius remained at Capri until the end of his days, cultivating his genuine love for culture and science and pursuing that intense desire for solitude and privacy that had diveded him from the Capital, crowded and corrupt.


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Thursday April 16th, 2015