By Anthony A. Barrett
Agrippina the more youthful attained a degree of energy in first-century Rome unparalleled for a girl. in accordance with historical assets, she accomplished her good fortune by way of plotting opposed to her brother, the emperor Caligula, murdering her husband, the emperor Claudius, and controlling her son, the emperor Nero, through snoozing with him. glossy students are likely 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 ancient proof, Barrett argues that Agrippina has been misjudged. even supposing she used to be bold, says Barrett, she made her approach via skill and resolution 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 payment of Cologne, based less than her aegis, used to be 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 keeping with Barrett, Agrippina's one actual failing was once her dating along with her son, the monster of her personal making who had her murdered in terrible and violent conditions. Agrippina's effect used to be so lasting, notwithstanding, that for a few one hundred fifty years after her loss of life no lady within the imperial kin dared imagine an assertive political position.
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Extra resources for Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire (Roman Imperial Biographies)
1 She presents a serious problem to the ancient sources, since she was essentially an unattractive individual but was at the same time on the right side, an opponent of Tiberius and his odious servant Sejanus, prefect of the praetorian guard. Tacitus goes to great pains to avoid overtly condemning behaviour that he would castigate in her daughter. 2 Agrippina the Younger did share with her mother an obsessive conviction of her right, as a descendant of Augustus, to continue the line of the Julian succession.
15 Perhaps the most heroic legendary woman was Lucretia. According to tradition, the sons of the last Roman king, Tarquin, wagered with a cousin, Collatinus, on the relative behaviour of their wives in the absence of their husbands (they were on campaign). They returned to Rome, where it was found that the wives at the royal palace had given themselves over to dissipation, but at Collatinus’ house his wife Lucretia was found industriously spinning with the female slaves. Tragedy ensued. One of the sons, Sextus Tarquinius, was so smitten by Lucretia that he returned a few days later and forced her to submit to his lust, threatening that if she refused he would kill her and a male slave and leave both bodies in her room, pretending that they had been caught in flagrantibus and executed.
The event supposedly so inflamed the populace that according to tradition it led to the end of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic. Lucretia was thus the victim of unintentional sexual allure and her decency would not let her come to terms with it. Agrippina’s sexual sins would by contrast seem all the greater in that she actually exploited her sexual charms to advance her own political ambitions. Balancing these idealized portraits from early Rome were others that showed the baneful 7 BACKGROUND effect that ambition could have on women.
Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire (Roman Imperial Biographies) by Anthony A. Barrett