By Anthony A. Barrett

Agrippina the more youthful attained a degree of energy in first-century Rome exceptional for a lady. in accordance with historical resources, she completed her good fortune through plotting opposed to her brother, the emperor Caligula, murdering her husband, the emperor Claudius, and controlling her son, the emperor Nero, by way of drowsing 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 girl. Drawing at the newest archaeological, numismatic, and historic 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 through sexual attract, and her political contributions to her time appear to have been optimistic. 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 lower than 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 line with Barrett, Agrippina's one actual failing was once her courting together with her son, the monster of her personal making who had her murdered in bad and violent situations. Agrippina's impression was once so lasting, besides the fact that, that for a few one hundred fifty years after her demise no girl within the imperial family members dared imagine an assertive political position.

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31 In his unsuccessful defence of Milo, the text of which was revised for publication, Cicero raised the traditional bogey-man of the emasculated husband (he reappears later in the person of the emperor Claudius) with his assertions that Fulvia never let Clodius out of her sight, except apparently on the key occasion of the fracas. 33 As Antony’s wife, she would suffer from the invectives of his two most vitriolic and influential opponents, Cicero and Octavian. In 44 Cicero associates her with an act of brutal savagery – she was present and her face was spattered with blood when Antony executed a number of centurions, on the refusal of the legions to obey his commands at Brundisium.

Lanam fecit (‘She kept house. She made wool’) is how the familiar tomb inscription of the end of the second century BC summed up the virtues of a worthy wife. 13 The motif of the woman who duly excluded herself from involvement in political matters became hallowed in tradition. From time to time females were conceded an important part in critical moments in the history of the state. 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).

It enabled her to cast her own definition of her political role, which gave her an influence over affairs of state to a degree unprecedented for a woman. Generally, she appears to have conducted herself with great skill, as a discreet background adviser, with a good sense of how to tread the careful mid-course between docile passivity and unwelcome intrusion into spheres where women by law, custom or social climate would not be welcomed. Livia, like Agrippina, is treated harshly by the literary sources, especially Tacitus.

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