1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Drusus Caesar

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6936411911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8 — Drusus Caesar

DRUSUS CAESAR (c. 15 B.C.A.D. 23), commonly called Drusus junior, to distinguish him from his uncle Nero Claudius Drusus, was the only son of the emperor Tiberius by his first wife Vipsania Agrippina. After having held several curule offices, he was consul elect in A.D. 14, the year of Augustus’s death. His father, on his accession to the throne, immediately sent him to put down a mutiny of the troops in Pannonia, a task which he successfully accomplished (Tacitus, Annals, i. 24-30). As governor of Illyricum (17), he set the Germanic tribes against one another, and encouraged Catualda, chief of the Gothones, to drive out Marbod (Maroboduus), king of the Marcomanni. On his return Drusus was consul a second time (21) and in the following year received the tribunician authority from Tiberius, which practically indicated him as heir to the throne. Sejanus, who also aspired to the supreme power, determined to remove Drusus. He endeavoured to poison Tiberius’s mind against him, seduced Drusus’s wife and persuaded her to assist him in murdering her husband. Her physician Eudemus prepared and the eunuch Lygdus administered a slow poison, from the effects of which Drusus died after a lingering illness. Although Tiberius is said to have received the news of his death with indifference, there is no reason to suppose that he had any hand in it; indeed, he seems to have entertained a genuine affection for his son. Drusus was a man of violent passions, a drunkard and a debauchee, but not entirely devoid of better feelings, as is shown by his undoubtedly sincere grief at the death of Germanicus. The cunning and reserve which he exhibited on occasion were probably due to the instructions or influence of Tiberius (Annals, iii. 8), since he was himself naturally frank and open, and for this reason, notwithstanding his vices, more popular than his father. He revelled in bloody gladiatorial displays, and the sharpest swords used on such occasions were called “Drusine.”

See Tacitus, Annals, i. 76, iv. 8-11; Dio Cassius lvii. 13, 14; Suetonius, Tiberius, 62; J. C. Tarver, Tiberius the Tyrant (1902).