Roman Emperor Tiberius

Tiberius Claudius Nero was born on 16 November 42 BC in Rome to an important aristocratic family.

His mother divorced his rather and remarried Emperor Augustus, putting Tiberius in line to be emperor. Augustus helped Tiberius start his political career when he was 17.

Tiberius started in politics as a quaestor (a Roman official for finances) and a prosecutor in legal cases.

Augustus was very ill at this point so Tiberius wanted to get as much experience as possible in case he became emperor. He also helped to run Rome’s food supplies and check that things for soldiers were in order.

Even though Tiberius did not serve in the army, he led an invasion into Armenia as the country posed a threat to the Roman Empire.

Later, Augustus joined him and they reached a compromise with Armenia so that it would remain a free state and would not invade the empire. This helped Tiberius get more powerful political positions and he became consul in 13 BC.

Tiberius married

Tiberius married Agrippina, a friend of Augustus, and they had one son together, Drusus. After Agrippina’s father died, Augustus forced Tiberius to divorce her and remarry Augustus’s daughter (and Agrippina’s step mother!) who was called Julia.

Tiberius was unhappy with this and tried to see Agrippina as much as possible, even though they had divorced.

Tiberius retired from politics for several years and went to Rhodes. Eventually, he returned to Rome and adopted by Augustus in 2 AD to become his heir and successor to the title emperor.

In 12 AD, Titus was given administrative powers so that he was equal to the emperor. When Augustus died, Tiberius became the sole emperor.

Initially, the senate did not trust Tiberius as emperor so he made reforms. He banned non-Roman cultures and astrologers, prevented riots and reduced the amount of money spent on unnecessary expenses.

He then sent armies into Germania, where people were fighting, to squash the rebellions against the Empire and won.

Extra Powers

Tiberius gave many extra powers to Sejanus, a man who had served in senior government for around 35 years, when Tiberius’s son Drusus died.

Sejanus eventually was left in charge of the city of Rome and Tiberius withdrew to Capri. However, Sejanus was not emperor nor Tiberius’s heir.

Sejanus tried to become emperor himself and overthrow Tiberius. He tried many Roman senators for treason and secretly murdered several aristocrats who supported Tiberius.

In response, Tiberius removed Sejanus’s powers and had him executed immediately for treason.

Tiberius was still completely absent from Rome and left all decisions to the senate for the remainder of his life. He declared Caligula and his grandson Gemellus as heirs. 

Facts about Tiberius

  • Tiberius was adopted by Emperor Augustus, who helped him start a political career.
  • Tiberius invaded Armenia successfully and stopped them attacking the empire.
  • Agrippina, a friend of Augustus, was Tiberius’s first wife and they had a son, Drusus.
  • Augustus made Tiberius remarry his daughter, Julia.
  • Tiberius was untrusted by the senate but he reduced spending and stopped rebellions, proving them wrong.
  • Sejanus was Tiberius’s trusted right hand man, who looked after all the goings on in Rome when Tiberius did not want to.
  • Sejanus tried to overthrow Tiberius by killing his followers and discrediting him.
  • Tiberius chose Caligula as his heir.


  • How did Tiberius start in politics?
    He began as quaestor and a legal prosecutor, then led armies in invasions.
  • What was Tiberius’s personal life like?
    He married twice and had one son, but his second marriage was forced and unhappy as he still loved his first wife.
  • What reforms did Tiberius put in as Emperor?
    He banned any culture that wasn’t Roman, stopped expensive Spending and stopped rebellions.
  • How did Tiberius deal with Sejanus?
    Tiberius removed Sejanus’s powers, had him tried for treason in the senate and executed.