1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agrippina (younger)

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1324481911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1 — Agrippina (younger)

AGRIPPINA, the “younger” (A.D. 16–59), daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the elder, sister of Caligula and mother of Nero, was born at Oppidum Ubiorum on the Rhine, afterwards named in her honour Colonia Agrippinae (mod. Cologne). Her life was notorious for intrigue and perfidy. By her first husband, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, she was the mother of the emperor Nero; her second husband was Passienus Crispus, whom she was accused of poisoning. Assisted by the influential freedman Pallas, she induced her uncle the emperor Claudius to marry her after the death of Messalina, and adopt the future Nero as heir to the throne in place of Britannicus. Soon afterwards she poisoned Claudius and secured the throne for her son, with the intention of practically ruling on his behalf. Being alarmed at the influence of the freedwoman Acte over Nero, she threatened to support the claims of the rightful heir Britannicus. Nero thereupon murdered the young prince and decided to get rid of his mother. Pretending a reconciliation, he invited her to Baiae, where an attempt was made to drown her on a vessel especially constructed to founder. As this proved a failure, he had her put to death at her country house. Agrippina wrote memoirs of her times, referred to by Tacitus (Ann. iv. 53). Her character is set forth in Racine’s Britannicus.

See Tac. Ann. xii., xiii., xiv.; Dio Cassius lix.-lxi.; Suetonius, Nero, 34; Stahr, Agrippina, die Mutter Neros (1880); Raffay, Die Memoiren der Kaiserin Agrippina (1884); B. W. Henderson, The Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero (1903); also article Nero.