Importance of Agrippina's family and marriages to her career Essay

Importance of Agrippina’s family and marriages to her career BY Jern330 Importance of Agrippina’s family and her first two marriages to her career Agrippina’s family background was the basis of her influence and power. Her familys position of power enabled her to be more influential than most other women of her era. She was born of both Julian and Claudian bloodlines. She was a descendant of the Emperor Augustus, nice and later wife of Claudius, sister of Gaius and mother of Nero. Her mother, Agrippina the Elder, and father, Germanicus, were well respected fgures in Roman society, which also contributed to her importance.

Her first two marriages to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Gaius Sallutius Passienus Crispus, gave her the protection and wealth, which ensured her survival. Agrippina the Elder was a determined, intelligent woman who sought support her husband and advance the careers of her sons. Agrippina the Elder was born in 14BC, to Julia and Agrippa. During her lifetime she had seen many of her family and friends suffer from persecution, but she maintained her opposition to Tiberius. It is suggested her brother, Gaius Caesar, was poisoned at the hands of Livia, leaving Augustus no other hoice but to adopt Tiberius as his son and successor.

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Her other brother, Agrippa Postumus was exiled and killed shortly after the death of Augustus, and her mother Julia, was exiled to the Island of Pandateria, accused of being immoral. This is event is accounted for by Tacitus, who says “Her father Augustus had imprisoned her-for immorality-first on the Island of Pandateria… “. She was later moved to the town of Rhegium, where she died. Agrippina the Elder was married to Germanicus, a proconsul and commander of German legions. Her marriage proved successful with ix surviving children. After Germanicus had defeated the Germans with her support, he was sent to the East by Tiberius.

Agrippina believed Germanicus was poisoned by Piso on Tiberius’ orders. Upon her arrival back in Rome, she publically complained about Germanicus’ death to Tiberius, and was deemed a threat to the principate. In 29 AD, she sons Nero and Drusus were arrested, and she was to suffer the same fate as her mother. Growing up, Agrippina the Younger had watched many of her many of her family members die at the hands of Sejanus, the commander of the Praetorian Guard. She had learned from her mother to be less conspicuous, keep a low profile and not to involve herself in political affairs until after the death of Tiberius.

She also learnt the important role that a woman from a prominent family could have. Germanicus’ popularity was extremely important for Agrippina and Gaius. Germanicus was the son of Drusus, a well-respected Roman politician and military commander and descendant of Livia. He inherited the popularity of his father, which is captured in Suetonius’ lines “He was handsome, courageous, a past-master of Greek and Latin oratory letters, conspicuously kind-hearted and gifted with the owerful desire and capacity for winning respect and inspiring affection”.

This meant that to the Roman public, Germanicus could do no wrong, despite nearly losing in Germany. After his death, his popularity helped Gaius and Agrippina’s son Nero, to ascend the throne. When Gaius had succeeded Tiberius, he gave many honours towards Agrlpplna ana ner sisters. I nls Incluaea Delng mace vestal vlrglns ana appearing on the obverse side of coins, during his reign. This was Agrippina’s first experience of the kind of power she could enjoy as the relative of an Emperor.

Agrippina married her first husband, Domitius Ahenobarbus, when she was Just thirteen. Ahenobarbus, who was the grandson of Mark Antony and came from a family background of consuls, was renouned for violence and cruelty. An example of this is when Suetonius states “Once driving through a village on the Appian Way, he whipped up his horses and deliberately ran over and killed a boy; and when a knight criticised him rather freely in the Forum he gouged out one of his eyeballs there and then”.

Despite this, Agrippina’s marriage to Ahenobarbus, gave her the protection she eeded against Tiberius and during Tiberius’ last few years of his reign, Agrippina kept a low profile. To avoid being seen as a threat, some sources suggest it is no coincidence she gave birth to Nero, nine months after Tiberius’ death. After returning from exile in 39 AD, Agrippina married Gaius Sallutius Passienus Crispus, a consul with considerable intelligence and wealth. Her marriage to Crispus kept her safe from Messalina (then the wife of Claudius), who viewed her as a threat because she was a descendant of Germanicus.

After Crispus died, she inherited all of his ealth, which was useful for the continuation of her career Agrippina was the descendant of two of Rome’s most powerful and influential families; Julian and Claudian. She was a descendant of the Emperor Augustus, niece and wife of Claudius and sister of Gaius. Her family bloodline gave her prestige that excelled her beyond the role of Roman women during her era. Her parents, Agrippina the Elder and Germanicus, were important and well respected fgures throughout Rome, whose reputation she was able to use. Agrippina’s first two marriages, gave her the protection and wealth, she needed to survive.


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