Livia

Livia

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Livia'
Start a new discussion about 'Livia'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Livia Drusilla, (58 BC–AD 29), after her formal adoption into the Julian family in AD 14 also known as Julia Augusta, was a Roman empress as the third wife of the Emperor Augustus
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...

 and his adviser. She was the mother of the Emperor Tiberius
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...

, paternal grandmother of the Emperor Claudius
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...

, paternal great-grandmother of the Emperor Caligula
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...

, and maternal great-great grandmother of the Emperor Nero
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....

. She was deified
Imperial cult (ancient Rome)
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State...

 by Claudius who acknowledged her title of Augusta
Augusta (honorific)
Augusta was the imperial honorific title of empresses. It was given to the women of the Roman and Byzantine imperial families. In the third century, Augustae could also receive the titles of Mater castrorum and Mater Patriae .The title implied the greatest prestige, with the Augustae able to...

.

Birth and first marriage to Tiberius Claudius Nero


She was born on 30 January 59 or 58 BC as the daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus
Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus
Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus was a senator of the Roman Republic. He was born with the name Appius Claudius Pulcher, into the patrician family of the Claudii. According to Suetonius, Drusus was a direct descendant of the consul and censor Appius Claudius Caecus...

 by his wife Aufidia
Aufidia
Aufidia or Alfidia was a woman of Ancient Rome. She was a daughter to Roman Magistrate Marcus Aufidius Lurco and an unknown mother. She was a member of the gens Aufidia, a Roman family of Plebs status which appeared in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, and became a family of consular rank...

, a daughter of the magistrate Marcus Aufidius Lurco
Aufidius Lurco
Marcus Aufidius Lurco or known as Aufidius Lurco, was a Roman magistrate who lived in the 1st century BC. Lurco was a member of the gens Aufidia, a Roman family of Plebs status, who appeared in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. They became a family of consular rank...

. The diminutive Drusilla often found in her name suggests that she was a second daughter. Marcus Livius Drusus was her brother
She was probably married in 43 BC. Her first child, the future Emperor Tiberius, was born in 42 BC. Her father married her to Tiberius Claudius Nero
Tiberius Nero
Not to be confused with his son Tiberius or his grandson Germanicus, who both had the name 'Tiberius Claudius Nero' at one time or another. Tiberius Claudius Nero was a member of the Claudian Family of ancient Rome. He was a descendant of the original Tiberius Claudius Nero a consul, son of...

, her cousin of patrician status who was fighting with him on the side of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

's assassins against Octavian. Her father committed suicide in the Battle of Philippi
Battle of Philippi
The Battle of Philippi was the final battle in the Wars of the Second Triumvirate between the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian and the forces of Julius Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC, at Philippi in Macedonia...

, along with Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus was a Roman senator, a leading instigator of the plot to kill Julius Caesar, and the brother in-law of Marcus Junius Brutus.-Early life:...

 and Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus , often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name...

, but her husband continued fighting against Octavian, now on behalf of Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 and his brother
Lucius Antonius (brother of Mark Antony)
Lucius Antonius was the younger brother and supporter of Mark Antony, a Roman politician.Lucius was son of Marcus Antonius Creticus, son of the rhetorician Marcus Antonius Orator executed by Gaius Marius' supporters in 86 BC, and Julia Antonia, a cousin of Julius Caesar...

. In 40 BC, the family was forced to flee Italy in order to avoid Octavian's proscription
Proscription
Proscription is a term used for the public identification and official condemnation of enemies of the state. It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a "decree of condemnation to death or banishment" and is a heavily politically charged word, frequently used to refer to state-approved...

s and joined with Sextus Pompeius
Sextus Pompeius
Sextus Pompeius Magnus Pius, in English Sextus Pompey , was a Roman general from the late Republic . He was the last focus of opposition to the Second Triumvirate...

 in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, later moving on to Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

.

Wife of Augustus


A general amnesty was announced, and Livia returned to Rome, where she was personally introduced to Octavian in 39 BC. At this time, Livia already had a son, the future emperor Tiberius
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...

, and was pregnant with the second, Nero Claudius Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus , born Decimus Claudius Drusus also called Drusus, Drusus I, Nero Drusus, or Drusus the Elder was a Roman politician and military commander. He was a fully patrician Claudian on his father's side but his maternal grandmother was from a plebeian family...

 (also known as Drusus the Elder). Legend said that Octavian fell immediately in love with her, despite the fact that he was still married to Scribonia
Scribonia
Scribonia was the second wife of the Roman Emperor Augustus and the mother of his only natural child, Julia the Elder. She was the mother-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, great-grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, grandmother-in-law of the Emperor Claudius, and...

. Octavian divorced Scribonia in 39 BC, on the very day that she gave birth to his daughter Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

 (Cassius Dio). Seemingly around that time, when Livia was six months pregnant, Tiberius Claudius Nero was persuaded or forced by Octavian to divorce Livia. On 14 January, the child was born. Octavian and Livia married on January 17, waiving the traditional waiting period. Tiberius Claudius Nero was present at the wedding, giving her in marriage "just as a father would." The importance of the patrician Claudii to Octavian's cause, and the political survival of the Claudii Nerones are probably more rational explanations for the tempestuous union. Nevertheless, Livia and Octavian remained married for the next 51 years, despite the fact that they had no children apart from a single miscarriage. She always enjoyed the status of privileged counselor to her husband, petitioning him on the behalf of others and influencing his policies, an unusual role for a Roman wife in a culture dominated by the paterfamilias.

After Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

's suicide following the Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium
The Battle of Actium was the decisive confrontation of the Final War of the Roman Republic. It was fought between the forces of Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the city of Actium, at the Roman...

 in 31 BC, Octavian had removed all obstacles to his power and henceforth ruled as Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

, from 27 BC on, under the honorary title Augustus. He and Livia formed the role model for Roman households. Despite their wealth and power, Augustus's family continued to live modestly in their house on the Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

. Livia would set the pattern for the noble Roman matron
Matron
Matron is the job title of a very senior nurse in several countries, including the United Kingdom, its former colonies, including the Republic of Ireland, although the title Clinical Nurse Manager has become acceptable as an alternative.-History:...

a
. She wore neither excessive jewelry nor pretentious costumes, she took care of the household and her husband (often making his clothes herself), always faithful and dedicated. In 35 BC Octavian gave Livia the unprecedented honour of ruling her own finances and dedicated a public statue to her. She had her own circle of clients and pushed many protégés into political offices, including the grandfathers of the later emperors Galba
Galba
Galba , was Roman Emperor for seven months from 68 to 69. Galba was the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, and made a bid for the throne during the rebellion of Julius Vindex...

 and Otho
Otho
Otho , was Roman Emperor for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the Year of the four emperors.- Birth and lineage :...

.

With Augustus being the father of only one daughter (Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

 by Scribonia), Livia revealed herself to be an ambitious mother and soon started to push her own sons Tiberius
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...

 and Nero Claudius Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus , born Decimus Claudius Drusus also called Drusus, Drusus I, Nero Drusus, or Drusus the Elder was a Roman politician and military commander. He was a fully patrician Claudian on his father's side but his maternal grandmother was from a plebeian family...

 into power. Drusus was a trusted general and married Augustus's favourite niece, Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor
Antonia Minor , also known as Antonia the Younger or simply Antonia was the younger of two daughters of Roman politician Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. Tacitus Ann. 4.44.2 and 12.54.2 may have confused the two Antonia sisters...

, and had three children: the popular general Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, Livilla
Livilla
Livia Julia was the only daughter of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor and sister of the Roman Emperor Claudius and Germanicus...

, and the Emperor Claudius
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...

. Tiberius married Augustus' daughter Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

 in 11 BC and was ultimately adopted by his stepfather in 4 BC and named as Augustus' heir.

Rumor had it that when Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus (Julio-Claudian dynasty)
Marcus Claudius Marcellus was the eldest son of Octavia Minor, sister of Augustus, and Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor, a former consul...

, nephew of Augustus, died in 23 BC, it was no natural death, and that Livia was behind it. After the two elder sons of Julia by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was a Roman statesman and general. He was a close friend, son-in-law, lieutenant and defense minister to Octavian, the future Emperor Caesar Augustus...

, whom Augustus had adopted as sons and successors, had died, the one remaining son Agrippa Postumus
Agrippa Postumus
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa Postumus , also known as Agrippa Postumus or Postumus Agrippa, was a son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder. His maternal grandparents were Roman Emperor Augustus and his second wife Scribonia.Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa Postumus was born on June 26, 12 BC, the...

 was incarcerated and finally killed. Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 charges that Livia was not altogether innocent of these deaths and Cassius Dio also mentions such rumours, but not even the gossipmonger Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

, who had access to official documents, repeats them. Most modern historical accounts of Livia's life discount the idea. There are also rumors mentioned by Tacitus and Cassius Dio that Livia brought about Augustus' death by poisoning fresh figs. Augustus' granddaughter was Julia the Younger
Julia the Younger
Julia the Younger or Julilla , Vipsania Julia Agrippina, Iulilla, Julia, Augustus' granddaughter, or Julia Caesaris Minor, was a Roman noblewoman of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. She was the first daughter and second child of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder...

. Sometime between 1 and 14, her husband Paullus was executed as a conspirator in a revolt. Modern historians theorize that Julia's exile was not actually for adultery but for involvement in Paulus' revolt. Livia Drusilla plotted against her stepdaughter's family and ruined them. This led to open compassion for the fallen family. Julia died in 29 AD on the same island where she had been sent in exile twenty years earlier.

Life after Augustus, Death, and Aftermath


Augustus died in AD 14, being deified
Imperial cult (ancient Rome)
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State...

 by the senate shortly afterwards. In his will, he left one third of his property to Livia, and the other two thirds to Tiberius
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...

. In the will, he also adopted her into the Julian family and granted her the honorific title of Augusta
Augusta (honorific)
Augusta was the imperial honorific title of empresses. It was given to the women of the Roman and Byzantine imperial families. In the third century, Augustae could also receive the titles of Mater castrorum and Mater Patriae .The title implied the greatest prestige, with the Augustae able to...

. These dispositions permitted Livia to maintain her status and power after his death, under the new name of Julia Augusta.


For some time, Livia and her son Tiberius, the new Emperor, appeared to get along with each other. Speaking against her became treason in AD 20, and in AD 24 he granted his mother a theatre seat among the Vestal Virgin
Vestal Virgin
In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins , were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome, as embodied by their cultivation of the sacred fire that could not be...

s. Livia exercised unofficial but very real power in Rome. Eventually, Tiberius became resentful of his mother's political status, particularly against the idea that it was she who had given him the throne. At the beginning of the reign he vetoed the unprecedented title Mater Patriae ("Mother of the Fatherland") that the Senate wanted to bestow upon her, in the same manner in which Augustus had been named Pater Patriae
Pater Patriae
Pater Patriae , also seen as Parens Patriae, is a Latin honorific meaning "Father of the Country," or more literally, "Father of the Fatherland".- Roman history :...

("Father of the Fatherland"). (Tiberius also consistently refused the title of Pater Patriae for himself.)

The historians Tacitus and Cassius Dio depict an overweening, even domineering dowager, ready to interfere in Tiberius’ decisions, the most notable instances being the case of Urgulania
Urgulania
Urgulania , was a prominent noblewoman during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, and a friend of the empress Livia. She was the mother of Marcus Plautius Silvanus , who had distinguished himself with Tiberius in the Balkans...

 (grandmother of Claudius's first wife Plautia Urgulanilla
Plautia Urgulanilla
Plautia Urgulanilla was the first wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius. They married sometime around the year 9 CE, when Claudius was 18 years old. According to Suetonius, Claudius divorced her in 24 on grounds of adultery by Plautia and his suspicions of her involvement in the murder of her...

), a woman who correctly assumed that her friendship with the empress placed her above the law, and Munatia Plancina
Munatia Plancina
Munatia Plancina was a Roman noblewoman who lived in the early times of the Empire founded by Augustus. She was the wife of the governor of Syria, Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso. The couple was accused to have poisoned Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of the Emperor Tiberius...

, suspected of murdering Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

 and saved at Livia’s entreaty. (Plancina committed suicide in 33 AD after being accused again of murder after Livia's death). A notice from AD 22 records that Julia Augusta (Livia) dedicated a statue to Augustus in the centre of Rome, placing her own name even before that of Tiberius.

Ancient historians give as a reason for Tiberius’ retirement to Capri
Capri
Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy...

 his inability to endure her any longer. Until AD 22 there had, according to Tacitus, been "a genuine harmony
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 between mother and son, or a hatred well concealed;" Dio tells us that at the time of his accession already Tiberius heartily loathed her. In AD 22
22
Year 22 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Agrippa and Galba...

 she had fallen ill, and Tiberius had hastened back to Rome in order to be with her. But in AD 29 when she finally fell ill and died, he remained on Capri, pleading pressure of work and sending Caligula
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...

 to deliver the funeral oration. Suetonius adds the macabre detail that "when she died... after a delay of several days, during which he held out hope of his coming, [she was at last] buried because the condition of the corpse made it necessary...". Divine honours he also vetoed, stating that this was in accord with her own instructions. Later he vetoed all the honours the Senate had granted her after her death and canceled the fulfillment of her will.

It was not until 13 years later, in AD 42 during the reign of her grandson Claudius
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...

, that all her honours were restored and her deification finally completed. She was named Diva Augusta (The Divine Augusta), and an elephant-drawn chariot conveyed her image to all public games. A statue of her was set up in the temple of Augustus along with her husband's, races were held in her honour, and women were to invoke her name in their sacred oaths. In 410 AD during the Sack of Rome (410)
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 her ashes were scattered when Augustus' tomb was sacked.

Her Villa ad Gallinas Albas
Villa of Livia
The villa of Livia was probably part of Livia Drusilla's dowry brought to the Julio-Claudian dynasty. It was named and famous for its breed of white chickens and for its laurel grove , which were given auspiciously omened origins by Suetonius...

 north of Rome is currently being excavated; its famous frescoes of imaginary garden views may be seen at National Museum of Rome
National Museum of Rome
The National Museum of Rome is a set of museums in Rome, Italy, split among various branches across the city...

. One of the most famous statues of Augustus (the Augustus of Prima Porta
Augustus of Prima Porta
Augustus of Prima Porta is a 2.04m high marble statue of Augustus Caesar which was discovered on April 20, 1863, in the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, near Rome. Augustus Caesar's wife, Livia Drusilla, retired to the villa after his death. The sculpture is now displayed in the Braccio Nuovo of...

) came from the grounds of the villa.

Livia's personality



While reporting various unsavoury hearsay, the ancient sources generally portray Livia (Julia Augusta) as a woman of proud and queenly attributes, faithful to her imperial husband, for whom she was a worthy consort, forever poised and dignified. With consummate skill she acted out the roles of consort, mother, widow and dowager. Dio records two of her utterances: "Once, when some naked men met her and were to be put to death in consequence, she saved their lives by saying that to a chaste woman such men are in no way different from statues. When someone asked her how she had obtained such a commanding influence over Augustus, she answered that it was by being scrupulously chaste herself, doing gladly whatever pleased him, not meddling with any of his affairs, and, in particular, by pretending neither to hear nor to notice the favourites of his passion."

With time, however, and widowhood, a haughtiness and an overt craving for power and the outward trappings of status came increasingly to the fore. Livia had always been a principal beneficiary of the climate of adulation that Augustus had done so much to create, and which Tiberius despised ("a strong contempt for honours", Tacitus, Annals 4.37). In AD 24, typically, whenever she attended the theatre, a seat among the Vestals was reserved for her (Annals 4.16), and this may have been intended more as an honour for the Vestals than for her (cf. Ovid, Tristia, 4.2.13f, Epist.Ex Ponto 4.13.29f).

Livia played a vital role in the formation of her children Tiberius and Drusus. Attention focuses on her part in the divorce of her first husband, father of Tiberius, in 39/38 BC. It would be interesting to know her role in this, as well as in Tiberius’ divorce of Vipsania Agrippina
Vipsania Agrippina
Not to be confused with Agrippina the Elder, Agrippa's daughter by Julia the Elder.Vipsania Agrippina was the daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa from his first wife Pomponia Caecilia Attica, granddaughter of Cicero's friend and knight Titus Pomponius Atticus. Her maternal grandmother was a...

 in 12 BC at Augustus' insistence: whether it was merely neutral or passive, or whether she actively colluded in Caesar’s wishes. The first divorce left Tiberius a fosterchild at the house of Octavian; the second left Tiberius with a lasting emotional scar, since he had been forced to abandon the woman he loved for dynastic considerations.

Livia in ancient literature


In Tacitus' Annals, Livia is depicted as having great influence, to the extent where she "had the aged Augustus firmly under control — so much so that he exiled his only surviving grandson to the island of Planasia".

Livia's image appears in ancient visual media such as coins and portraits. She was the first woman to appear on provincial coins in 16 BC and her portrait images can be chronologically identified partially from the progression of her hair designs, which represented more than keeping up with the fashions of the time as her depiction with such contemporary details translated into a political statement of representing the ideal Roman woman. Livia's image evolves with different styles of portraiture that trace her effect on imperial propaganda that helped bridge the gap between her role as wife to the emperor Augustus, to mother of the emperor Tiberius. Becoming more than the "beautiful woman" she is described as in ancient texts, Livia serves as a public image for the idealization of Roman feminine qualities, a motherly figure, and eventually a goddesslike representation that alludes to her virtue. Livia's power in symbolizing the renewal of the Republic with the female virtues Pietas and Concordia in public displays had a dramatic effect on the visual representation of future imperial women as ideal, honorable mothers and wives of Rome.

Livia in modern literature


In the popular fictional work I, Claudius
I, Claudius
I, Claudius is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. As such, it includes history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC to Caligula's assassination in AD 41...

by Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

—based on Tacitus' innuendo—Livia is portrayed as a thoroughly Machiavellian, scheming political mastermind. Determined never to allow republican governance to flower again, as she felt they led to corruption and civil war, and devoted to bringing Tiberius to power and then maintaining him there, she is involved in nearly every death or disgrace in the Julio-Claudian family up to the time of her death. In her deathbed she only fears divine punishment for all she had done, and secures the promise of future deification by her grandson Claudius, an act which, she believes, will guarantee her a blissful afterlife. However, this portrait of her is balanced by her intense devotion to the well-being of the Empire as a whole, and her machinations are justified as a necessarily cruel means to what she firmly considers a noble aspiration: the common good of the Romans, achievable only under strict imperial rule. In the 1976 BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 television series
I, Claudius (TV series)
I, Claudius is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Written by Jack Pulman, it proved one of the corporation's most successful drama serials of all time...

 based on the book, Livia was played by Siân Phillips
Siân Phillips
Jane Elizabeth Ailwên "Siân" Phillips, CBE, is a Welsh actress.-Early life:Phillips was born in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Neath Port Talbot, Wales, the daughter of Sally , a teacher, and David Phillips, a steelworker-turned-policeman...

. Phillips won a BAFTA
British Academy of Film and Television Arts
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a charity in the United Kingdom that hosts annual awards shows for excellence in film, television, television craft, video games and forms of animation.-Introduction:...

 for her portrayal of the role.

In the ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 television series The Caesars
The Caesars (TV series)
The Caesars is a British television series produced by Granada Television for the ITV network in 1968. Made in black-and-white and written and produced by Philip Mackie, it covered similar dramatic territory to the later BBC adaptation of I, Claudius, dealing with the lives of the emperors of...

, Livia was played by Sonia Dresdel
Sonia Dresdel
Sonia Dresdel was an English actress, whose career ran between the 1940s and 1970s.She was born Lois Obee in Hornsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, England and was educated at Aberdeen High School for Girls....

.

A heavily fictionalized version of Livia
Eve (Xena)
Eve | Livia is a fictional character created by Robert Tapert for the popular TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. She is portrayed by Adrienne Wilkinson...

 appears as Xena's daughter in season 5 (1999/2000) of the television series Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena: Warrior Princess is an American–New Zealand supernatural fantasy adventure series that aired in syndication from September 4, 1995 until June 18, 2001....

where she was adopted and raised by Octavius into an skillfull Roman commander with a lust for blood. After she learn her real identity she starts a path of destruction which puts Xena and her allies at odds. While in a battle it wasn't until getting close to kill her own mother (Xena) she finally comes to terms with the fact and relinquish her violent past and embrace a peacuful way of living. Livia was portrayed by Adrienne Wilkinson
Adrienne Wilkinson
Adrienne Marie Wilkinson is an American actress.- Biography :Adrienne Wilkinson was born in Memphis, Missouri. She is of Irish, Scottish, English, Cherokee, Danish and German heritage....

.

Livia was dramatized in the HBO/BBC series Rome
Rome (TV series)
Rome is a British-American–Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons premiered in 2005 and 2007, and were later released on DVD. Rome is set in the 1st century BC, during Ancient Rome's transition from Republic...

. Introduced in the 2007 episode "A Necessary Fiction
A Necessary Fiction
"A Necessary Fiction" is the eighth episode of the second season of the television series Rome. The air date is March 11, 2007.-Plot summary:...

", Livia (Alice Henley
Alice Henley
Alice Sarah Henley is an English television and theatre actress.Alice Henley began acting at a young age, her first professional performance being at 13 playing Phyllis in a stage adaptation of The Railway Children....

) soon catches the eye of young Octavian
Gaius Octavian (character of Rome)
Gaius Octavian is a character in the HBO/BBC2 original television series Rome, played by Max Pirkis as a child in season one and the beginning of season two, and in the rest of the second season he is played by Simon Woods. He is portrayed as a shrewd, if somewhat cold, young man, with an...

. Rome does acknowledge the existence of Livia's child, Tiberius, by her first husband, but not that she was pregnant with Nero Claudius Drusus when she met Octavian. Livia is portrayed as deceptively submissive in public, while in private she possesses an iron will, and a gift for political scheming that matches Atia's
Atia of the Julii
Atia of the Julii is a fictional character from the HBO/BBC/RAI original television series Rome, played by Polly Walker. The niece of Julius Caesar and mother of Octavian/Augustus and Octavia, she is depicted as a cheerfully amoral and opportunistic manipulator...

.

Livia appears in Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

's comic "Distant Mirrors - August" collected in The Sandman: Fables and Reflections
The Sandman: Fables and Reflections
Fables & Reflections is the sixth collection of issues in the DC Comics series, The Sandman. It was written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Bryan Talbot, Stan Woch, P...

.

In John Maddox Roberts
John Maddox Roberts
John Maddox Roberts is an author who has written many science fiction and fantasy novels, including his successful historical fiction, such as the SPQR series and Hannibal's Children....

's short story "The King of Sacrifices," set in his SPQR series
SPQR series
The SPQR series is a collection of detective stories by John Maddox Roberts set in the time of the Roman Republic. SPQR is a Latin initialism for Senatus Populusque Romanus , the official name of the Republic.The stories are told in first-person form by Senator Decius...

, Livia hires Decius Metellus
Decius Metellus
Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger is a fictional character created by author John Maddox Roberts, the protagonist of Roberts's SPQR series...

 to investigate the murder of one of Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

's lovers.

In Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra (novel)
Antony and Cleopatra is the seventh and purposely last novel in Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series.- Plot summary :McCullough continues her Masters of Rome series with the seventh and final installment, Antony and Cleopatra...

by Colleen McCullough
Colleen McCullough
Colleen McCullough-Robinson, , is an internationally acclaimed Australian author.-Life:McCullough was born in Wellington, in outback central west New South Wales, in 1937 to James and Laurie McCullough. Her mother was a New Zealander of part-Māori descent. During her childhood, her family moved...

, Livia is portrayed as a cunning and effective advisor to her husband, whom she loves passionately.

Livia plays an important role in two Marcus Corvinus mysteries by David Wishart
David Wishart
-Life and work:Wishart was born in Arbroath, Scotland. He studied Greek and Latin classics at Edinburgh University and after graduation taught for four years in a secondary school. He then retrained as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and worked abroad for eleven years, in Kuwait, Greece...

, Ovid (1995) and Germanicus (1997). She is mentioned posthumously in Sejanus
Sejanus
Lucius Aelius Seianus , commonly known as Sejanus, was an ambitious soldier, friend and confidant of the Roman Emperor Tiberius...

(1998).

Luke Devenish's "Empress of Rome" novels, "Den of Wolves" (2008) and "Nest of Vipers" (2010), have Livia as central character in a fictionalized account of her life and times.

The television series, The Sopranos
The Sopranos
The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads...

, originally dealt with the relationship between the scheming mother, named Livia, and her crime boss son, Tony Soprano. David Chase, the creator of the show, has said that he could not produce the series while his own mother was alive.

Descendants


Although her marriage with Augustus produced only one pregnancy, which miscarried, through her sons by her first husband, Tiberius and Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus , born Decimus Claudius Drusus also called Drusus, Drusus I, Nero Drusus, or Drusus the Elder was a Roman politician and military commander. He was a fully patrician Claudian on his father's side but his maternal grandmother was from a plebeian family...

, she is a direct ancestor of all of the Julio-Claudian
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

 emperors as well as most of the extended Julio-Claudian imperial family. The line possibly continued for at least another century after the dynasty's downfall through the son and grandson of Livia's great-great-granddaughter Rubellia Bassa
Rubellia Bassa
Rubellia Bassa was a daughter of Gaius Rubellius Blandus, consul in 18 and possibly his wife Julia or an earlier wife.-Possible Imperial ancestry:...

 (see below); however, it is unknown whether or not this line was continued or if it went extinct.
1. Tiberius
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...

, 42 BC – AD 37, had two children
A. Drusus Julius Caesar, 13 BC – AD 23, had three children
I. Julia
Julia (daughter of Drusus the Younger)
Julia Drusi Caesaris Filia was the daughter of Drusus Julius Caesar and Livilla and granddaughter to the Roman Emperor Tiberius.-Chronology:At the time of Emperor Augustus' death in 14 Julia was ill...

, AD 5 – AD 43, had four children
a. Gaius Rubellius Plautus, 33–62, had several children
b. Rubellia Bassa
Rubellia Bassa
Rubellia Bassa was a daughter of Gaius Rubellius Blandus, consul in 18 and possibly his wife Julia or an earlier wife.-Possible Imperial ancestry:...

, born between 33 and 38, had at least one child
i. Octavius Laenas, had at least one child
i. Sergius Octavius Laenas Pontianus
Sergius Octavius Laenas Pontianus
Sergius Octavius Laenas Pontianus was a consul of Ancient Rome in the year 131CE, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. He was probably born in the late 1st century CE to an otherwise unknown Octavius Laenas and a woman named Pontia....

c. Gaius Rubellius Blandus
d. Rubellius Drusus
II. Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus
Tiberius Gemellus
Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, known as Tiberius Gemellus was the son of Drusus and Livilla, the grandson of the Emperor Tiberius, and the cousin of the Emperor Caligula. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin"...

, 19 – 37 or 38, died without issue
III. Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus II Gemellus, 19–23, died young
B. Tiberillus, died young
2. Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus
Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus , born Decimus Claudius Drusus also called Drusus, Drusus I, Nero Drusus, or Drusus the Elder was a Roman politician and military commander. He was a fully patrician Claudian on his father's side but his maternal grandmother was from a plebeian family...

 38 BC – AD 9, had three children
A. Germanicus
Germanicus
Germanicus Julius Caesar , commonly known as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. He was born in Rome, Italia, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle...

, 16 BC or 15 BC – AD 19, had six children
I. Nero Caesar
Nero Caesar
Nero Julius Caesar Germanicus was a close relative of the Roman Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.Nero was born around AD 6, to Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder. His paternal grandparents were Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor...

, 6–30, died without issue
II. Drusus Caesar, 7–33, died without issue
III. Caligula
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...

, 12–41, had one child
a. Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla
Julia Drusilla was the only child and daughter of Roman Emperor Gaius and of his fourth and last wife Milonia Caesonia....

, 39–41, died young
IV. Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, 15–59, had one child
a. Nero
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....

, 37–68, had one child
i. Claudia Augusta
Claudia Augusta
Claudia Augusta was the only daughter of the Roman Emperor Nero by his second wife Roman Empress Poppaea Sabina. She was born in Antium on 21 January 63....

, January 63 – April 63, died young
V. Julia Drusilla, 16–38, died without issue
VI. Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla was the youngest child of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder and the youngest sister of the Emperor Caligula.-Life:Livilla was the youngest great granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, great-niece and adoptive granddaughter...

, 18–42, died without issue
B. Livilla, 13 BC – AD 31, had three children
I. see children of Drusus Julius Caesar listed above
C. Claudius
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...

, 10 BC – AD 54, had four children
I. Claudius Drusus, died young
II. Claudia Antonia
Claudia Antonia
Claudia Antonia was the daughter of the Roman Emperor Claudius and his second wife Aelia Paetina...

, c. 30 – 66, had one child
a. a son, died young
III. Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia was an Empress of Rome. She was a great-niece of the Emperor Tiberius, paternal first cousin of the Emperor Caligula, daughter of the Emperor Claudius, and stepsister and first wife of the Emperor Nero...

, 39 or 40 – 62, died without issue
IV. Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus
Britannicus
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus was the son of the Roman emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina. He became the heir-designate of the empire at his birth, less than a month into his father's reign. He was still a young boy at the time of his mother's downfall and Claudius'...

, 41–55, died without issue

Further reading

  • Bartman, Elizabeth, Portraits of Livia: Imaging the Imperial Woman in Augustan Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1998).
  • Barrett, Antony A. Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome (Cambridge, MA, Yale University Press, 2002).
  • Kunst, Christiane, "Das Liviabild im Wandel," in Losemann, Volker (hg.). Alte Geschichte zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik: Gedenkschrift Karl Christ (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009) (Philippika, 29), 313-336.

External links