Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The second Roman emperor ( A. D. 14-37), b. 16 November, 42 B. C. , d. 16 March, A. D. 37. He was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia. By the marriage of his mother with Emperor Augustus he became the latter's stepson, and was adopted by Augustus in A. D. 4. In the year 10 he was appointed coregent with Augustus. Hard and secretive by nature and embittered by the neglect with which his step- father allowed him to be treated, he did not arouse personal enthusiasm, and until recently was described by historians as a bloody tyrant. It is only during the last sixty years that he has been more fairly judged, and at present the opinion begins to prevail that he was a genuine Roman, a ruler faithful to his duties, just, wise, and self-contained. In his internal policies especially he is one of the most distinguished of all Roman emperors. Like Augustus he reformed and improved every department of the government, and promoted in every direction the prosperity of the empire of which Augustus had laid the foundation. He developed imperial power by declining to have his authority renewed from time to time by the Senate, as Augustus had done. The strong opposition which grew up against him was due to his taciturn and domineering disposition, and to the influence of the prefect of the guard, Ælius Sejanus, who alone possessed his confidence. The persecutions and executions for lese-majesty, which rapidly increased during the second half of his reign, and the gloom which pervaded Rome induced Tiberius to leave the capital altogether in the year 26 and to live partly in Campania and partly on the Island of Capri. Before this date the question as to the succession to the empire had led to a terrible family tragedy. By his first marriage Tiberius had a son called Drusus, while his second marriage with the immoral Julia, daughter of Augustus, was childless. After the death of his nephew Germanicus ( A. D. 19), whom he had been obliged to adopt at the command of Augustus to the exclusion of his own son, he hoped to secure the succession for Drusus. A low intrigue was formed against this plan, in which the wife of Drusus, Livilla, who had illicit relations with Sejanus, took part. In the year 23 Drusus was poisoned by Sejanus and Livilla. However, when in 31 Sejanus formed a conspiracy to secure the throne for himself, Tiberius was warned at the last moment and had Sejanus executed. Tiberius spent his last years in constantly increasing seclusion, misanthropy, and cruelty on the Island of Capri, where it is said he abandoned himself to debauchery. However, these reports are at least coloured by prejudice and have not been satisfactorily proved. Neither is it probable that Tiberius was murdered.

The ministry and death of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ occurred during the reign of Tiberius. According to St. Luke (iii, 1), St. John the Baptist was called by God, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, to prepare the way for Christ as His precursor. Shortly before his death Tiberius recalled the procurator Pontius Pilate from Judea. Tertullian (Apologeticum, v, xxi), from whom Eusebius and Orosius take the story, relates that Tiberius received a report concerning Christ and that he called upon the Senate to place Christ among the gods. The Senate rejected the request; Tiberius then threatened the accusers of the Christians with punishment. The narrative is not worthy of belief, still it is probable that Tertullian knew a document that professed to be a report of Pilate.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:3-4, 5-6, 16-17
3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:5-25
5 In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 19th, 2014 Image

St. Nemesius
December 19: Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter