Livia and the principate of Augustus and Tiberius

Authored by: Christiane Kunst

The Routledge Companion to Women and Monarchy in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138358843
eBook ISBN: 9780429434105
Adobe ISBN:


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For more than 60 years Livia moved about in the inner circle of Roman power: first as wife of the triumvir Octavian who became sole ruler after 31 BCE (from 27 BCE–14 CE as Augustus) and finally as mother of the second Augustus, Tiberius, until her own death in 29 CE. Officially there was no role for women on the stage of the newly established political system. Nonetheless Livia played an important part in its public representation, formation, and consolidation. While the literary sources offer only limited insight into her role in the principate, documentary material reveals that Livia was perceived as a “femina princeps” (“woman emperor”) by her coevals. Public and private honors show her outstanding position and mirror how Livia used matronage to accumulate personal influence and integrate elite women into the new system. On the other hand, conflicts with her son during his principate provide evidence that the Augusta’s political influence remained dependent on access to the emperor.

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