You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.


3. Accession and Successes

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about how Tiberius came to power and his key accomplishments in Rome and in the provinces, focusing in particular on: (i) Tiberius’ reluctance to take power, according to both Tacitus and Velleius Paterculus, and reasons why he might have presented himself in this way; (ii) the successes of the early part of his reign at Rome, including: his use of the proper channels to conduct public business; his respect for the rule of law; his appointment of properly qualified people to public office; his respect for the dignity of magistrates, etc.; (iii) his relationship with the senate, including the extent to which the senate was a genuine decision-making body in this period, as opposed to simply doing whatever Tiberius wanted; (iv) his refusal of emperor worship; (v) the successes of the early part his reign in the provinces, including: his astute management of his provincial governors (including Pontius Pilate); his consolidation of the frontiers of the Roman empire; and his successful handling of rebellions in both Gaul and Africa.


In this course, Dr Matthew Nicholls (University of Oxford) explores the reign of the second Roman emperor, Tiberius. After a brief introductory module, we begin by thinking about Tiberius’ family background and the way he was variously taken out of and brought back into the line of succession by Augustus. In the third module, we think about how Tiberius came to power and some of his key accomplishments in Rome and in the provinces, before turning in the fourth module to consider Tiberius’ use of treason trials. In the fifth module, we consider the sources available to modern historians of the reign of Tiberius, focusing in particular on Tacitus’ Annals, before turning in the sixth module to a particular event for which – almost uniquely in Roman history – we have both an extensive literary account and an extensive documentary record: the trial of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso. Finally, in the seventh module, we consider the rise and fall of the figure of Sejanus.


Matthew Nicholls is a visiting professor of classics at the University of Reading and Senior Tutor at St John's College, Oxford, specialising in the political and social history of the Romans, and the way the built environments of Rome and cities around the empire expressed their values and priorities. In 2014, Matthew was presented with a Guardian Teaching Award for his 'Virtual Rome' project, a digital model of the city of Rome, showing the city as it appeared in c. AD 315.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Nicholls, M. (2022, July 21). Tiberius - Accession and Successes [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Nicholls, M. "Tiberius – Accession and Successes." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Jul 2022,