People - Ancient Rome: Drusus Minor
Born Nero Claudius Drusus, later Drusus Julius Caesar (13 BC - 14 September 23 AD).
Drusus Julius Caesar in Wikipedia
Nero Claudius Drusus, later Drusus Julius Caesar (adoptive name; 13 BC - 14 September 23 AD) was the only child of Roman Emperor
Tiberius and his first wife, Vipsania Agrippina.
He was born in 7 October 13 BC with the name Nero Claudius Drusus, and is also known to historians as Drusus II and Drusus Minor.
Drusus was named after his paternal uncle the general Nero Claudius Drusus (who is sometimes called Nero Drusus, Drusus I, Drusus
Major, or Drusus the Elder), who was Tiberius' younger brother. He was born and raised in Rome. Drusus was the first grandchild
of the statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and his first wife Caecilia Attica.
Despite his violent temper, Drusus showed promise with both military and politics. In 13 AD, he was made a permanent member of
the Senate committee Augustus had founded to draw up the Senate's daily business. However, because Drusus was only related to the
Claudian side of the family, rather than both the Julians and Claudians, Augustus forced Tiberius to adopt Germanicus, who was
married to Augustus's granddaughter, as his son and heir, removing Drusus from the succession. In 14, after the death of
Augustus, Drusus suppressed a mutiny in Pannonia. In 15 he became a consul. He was also governor of Illyricum from 17 to 20. In
21 he was consul again, significantly with his father Tiberius as his colleague, while in 22 he received tribunicia potestas
(tribunician power), a distinction reserved solely for the emperor or his immediate successor.
Drusus married his paternal cousin Livilla in 4. Their daughter Julia was born shortly after. They had twin sons Tiberius
Gemellus and Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus II Gemellus in 19, the latter of whom died still an infant in 23. In the same
year, Germanicus died, making Drusus the new heir; Germanicus' wife Agrippina suspected Tiberius of having killed him to allow
Drusus to become his heir, but this is unlikely.
Before the birth of the twins, Livilla may already have been in a relationship with Sejanus, Tiberius' Praetorian Prefect.
Moreover Drusus, who was naturally irascible, had once in the course of a casual argument with Sejanus raised his fist and struck
him in the face. By 23 it looked as if Drusus, who made no secret of his antipathy towards Sejanus, would succeed Tiberius as
emperor. For reasons of self-survival, but also because he may have had designs on the supreme power, Sejanus needed to remove
Drusus. Ancient sources (Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio) concur that with Livilla as his accomplice he poisoned her husband. If
Drusus was indeed murdered, then it was done so skillfully that his death in 23 gave rise to no suspicion, having as he did a
reputation for heavy drinking. Sejanus (in 25) asked for Livilla’s hand in marriage but Tiberius forbade it.
Sejanus fell in 31 (October 18). A few days later (October 26) Sejanus' former wife Apicata committed suicide, but not before
addressing a letter to Tiberius claiming that Drusus had been poisoned, with the complicity of Livilla. Drusus’ cupbearer Lygdus
and Livilla's physician Eudemus were now tortured, and seemed to confirm Apicata’s accusation. By the end of the year Livilla too
had perished, supposedly forcibly starved to death by her own mother, Antonia.
Drusus was an avid enthusiast of gladiator fights. In fact, we hear that the sharpest swords were named "Drusian" after him.
Drusus is noted to have once come to blows with Sejanus in an argument. An earlier fight with a praetorian guard (possibly
Sejanus as well) earned him the ironic nickname "Castor", after the patron god of the praetorians. He features under this name in
the novel I, Claudius by Robert Graves, and in its BBC adaptation (in which he was played by Kevin McNally).
He is associated with the gourmand Apicius. Under Apicius' influence he disdained a certain vegetable of the cabbage family,
earning a reprimand from Tiberius. Drusus is also recorded as using bitter almonds (five or six at a time) as a prophylactic
Drusus Minor in Harpers Dictionary
The son of the emperor Tiberius by Vipsania, daughter of
Agrippa. He served with distinction in Pannonia and Illyricum,
and was consul with his father, A.D. 21. In a quarrel with the
imperial favourite Seianus, he gave the latter a blow in the
face. Seianus, in revenge, seduced his wife Livia or Livilla,
daughter of Drusus the elder and of Antonia; and the guilty
pair destroyed Drusus by poison, which was administered by the
eunuch Lygdus. The crime remained a secret for eight years,
when it was discovered after the death of Seianus, and Livia
was put to death (Tac. Ann. i. 24, etc.; iv. 3 foll.).
Drusus Minor in Roman Biography
Dissertatio de M. L. Drusis Patre et Filio," 1826.
Dru'sus Cae'sar, (see'zar,) sometimes called Drusus
Junior, a son of the emperor Tiberius, married Livia, a
sister of Germanicus. His character was depraved by
cruelty and other vices. Died in 23 A.D., from poison.
See Tacitus, "Annals."
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