On This Day – 17 October AD 33

Agrippina the Elder, one of the most prominent women of 1st Century Rome, dies.

Agrippina the Elder’s life was spent at the heart of the Julio-Claudian period. She was the second grand-daughter of Rome’s first emperor Augustus, the daughter of Augustus’close friend the famous general Marcus Agrippa, the mother of the future emperor Caligula and the grandmother of the emperor Nero.

Unlike most Roman wives who stayed at home whilst their husbands commanded their armies, Agrippina actually travelled on campaign with her husband, the famous general Germanicus, and their children whilst he commanded the Roman legions in Germania and again later in the East. Whilst on campaign Agrippina proved herself to be an efficient and effective diplomat.

Agrippina was exiled in AD 29 to the island of Pandateria off the coast of Italy during Tiberius’reign whilst the Praetorian prefect Sejanus had taken over the running of the Empire. This is the same island that Augustus’daughter had been exiled to before dying of malnutrition when Tiberius cut off funds to support her.

Agrippina also died there of malnutrition in AD 33. Tacitus says:

While still sad at the death of Drusus Caesar, men heard also of the death of Agrippina, his mother. I think that she had carried on living because her hope of release increased with the death of Sejanus. But when the cruel treatment continued, she died of her free will, unless she was denied food, so that it might seem that she had taken her own life.

Tac. Ann. 6.25.