1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agrippina (elder)

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1324461911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1 — Agrippina (elder)

AGRIPPINA, the “elder,” daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa by his third wife Julia, was the grand-daughter of Augustus and the wife of Germanicus. She accompanied her husband to Germany, when the legions on the Rhine revolted after the death of Augustus (A.D. 14). Three years later she was in the East with Germanicus (q.v.), who died at Antioch in 19, poisoned, it was said, by order of Cn. Calpurnius Piso, governor of Syria. Eager to avenge his death, she returned to Rome and boldly accused Piso of the murder of Germanicus. To avoid public infamy Piso committed suicide. Tiberius and his favourite Sejanus feared that her ambition might lead her to attempt to secure the throne for her children, and she was banished to the island of Pandataria off the coast of Campania, where she died on the 18th of October 33, starved to death by herself, or, according to some, by order of Tiberius. Two of her sons, Nero and Drusus, had already fallen victims to the machinations of Sejanus. Agrippina had a large family by Germanicus, several of whom died young, while only two are of importance—Agrippina the “younger” and Gaius Caesar, who succeeded Tiberius under the name of Caligula. It is remarkable that, although Tiberius had ordered the execution of his elder brothers, by his will he left Caligula one of the heirs of the empire. Agrippina was a woman of the highest character and exemplary morality. There is a portrait of her in the Capitoline Museum at Rome, and a bronze medal in the British Museum representing the bringing back of her ashes to Rome by order of Caligula.

See Tac. Ann. i.-vi.; Suetonius, Tiberius, 53; Dio Cassius lvii. 6, lviii. 22, lix. 3; Elizabeth Hamilton, Memoirs of the Life of Agrippina (1804): Burkhard, Agrippina, des Agrippa Tochter (1846); Stahr, Römische Kaiserfrauen (1880).