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Artabanus’ letter to Tiberius

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Portrait of Tiberius on the sacrificial vessel
Portrait of Tiberius on the sacrificial vessel

The reign of Tiberius (14-37 CE) was for ordinary people in the provinces a period of peace and good state management, but for the spheres of the Roman aristocracy, a time of increasing tyranny and terror. This was largely due to the influence at the Roman court achieved by Sejanus – the praetorian prefect – who sought to seize power and surrounded himself with trusted people.

The discovery of the plot and the murder of Sejanus in 31 CE relatively stabilized the situation in the country, but Tiberius still had a bad reputation among the aristocracy. An example is the message of Suetonius that the ruler was constantly insulted by society. He was to react to them differently – he was ashamed of them at times, and sometimes he despised them.

Suetonius reports that Parthian king Artabanus wrote a letter to the emperor accusing him of “bloody deeds, and with shameless and dissolute living” and advised him to commit suicide and thereby compensate for the suffering of the citizens.

  • Suetonius, Tiberius, 66

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