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Classics & Ancient History   >   Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso (Annals 2)


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Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso (Annals 2)

In this course, Dr Chris Whitton (University of Cambridge) explores the story of Germanicus and Piso in Tacitus’ Annals. In the first module, we think about the figure of Germanicus himself, Tiberius’ adopted son and his heir-apparent. After that, we turn to the character of Piso – is he a villain or a victim? In the third and fourth modules, we explore the roles of the three major female characters in the story – Agrippina, Plancina and … a mysterious third – before turning in the fifth module to consider Tacitus as a historian. What choices has he made when crafting these events into a continuous narrative? In a short sixth module, we provide some suggestions for further reading.


In this module, we think about the figure of Tiberius’ adoptive son, Germanicus, focusing in particular on: (i) the shape of the Empire in the early 1st century AD and Germanicus’ position in the Julio-Claudian dynasty; (ii) Tacitus’ presentation of Germanicus as a romantic hero; (iii) the darker side of Germanicus’ career, including his massacre of rebel soldiers in Germany and his transgressive behaviour in Egypt; and (v) the importance of Tiberius’ (natural) son, Drusus, and the hostility between Tiberius and Germanicus.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Whitton, C. (2020, January 16). Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso (Annals 2) - Germanicus [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Whitton, C. "Tacitus: Germanicus and Piso (Annals 2) – Germanicus." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Jan 2020,


Prof. Christopher Whitton

Prof. Christopher Whitton

University of Cambridge