Who is the most famous Tiberius in the history of the world? Well, you may think, I don’t know many “Tiberius'”, and you’d be right. It’s not like Joe or Bob. I can only think of two people with that name, and one of them is fictitious! Does the name, “James T. Kirk” ring a bell? If you grew up when I did, or any time thereafter, you probably know who James Kirk “is”…the death-defying captain of the Federation starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, that boldly goes where no man has ever gone before! The “T” in his middle name is for Tiberius, which was his father’s name. (“Beam me up, Scotty!” – sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)
The other Tiberius was a real person in history. Tiberius was the Roman emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD, the step-son of the great Octavian (or Augustus Caesar). It was Tiberius who ruled during the lifetime of Jesus. Though he was one of Rome’s greatest generals ever, he really wasn’t happy about being the emperor, and was called by Pliny the historian, “the gloomiest of men.” After his son died in 23 AD, he became ever more reclusive and at 26, banished himself from Rome and left it in the unscrupulous hands of some of the prefects. Eventually, he was succeeded as Emperor by the dastardly Caligula (who squandered all 2,700,000,000 sesterces that was included in Tiberius fortune.) When Tiberius died in 37 AD, he was 77 years old. He was cremated, and his ashes scattered in 410 AD when Rome was sacked. He was in ill favor with the Senate when he died.
Today’s picture is of a bust of Tiberius from the Michael Carlos Museum at Emory University here in the Atlanta area. I can’t help but wonder if any of these guys looked like their busts, or if the sculptors and artists who painted portraits of the emperors made them look more noble and handsome than they really were. In those days, it was even more deadly to cross those who were in power – especially if that person was the Roman emperor!
As they say, “Hail, Caesar!”
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1983, Klaus Barbie, a Nazi war criminal, was imprisoned in Lyon, France, following extradition from Bolivia.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: when a person died, hearing is usually the last sense to go, with sight being the first. The other senses appear to leave in this order: taste, smell and touch.