20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A very detailed and balanced look at the 2nd Emperor of Rome,
This review is from: Tiberius (Paperback)
When I first discovered Robin Seager, it was through his book, "Pompey the Great". This was a book I just couldn't read finding it utterly long-winded and excruciatingly detailed (read: boring!). I did eventually read it, when I was ready, and discovered Seager to be an impressive historian whose fondness for detail I greatly enjoyed. Thus, I picked up Tiberius hoping for more of the same. And I wasn't disappointed. Tiberius was the second Principate of Rome having been adopted by Augustus to take over after his death. He was certainly not the first choice but in the end, Tiberius outlived all the other potential heirs Augustus had chosen. Tiberius was an honoured and respected general who had Republican sensibilities. As Principate, he clashed numerous times with the Senate over its inabilities to make decisions for itself and deferring many issues back to him (after he initially passed onto them). Seager takes us through Tiberius' life from his childhood roots (and the eventual familial-bond that he and Augustus would share) to his selection as Principate. He looks at the different occurrences in Tiberius' early life that set him down his eventual path (but not without some resistance first) and his role as Principate (from determining attacks to his relationship with the people). Seager provides a very comprehensive view of the second Principate's reign and his accomplishments and failures. Many have criticized Tiberius and claimed him a tyrant due to his misuse of maiestas (a sort of treason law), allowing Piso (Tiberius' friend) to bring down Germanicus (the much loved successor to-be of Tiberius if he had survived), his war and subsequent unfair treatment of Agrippina (mother of Gauis, wife of Germanicus) and his allowing of Sejanus to manipulate him for his own ambitions (which were obviously detrimental to Rome and many persons within). Although not excusing his behaviour, especially the later half as his mental reason began to crumble; Seager portrays a man who never had the ambitions to be Principate. Unlike many others, Tiberius wanted to end his days in peace and be left alone. What he got instead was the greatest responsibility, which with his virtues, he couldn't easily let go of. Although a very capable leader, Tiberius' greatest weaknesses were his poor attitude to the Principate position and his arrogance and stubbornness towards others. This is what caused the conflicts with the Senate and allowed people such as Sejanus to rise in power and cause so many problems. Tiberius showed himself initially as a fair and reasonable leader but as time went on, he detached himself from his position and its responsibilities and allowed others to take advantage of it. Seager shows that Tiberius was not a tyrant but rather a man who became too disillusioned and too stubborn to let go.