Germanicus Julius Caesar
MSR - Germanicus Inv. 30010.jpg
Bust of Germanicus
Born24 May 15 BC
Rome, Italia, Roman Empire
Died10 October AD 19 (aged 33)
Antioch, Syria, Roman Empire
BurialMausoleum of Augustus
SpouseAgrippina the Elder
Full name
Germanicus Julius Caesar
HouseJulio-Claudian dynasty
MotherAntonia Minor

Germanicus (Latin: Germanicus Julius Caesar; 24 May 15 BC – 10 October AD 19) was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the Roman Empire, who was known for his campaigns in Germania. The son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, Germanicus was born into an influential branch of the patrician gens Claudia. The agnomen Germanicus was added to his full name in 9 BC when it was posthumously awarded to his father in honor of his victories in Germania. In AD 4, he was adopted by his paternal uncle, Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus as Roman emperor a decade later. As a result, Germanicus became an official member of the gens Julia, another prominent family which he was related to on his mother's side. His connection to the Julii was further consolidated through a marriage between himself and Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of Augustus. He was also the nephew of Tiberius, the father of Caligula, and the maternal grandfather of Nero.

During the reign of Augustus, Germanicus enjoyed an accelerated political career as the heir of the emperor's heir, entering the office of quaestor five years before the legal age in AD 7. He held that office until AD 11, and was elected consul for the first time in AD 12. The year after, he was made proconsul of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior, and all of Gaul. From there he commanded eight legions, about one-third of the entire Roman army, which he led against the Germanic tribes in his campaigns from AD 14 to 16. He avenged the Roman Empire's defeat in the Teutoberg Forest and retrieved two of the three legionary eagles that had been lost during the battle. In AD 17 he returned to Rome where he received a triumph before leaving to reorganize the provinces of Asia Minor, whereby he incorporated the provinces of Cappadocia and Commagene in AD 18.

While in the eastern provinces, he came into conflict with the governor of Syria, Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso. During their feud, Germanicus became ill in Antioch, where he died on 10 October AD 19. His death has been attributed to poison by ancient sources, but that was never proven. As a famous general, he was widely popular and regarded as the ideal Roman long after his death.[1] To the Roman people, Germanicus was the Roman equivalent of Alexander the Great due to the nature of his death at a young age, his virtuous character, his dashing physique, and his military renown.[2]



Germanicus's praenomen is unknown, but he was probably named Nero Claudius Drusus after his father (conventionally called "Drusus"), or possibly Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle.[3] He took the agnomen Germanicus, awarded posthumously to his father in honor of his victories in Germania, when he became head of the family in 9 BC.[4] Germanicus held the title as he was the head of his family after his father's death.[5] By AD 4 he was adopted as Tiberius's son and heir. As a result, Germanicus was adopted out of the Claudii and into the Julii. In accordance with Roman naming conventions, he adopted the name "Julius Caesar" while retaining his agnomen, becoming Germanicus Julius Caesar.[note 1] Upon Germanicus's adoption into the Julii, his brother Claudius became the sole legal representative of his father, and his brother inherited the agnomen "Germanicus" as the new head of the family.[6]

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