Personality Analysis Essay on Josephus

Published: 2021-07-20
1350 words
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Research paper
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Josephus is a renowned Jewish historian born in Jerusalem shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Josephus became a Pharisee and later joined the military as a commander during the Jewish rebellion. Therefore, he witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century among other biblical events. Due to his historical account, he became the most famous Jew of his time, and his work has been quoted severally by other scholars. He has described the world and Gods people from creation through the first century. In one of his articles `Antiquities of the Jews`, Josephus condemned Tiberius Emperor as a reign that brought dreadful misery on the best of Roman families. He alleged that Tiberius indulged in hatred against men for he was naturally fierce (Curran, 2011). However, historians are fallible and should be read with care. It is therefore valuable to affirm his accusation against Tiberius Emperor to consider it dependable and binding.

Tiberius Nero son and successor of divine Augustus Caesar, the first king in the Roman Emperor, ruled Rome for twenty-three years. Distinct from other kings in Rome, Tiberius had to endure hardship from his early childhood. Livia, Tiberius mother, divorced Tiberius Claudius Nero to marry Augustus Caesar (Octavian) who was a remarkable politician in the Roman Emperor. Caesar was responsible for several dysfunctional families in Rome in the name of attaining political support (Adkins & Adkins, 2014). After their parents divorce, Tiberius and his brother lived with their father for five years until his death but were later adopted by their stepfather. However, Tiberius was never fond of his famous stepfather after realizing he was responsible for his parents divorce. Although Tiberius developed hatred against step Octavian, he spent his youth in an Imperial Palace. He was deemed thoughtful and intelligent but had little interest in politics. Tiberius later joined military similar to any other patrician youth where he became an exceptional military general.

At his late age, Augustus continued to rescind Tiberius political ambitions. As a king, he was having a hard time to ensure an orderly succession. The individuals favorable to take over the leadership mantle did not share any blood relation with Augustus. Therefore, he embarked on adopting and controlling the marriages of women in his family particularly her daughter Julia. After the death of Agrippa who was more preferred to take over leadership mantle, Augustus had no other option than imposing Tiberius as his successor. However, his support was under the condition that he would divorce her most loved wife to marry Julia, Augustus daughter, to have the dynasty intact. Neither Tiberius nor Julia wanted this marriage as they had grown in the same household as a brother and sister (Donegan, 2016). The start of Tiberius leadership as the second Roman Emperor made him bristled with anger. In fact, Tiberius felt resentful as Augustus had not only broken up his Parents marriage, but he also had the same intention with his life.

The rise of Tiberius in leadership made him disinterested in the Emperor position and triggered his bitterness towards the Roman Emperor. From Augustus control over his life, he was subjected to depression and melancholy. It was hard for him to accept that her previous wife Vipsania was happily married to another man. From this moment, jealousy and bitterness dominated Tiberius thoughts leaving him vulnerable to any form of insanity as a way of paying back. Nevertheless, Augustus knew that all he wanted was to have his blood relative rule Rome. The turn of events made Tiberius rebel against the will of his stepfather leading to a serious grudge between the two men (Shotter, 2014). Due to his rebellious acts, Tiberius was denied entry to Rome after living for Rhodes. It was not a wonder for Tiberius to be termed as an exile because people had died and got exiled during the reign of Augustus. The actions of the emperor and the rule of Rome made Tiberius bitterer than ever before.

After new plans to overthrow Tiberius as the legitimate heir of Roman Emperor, Augustus was forced to welcome back Tiberius to Rome. During the official handing over of Roman Emperor, Augustus made it clear that it was only for the sake of the state he had to appoint Tiberius as their next leader (Rupke, 2014). The statement made Tiberius disinterested with the ranks he received. He reluctantly ascended to imperial power, which made him marked as a man who never wanted to be a king. During his reign, more people continued to lose their lives particularly those likely to inherit the leadership from him. For example, the assassination of Germanicus was received with universal lamentation by Romans. Later on, Tiberius lost his son Castor. As a result, he completely lost his interest in ruling Rome. The deaths of the two gentlemen made him hate his job, life and Romans. For several years, Romans remained entangled in Tiberius poor leadership qualities.

Tiberius decision to withdraw from public life for over twelve years at the end of his reign was a drastic mistake that subjected Romans to poor leadership. In fact, his decision left Rome and its people vulnerable to tyranny. It is at this moment that Tiberius handed over his powers to Sejanus and left for Capri (Archer, 2012). While away from Rome Tiberius seemed happy as the capital was characterized with countless deaths and constant conspiracies. However, Sejanus was an unscrupulous man who was ready to do anything just to get whatever he wanted. During this period Sejanus took advantage to destroy Rome in the name of joining the imperial family. The period was marked as Sejanus reign of terror. Romans suffered in the absence of their king Tiberius. For instance, Sejanus murdered potential heirs, and anyone who was against his leadership was charged under the Treason Law. The nobility and the peasants all suffered as Sejanus killed most of them to steal their estates. In the process, Rome was spread with fear as nobody felt safe as long as you were in a position of anything of interest to the acting king.

In his attempt to regain control, Tiberius decided to strike back. Any suspect who seems to collaborate with Sejanus or who opposed his rule was charged to have violated the Treason Law of the state. People were encouraged to report any conspirator. The noble suffered a lot as Tiberius had convicted and executed their estates which he used to award his informers. With the number of informers increasing, false accusations surfaced subjected innocent people to the death penalty. The consequence was that no one dared to speak ill of Rome and its king as the entire city remained frightened and miserable. Any time Tiberius saw the necessity of exercising his authority he did it ruthlessly.

In conclusion, I can affirm the statement by Josephus that Tiberius as an Emperor brought dreadful misery to the best of Roman families. From the turn of events in his life time, Tiberius indulged in hatred against men because of his fierce nature. For this reason, Augustus had noted the actions of his stepson making him select someone else as his successor. Tiberius political instability, jealousy and poor decision making dragged Rome into a period of political purges (Southon, 2015). Lastly, to the majority of people Tiberius reign was termed twenty-three years of misery to the Romans.


Adkins, L. and Adkins, R.A., 2014. Handbook to life in ancient Rome. Info based publishing.

Archer, R. (2012). Tiberius. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Sep. 2017].

Curran, J., 2011. Flavius Josephus in Rome. In Flavius Josephus (pp. 65-86). Brill.

Donegan, D. (2016). The Roman Empire: in the First Century. The Roman Empire. Emperors. Tiberius | PBS. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Sep. 2017].

Goodman, M., 2013. The Roman World 44 BCAD 180. Routledge.

Rupke, J., 2014. Historicizing Religion: Varros Antiquities and History of Religion in the Late Roman Republic. History of Religions, 53(3), pp.246-268.

Southon, E. (2015). Bad Emperors: Tiberius - Agrippinilla. [Online] Agrippinilla. Available at: [Accessed 4 Sep. 2017]

Shotter, D., 2014. Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome. Rout ledge.



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