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|Portrait of Livilla |
(often attributed to Livia)
Claudia Julia Livilla, also known as Livilla or Julia Livilla the Elder (circa 13 BC–AD 31) was the only daughter of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia. Her chief role in the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty was as a bride for potential successors to the principate during the reigns of Augustus and her uncle Tiberius.
She was married twice, first in 1 BC to Gaius Caesar, grandson of Augustus and potential successor. Her husband died in 4 and Livilla married her cousin Drusus, son of Tiberius. Her daughter Claudia Julia was born shortly after this second wedding.
In 19 she gave birth to twin sons, Tiberius Gemellus and Germanicus Gemellus, though only Tiberius Gemellus survived infancy. In this time it appears she was seduced by Sejanus, the praetorian prefect of Tiberius. Sejanus had designs on the imperial throne, and needed to remove Drusus as a potential successor. He was able to convince Livilla to help him murder her husband by poisoning him. This was done so skillfully that Drusus' death in 23 seemed natural and caused no suspicion. Sejanus' request to marry Livilla a few years later was however rejected by Tiberius. Realising that he needed to marry into the imperial family to consolidate his power, Sejanus then campaigned to marry Claudia Julia instead. According to Suetonius, the enraged Livilla threatened to poison her own daughter in order to remove her from contention.
In 31, Tiberius received evidence from his sister-in-law Antonia that Sejanus planned to overthrow him. Tiberius had Sejanus denounced in the Senate, before he was arrested and dragged outside to be killed. A bloody purge then erupted in Rome, most of Sejanus's family and followers sharing his fate. Among the innocent victims of the purge were Sejanus's young children. Upon hearing the news of their deaths, Sejanus's former wife Apicata committed suicide, but not before revealing to Tiberius the details concerning the murder of Drusus and the complicity of Livilla. At the request of her mother Antonia, Livilla was not publicly executed in order to save the family reputation. According to many sources, Tiberius handed Livilla over to her own mother for punishment, whereby Antonia locked her in her room and starved her to death.
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