Egypt: Rulers, Kings and Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt: Tiberius


14 - 37 AD

Tiberius showed that he was the real ruler of the Empire and though at first his policy was not always compatible, he nevertheless took considerable efforts to further the national interests.

At first he negotiated in matters of state only when violations had to be checked; retracting certain orders published by the Senate, and sometimes offering to sit on the tribunal beside the magistrates, or at the end of the advisory. He also undertook the arrest of any decline in public morality due to negligence. He abolished foreign cults at Rome, particularly the Egyptian and Jewish, forcing all citizens who had embraced these superstitious faiths to burn their religious vestments and other accessories. Tiberius showed large-scale generosity no more than twice in his reign. As the years went by, this stinginess turned to greed. He made many states and individuals relinquish their ancient immunities and mineral rights, and the privilege of collecting taxes. Tiberius was also a very cruel man. Some signs of Tiberius' savage and dreary character could be distinguished many times over.

Tiberius did so many wicked deeds under the rationale of reforming public morals--but in reality to satisfy his lust for seeing people suffer--that many satires were written against the evils he committed. Tiberius broke out in every sort of cruelty and never lacked for victims. Not a day, however holy, passed without an execution. There was an extreme amount of violence performed against the Jews and their synagogues by groups of Alexandrian Greeks organized in unions and cult associations. Houses were overrun and looted, victims were dragged out and burned to death or torn limb-from-limb in the market-place.

Much evidence is still existing, not only of the hatred that Tiberius earned but of the state of terror in which he himself lived, and the insults heaped upon him. His uneasiness of mind was aggravated by a perpetual stream of reproaches from all sides; and every one of his condemned victims either cursed him to his face or arranged for a notice to be posted in the theater seats occupied by senators. At last, growing thoroughly disgusted with himself, he confessed his misery.

At the age of seventy-seven years old and a reign of twenty-three years, Tiberius died in a country house. His body was carried to Rome, where it was cremated with due ceremony. Two years before his death, Tiberius named Gaius and Drusus as his co-heirs; and if either should die, the survivor was to be the sole heir to the throne.