Roman Emporers: Gaius Caesar

In this case a nearly Emporer. Gaius was the Grandson of Augustus Caesar and the son of Marcus Agrippa and was the nominated heir to the purple. He was both a skilled politician and military leader and was an almost ideal candidate to succeed his grandfather, talented and much loved by the Roman people. He led successful military campaigns in Parthia, Arabia and Armenia.

In 2AD, during the Armenian Campaign, the rebel leader sent a message that he wanted to negotiate a truce. Unfortunately it was a trick and when Gaius showed up, he and his attendants were attacked by the rebels. Gaius was wounded. Initially he seemed to recover and his forces went onto defeat the rebels.

Within a year things took a turn for the worse. Long-term effects of his wound began to take their toil. evetually at the age of twenty-three he resigned his commision and retired to Syria. He sent his grandfather a letter in which he told him he wanted to resign from public life. Augustus, no doubt hoping this was a temporary setback and the Gaius would recover, tried to convince him to return to Italy and the court, but Gaius refused. By February of 4 AD, he was dead.

We are told that the whole Empire was shocked and saddened by the death of this much loved leader. He was granted many posthumous honours ny the Roman state.

Both Tacitus and Cassius Deo writing years later suggest that it was not the wound that killed him but that he was poisoned. The main candidate for this was Livia, Gaius’ step-mother, whose son Tiberius became the heir on the death of Gaius.

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