Tiberius Caesar Augustus
November 16, 42 BCE – 16 March 16, 37 CE
He was born Tiberius Claudius Nero in the town of Capreae near Naples.
Tiberius served as Emperor of Rome from 14 to 37 CE. His mother Livia had divorced his father in 39 CE and married the Roman emperor Augustus five years before his death.
As for himself, Tiberius married Augustus’ daughter, Julia the Elder, and was adopted by the emperor.
Tiberius had an illustrious military career and was a successful general. His conquest of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Raetia, and parts of Germania laid the foundations for Roman expansion along the northern frontier.
In 26 CE, after the death of his son, he exiled himself from Rome and left the administration of the Empire largely in the hands of his unprincipled Praetorian Prefects.
For collectors of biblical coins and students of religious history, Tiberius is most notable for being the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, which was carried out under orders of the provincial governor Pontius Pilate.
In sharp contrast to the profuse array of coin types issued by his predecessor Augustus, the coinage of Tiberius is immensely conservative, in gold and silver comprising only two different designs issued over the entirety of his 23-year reign.
Most famous of the Tiberian coins is the “Tribute Penny“, a silver coin featuring Tiberius on the obverse and a seated female (probably Livia) on the reverse. It is of this coin that some point to when discussing the “shall we pay tribute to Caesar” episode in the Gospel of Matthew.
In the Roman system, a gold aureus was worth 25 silver denarii. During Tiberius’ reign, a low-ranking Roman soldier’s annual salary was only 225 denarii, or nine gold aurei. A gold Roman coin had tremendous purchasing power!
Coin stamps featuring Tiberius were discovered in 2004 in the Vindonissa legionary camp (in the area of what is now Windisch municipality in Switzerland). According to the archaeological finding, it can be assumed that an official mint existed in Vindonissa. This sensational discovery calls many mint assignments of the early Imperial period into question since it can be assumed that mint sites also existed in other legion camps.
Timeline of Important Events During the Reign of Tiberius
- 14 CE – Emperor Augustus dies. Tiberius ascends to the throne.
- 15 – Tiberius transfers the elections from the popular assemblies to the Senate.
- 15 – Emperor Vitellius is born.
- 26 – Pontius Pilate is appointed governor of the Judaea.
- 26 – Tiberius retires to his estate on Capri, effectively giving Sejanus unlimited Imperial authority.
- 30 – Emperor Nerva is born.
- 31 – Sejanus is found guilty of conspiracy against Tiberius and is executed.
- 32 – 36 – Estimated date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
- 37 – Tiberius dies on the island of Capri. Caligula ascends to the throne.