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By Anthony A. Barrett

Agrippina the more youthful attained a degree of energy in first-century Rome exceptional for a girl. in accordance with historical assets, she completed her luck through plotting opposed to her brother, the emperor Caligula, murdering her husband, the emperor Claudius, and controlling her son, the emperor Nero, via drowsing with him. glossy students are inclined to settle for this verdict. yet in his dynamic biography-the first on Agrippina in English-Anthony Barrett paints a startling new photograph of this influential lady. Drawing at the newest archaeological, numismatic, and historic facts, Barrett argues that Agrippina has been misjudged. even supposing she used to be bold, says Barrett, she made her manner via skill and backbone instead of via sexual attract, and her political contributions to her time appear to have been confident. After Agrippina's marriage to Claudius there has been a marked decline within the variety of judicial executions and there has been shut cooperation among the Senate and the emperor; the cost of Cologne, based below her aegis, was once a version of social concord; and the 1st 5 years of Nero's reign, whereas she used to be nonetheless alive, have been the main enlightened of his rule. in response to Barrett, Agrippina's one actual failing used to be her dating along with her son, the monster of her personal making who had her murdered in bad and violent conditions. Agrippina's influence used to be so lasting, even if, that for a few a hundred and fifty years after her loss of life no lady within the imperial family members dared think an assertive political function.

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Extra info for Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire (Roman Imperial Biographies)

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16 The Julian link did, however, give Agrippina a near-mystical status and would provide a powerful basis for the claims that were made on behalf of her son. To avoid the conflict that would be inevitable if powerful noble families competed for power, Augustus may have thought it desirable for the succession to fall to someone from his own kin. But conveniently for him this noble motive would have coincided with a natural impulse to be succeeded by someone of his own blood line. The fact that he designated as successors a series of adopted, rather than natural, sons might have made his conduct a little easier for traditional Romans to stomach.

At the time of her death Popilia was elderly, and it was thirty years before the honour was granted to a young woman, when Julius Caesar delivered the oration at the funeral of his wife Cornelia. The custom became well established. 22 From this time we see an assault on the established tradition that had generally excluded females from the political arena. 24 Again, there is need for caution. The notion that women of high birth played a key role in late republican politics became almost formulaic among historical writers.

There is no serious evidence in their actual behaviour of any antipathy. For his part, Germanicus, in all his public actions, demonstrated consistent loyalty towards Tiberius, who in turn treated his stepson courteously and fairly. Also, Tacitus claims that there was what he called typically feminine friction, muliebres offensiones, between Livia and Agrippina the Elder, for which he places the blame squarely on Livia. 6 Two Tacitean themes can be observed here, the notion of irrational hatred between women and the deft conversion of failings into qualities when it suited the historian’s purpose.

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