He could just retire, get a nice little house by the beach, with a pool, some pretty girls, Netflix and chill for the rest of his life.
Why should he deal with all of the stress of running the show??
Where’s the upside?
But in another sense, maybe it was all a farce, because he must have known there was no going back to the way things used to be.
And he signed up for this when he accepted Augustus’ deal.
When Augustus let him come back to Rome, the deal was obviously “and you protect what I built.”
What I think happened at this meeting was that Tibbo let his true feelings about the principate come out.
And the Senators weren’t prepared for it.
They were shocked!
Here’s a guy, we’re offering him basically to be the KING of Rome, and he’s like “please don’t make me be king”.
He’s venting, in a way that he couldn’t in front of Augustus in the years since his return.
At the same meeting of the senate on 17 September honours were conferred on other members of the imperial house.
Lots of praise was heaped on Livia, although Tibbo tried to keep it in check.
At his request, though, Germanicus – Tiberius’ nephew, the son of his deceased brother Drusus – was given proconsular imperium.
Tibbo’s own son with his first wife, Vipsania Agrippina, the other Drusus,was consul designate and present in the senate, no similar grant was made to him.
Speaking of Drusus…
As you’d expect, the death of Augustus caused some havoc out in the provinces.
Especially out in Pannonia.
There were three legions out there under the command of Q. Junius Blaesus, suffect consul in 10 CE and an uncle of the new praetorian prefect Sejanus.
A mutiny broke out in his legions, lead by a guy called Percennius.
They had genuine reasons to be unhappy.
The pay sucked, their centurions were brutal, their terms of service had been extended beyond the normal limit due to the Illyrian revolt, and those that managed to actually retire were given shitty plots of land on marshes and swamps.
YOU SEE THIS LAD – ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS.
As we know, Augustus had struggled to maintain a big standing army.
Even being forced in recent years to buy slaves off slaveholders to fill up the numbers.
Now with Augustus dead and Tibbo yet to be tested, it seems like a good time to raise a protest about better conditions.
They demanded a pay rise, to have the length of their service capped at 16 years, and a guarantee that once they retired, they wouldn’t be called into service again.
Blaesus begged them to murder him, rather than rebel.
They ignored him.
Then he suggested that mutiny wasn’t the right approach to Tiberius – instead they should send an envoy to Rome to represent their demands.
They agreed and sent Blaesus’ son.
And things quieted down for a bit.
But then some rowdy dudes from a detachment that had been in Nauportus, a town in Pannonia, building roads and bridges, returned to camp.
They had heard the news about the mutiny and had run riot through Nauportus.
When they centurions tried to stop them, they beat them up.
When these guys got back to camp, they tried to stir up trouble, so Blaesus had a few put in irons and a few flogged.
But their comrades broke them out of jail and things got nasty.
A new leader emerged – Vibulenus.
He claimed that his brother had been murdered in the night by Blaesus’ gladiators.
So the gladiators were all seized by the mob as were the rest of Blaesus’ slaves.
Can you imagine having your slaves seized?
So a search was held for the corpse of Vibulenus’ brother.
But it couldn’t be found.
And then someone remembered that Vibulenus was an only child.
But that didn’t put a stop to the rioting.
The centurions were either killed or driven from the camp.
All except one, Julius Clemens, who they decided would be their spokesman, and who is better known as Mark Twain.
Oh no that was Samuel Clemens, Julius’ brother.
And then Tiberius got involved.
Drusus was sent out with an escort composed two praetorian cohorts, a large detachment of praetorian cavalry and some of the princeps’ German bodyguard.
As second-in-command went Sejanus.
When Drusus entered the camp on 26 September, he found himself little better than a prisoner as the mutineers closed and guarded the gates behind him.
Drusus finally manages to read a letter he brought with him from Tiberius.
Now – keep in mind that Tiberius used to be the commander of these troops.
Now they are mutinying.
He’s of course going to take that personally.
But his letter is pretty conciliatory, even though it doesn’t promise quick solutions to their grievances.
He says “Look, I get it. And as soon as I’ve finished grieving for my adopted father, I promise I’ll ask the Senate to increase your pay. In the meantime, I’ve sent my son to handle everything he can under his own authority.”
So Clemens, their spokesperson, read out their demands – better pay, maximum 16 years service, and no recalls once they retire.
And Drusus said “sorry I don’t have the authority to agree to any of those.”
So the mob got pissed, and Clemens said Tibbo used to hide behind Augustus, now Drusus is doing the same thing, hiding behind Tibbo.
What was the point to sending him if he couldn’t do anything for them?
And they started to riot.
Beating up Lentulus, who was a consul way back in 14 BCE.
But that evening there was a lunar eclipse, which freaked the men out, thinking it was a sign from the gods.
Maybe even from Augustus and Julius themselves!
While the men were cowering, Drusus took the opportunity to talk them down and convince them that their best course of action was to send a second embassy to Tiberius, saying Drusus heard their arguments and he should address them as soon as possible.
But not long after the embassy left, and things had quietened down, Drusus struck.
The leaders of the revolt, Vibulenus and Percennius, were arrested and executed, then other ringleaders were cut down at random, some by centurions, some by praetorians, others by their own comrades as proof of their renewed loyalty.
Then there was a heavy downpour, which the men also saw as a sign that the gods were displeased with them.
So they all eventually gave up and returned to their winter quarters.
Drusus decided the mutiny was over and returned to Rome.
But it wasn’t only in Pannonia that there were revolts.
On the Rhine there were 8 legions under the command of Germanicus.
He was the governor of the three Gauls and was in the process of taking a census when Augustus died.
As soon as the news arrived, two of these legions also mutinied.
Tacitus places the blame on the rabble who had been enlisted to meet the emergency created by the destruction of Varus’ legions.
They were used to an easy life and unused to military hardships, and seized the opportunity to make the same demands as their comrades in Pannonia.
But according to the ancient sources, the army of the Rhine had another motive.
They urged Germanicus to claim the principate.
The sources are at odds about how popular this idea was.
Tacitus claims it was only a few troops who put forward this idea and that they thought that Germanicus might be more likely to meet their demands if he was the princeps.
Suetonius, Vellius, and Cassius Dio suggest it was much bigger than that.
They mostly agree that Tibbo feared and distrusted Germanicus.
So maybe this was a plot that he cooked up with the help of his troops?
Germanicus was much like his father, Drusus, Tibbo’s brother.
He was dashing and popular with the troops.
He liked being in the public eye and liked being popular.
Tibbo on the other hand, as we know, was dour and distant and didn’t give a shit about what people thought about him.
Even Augustus didn’t like him much.
In 14 CE, Germs would have been 29.
And he’s married to Agrippina the Elder – daughter of Agrippa and Julia the filthy whore, daughter of Augustus and ex-wife of Tibbo.
Who probably doesn’t have many nice things to say about Tibbo because he, you know, starved her mother to death.
She was known to travel with her husband everywhere – and she took their children with her.
They actually had NINE children, but only six survived to adulthood.
She liked to dress one of their sons, Gaius, in a little soldiers’ outfit complete with boots for which he earned the nickname “little boots” – “Caligula”.
Anyway, the commanders of these legions did nothing to check the mutineers, who attacked their centurions, flogged them unconscious and threw the bodies over the rampart or into the Rhine.
Meanwhile Germanicus had heard of Augustus’ death.
He at once demonstrated his loyalty to Tiberius by administering the oath to the Sequani and the Belgae.
Then, learning of the mutiny, he hurried to the camp, where he was met by a chorus of complaints.
Some of the men, on the pretext of kissing his hand, thrust his fingers into mouths now toothless after long years in the service, others displayed limbs bent with age.
Now – that can be a sexy things.
It just depends.
After he demands silence, Germs gives a speech, talking about all of the great things Augustus and Tibbo have done for them.
All of the victories and the glory.
But some of the guys, who had been active for 30 or 40 years, started showing him their scars.
They demanded immediate demobilisation.
It was at this point that some of them started calling for Germanicus to seize power for himself.
Germanicus leapt down from the tribunal, shouting that he would rather die than be disloyal, drawing his sword and struggling to set it to his chest while his friends clutched at his arm to hold him back.
More amused than moved by this piece of play-acting, the soldiers mockingly cheered Germanicus on and one, Calusidius, drew his own sword and jeeringly offered it to the prince, saying ‘Try this one – it’s sharper!’
At this even the rowdiest were shocked, and in the lull Germanicus was dragged to safety by his friends.
So Germs and his advisers talked about what to do next.
There were concerns that the troops were going to sack Gaul.
And of course the Germans were watching all this happening and it was only a matter of time before they would take advantage of the situation and revolt themselves, as they had done under Arminius only a few years previously at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
It might have been possible to use auxiliary troops and Gallic allies to do battle with the mutineers, but that kind of civil war was just going to be an open invitation to the Germans.
And to make concessions to them would be shameful.
And might get him on the wrong side of Tiberius.
So Germs comes up with a brilliant idea.
It was actually Stan and Barry’s idea, but they let him take credit for it.
He forged a letter from Tiberius.
The letter stated that all men would be demobilised after 20 years.
They would have to serve the last 4 years in the reserves.
They would only be called upon after that if Rome was invade.
And he would DOUBLE their salaries.
But unfortunately, the troops could smell bullshit a mile away and they laughed in his face.
They demanded the concessions be provided immediately.
He tried to blame it on Stan and Barry but they had already taken their pay checks and disappeared to the south of France with a couple of Swiss identical twin air hostesses and a briefcase containing …. two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.
So Germs had no option but to give in to their demands.
The demobilisation was handled by the Tribunes and he was forced to tip into his emergency cash to pay them their salaries.
But it’s not over yet!
This was just a few of the 8 legions in Germany.
He traveled to the others who were stationed in the upper Rhine.
Some of them took the oath of loyalty to Tiberius straight away.
Other hesitated and got the same concessions as the mutineers, even though they didn’t ask for them.
But then, when Germs returned to where he’d left the mutinous legions in their winter quarters at Oppidum Ubiorum, also known as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, from where the modern city, Cologne, gets its name – he came across the embassy which was on its way from Rome to deliver Tiberius’ answer to their demands.
It was lead by L. Munatius Plancus, the consul from 13 CE.
He was the son of the elder Munatius Plancus who came up with the idea to call Octavian “the revered one” – or “Augustus”.
The troops were alarmed that its purpose might be to invalidate the concessions they had just extorted.
In the night they broke into the house where Germanicus had his quarters, dragged him out of bed and forced him at sword-point to hand over the standard.
Then, as they wandered through the streets, they came upon the envoys, who had heard the uproar and were hurrying to join Germanicus.
From insults the men progressed to violence.
Plancus alone refused to run for his life, but took refuge in the camp of the first legion, seeking sanctuary by embracing its standard.
This alone would not have saved him, had not the standard-bearer, Calpurnius, succeeded in turning back the mob.
It was not until dawn that Germanicus entered the camp and had Plancus escorted to the comparative safety of the tribunal.
The men listened unimpressed to his reproaches.
Meanwhile Germ’s own officers are criticising him for mishandling the situation.
They are trying to compel him to get the legions from the Upper Rhine and use them to attack the mutineers.
And they are criticising him for allowing Agrippina and their son Gaius to remain in the camp.
Which leads Germs to his next brilliant idea.
He has Agrippina carry their son, saying she was leaving the camp to take refuge with the Treveri tribe, who would protect her – Augustus’ granddaughter – from the violence of Roman legionaries.
This had the desired effect.
The legionaries were filled with shame and begged her not to go.
But she left anyway.
Then Germanicus gave a big speech where he harangued them for their disloyalty.
“Neither wife nor son are dearer to me than my father and the State.
But he will surely have the protection of his own majesty, the empire
of Rome that of our other armies. My wife and children whom, were
it a question of your glory, I would willingly expose to destruction,
I now remove to a distance from your fury, so that whatever wickedness
is thereby threatened, may be expiated by my blood only, and that
you may not be made more guilty by the slaughter of a great-grandson
of Augustus, and the murder of a daughter-in-law of Tiberius. For
what have you not dared, what have you not profaned during these days?
What name shall I give to this gathering? Am I to call you soldiers,
you who have beset with entrenchments and arms your general’s son,
or citizens, when you have trampled under foot the authority of the
Senate? Even the rights of public enemies, the sacred character of
the ambassador, and the law of nations have been violated by you.
The Divine Julius once quelled an army’s mutiny with a single word
by calling those who were renouncing their military obedience ‘citizens.’
The Divine Augustus cowed the legions who had fought at Actium with
one look of his face. Though I am not yet what they were, still, descended
as I am from them, it would be a strange and unworthy thing should
I be spurned by the soldiery of Spain or Syria. First and twentieth
legions, you who received your standards from Tiberius, you, men of
the twentieth who have shared with me so many battles and have been
enriched with so many rewards, is not this a fine gratitude with which
you are repaying your general? Are these the tidings which I shall
have to carry to my father when he hears only joyful intelligence
from our other provinces, that his own recruits, his own veterans
are not satisfied with discharge or pay; that here only centurions
are murdered, tribunes driven away, envoys imprisoned, camps and rivers
stained with blood, while I am myself dragging on a precarious existence
amid those who hate me?
“Why, on the first day of our meeting, why did you, my friends, wrest
from me, in your blindness, the steel which I was preparing to plunge
into my breast? Better and more loving was the act of the man who
offered me the sword. At any rate I should have perished before I
was as yet conscious of all the disgraces of my army, while you would
have chosen a general who though he might allow my death to pass unpunished
would avenge the death of Varus and his three legions. Never indeed
may heaven suffer the Belgae, though they proffer their aid, to have
the glory and honour of having rescued the name of Rome and quelled
the tribes of Germany. It is thy spirit, Divine Augustus, now received
into heaven, thine image, father Drusus, and the remembrance of thee,
which, with these same soldiers who are now stimulated by shame and
ambition, should wipe out this blot and turn the wrath of civil strife
to the destruction of the foe. You too, in whose faces and in whose
hearts I perceive a change, if only you restore to the Senate their
envoys, to the emperor his due allegiance, to myself my wife and son,
do you stand aloof from pollution and separate the mutinous from among
you. This will be a pledge of your repentance, a guarantee of your
He finished by demanding that they swear loyalty to Tiberius and himself and to shun all contact with the troublemakers.
The troops begged him to forgive them and to punish the guilty, then lead them on to battle with the Germans.
They also begged him to bring back Agrippina and Gaius to the camp.
He said he wouldn’t bring Agrippina back, as she was pregnant and winter was coming – but that he could bring Gaius back.
As to the rest of it – the punishment of the guilty – he said they should take care of it themselves.
He seems to have wanted to evade responsibility for the punishment of the ringleaders, since this might damage his popularity with the troops.
The men rounded up their former leaders and dragged them in chains before C. Caetronius, the commander of the first legion.
Each man was displayed on a raised mound by a military tribune; the legionaries stood below with drawn swords.
If a shout of guilty went up, the man was thrust headlong from the mound and butchered.
Germanicus did nothing to halt it, content that any ill-feeling aroused by such savagery should fall on the heads of the perpetrators themselves, who were acting without direct orders from him.
Germanicus went on to deal with the centurions in an equally unprecedented manner.
Each centurion was summoned in turn to recite his name, rank and home, the number of his campaigns, his achievements and decorations.
If the tribunes and men of his legion vouched for his industry and his innocence of any charges of cruelty or corruption, he retained his rank, but if their voice went against him he was discharged.
The guys who survived were sent off on a bullshit mission to fight some Germans, just to keep them busy.
Despite it being winter.
So the mutiny of the first and twentieth legions was brought to an end, but that of the fifth and twenty-first (now in their winter quarters in Vetera, near modern Xanten in North-West Germany) remained to be dealt with, for the fate of their comrades at Oppidum Ubiorum had left them undeterred.
He decided he had no option but to attack them and beat them into submission.
Meanwhile, Tibbo was getting some criticism in Rome for not getting more involved in quelling the mutinies.
His critics said he couldn’t leave something like this up to a couple of untest kids.
Tiberius had far more experience leading men, and he should personally go out and bring them to heel.
He made all sort of excuses – the main one being that it was too risky.
If he went to the Rhine first, the Pannonian troops might attack Italy.
If he went to Pannonia, the guys on the Rhine would feel slighted.
And what if he went out there and they ignored him? What then?
He went through many fake outs – packing his bags, saying “right I’m off then” but then changing his mind and not moving.
So Germs had to deal with the legions in Vetera.
Before he marched on them, he sent their commander Caecina a letter, saying “okay then, well here I come, with a big army, I’m going to fuck your guys up. Oh gee how I wish this didn’t have to happen. If only you dealt with your own troublemakers, I wouldn’t need to do this.”
Caecina accidentally on purpose let his standard-bearers and other guys he trusted in on the contents of the letter.
And so they went and rounded up the chief troublemakers, and killed them all.
Caecina and his tribunes didn’t get their hands dirty.
And unlike in Oppidum Ubiorum, this time there wasn’t even any pretence given to some kind of formal procedure to determine guilt and innocence.
They were just slaughtered.
Germanicus arrives after it was all done and fake cried, calling it a disaster and ordering a proper funeral for the dead.
Again, the survivors demand they be sent off to fight some Germans, despite the time of year and complete lack of preparation.
And thus began the campaign of 14 – not as a real campaign, but as a way to break up the chance of further mutiny.