Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo

Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo

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Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo (c. 7 - 67 AD) was a Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 general and a brother-in-law of the emperor Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...



Corbulo was born in Italy into a senatorial
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 family. His father (who entered the senate as a formal praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

 under Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

) had the same name and his mother was named Vistilia
Vistilia was a Roman woman who lived in the 1st century and came from a family that held the praetorship. Her brother was probably Sextus Vistilius, a former praetor, who was a former close friend to late Roman General Nero Claudius Drusus. Nero Claudius Drusus was the younger brother to Roman...

, who came from a family who held the praetorship.

Reign of Caligula

The early career of Corbulo is unknown but he was consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 in 39 during the reign of Caligula, his brother-in-law through Caligula's marriage to Corbulo's half-sister Milonia Caesonia.

In Germania Inferior

After Caligula's assassination, Corbulo's career went into a halt until, in 47, when the new Emperor Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

 made him commander of the Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior was a Roman province located on the left bank of the Rhine, in today's Luxembourg, southern Netherlands, parts of Belgium, and North Rhine-Westphalia left of the Rhine....

 armies, with base camp in Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...


The new assignment was a difficult one and Corbulo had to deal with major rebellions and violence outbreaks coming from Cherusci
The Cherusci were a Germanic tribe that inhabited parts of the northern Rhine valley and the plains and forests of northwestern Germany, in the area between present-day Osnabrück and Hanover, during the 1st century BC and 1st century AD...

 and Chauci
The Chauci were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Rivers Ems and Elbe, on both sides of the Weser and ranging as far inland as the upper Weser. Along the coast they lived on artificial hills called terpen, built high enough to remain dry during the highest tide...

 Germanic tribes. During his stay in Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, the general ordered the construction of a canal between the rivers Rhine and Meuse
Meuse River
The Maas or Meuse is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea...

. Parts of this engineering work, known as Fossa Corbulonis or Corbulo's Canal, have been found at archeological digs. Its course is about identical to the Vliet
Vliet is a Dutch name meaning "flows". As a surname it is often extended into the Dutch Van, van, de or der Vliet.-Places in the Netherlands:*Vliet , a canal in the province of South Holland*Vliet , a hamlet in the province of Utrecht...

, which connects the modern towns of Leiden (ancient Matilo) and Voorburg
Voorburg is a Dutch town and former municipality in the western part of the province of South Holland, the Netherlands. As also Leidschendam and Stompwijk, it is part of the municipality Leidschendam-Voorburg. It has approximately 39,000 inhabitants....

 (Forum Hadriani
Forum Hadriani
Forum Hadriani, at the modern town of Voorburg, was the northern-most Roman city on the European continent and the second oldest city of The Netherlands. It was located in the Roman province Germania Inferior and is mentioned on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman road map.The site Forum Hadriani...


In the east

Corbulo returned to Rome, where he stayed until 52, when he was named governor of the province of Asia. Following Claudius' death in 54, the new emperor Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 sent him to the eastern province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

s to deal with the Armenian question. After some delay, he took the offensive in 58, and, reinforced by troops from Germany, attacked Tiridates
Tiridates I of Armenia
Tiridates I was King of Armenia beginning in AD 53 and the founder of the Arshakuni Dynasty, the Armenian line of the Arsacid Dynasty. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. His early reign was marked by a brief interruption towards the end of the year 54 and a much longer one from 58...

, king of Armenia and brother of Vologases I of Parthia
Vologases I of Parthia
Vologases I of Parthia, sometimes called Vologaeses or Vologeses or, following Zoroastrian usage, Valakhsh ruled the Parthian Empire from about 51 to 78. Son of Vonones II by a Thracian concubine, he succeeded his father in 51 AD. He gave the kingdom of Media Atropatene to his brother Pacorus II,...

. Artaxata and Tigranocerta were captured by his legions (III Gallica
Legio III Gallica
Legio tertia Gallica was a Roman legion levied by Julius Caesar around 49 BC, for his civil war against the conservative republicans led by Pompey. The cognomen Gallica suggests that recruits were originally from the Gallic Roman provinces. The legion was still active in Egypt in the early 4th...

, VI Ferrata
Legio VI Ferrata
Legio sexta Ferrata , was a Roman Legion formed in 65 BC, and in existence up to at least 3rd century. A Legio VI fought in the Roman Republican civil wars of the 40s and 30s BC...

, and X Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis
Legio X Fretensis was a Roman legion levied by Augustus Caesar in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic...

), and Tigranes
Tigranes was the name of a number of historical figures, primarily kings of Armenia.The earliest Tigranes is mentioned in the Cyropaedia and in Armenian historical sources. He was an Armenian king from the Orontid Dynasty and an ally of Cyrus the Great. One of his sons was also named Tigranes...

, who had been brought up in Rome and was the obedient servant of the government, was installed king of Armenia.

In 61 Tigranes invaded Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

, an integral portion of the Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n Kingdom, and a conflict between Rome and Parthia seemed unavoidable. Vologases, however, thought it better to come to terms. It was agreed that both the Roman and Parthian troops should evacuate Armenia, that Tigranes should be dethroned, and the position of Tiridates recognized. The Roman government declined to accede to these arrangements, and Lucius Caesennius Paetus
Lucius Caesennius Paetus
Lucius Junius Caesennius Paetus was a Roman aristocrat, member of the Caesennian gens and the Junian gens, who lived in the second half of the 1st century during the Roman Empire. He was Consul Ordinarius for the year 61, and enjoyed several high provincial commands in the East.He was the son of...

, governor of Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

, was ordered to settle the question by bringing Armenia under direct Roman administration.

The protection of Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

 in the meantime claimed all of Corbulo's attention. Lucius Caesannius Paetus, a weak and incapable commander, who "despised the fame acquired by Corbulo (2), suffered a severe defeat at Rhandeia (62), where he was surrounded and forced to capitulate to the Parthians and evacuated to Armenia. The command of the troops was again entrusted to Corbulo. In 63 AD, with a strong army, he crossed the Euphrates, but Tiridates declined to give battle and arranged a peace. At Rhandea he laid down his diadem at the foot of the emperor's statue, promising not to resume it until he received it from the hand of Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 himself in Rome.

Fall and death

After two failed plots by noblemen and senators, including Corbulo's son-in-law Roman Senator Lucius Annius Vinicianus, to overthrow Nero in 62, he became suspicious of Corbulo and his support among the Roman masses. In 67 disturbances broke out in Judaea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

 and Nero, ordering Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 to take command of the Roman forces, summoned Corbulo, as well as two brothers who were the governors of Upper and Lower Germany, to Greece. On his arrival at Cenchreae, the port of Corinth, messengers from Nero met Corbulo, and ordered him to commit suicide, which he loyally obeyed by falling on his own sword, saying, "Axios!".

Marriage and issue

Corbulo married Cassia Longina, a Roman woman from a senatorial family, daughter of Gaius Cassius Longinus and wife Junia Lepida
Junia Lepida
Junia Lepida was a Roman noble woman that lived during the Roman Empire in the 1st century. Lepida was the second born daughter and was among the children born of Aemilia Lepida and Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus, a member of the Junii Silani, a family of Ancient Rome...

. Cassia bore Corbulo two daughters. The elder daughter Domitia Corbula
Domitia Corbula
Domitia Corbula was a Roman noble woman born in 47 AD. She was the eldest daughter to Roman Consul and General Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo and Cassia Longina. Her younger sister was Domitia Longina, a future Roman Empress who would marry Emperor Domitian. Her paternal aunt was Caligula's fourth wife...

 married the senator Lucius Annius Vinicianus and their second daughter Domitia Longina
Domitia Longina
Domitia Longina was an Empress of Rome and wife to the Roman Emperor Domitian. She was the youngest daughter of the general and consul Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Domitia divorced her first husband Lucius Aelius Lamia in order to marry Domitian in 71...

 became a Roman Empress and married the future Roman Emperor Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

. Through Junia Lepida
Junia Lepida
Junia Lepida was a Roman noble woman that lived during the Roman Empire in the 1st century. Lepida was the second born daughter and was among the children born of Aemilia Lepida and Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus, a member of the Junii Silani, a family of Ancient Rome...

, a great-great granddaughter of Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, both of Cassia's daughters by Corbulo were direct descendants of the first Roman emperor and thus, the surviving members of the Imperial Julio-Claudian family.

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