Tiberius Caesar (Lancaster Pamphlets in Ancient History), Second Edition Paperback – 15 Oct 2004
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David Shotter provides a concise survey of the character and life of Tiberius Caesar, illuminating many aspects of the reign of a rather enigmatic emperor who struggled to meet the demands of his role as heir to Augustus and retired from public life voluntarily in AD 26.
About the Author
David Shotter recently retired as Senior Lecturer in Roman History at the University of Lancaster. His many books include Augustus Caesar, The Fall of the Roman Republic and Roman Britain.
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I didn't like the lack of clear referencing even to Tacitus etc. (The Annals (Hackett Classics)is the best translation) never mind to modern sources "sometimes alleged [by whom?]", so that passages such as (p.21) on the accession discuss readings from Tiberius the Politician (Roman Imperial Biographies) without naming it. This is not consistent, in one or two places Tacitus is referenced (e.g. p.77).
In places Shotter offers a reading at odds with the evidence without arguing for it or even noting that it is at odds. This is most clear on p.29 "his acceptance and use of the powers of a censor", which is in stark contradiction to Tacitus III.52 "But Tiberius--having often pondered to himself whether such surging desires could be confined, whether their confinement would inflict a greater loss on the state, and how undignified it would be to handle something which he could not attain or which, if sustained, would entail ignominy and infamy for illustrious men" I would recommend Levick p.95 on this.
In still other places Shotter allows his language to mislead and to blur essential nuance. This is most notable in his description of the Guard being concentrated within Rome (p.95 and passim). The Praetorian camp was deliberately Outside Rome, beyond the Pomerium (the sacred boundary of the city). Soldiers were not generally supposed to be in the city.
I was not entirely convinced by the reading on Drusus as stand in for Germanicus's sons after 19CE either, nor by the claim that Tiberius showed slavish obedience to Augustus' precedent: he said so, but (inter alia) he abolished Augustus's Consilium (council), moved elections from the people to the Senate, ruled as an absentee princeps, failed to travel to the provinces... etc. etc. Augustus had a lot of conflicting precedents from which a cunning Tiberius could pick.
Shotter also seems to follow Tacitus in projecting Sejanus' malign influence very far back in Tiberius's reign (p.48 and following, though of course not referencing, Tacitus Ann. I.69 "Already Agrippina was more influential with the armies than legates, than leaders: the woman had suppressed a mutiny which the princeps's name had been unable to stop. These thoughts were kept burning and piled high by Sejanus, who, with his experience of Tiberius' behaviour, sowed hatreds for the distant future, to be stored away and brought out when grown." )
It seems highly unlikely that Sejanus in 15CE, when Germanicus, and Drusus, and Nero, Drusus, and Gaius, all stood very far in advance of him, had any such plans, or that Tacitus knew what Sejanus had whispered into Tiberius's ears.
It is a good book for A-Level, but it disappointed in terms of rigour. Shotter's readings may be right (he is a widely published expert), but the book could have been more open about what is and what is not evident in the sources and much clearer about which articles etc. in the brief bibliography apply to which claims made. I would also say that the brief passage in the Appendix on sources read like a very brief version of Suetonius (Bristol Classical Paperbacks) without all of its genre insights (the book is not in the bibliography, but some articles by Hadrill are.