(Livia Drusilla)


Livia was the wife of Augustus Caesar, and Empress of Rome for over fifty years. They were both married at the time they met. Augustus divorced his first wife (Scribonia), and caused Livia to divorce her first husband (Claudius Nero) so that they could marry. Augustus already had a daughter Julia from his first marriage, and Livia had two sons, Drusus and Tiberius, but the marriage of Augustus and Livia itself produced no other children. Augustus later adopted both Drusus and Tiberius, and his daughter Julia produced five grandchildren, but by the time of the death of Augustus all of his male biological heirs were dead. Two grandsons and a nephew, as well as his stepson Drusus, had died, leaving only Livia's eldest son Tiberius, to inherit the throne.

Livia and Augustus appear to have had a successful marriage in spite of all sorts of rumours levied against them. Livia, for example, is suspected of having caused the death of some of Augustus's grandsons and nephew in order to clear the way for Tiberius to inherit the throne, but there is no certain evidence of this, and at no time does she appear to have lost the trust or confidence of Augustus. She was, in fact, widely respected for her dignity and intelligence, and her counsel was sought frequently not only by Augustus, but by other members of government. On the death of Augustus, her influence in government was so great that her son Tiberius was jealous and enraged by her involvement in affairs of state. Eventually the two began to feud openly, and it is said that one of the reasons Tiberius retired to Capri was to avoid interference from his mother. The estrangement from her son was very difficult for Livia who was by now quite advanced in age. She died in 29 A.D. after reigning as empress-mother for nearly seventy years, and was long remembered by many as a model Roman matron.

Key events during the life of Livia:

42 BC
Bore son Tiberius to first husband, Claudius Nero.
38 BC
Divorced Nero and married Augustus while pregnant with second son Drusus.
23 BC
Marcellus, husband of Julia, dies of an illness.
21 BC
Julia is married to Agrippa. Marriage produces five children.
Son Drusus dies on a campaign in Germany.
12 BC
Tiberius is (unwillingly) forced to marry Julia, on death of her husband Agrippa.
At the death of Augustus, Livia continued to wield much political power.
Tiberius moves to Capri.
Livia dies at ripe old age of 87.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Death of Augustus  in  Pictures from Roman Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Empress-Mother  in  Pictures from Roman Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church

Short Biography
Augustus Caesar First emperor. Reigned for over fifty years. Established the Imperial system.
Octavia Sister of Octavius, wife of Antony.
Tiberius Second emperor. Stepson of Augustus. Retired to Capri.
Drusus Son of Livia, father of Germanicus. Died on campaign in Germany.
Julia Caesara Profligate daughter of Augustus Caesar. Fell from grace and was banished from Rome.
Agrippa Most trusted general and advisor of Augustus Caesar. Married Augustus's daughter Julia.