December 31, 2007

Year-by-Year: 14 AD (a)

Jesus turns 20. Augustus dies. The first year of Tiberius’ rule as Emperor.

At the start of 14 AD, Jesus of Nazareth was 19 years old, going on 20. The final months of the Lord’s second decade on Earth were over in May. And by the look of things, he had nothing to show for it.

God’s own son was here, in the prime of life. He was the world’s Savior, but he was not a great man.

The greatest men were world beaters by this age.


Alexander the Great turned 20 in 336 BC. That year, Alexander became King of Macedonia. Right away he began preparing his invasion and conquest of all Asia. Likewise, Augustus Caesar was only 18 when his uncle Julius died, in 44 BC. And in 42 BC, “Octavian” (as he was then called) ended the civil wars and started ruling the Empire![1]

But here’s Jesus, turning 20 and doing nothing… it seemed.

Sons of Kings always made their mark by age 20. Herod’s son Archelaus was King of Israel at age 19 (4 BC). His younger brother Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, forged a marriage alliance with King Aretas of Nabatea the year he turned 20 (1 BC). Even Herod’s son Philip was only 18 as he secured peace ruling mostly Arab peoples (2 BC).

All the young Herods we’ve seen were taking on great challenges at young ages. In Italy, the young Caesars were no different at all.

Augustus Caesar sent his grandson, Gaius, off to far away battles, leading over 20,000 men… when Gaius was just 19 (1 BC). And when Caesar’s great-grand-nephew Germanicus turned 19, Augustus made that young man second-in-line to rule the world (4 AD). Even the difficult Posthumous Agrippa (Caesar’s 3rd grandson) became a big enough threat to be exiled… you guessed it… at age 19 (8 AD).

Nineteen. This is not a small observation. At that age, if you’re going to rule any decent sized Kingdom, you’d better get around to it. Or at least start acting like it!

But here was Jesus. God’s Son, the Messiah. The one born to be King of the Jews… even the King of all Kings! And what was he doing?

The same things as always.

Jesus was living in Nazareth. He was pulling saws with Joseph, doing chores for Mary, watching out for little James, and taking care of his aging grandparents. He was earning his daily bread and forgiving bad customers’ debts. He was calling on his Father’s holy name.

To earthly eyes, this was nothing. No one could see what a great Man this Jesus was. No one could tell he was perfectly blameless. No one imagined he’d NOT been overcome by the darkness of the evil one. No one else knew where to find such protection.

No one thought Jesus was anything like a great man.

No. The glory of this one, holy life was as yet unseen.

No one heard him when he called his Father’s name, or when they talked to each other. No one heard when Jesus asked his Father for things. And no one was aware enough to be amazed by this fact, either… but when Jesus prayed, he asked for things that God wanted!

To heaven’s eyes, this was glorious. Jesus was doing what no one else had the power to do! The Lord, as a Man, was showing his Father what it could look like for an earth man to live like God was in charge.

So that’s what Jesus was doing at age 19 and 20. That was all. He was not some “great man”. He was God’s man.

In 14 AD, Jesus the King was not yet in his kingdom…

But he knew it would come.

The Kings of the earth kept on ruling. The world kept on turning. And God’s Son kept praying…

Year after year.


Once again, 14 AD brought no news from Israel.

Rufus was still Procurator at Caesarea. Annas was still High Priest at Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin was over half-way done re-building Herod’s Temple.[2]

There was certainly no trouble in Judea, at all.

The people of Israel seemed to like this new Roman “Kingdom”!


At the start of 14 AD, the “King” of the Roman Empire was 75 years old. Augustus Caesar would not reach his 76th birthday. Here’s what happened.

The Emperor’s heir, Tiberius Caesar, had been over Italy during the winter, taking a census. It was also a tour to let Italy see the face of her new ruler-to-be.

By spring, Tiberius and his census teams were all done. Augustus and his “imperial colleague” held a ceremony on May 14th – to celebrate completing the census.[3]

Shortly after their reunion, Augustus made Tiberius leave again!

This was critical. Since the census began, the two Caesars had shared equal powers, at least officially. For nearly a year, Rome had two masters… at least, technically.

In fact, Augustus was still fully in charge and Tiberius was still below him. That’s what was still happening, in practice. The official “equality” in power was just so Tiberius could begin ruling, legally, the moment Augustus was dead.

But things had to look proper. Technically, Rome had two masters, and it just wasn’t wise to keep two masters in town together. They had to have separate duties, somehow. Besides, at the very least, they didn’t want to set a bad example for future generations!

So Tiberius had to go on a new mission. It had to be close, because Augustus could die anytime. And it had to be an easy mission, so Tiberius could return when called for.

Augustus was sending Tiberius to North Illyricum. There were no uprisings, of course. Everything had been at peace there, in Pannonia, since 9 AD. So the only task the future Emperor had to do there was oversee the ongoing improvements in the new province.[4]

But the mission didn’t have to start right away. Augustus still had lots of things left to tell Tiberius.

The two Caesars spent the rest of May together in the city. And June. And July.[5]

By late July, Tiberius got ready to go. But Augustus wanted to make a trip into the country for a while. Augustus had also been invited to attend some games in his honor, that would be on their way.

So they left Rome together.

Somewhere around late July, the two Caesars headed south, down the coast, towards Campania. They went very slowly, because of the Emperor’s age.

Augustus and Tiberius were carried in a litter down the coast, but changed their minds after a few days and took a ship, to make the trip faster. The August northwesterlies were just kicking up and the breeze was strong, blowing them southeast, down the coast of Italy.

But traveling by ship meant spending a couple of nights at sea. Somewhere in those strong gusts of salty night air, Augustus caught a stomach virus. So now he was on a boat, at night, dealing with diarrhea… at age 75!

The Emperor was getting pretty weak by the time they reached his villa on the Island of Capri. Willpower and the island stay kept him in a happy mood. After four days on Capri, Augustus and Tiberius took their traveling party across the Bay to Naples. The Emperor was still dealing with illness, but wanted to make his appointment. Then, the first day after the games, the two Caesars went inland, heading East.

The whole party went about 50 miles to Beneventum, on the Appian way. There, Tiberius said good bye and Augustus turned back towards Rome. But these extra days of travel had weakened Augustus and made him sicker. The Emperor didn’t think he had the strength to make it back to Rome, or even to Naples or Capri.

About 35 miles after Beneventum, Augustus stopped at the closest spot he could take a long rest at. The old country house of his father, Octavius Caesar was on the road back to Capri, at the town of Nola.

Augustus knew his own father had died in that very house. He had to know it was his time as well.

The Emperor didn’t last long at Nola.

On his last day, he kept asking whether there were any uprisings around Italy. Augustus was afraid of trouble because he knew he was dying.

His wife, Livia, was there with him and a few friends. The Emperor had some last words. He told them he found Rome as weak as clay bricks, but now left it to them as strong as stone or marble. Then Augustus asked them all to applaud because he was an actor who had played his part well, and now had to leave the stage.

That afternoon, Caesar kissed his wife, reminded her to be faithful to him, and died – quietly and suddenly.

The official day of death was given as August 19th, 14 AD.

The Emperor, Augustus Caesar, had lived 75 years, 10 months and 26 days on planet earth. He died just shy of his 76th birthday, which made this his 77th calendar year.[6]

The Emperor was dead.


The Emperor was very much alive.

Tiberius was barely in his province when he got the news that Augustus was dying. It took him just a few days to sail and ride quickly to Nola. Once there, Tiberius’ mother Livia, the Emperess, had already taken charge in the house.

Tiberius and Livia went in to see Augustus together.

But we do not know if Augustus was still alive at that time.

Later on, Tiberius and Livia both said that Augustus held on until his son arrived. The new Emperor and his mother told everyone that father and son had gotten one final day to visit and say goodbye. They told some that Augustus had died in Tiberius’ arms.

We don’t know for sure.

We do know that other stories and rumors got started soon after this.[7] There were many in Rome who believed Livia had set up the murder of the princes, Gaius & Lucius, because that was when Tiberius came back into Rome (see 4 AD).

In fact, since that time, another rumor had started that Livia sent someone to poison her own son, Drusus, when Drusus was lying wounded in Germany (9 BC). So it wouldn’t be long until new rumors popped up that said Livia had poisoned Augustus, now, too! (And it gets wilder than that! But those stories will come soon enough.)

Did Tiberius see Augustus alive?

Rumor says that Livia kept the death a secret until Tiberius reached Nola. Then – maybe – she lied about the death date to hide her cover up. And that might be true.

All we know for sure, right now, is this.

On August 19th, 14 AD, Tiberius and his widowed mother Livia were at Nola, near Mount Vesuvius. Augustus Caesar was dead. Tiberius was now the new Roman Emperor.

At age 54, Tiberius Caesar began his final mission – ruling the world!

The new Emperor probably didn’t get much sleep that night.

Suddenly, there was a lot to take care of…





14 AD, Part Two…


Begin Footnotes:

[1] Albeit with two partners, Antony & Lepidus, the “second triumvirate”.

[2] It sure seems complete when Jesus walked through it, but the Temple Courtyard won’t be paved (the final phase of work that Josephus called totally finished) until the early 60’s AD.

[3] This was a traditional event called the “Lustrum”. For Tiberius’ official position as “colleague in imperium”, see footnotes to 12 and 13 AD.

[4] Armies were building roads and prep-work was being done for the founding of colonies. These years in Illyricum (the two new provinces of Dalmatia & Pannonia) were like the years in Galatia after 25 BC – which was discussed in the footnotes of 6, 5 and 3 BC.)

These ongoing efforts mean that Dalmatia will be fairly civilized and safe when the apostle Titus goes there in 63/64 AD.

[5] No one could criticize them for staying together, since they had already made official plans to separate again. This was the point things had come to – keeping up appearances and satisfying technicalities. But the reality was whatever the Emperor wanted, happened.
[6] I mention this specifically to illustrate a point made in previous Year Books about the methods of counting someone’s age. I mention it now because the Jewish Historian Josephus says Augustus was “77 years old” when he died. This is a perfect example of “inclusive” counting, typical of Jewish thought.

Jesus Christ is going to be 38 years, 10 months and some days old at his crucifixion. He will ascend into heaven at least a week shy of his 39th birthday (Roman Calendar) but it may have been exactly on the day of his 39th birthday (Jewish Calendar). So it might have been, chronologically, the first day of his 40th year when he rose into the sky, leaving Earth. (Forty is the biblical time of testing, and by the Hebrew laws, part of a year counted as all of a year.) Either way, Jesus spent forty calendar years on Earth, by the Roman AND by the Hebrew calendars.

(See footnotes to 9, 8 & 7 BC, and bonus sections.)

[7] By that point, they’d just had three months together; surely, Augustus had as many chances as he wanted to talk to Tiberius. If Livia and Tiberius lied about the last day’s instructions, it was only for dramatic effect of the timing. We aren’t sure about the timing, but we’re absolutely certain there WERE final instructions!

December 23, 2007

Year-by-Year: 13 AD

Jesus turns 19. Germanicus leads 8 Legions in Germany. Augustus secures Tiberius’ succession once and for all.

In January of 13 AD, Jesus was 18 years old. In May he turned 19…

(Read more about Jesus in future editions.)


There is no news from Israel this year. Rufus was still Procurator at Caesarea. Annas was still High Priest at Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin was still making slow progress towards rebuilding Herod’s Temple.

Everyone seemed to be doing well under Roman rule.


All winter, Augustus had been working on his will and his memoirs. He had also been nudging the Senate and People of Rome closer and closer towards seeing Tiberius as his sole successor.

When spring came, the Emperor sent Germanicus back into Europe. The young General was now in charge of eight legions, at age 28!

This farewell was the last time the two Caesars would see one another. It was one more way Augustus firmed up his plans. Tiberius was staying in town. Germanicus was leaving. Augustus was brilliant.

This was one extra safeguard against civil war.

Next came the papers.

When the snows had thawed and the seas were all safe, Augustus sent messengers all over the Empire. The Emperor had finished his memoirs, called “Things I Did”[1] It was several pages long, but Caesar wanted it carved into stone many times, at least once in each province.[2]

It was about this same time that Caesar finished his will.

On April 3rd, 13 AD, the Emperor sealed up his will. It took up two bound volumes of parchment![3] Both books were sealed and secured in the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.[4]

At this time, no one but Augustus got to read the will.

The Vestals also secured three other documents for the Emperor. Augustus gave them a copy of his “Things I Did”, a list of instructions for his own funeral, and a personal accounting of the Empire’s financial and military resources to that date.

That was the end of Caesar’s publishing efforts. He was now ready to die, sixteen months ahead of time! Still on top of everything…

Still on top of the world.


Tiberius, the Emperor-to-be, was Augustus’ right hand man in Rome all year long.[5]

Augustus was still doing all his normal duties by himself.[6] Now, starting this year he sometimes did them on a couch, reclining. And he was still skipping Senate meetings, where Tiberius was sitting in for him.

This was the only official duty Tiberius carried out for most of the year. It didn’t mean much. It was about to mean even less!

Sometime around the middle of the year, Augustus asked the Senate for two things.[7]

First of all, the Emperor had them renew Tiberius’ Tribunican Powers for another ten years – even though it was a year ahead of their expiration date.[8] Now there was no way Tiberius would not succeed as Emperor.

After that, Augustus asked the Senate for a special decree of some extra special powers.

Basically, the Emperor wanted to start his own mini-Senate!

The senate agreed, and voted to give Augustus a special Council.[9] Anything Caesar’s Council decided would count as if the entire Senate had voted on it. And naturally, the Council only answered to Caesar.

Who was on this Council? Guess! Augustus, Tiberius and the two Consuls of the year, for starters. Germanicus was also included, officially, even though he was absent from the city. Tiberius’ son Drusus was also included, along with twenty personal counselors the Emperor selected with approval from the Senate.

The Senate itself kept meeting[10], but all important decisions went through the new Council.

All decisions, that is… except one.


The Senators only thought they were going to have extra time on their hands.

Actually, the Emperor had one very big axe to grind. It was the last potential problem big enough to rebel over, and Augustus knew he had to kill it for good.

This last major issue was… the “death-tax”!

Several Senators and other wealthy nobles around Rome had been grumbling for years about the new 5% tax on inheritances. Augustus had been ignoring the complaints since the tax started in 6 AD. But the wars that broke out that year (and in 9 AD) were finally all settled.

Now the grumbles had grown louder. There was actually a good chance Rome’s wealthy class might spark a revolt over this! So Augustus dealt with the problem like he always did.

He conquered it. But he conquered it shrewdly.

The Emperor told the Senators he would gladly end the death tax if they could come up with another way to collect as much money.

They worked on it. They came up with nothing. So Augustus made his own suggestion – a property tax! And he had the Senate vote for Tiberius would begin a new census of Italy.[11]

Wealthy Italians had never paid taxes on their wealth before. It didn’t take them long to decide how they felt about it.

Soon, Tiberius started out across Italy with his census team. The census was going to take until next spring to complete.[12] But the Senators knew how they felt before winter arrived.

The Senate voted to keep the inheritance tax. The census continued, but the property tax was dead. So was the last hint of uprising.

Augustus had seized peace for his world, once again.


In some ways, that was a busy year. Lots of things happened, and nothing really changed. But Augustus had now, truly, finally finished securing his plan for Rome’s future.

Tiberius still wasn’t Emperor yet, but now there was no doubt…

He soon would be.[13]

Next Year Book: 14 AD!

Begin Footnotes to 13 AD:

[1] A poor academic translation, perhaps, but a good Americanized one, which is fair. A more precise translation of the actual title, “Res Gestae”, might be “Things Engendered by me”, but the real idea of it was: “Look how much great stuff happened because – and only because – I, Augustus Caesar was alive and walked the face of the earth. And therefore, everyone should know forever just how great I really was!” (Now, try to say that in two American-English words! It would probably be: “Things I did!”) By the way, after commissioning this huge undertaking, there was still plenty time for Augustus to send out final edits or amendments, if he decided to add something later. Which he did. (See the Loeb edition.)

[2] “At least.” There were two carvings in Galatia – at Ancyra and Antioch-near-Pisidia. Naturally, these are the two remaining copies we have in existence today.

[3] Loeb says “two notebooks” – “duobus codicibus” in Latin. This was the new technology (still very recent – see previous footnotes) called “codices”. They were the first western “books”. Not surprisingly, it seems the Emperor had access to cutting-edge upgrades in writing! But most writing in existence was still in “scrolls”.

[4] These priestesses tended the sacred flame of Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth. By tradition, it was very important to Roman beliefs that these women remained actual virgins… so the place was heavily guarded, one reason it was a secure location for keeping Augustus’ will.

[5] But not “co-Emperor” or “co-” anything else. See footnotes in 12 AD.

[6] Read Dio Cassius and look at his subjects and verbs. Augustus is still the one doing things, and thus, still the one in charge. Tiberius’ name only appears twice in Dio’s account of 13 AD. Both times, the proper noun is merely an object. [The other ancient sources are not much different.] In contrast, Augustus stands grammatically responsible for no less than twenty active verbs, by my count. So the man taking the action must have been the man in charge – which was only Augustus! And Tiberius, for all his increased and expanded powers, was merely along for the ride at this point, practically speaking. No matter what we call Tiberius, and whatever his official political status may have been this year, it’s clear from Dio’s language regarding actual events that Tiberius was in no way “ruling” anything… yet.

[7] Actually, it was three. Before anything else, the Senate “offered” and Augustus “accepted” a fourth renewal of powers for a fifth consecutive term as head of state. Like the renewal of Tiberius’ powers, this vote came a year ahead of time. (See below.)

[8] Granted in 4 AD, the year of Tiberius’ adoption, these were set to expire in 14 AD. The early renewal was official this year, set to take effect automatically next year, and there was therefore no overlap in the two ten-year terms. Now, the reason for the early renewal was so the Senate couldn’t simply let it lapse, after Augustus died. (As if they would have!) But this was Augustus making absolutely sure of his control, once again. And the timing – just one year early – was apparently the soonest it would have been appropriate (or necessary) to have the renewal approved ahead of time.

[9] This was called Augustus’ “Consillium”.

[10] How much power does Tiberius seem to actually be wielding now? The only actual duty he’d had, since last Autumn, was sitting in for Augustus and presiding over Senate meetings. Now it was merely a half-year or so later and the Emperor had taken all the teeth out of that, too! Anyone still want to call this “co-ruling”?

[11] Aside from sitting in meetings, this was the only actual duty the new “vice-emperor” (as we might call him) actually had all year, and yet it required him to leave the city for several months! How is that “ruling”?

[12] Again we have a short-notice, quickly executed census. In all these yearbooks, it’s the third time we’ve covered a census and the second one that went really quickly. This is worth consideration.

In 8 & 7 BC, Saturninus’ census of Israel covered Herod’s whole kingdom. He had to plan for unknown terrain, a foreign population, and local officials that might not prove totally cooperative. It was all from scratch. Even though Saturninus only had to count heads, he had to ensure an accurate count against all those factors and record individual, verifiable names, based on their cities of ancestry! (That took a year to plan, and most of a year to carry out.)

In 6 AD, Quirinius was able to plan in a matter of days for a property census of Southern Israel (Galilee, Judea and Samaria only) where names were already known, and recorded population rolls were only twelve years old. (The preparation was as simple as grabbing the archived lists and going from town to town, assessing real estate and counting (the unsuccessfully hidden) coin purses of wealthy people.)

By the way, there’s another major factor that makes a property census faster than a population census. You don’t have to spend much time counting the “property” of the very poor – which of course was nearly nothing, and included almost everyone.

But now, in 13 AD, Tiberius ran a population-and-property census, but somehow it went very quickly. How is this possible? Circumstances. It was Italy. It was familiar territory. All necessary resources were centralized in Rome. It had been 21 years since the last census of Roman citizens (in 8 BC), which is not a long time in a region and era of such complete stability. Every citizen household had someone who’d been through the previous census. In short, the routine was well established and everyone knew the drill.

The only new detail for this census was property assessment. As with Quirinius in 6 AD, extra planning was negligible. All Tiberius had to do was grab the lists of population records from the most recent population census and take his soldiers from town to town. A troop of soldiers could search a residence at rapid pace and tell the results to the account outside, whose scribe simple wrote down each valuation reported. The only real time-constraint involved was physical travel and work time. Planning was simply a matter of which town was next down the road, and how many teams could be sent out at once. (Messengers were also sent to Governors all over the Empire, who must’ve merely updated or verified the count of Roman Citizens in their Province and sent back the new total by spring. Thus, Tiberius & Augustus announce the new total in May, 14 AD.)

So Tiberius’ property census of Italy was perfectly executed in less than a year, with virtually no lead time. This confirms Quirinius had every plausible chance to do the same in South Israel in a similar time frame, especially given a smaller population with a smaller distribution of wealth (since Archelaus had claimed most of it, like his father Herod before him).

Finally, the similarities between Tiberius’ and Quirinius’ property censuses are what inversely support the reconstructed version of events found in the Year Books for 9, 8 and 7 AD – namely, that the population census of Saturninus was of a vastly different nature to require longer term planning and more careful execution, scheduled out in measured steps. The parameters in each case fit the task and situation at hand.

[13] There is one last modification of Tiberius’ powers, which was probably made this year, even though no ancient source even remotely attempts to date the event. (This is why it was left to this footnote.) Now, Tacitus’ statement that Tiberius was made Augustus’ colleague in imperium (which implies absolute power at home, which was more than Tiberius gained on his return from Germany; see 12 AD) – that statement implies that Tiberius’ powers did equal those of Augustus at least at some point before the Emperor actually died. (For example, Tiberius begins exercising these powers right after Augustus dies, before the Senate was able to meet or change anything.) The best we can guess is that this last upgrade of powers took place sometime mid-year in 13 AD, probably at or around the same time as Tiberius’ Tribunican powers were approved for early renewal, which was also about the time when the census was ordered.

Since Augustus’ own writing in the “Res Gestae” says that Tiberius was his colleague in the imperium at the close of the census (the “lustrum”, in May, 14 AD), we assume that final upgrade must’ve become official around the opening of that census. If so, that means Tiberius was capable of exercising ultimate power, equal even to the Emperor, anywhere, and even in the city, by mid-13 AD.

That is, Tiberius was in possession of such power technically. But does anyone think the old General could have issued orders in opposition to his father’s? Also, as noted before, it’s just at this point when Tiberius suddenly has to leave the city for several months! And upon return, next year, he will very shortly be sent out again, to Illyricum. (See 14 AD.) Could this timing be precisely because of the new domestic imperium?

If so, we have a consistent pattern during these transition years. Just as Augustus put Tiberius over the Senate, in 12, and then promptly stole all power from the Senate, here Augustus gave Tiberius’ powers their full effect in Rome, in mid-13, and then promptly removed him from the city! The circumstances, put into sequential context, add extra weight to the placement of this “final upgrade” in 13, not in 12. (This conclusion seems to blend perfectly with those of both Levick and Swan.)

But whether the final powers came in 12 or 13, it remains consistently clear from October 12 until September 14 that the practical situation had not really changed. It was merely that the legal situation was finalized to a further degree. As noted previously, the recorded, actual events show that Tiberius wasn’t doing anything worthy of (or requiring) the possession of absolute power… even after he definitively held it! Nothing like “co-ruling” was ever going on, much less was it ever intended to be. The “collegia imperium” was ultimately and merely a setup for a smooth transition.

Therefore, and for the last time, Tiberius seems to have held absolute power not before the summer of 13 AD, and yet he still was in no way actually ruling until 14.

(See footnotes to 12 AD and Bonus Materials for an explanation of how this connects with Luke 3:1.)

November 22, 2007

Year-by-Year: 12 AD

Jesus turns 18. Rufus 3rd Procurator of Judea. The future Emperor Caligula is born. And Augustus increases Tiberius’ powers to secure his future takeover.

In 12 AD, Jesus was 17, going on 18.

(Read more about the Lord in a future draft.]


In the summer of 12 AD, Southern Israel got a new Procurator. A Roman named Annius Rufus replaced his fellow Italian Ambiblius as Caesar’s personal agent over Judea, Samaria & Idumea.

Rufus settled into his headquarters at Caesarea-by-the-Sea. Before long, he’d met the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, too. Wisely, Rufus allowed Annas to stay on there as High Priest. And so the southern Jews passed another quiet year under Rome’s new peace.

By the way, 12 AD was a “Preparation Year” in Israel. This spring and summer, the Jews expected to gather a double yield harvest. This Autumn, the Sabbath-Year would begin. As usual, for a resting year, the fall planting in November was officially cancelled.[1]

Aside from these details, Jewish life in Israel kept on as usual.

Speaking of details… a future Emperor was born this year in Rome, on August 31st.

The baby boy was a son of Germanicus and Agrippina. The father was Augustus’ adopted grandson, and the mother was the Emperor’s natural granddaughter. So this infant was Caesar’s great-grandson, twice-over!

Germanicus & Agrippina named the baby Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, but history will remember him as the murderous psychopath named Caligula![2]

At this time, Germanicus Caesar was in line to rule Rome, and more popular than ever. The 26-year old held the consulship all year long, and stayed in Rome.

Overall, Caligula’s birth year was a quiet year in the capital.


Meanwhile, up north, Tiberius Caesar spent the summer patrolling the Rhine River. At times, the General crossed into West Germany, but his Legions didn’t fight any major battles.

The 52-year-old Emperor-to-be was even more careful than normal. Mainly, Tiberius wanted the Germans to see his forces at full strength. He knew Augustus still wanted to re-conquer Germany to the Elbe River. But for now, the old General was just happy to make sure that Gaul stayed secure.

Tiberius basically made the Rhine the new boundary. To his credit, the Germans didn’t cross it. Which was a very good thing…

Other problems were building up elsewhere, around the Empire.


Far away to East, across the Euphrates, the Parthians started messing with Armenia again.[3] At the same time, in southeast Europe, the King of Thrace died without choosing an heir. Augustus called in the Princes of Thrace and settled that issue[4], but had no way to do anything but ignore Armenia. Parthia now controlled the whole East bank of the Euphrates! Meanwhile, much closer to Italy, Illyricum was proving it still needed constant attention during its rebuilding phase. Suddenly, it looked like half the Eastern Empire might need military attention at any time.

With all this going on, Augustus realized two things. First, it was probably the wrong time to start any new efforts in Germany. And second, if Tiberius wasn’t going to attack the Germans anyway, it was probably time to bring the future Emperor home.

The King of the World was getting ready to let someone else rule it.


In Autumn of 12 AD, at age 74, Augustus now began the final stages of passing on his throne.

First of all, the Emperor asked the Senate to increase and expand Tiberius’ powers over all the Legions & Provinces. This way, the General could rush back North OR East, if a new conflict broke out.[5] The son was now his father’s equal in many ways – but not in Rome![6]

Now, Augustus kept up almost all his regular duties, all year – with one exception. Once Tiberius was settled back in Rome,[7] Augustus quit going to the Senate!

The Emperor claimed he was too old to get there, especially with winter coming on. But really, he just wanted another way to slide Tiberius gradually closer to absolute power.

So, sometime before winter, the Emperor appointed Tiberius as “guardian” of the Senate.[8] Tiberius began sitting in the Emperor’s seat at Senate meetings. The Senators were getting used to the face of their new ruler.[9] And everyone knew what was really going on.

Augustus was phasing in his successor.

With Tiberius all set up to gain the Empire, Augustus could now spend the winter on final things. Caesar still had to finish his will, write his memoirs, coach Tiberius and record some final instructions. In every way now, the Emperor was getting ready to die.

There was much to write, and much to say.


That’s all for 12 AD, but notice this carefully.

As winter came on, Tiberius was 53 years old and he still wasn’t Emperor yet! [10] But that was okay…

Tiberius was used to moving slowly…

Next Year Book: 13 AD!

Begin Footnotes:
[1] We don’t know for sure if the Jews observed the Sabbatical Years at this time, but it’s likely they did. For one thing, we know they were doing it as recently as the days of Julius Caesar, when Josephus says he exempted them from tribute in the 7th year. For another, one of the things Archelaus did that got him in trouble (at least with the Essenes) was reaping ten harvests in a row. This year (12/13) was the first chance South Israel had to observe the Sabbath Year without Archelaus’ influence affecting things. All in all, there may have been some landowners who planted, but the religious leaders probably pushed most folks into holding back.

Of course, this year without agriculture affected national revenues, and Jerusalem was no exception. This means the Sanhedrin’s annual budget would have been affected – yet another factor delaying their already slow progress in rebuilding the Temple (that burned in 4 BC). And on that note – in case we’re keeping count – it’s now been 15 years since the burning, and there are 17 years to go until Jesus opens his ministry at Passover in 29 AD. So the temple reconstruction is just almost half-way done!

[2] In “future” years (from 37 to 41 AD), Caligula is going to earn every bit of his infamy. But “now”, in 12 AD, the baby Gaius is simply the adored child of a national war hero.

[3] The Parthians had been keeping to themselves for a decade, but not anymore. A strong new ruler, named Artabanus dethroned the King of Armenia (Artabazus, a Roman ally since __ AD) and replaced him with the pro-Parthian Tigranes V. This move restarted the old tug-of-war over Armenia, which continues between Rome and Parthia from now until Germanicus goes East in 18 AD.

[4] King Rhoemetalces, Roman ally since 11 BC, was the last in the line of the Kings who united the Thracian tribes (for over 50 years). This year, Augustus gave Rhoemetalces’ first son, Cotys, the urbanized coastal areas, and the second son, Rhascuporis, got control over the inland regions. In years to come, the inland brother is going to get very jealous and upset with his coastal brother. We’ll see these two again in 19 AD.

By the way, the Thracian coast is the last piece of the Agean coastline not as yet Romanized or fully pacified, practically speaking. At this time, Roman highways stopped just outside Thrace, too. Not coincidentally, this region is the same stretch of land Paul of Tarsus skips past when he first sails from Troas to Philippi, at the crack of Autumn in 50 AD. At that time, Thrace had only been Roman for 6 years, officially! That said, we’ll take a closer look at Thrace’s development under the Emperor Claudius, when we get to 46 and 50 AD.

[5] Without suffering any political delays, like what happened in 6 AD. This reasoning helps place the expansion of powers in this year. (See next note.)

[6] Tiberius already held Tribunican Power and Proconsular Imperium, but the Imperium was limited to Northern Europe, before this time, so Augustus simply had the Senate remove those territorial restrictions. While he was at it, Augustus had the Senate specify that Tiberius’ powers were equal to his own as Emperor – but only in the Provinces and armies, NOT over everything! Tiberius was not yet Augustus’ equal in Rome itself, so there was still only one Emperor!

Scholars disagree on the details of this decree, on whether this happened in 12 or 13, and on just what exactly it meant. The legal technicalities are/were complex – officially, Tiberius’ rise to power didn’t have to happen all at once – whereas the practical realities (naturally) stood out above all political language and appearances. The fact is Augustus was phasing Tiberius into his new position bit by bit, securing the intended succession but keeping it as smooth as possible politically. A lack of consistency in the sources (Tacitus, Dio, Suetonius & Velleius) may merely reflect a lack of clarity evident in the times themselves. (Only Tacitus calls Tiberius a “colleague in Imperium”, without date or context, in a sentence that sums up a decade of time!) In a whirlwind of transition, the legal and/or practical details may have seemed unclear even to those involved, but they knew what was coming… and we know the result.

So was it 12 or 13? A nuanced explanation is necessary, and Levick’s is probably best – namely, Tiberius’ preexisting Proconsular Imperium was expanded geographically this year (for good reason, see note above), but Tiberius was not able to exercise it in the city until 13 or 14. Other powers were added or expanded along the way, over the following 18 months. Throughout this critical period there were various events that took place and different aspects of power that took effect at different times. (We will cover each in turn; keep reading.)

The key point here is that the purpose of all this was not to install a partner for Augustus, but to accelerate all momentum toward an increasingly inevitable succession. (Believing his death wasn’t far away, Augustus wanted to leave absolutely no chance at all for the Senate to contest Tiberius’ takeover.) Therefore, the old style of calling Tiberius a “co-regent” is oversimplified to say the least, and seems misleading and inaccurate, given the facts. Besides, Augustus kept on doing most of his normal duties, while Tiberius’ one urban task – sitting in for the Emperor at Senate meetings – was added just before that task became meaningless. (See notes on the Consillium, next year.)

One thing we know most certainly is that Augustus was still “Princeps” – the “first man in Rome”. (Romans didn’t actually use the term “Emperor” the way we do today.) Since there can be only one “first man”, Augustus was Princeps as long as he lived, meaning Tiberius was no better than number two. That was true practically to an absolute degree, and that was true legally, even if it must be taken to a more nuanced degree. Therefore, to say Tiberius now begins “ruling together with” Augustus, that statement would only mean as much as it means, whatever that might be! The realities, more complex by far, are too vague to oversimplify conclusively – except in one detail.

The bottom line is this: Tiberius did not begin to rule as Princeps until 14 AD.

[7] The Senate, in turn, voted to give their future Emperor another honor. The General finally got his old Parade put back on the schedule! Remember, in 9 AD the Senate had voted a Triumph for Tiberius’ victory over Pannonia (of 8 AD), but the General had postponed it because of things in Dalmatia & Germany.

So now, on October 23rd, Rome finally celebrated Tiberius’ victory over Pannonia. It was only three and a half years late! By the way, Bato the Desidiatian (captured leader of the Southern Illyrian rebels) had been kept alive all this time to be displayed in the parade. After the triumph, Bato was given some money to live on and banished to Ravena in North Italy. The former rebel leader was either fully pacified, crippled, kept under guard, or just plan broke, because we never hear from this Bato again.

[8] In the same decree, Augustus also made the Senate the “guardian” of Germanicus. Whatever the political or symbolic truth of this act was, supposedly, it certainly didn’t mean the Senate had as much power over Germanicus as Tiberius now had over the Senate! Once again, Augustus used a nuanced legality to increase the acceptability of his succession plans. Basically, the 2nd part of this decree was to soothe the Senators with nominal honors while making it clear (one more time) that Tiberius was next in line, ahead of Germanicus.

[9] The Senate “stewardship” was another coup. Let’s sum up the progress so far. Tiberius now had power equal to Augustus over armies & provinces, plus some degree of control over daily meetings of the Senate. Beyond that, he still held Tribunican Powers (most recently granted in 4 AD for a ten year term). Altogether, he was still a solid “number two” below Augustus in rank. (Tiberius still didn’t have power over the city, let alone over the Emperor Augustus himself!) The overall purpose and effect, still, was to put Tiberius in a position to be easily confirmed as Emperor whenever Augustus finally died.

By the way, 12 AD was too early to renew Tiberius’ Tribunican power (set to expire July 1st, 14 AD) but Augustus knew at this point that if he lived another year they could renew early at that point. For now, all was secure.

[10] Again, Tiberius was not “co-Emperor” or anything like that. The years of his “rule” did not begin until 14 AD. But that brings us to the reason this is all such a big issue in the first place: because of Luke 3:1. Luke’s gospel ties the public ministry of John the Baptist to “the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar”. At issue, therefore, is what year John began preaching. Scholars suggest anywhere from 26 to 29 AD, but it’s time to fix things once and for all.

Here are the facts. One: Tiberius began his “rule” when Augustus died in 14 AD. Two: John the Baptist started his public preaching in the spring of 28 AD. Three: Luke [we deduce] must have counted inclusively, so that 14 AD was “year one” and 28 AD was “year fifteen”. And Four: The only reason we can deduce Fact Three is by first proving Facts One and Two. (There is no other way to deduce fact three, beforehand.)

Proof of all this will come later. (See also bonus materials.) For now, back to 12 AD.

The reason 12 AD is such an issue is because Biblical scholars used to place Christ’s crucifixion in 30 AD. (It has been soundly revised to 33 AD by many scholars since the mid to late 20th century, most notably Hoehner – again, see Bonus material.) For a long time, and quite understandably, scholars working backwards from 30 AD felt a need to try squeezing things back a year or two. If Jesus’ public ministry lasted more than two years, they needed another explanation of Luke 3:1. This led to theories about Tiberius’ years of “rule” having begun in 12 or 13, which then positioned John’s ministry around 26 or 27. Naturally, this was all wrong, but sadly, many chronologies in popular and Christian publishing still use this outdated scholarship. As goes along with people of faith, many opinions have long been entrenched, and therefore… to the point at hand… the debate over the actual start of Tiberius’ “rule” has remained a major issue.

Again, Tiberius’ political status before Augustus’ death is one issue. John’s year of ministry is another. They must be settled independently of one another. (John’s dates are simple when we work back from 33 AD, using the Gospels. Hoehner was close, but Cheney is correct; see Bonus Material.) Only when those two separate issues are separately settled can we begin to assess the accounting method in Luke’s statement.

And regarding Luke 3:1 itself – we don’t have to prove that it makes more sense for Luke to use any particular method of counting. Luke’s own point of view may not even matter! He probably copied that detail from another source anyway. (Christians, then, may believe that the correctness of his source was a matter of Luke’s diligence, combined with the Lord’s providence. But that point is not an argument here.)

All we have to prove about Luke is that his number fits, and that there’s no evidence suggesting he [or his unknown source] couldn’t or wouldn’t have used this method of counting. Nothing else needs to be shown.

Maybe Luke simply copied a line from a Jewish source that he found in Caesarea. (See 57-59 AD.) We know the Jews counted years of rule inclusively. Josephus did it. Nicolas of Damascus did it. Paul of Tarsus did it. (See 50 AD.) Even a Jew counting by the traditional Hebrew calendar (spring to spring) would find Tiberius’ fifteenth year beginning in the spring of 28 AD – which is when John began preaching. The Hebrew civic calendar (fall to fall) works too. Or Luke is also correct if he was using the Roman calendar, as long as it was inclusively. Simply put, it doesn’t matter which of those it was, as long as it was inclusive.

Now once again, finally, here is the actual point at hand. Luke 3:1 has been a factor in past considerations of Tiberius’ status in 12 and 13 AD. At times, this was covert, if not overt, but it happened. It needs to stop.

November 5, 2007

Year-by-Year: 11 AD

Jesus turns 17. Germanicus and Tiberius patrol Germany.***************

In 11 AD, Jesus was 16, going on 17. By now, Jesus was a carpenter. Jesus lived with his mother. Jesus looked out for his brothers and sisters (who were much younger than he was)[1]. And Jesus worked with Joseph, pulling saws and swinging hammers.

By now, Joseph was old enough to need a helper. And Jesus was strong enough to be a good one. Somewhere in his mid-30’s, Joseph might expect to live another 20 years, but not more[2]. And past age 40, Joseph wasn’t going to see the plumb and cut-lines as well as he once did. So it was time to start training the boy – not just for working, but for taking over Joseph’s work.

In a few years, the family was going to have to rely on Jesus for income. That means that before long, after 11 AD, Jesus is going to start becoming the man of the house in many ways.[3]

Of course, Jesus had already spent the past few years becoming the Man of his Father.

Already, by age 17, Jesus was his Father’s Son and his Father’s Man. And yet, he was still becoming that, more and even more…

More than anything, Jesus just kept loving God. The Lord loved his Father with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and all his strength. Jesus loved his Father in every way that mattered. And the Father enjoyed it.

For several years now, God had had one man on the Earth who was doing what mankind was always supposed to be doing. Jesus was devoted to his Father.

That made God happy![4]

Meanwhile, of course, the rest of mankind was up to its usual business.


In 11 AD, mankind’s usual business was pretty boring! Not much happens, anywhere.

In Israel, everything was status quo. There were no major events.

In Europe, Tiberius finally stopped sitting on the bank of the Rhine. He started patrolling it. The old General even crossed the River a few times, but there were no major battles.

Back in Rome, Augustus Caesar was at his limit of patience with Tiberius. So he sent Germanicus into Germany to help the Emperor-to-be. Not that it did a lot of good…

Tiberius & Germanicus took their Legions across the Rhine, but not far. They knew the Emperor was hoping they’d reconquer Germany to the Elbe River. But the two Generals also knew they had to be cautious. The Germans had proven they were no pushovers!

The two Caesars were actually afraid to push too far. They fought no real battles. But they made a show of force. They marched up and down through Germany. They just didn’t go very far in, past the River.

Further in, Arminius heard what the Romans were doing. And he left them alone.

On September 28th, 11 AD, somewhere between the Rhine & the Elbe, Tiberius & Germanicus set up an altar to Augustus! They camped there and held games, celebrating the Emperor’s 73rd birthday! It was September 28th, 11 AD – the Emperor’s birthday!

After the games, Tiberius & Germanicus led their Legions right back over the Rhine, into Gaul. Safely back in Roman territory, they made winter camps. Tiberius stayed in Gaul, but Germanicus went home.

Back in Italy, Augustus was a bit upset about the lack of progress up north. But the Emperor kept Germanicus in Rome for the winter,[5] which proved to be a fateful decision…

Somewhere in Rome, late in 11 AD, Germanicus Caesar got his wife pregnant![6] Now, that child, born next year, is going to grow up and threaten all Rome, Italy… and all Israel, too! Who is this child?

The future Emperor… Caligula.

Next Year Book: 12 AD!

Begin Footnotes:
[1] How big was the family, by now? Jesus’ famous brothers (James and Jude) are both going to live until the 60’s AD. So they were probably born in the early half of this decade. Naturally, we don’t know just when, but it must have been soon, because Mary was at least 32 by now. (Health & safety issues get much more serious for women giving birth in their 30’s.) If James & Jude were alive at all “now”, they weren’t very old.

We can guess their ages with some rough accuracy, now. If James & Jude were both born by 15 AD, the younger would be 14 years old when Jesus left them all in Capernaum. Either way, James & Jude are anywhere from ten to twenty years younger than their older brother. It adds a little something to the picture of how they related to him. (Or didn’t; see John 7:2-5.) Now, the Tabernacles scene of John 7 happens in Autumn 31 AD, so James & Jude were at least old enough to go to Jerusalem together, by themselves, by that year.

What’s a reasonable, specific estimate? Figure James was born around 10 and Jude around 12 or 14 AD. That won’t be far off, and they die in their 50’s. (James dies violently – see 62 AD.) By the way, this also strongly suggests that Mary (or Joseph) spent the first several years of Jesus’ life deliberately avoiding other pregnancies, but began having more children after Jesus turned 13. (After Archelaus was gone!)

[2] How do we figure out Joseph & Mary’s ages? That’s a great question!

First, we assume Mary was at least 13 when Jesus was conceived in 8 BC. But Joseph was probably five to fifteen years older than Mary – as was very common. A young teenager didn’t often have enough income (or even prospects of income) to merit a successful betrothal. (Besides that, it’s hard to imagine two 14 year olds taking a baby down into Egypt by themselves!) That’s why we can safely guess that Joseph was at least 5 years older. So then, if Mary was exactly 13 in 8 BC, then Joseph was perhaps 18 at that time. That means, for example, that in 30 AD, Mary would be 50 and Joseph 55 (or so).

We know Joseph lives until at least 30 AD because the family moves to Capernaum in 29 and the townspeople there still have time to get to know both Joseph & Mary. (See 29 thru 31 AD & John 6:42, which is a past tense statement.) But we also figure strongly that Joseph has to die before 33 AD. Remember, when Jesus is hanging on the cross (in 33) he asks John to take care of Mary. This means (at least) that Joseph was gone. (We’re not sure what it says about James & Jude.)

Now, in the ancient world, only Kings or wealthy men lived very far past their 50’s, if they even got that far. The truth is, with health conditions being what they were, most common folks died long before that age. Still, we’re not pushing things at all if we say Joseph must’ve lived well and made it to age 55. He must’ve died in 30 AD. Again, living to 55 is impressive enough, but not out of the question for a common laborer.

(Note that the tightness of these constraints, altogether, make these numbers fairly attractive estimates! In fact, these ages are probably very close to the truth… That is, unless Mary & Joseph both lived inhumanly long lifespans, for commoners. And there is no reason to believe they lived miraculously long. Honestly, the fact that they both reached their 50’s is amazing enough!)

[3] Let’s put it all together. In 11 AD, we can now safely estimate that Joseph was about 36 years old. That’s old enough to be a grandfather in the ancient world. It’s also old enough to start giving his young, strong 16/17-year-old son more of the duties in their carpentry business, not to mention around the house. And after age 40, Joseph counted on Jesus almost entirely… but James & Jude weren’t old enough to help much for another dozen years or more.

This is all very important. Think about it. We’re talking about the Son of God here, sent to Earth to do the most important thing that ever got done here, or will get done here. And. He. Still. Took. Twenty. Years. To. Take. Care. Of. His. Family!!!!! (Oh yeah. And also get to know his Father & experience life as a Man.)

Come on, now. THAT’S Amazing!

[4] All four gospels record the event of Christ’s Baptism. Three of them record what God said there, and John says it in other ways. That makes this one of the most trustworthy things we find in all the gospels. The simple fact is: Jesus makes God happy! It’s a good, good thing that He does!

[5] Germanicus was also scheduled to begin a year as Consul in January.

[6] They already had 2 to 4 kids. Three of their daughters will also be famous, when grown.

November 4, 2007

Year-by-Year: 10 AD

Jesus turns 16. Hillel the Elder 'retires'. Gamaliel takes over Hillel's teaching circle. And Tiberius guards the Rhine for Augustus Caesar.

In 10 AD, the Lord Jesus was 15 years old. In May, he turned 16. All year long, nothing else happened that people would have mentioned. But Jesus was busy.

The Lord was living life as his Father’s Son. As a man, Jesus was doing what needed to be done. In fact, the Son of God was doing what no man on Earth had ever done properly, before him.

He was living unto God.

Jesus was living his life in a way that was pleasing to God. That was his primary mission. That’s all Jesus was doing. It was worth doing right.

It was worth several years.


There was no action in Israel this year (to speak of)[1]. But something historic happened that has to be mentioned this year. By 10 AD, if not before, a certain Jewish Pharisee became a Legend.

Hillel the Elder was the most famous Rabbi born in Israel, up to his time. This great teacher lived during the reigns of Herod and Augustus, but ended his career by 10 AD, at the latest.

Hillel became a well respected leader among the Pharisees. He started a school where his students learned milder views of Jewish law. In time, Hillel’s teachings became the most popular among Israel’s Pharisees & common people. The Hillel “School” lived on after his death. Some of the Rabbi’s famous sayings were actually written down and saved – which of course was a very rare thing, in ancient times.

Now, what did Hillel actually do, during his life? As far as we know, nothing but talk! And this is important. We have to note that this man lived and taught in Jerusalem for all of the years we have covered in these Year Books. But he doesn’t show up in any accounts of any events!

The Teacher (as he was later called) was present in the Holy City in 9 BC, when Zechariah came out of the Temple mute and wild eyed. Hillel was there in 7 BC, when a prophetess named Anna went all over Jerusalem telling devout people she’d seen the Messiah. But as far as we know, neither event affected Hillel in the least.

Hillel was either a member of the Sanhedrin or at least had great influence among its members. In every practical sense, he was an “Elder” of Israel. But somehow, we don’t see him involved (at least, not by name) when the Elders of Israel were active. In every event from 4 BC to 6 AD – when Herod, Varus, Caesar, Archelaus & Quirinius met with the Sanhedrin and/or the Elders of the Jews - Hillel is not named.[2]

In all those events, Hillel simply did nothing! At least, he did nothing important enough to write down into history.

All we know says that this great Rabbi did nothing but teach.

It’s just interesting, no matter how you look at it.

Hillel saw war, tyranny, terror, rebellion, and the first total takeover of Rome in Judea. This great man was present at the coming of the Messiah, and surely heard the rumors that went with his birth, as well as many rumors of false messiahs. And yet, through all that…

The Rabbi Hillel kept his full focus on nothing but the Hebrew Law, and teaching it.[3]

Oh. Hillel did one other, very key thing. At some point, near the end of his career, Hillel trained a young Pharisee who actually will influence a major event in history, in 33 AD.

Hillel trained the Rabbi Gamaliel.


By 10 AD, Gamaliel was the leader of Hillel’s teaching circle. And Hillel was gone.

Now, all we know about Gamaliel is that he was a Pharisee, a Rabbi, and he taught in the school of Hillel. But one day in the future, Gamaliel is going to train another young Pharisee. And this future student of the law will grow up to become more famous than even Hillel himself – and that’s saying something!

Sometime in the next 20 years, Gamaliel is going to take Saul of Tarsus into Hillel’s school. Saul, of course, will become Paul, the Apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.[4]

The first time we’ll actually get to meet Saul the Pharisee is in 33 AD, which is also the year when Gamaliel does his one bit for history.

Only 23 Year Books to go, as we eagerly await those events…


What else was going on, in 10 AD?

In Rome, Augustus was still depressed about Varus and afraid that Germany would invade. Four new Legions had marched to defend the Rhine River, and no German tribe had crossed it… so far.

As soon as the Alps were thawed out (enough to cross), Tiberius Caesar rode north. When he got to the border of Germany, the General did… well, next to nothing!

This was not only true to his nature. Tiberius was playing it safe after Varus’ mistakes.

For the rest of this year, Tiberius did nothing else but hold the line at the Rhine. He built bridges, but he did not cross them. He got to know the situation on Rome’s side of the river. He sent scouts to learn what the Germans were doing. And he let his troops rest after several busy years at war.[5] Besides, General Tiberius was about to turn 51. Moving slow worked better for him, now than ever.

So the Emperor-to-be picked up the same slow-working strategies that served him so well in Pannonia. Wisely, the old General stuck to the plan. Even though Augustus was furious, all year long, back in Rome.

The Emperor was frustrated with his son. Augustus wanted Germany back!

At the same time, Germanicus was in Rome, now a successful conquering General. Tiberius’ adopted son and next-in-line was growing more popular every day. Germanicus often stood up for people in need. The city began to love him like they’d once loved his father, Drusus (see 9 BC). And the young man (age 25, this June) didn’t mind at all!

So. Germanicus was winning the hearts of Rome’s people, gaining power & influence. Tiberius was marching around Germany, sleeping in a tent. And Augustus was trying very hard to settle his mind.

When Caesar wasn’t upset about Varus, he was impatient with Tibeirus. Sometimes, out of nowhere, Augustus would just scream out loud. Often, he would bang his head on doors, over and over.

Yes, this was the ruler of the world!

Sometime in 10 AD, the Emperor actually (finally) shaved! But he took no other action, himself. He turned 72 in September.

Meanwhile, Arminius the German chief was still building up his forces, East of the Rhine.

But there was no fighting in Germany… at least, not this year!

Next Year Book: 11 AD!

Begin Footnotes to 10 AD:

[1] Salome, sister of Herod the Great, died and left all her fortune to Caesar’s wife Livia. Her main reason for doing this was that the two had been friends. Salome outlived her big brother by 13 years! She was 73.

[2] One factor, of course, is that Hillel was a Pharisee while the most powerful men in the Sanhedrin were always Sadducees. The Sadducees worked towards political control of Jerusalem and competed to get next in line to become the High Priest. The Sanhedrin was mainly wealthy Sadducees who represented the upper class, but the Pharisees held the ears of the common man. This partly explains why, as a well respected Law teacher, Hillel could have influence among the Elders, but never take an active role in leading the Council.

[3] Actually, when you think about it, Hillel’s single-minded focus – when viewed in the context of such a particularly volatile era, in all possible respects – that may be the biggest reason of all why Hillel was so revered in his lifetime, and to this day. The record strongly suggests he truly kept his whole public focus purely on the Law. No matter whether we find this impressive, regrettable, or understandable, it’s absolutely remarkable.

[4] Saul, or Paul, was either a small child or infant in Tarsus, at this point – or else he wasn’t yet born. Naturally, we only know birthdays of Emperors and other key figures of history. But Saul must have been in his 20’s at Stephen’s stoning, in 33 AD. And Paul lived until 64 AD, so he couldn’t have been born much before this. Most likely, Paul was born sometime this decade – in the “teens” AD. If we guess 15 AD, give or take a few years, he could be about 18 at Stephen’s stoning, roughly 32 when he and Barnabas start traveling, and close to 49 when Nero burned Rome and killed most of Rome’s Christians. Those numbers (give or take a few years) are as close as we’re likely to get for Paul’s age. In any event, there’s no way Paul lived to age 70, which puts his birth date some time after the death of Herod, to say the least.

[5] Three of the eight German Legions had just come from Dalmatia or Pannonia. And up to half of the other five may have sent detachments to those wars. So it’s possible as much as 70% of his soldiers were simply exhausted! This fact is worth considering. So is the point that Augustus didn’t seem to care, but at this point somehow expected them to press into Germany.

November 3, 2007

Year-by-Year: 9 AD

Rome divides Illyricum into two Provinces. Tiberius defeats Bato in Dalmatia. Varus loses three Legions in Germany.

In January of 9 AD, the Son of God was 15 years and 7 months old. Jesus, Israel’s Messiah was still a young man living in Nazareth of Galilee. But nobody knew he was special.

People in town knew who he was – Joseph & Mary’s boy! But that was all they knew. There was nothing about Jesus (at this time) that drew people’s attention.

At age 15 & 16, Jesus kept a low profile with his parents, in Nazareth. Meanwhile, he kept up his secret relationship with his true Father, the God of the Universe. Jesus also kept his true mission a secret, at this point, even from Joseph & Mary.

Of course, while Jesus went on living peacefully in Nazareth…

The rest of the world was in various stages of chaos.


At Passover in Jerusalem this year, something happened that was truly odd.

Several hours before dawn, on the Preparation Day (Friday, March 29th, in 9 AD), the priests had just opened the gates to the Temple Courtyard. Each year, people would come so early that the Temple grounds would normally be full of people by dawn.
This year, when the priests opened the gates, some uninvited guests snuck in, under darkness. It was a large group of Samaritans holding sacks. And the sacks were full of human bones! Quickly and quietly, the Samaritans went all around the courtyard, scattering bones until they’d covered the grounds.[1]

As soon as the priests noticed what was happening, they called out for the city guards. The guards ran off the Samaritans, while the priests shut down the Temple!

For several hours, that morning, the Temple courts were closed while the priests worked hard to clear and purify the area. Once the gates finally re-opened, the priests worked twice as hard to finish their duties on the year’s busiest day. Somehow, they still managed to sacrifice tens of thousands of lambs before sunset, when the Passover Sabbath began.

From that day on, the Sanhedrin & the priests found ways to be extra careful about Temple security.[2]


By the way, the inner and outer courts were still under re-construction, since the fire at Pentecost, in 4 BC. This is the last time we get to see anything happen at the Temple for another twenty years. So just remember that – on the Sanhedrin’s small city budget – the re-construction project is less than half-way done![3]

Now, here’s what was going on in 9 BC, in the rest of the empire.


About three months after the human bones incident, Rome sent a new Procurator to govern Judea. Around July, Coponius left Israel after three years in Caesarea-by-the-Sea. His replacement, Marcus Ambibuls, had just arrived from Rome.

Augustus was wise to send Romans, not Greeks, as Procurator. Judea was mostly Jewish, but there were many Greeks in Samaria and some other cities, like Caesarea. Whenever the Italian Procurator judged against someone in a case, they couldn’t say he was just siding with his own race. So being an Italian was an advantage for Ambibulus (like it had been for Coponius).

Ambibibulus now begins a quiet three years as Procurator of Judea. Before winter, Ambivulus visited Jerusalem and met the Sanhedrin. Wisely, the Procurator decided to let Annas the High Priest keep his post. (See 6 AD.)

Southern Israel stayed perfectly stable this year, and learned to live under a new commander without any problems.

In Judea, in 9 AD, the Roman Peace was three years old and growing strong.

But this same year, Rome’s War in Europe got a lot, lot worse!


From Northwest Illyricum, Tiberius Caesar rode back to Rome in the Spring of 9 AD, after the Alps had thawed. The old General had wanted to stay with his Army, but Augustus was calling him home.[4]

Back in Illyricum, Germanicus Caesar[5] was preparing to help Marcus Lepidus finish the war. At least, that was the plan. But Lepdidus & Germanicus soon found out things this year were going to be harder than anyone had thought.

Early in the year, most of Rome’s Legions stayed in Pannonia, mopping up small bands of rebels that were still causing trouble. Germanicus took some troops down into northern Dalmatia and took one city,[6] but stalled out trying to take the next one.

Meanwhile, most of Dalmatia had rallied around Bato and his Rebel Army since their return from Pannonia, last year. It turned out the Dalmatians had occupied several strong fortresses in the Illyrian Mountains, during the winter. The Romans knew these positions were going to be very difficult to take.[7]

Suddenly, the war they’d thought was almost over now looked like it was just getting started. Lepidus and Germanicus finally noticed the Southern Illyrians were the stronger group of rebels.

All thru Spring, the Generals sent letters to Rome with more news.

Back in Rome, Augustus dealt with some civic matters[8] and hoped the news from Dalmatia would improve soon. Meanwhile, the Senate voted to honor Tiberius with a Triumphal Parade, but the parade was just as quickly postponed![9]

All of Rome knew a hundred thousand Soldiers were still in Illyricum. The whole city expected Rome’s Legions to conquer Dalmatia very soon. But it was barely late Spring before Rome found out how badly they’d misjudged the Dalmatians!

When the first reports coming back said that Dalmatia had actually grown stronger over the winter, Augustus got worried again. Everyone wanted the war to be over. The city was ready, Rome’s food supply was strained again,[10] the Legions were getting frustrated, and Augustus was half-past age seventy! The Emperor and Senate were definitely ready to end the Illyrian war, and there was only one way to do that quickly.

From Rome, Augustus sent Tiberius Caesar back to Illyricum. To Dalmatia, that is. And the Emperor even changed Rome’s Empire maps to reflect their new view of the Northern & Southern Illyrians.[11]


This change in maps is not a small issue.

Augustus, his Generals & his Senate had all finally recognized the profound differences in North and South Illyricum. The Pannonians were defeated, but the Dalmatians were finally proving to be the stronger enemies. Simply put, the Emperor now saw this as a separate war against a separate people. So he separated the two regions.

Augustus had the Senate rename North Illyricum “Pannonia”, and South Illyricum became “Dalmatia”. Rome even sent a Governor for the new Province of Dalmatia – the Proconsul Vibius Postumus went over this year and joined in the fighting. At the same time, Caesar sent orders that Marcus Lepidus – already serving well in the North as the Governor of Illyricum – was now to stay on as Governor of Pannonia.[12]

This is important for understanding events in the decades to come. From now on (for another three centuries) there is no more “Provincia Illyricum” in the Roman Empire. Officially, Illyricum was replaced by “Provincia Pannonia” and “Provincia Dalmatia”. Un-officially, of course, some people are going to keep using the name “Illyricum” for quite a while! [13] (This is going to be important when we get to the 50’s.)

Now back to the action!


By now, it was early Summer. Tiberius Caesar sent new instructions to his Legions (who were mostly still up north in Pannonia) to join him at some place. The Legions marched down into Dalmatia separately and reunited under Tiberius there. At that point, the old General split them up into three groups again, but now with a new plan.

Tiberius, of course, took the biggest part of the rearranged army. Lepidus, now Governor of Pannonia, led a smaller force back north. We don’t know which part of Illyricum Silvanus took his forces into, but we know he was successful there. And then General Caesar himself marched his Legions all over Dalmatia, trying to find the Rebel Leader, Bato.

Even now, it took some real doing to win this war! Tiberius, Lepidus & Germanicus[14] spent several months of hard fighting, with the General’s personal leadership at the front. It helped that the Rebels no longer vastly outnumbered Rome’s Legions (like in 6 AD). And also this year, Rome totally cut off the Rebels supplies. Altogether, it worked.

Tiberius’ main strategy was to besiege city after city, fortress after fortress. One by one, the Dalmatian strongholds fell. But the General still had to chase Bato all over the region.

Finally, somewhere around mid-summer, the Rebel Leader decided to make his stand at the Dalmatians’ strongest fortress (Andetrium, near Salonae by the coast). Tiberius began a long, difficult siege of the mountain base, but won it by Autumn. After some time, the General took the fortress.

Dalmatia was conquered, but Bato escaped. And then Bato came back! The Rebel Leader surrendered to Tiberius at the Roman camp near Salonae. Bato told the General to kill him, but spare the Southern Illyrian peoples.

Tiberius didn’t know whether to be impressed or furious. The General asked Bato why on earth he and his Dalmatians had fought so hard and for so long. And then the Illyrian Chief said something truly memorable. Bato said: “You Romans are to blame! Because you don’t send dogs or shepherds to guard your flocks. You send wolves!”

Amazingly, almost at the moment Bato said that, another Roman wolf was under attack by his flock! But no one in Italy or Dalmatia knew that yet…

For now, Tiberius & Germanicus kept Bato alive and left some Legions in Dalmatia. Back in Italy, Germanicus announced the victory. The Emperor-to-be was planning to display Bato[15] in chains during his Victory Parade, just as soon as it could be re-scheduled. But that parade was about to get re-postponed!

Just days after the Victory announcement, Rome got word of a massive defeat up in Germany. The Proconsul Publius Quinctillius Varus was dead. Three Roman Legions had been destroyed, with him.

Once again, Augustus put Rome on alert…


Here’s what happened in Germany.

Since last year, Governor Varus had been trying to Romanize the Germans (across the Rhine). Full of himself, he was trying to do it too quickly! Varus was treating the Germans like slaves, but the tribes had just been playing along, until the right moment.

So, for over a year, the German chiefs Arminius & Segimerus earned Varus’ complete trust. And then – around late September – they led their fool of a Governor right into a trap! Arminius & Segimerus convinced Varus to march deeper into Germany with three Legions. (They told him German tribes needed his protection there.) But once Varus’ forces were spread out, marching into the thick, Bavarian forest, the chiefs took action.

Deep inside the darkness of the trees, Varus' Legions were stretched out for miles in one long column. Ahead of them, Arminius’ German Auxilliaries (forces trained by the Romans) were waiting in ambush.

Varus never saw it coming. The Germans attacked from behind the trees, out of nowhere! The Legions were surprised, unprepared, and had no space to regroup in. Then weather became a factor. The chiefs had picked a rainy season, and sure enough, the heavens opened up. Heavy rain made the dirt road difficult, while the Germans ran in and out of the woods, attacking at will. Supply carts were caught in the mud, blocking the retreat. With wind and rain, word was slow to reach the rear of the column, and communication was cut off. Besides, wherever the Germans picked on one portion of the Roman column, the Legionnaires were grossly outnumbered. And the lightly armed Germans were faster, while the Romans had to bear wet gear that got heavier as the rains kept falling.

The word horrible doesn’t even come close. It was total disaster.

The rains (and the German attacks) lasted for three or four days. The Romans never really had any hope. By the fourth day, nearly every one of Varus’ men – more than 10,000 soldiers and helpers[16] – were killed. A few escaped, to get word back to Rome. But the Governor himself refused to escape, and refused to be taken alive.

Near the end of the 3-4 day ordeal, Publius Quinctillius Varus took his own life by the sword. Rome’s 17th, 18th & 19th Legions were completely destroyed. Even their marching banners were lost in the mud – those bright red flags with Rome’s golden eagles on top. That’s how totally the Legions were destroyed. Even their standards fell, right there in the mud.

This was huge. These lands (claimed by Drusus in 9 BC) were lost to Rome forever.

Nobody anywhere could believe it. Germany had beaten the Romans![17]


The death of Varus was big news. Before long, it was all over the Empire.

In Israel, it had been 12 years since Varus put down their rebellions after Herod’s death. (See 4 BC.) Now this year, if any of the Jews felt a sense of justice about the Governor’s death, they sure didn’t do much about it.

Varus’ legacy in Judea was still in effect. The 2,000 crucifixions he ordered were still doing their job. In other words, the Southern Jews were still leading quiet obedient lives.

To this day, Varus is mainly remembered for his European defeat. But history should also remember his Eastern victories. For the next several decades, they were just as important! So then, as we say goodbye to the tragic Governor, keep this in mind, too.

It’s largely thanks to P. Quintus Varus that Israel stayed rebellion free for 70 years.[18]

And that affected so many other, very important events.


Varus’ dead body was abused by the Germans. Arminius cut off the head and sent it to Marobroduus, chief of Bohemia. (See 5/6 AD). Arminius wanted an alliance, but the Bohemians stayed independent, and sent the head on to Rome. There, Caesar buried it.

Rome was lucky the Germans had no allies. They were even luckier the Dalmatians went down before Germany rose! Still, Germany alone is going to be enough trouble for the next several years.

Arminius stays a major threat until 19 AD.


Now, Rome heard about Varus around early October.

Augustus’ first reactions were harsh and the city mood sank deeply. The Emperor was trying to find more citizens into his army, but almost every man of fighting age had already been drafted during the Illyrian Wars! When no one else volunteered, Caesar punished every tenth man – severely. And before long, somehow, Augustus pulled together more new soldiers from the city, to send up to Germany.

Winter was coming soon, so the new troops were trained near Rome. Tiberius, also, waited for spring. But Augustus was afraid the Germans would try to cross the Rhine before Summer… so he made a few late Autumn changes.

Caesar ordered all 25 Legions, around the Empire, to be on alert. He warned all Governors to look out for rebels, and delayed all replacements for at least a year. Finally, Augustus moved four Legions into Germany – one from Spain and three from Illyricum. So these four Legions went up to eastern Gaul to guard the Rhine.[19]

Now, that was the Emperor's public reaction. In private, the great Caesar actually sank into a deep depression!

Augustus tore his clothes and went into mourning. Caesar was terrified the Germans would invade Italy. Paranoid, he exiled all Germans and Gauls from Rome. Superstitious, he offered new games to Jupiter. Off and on, Augustus swore he could see “signs” of the gods’ displeasure all around him. So the Emperor took turns blaming Varus, blaming the gods, and blaming himself for whatever he must have done to deserve this!

Caesar worried about all these things daily for the rest of the winter. He didn’t shave his beard or cut his hair for several months. And sometimes he would beat his head against the wall and scream out, “Quintus Varus, give me back my Legions!”

Augustus has just five years left to live. He turned 71 just days after Varus’ disaster. From this point, the Emperor’s active days are pretty much over.

Caesar had gained the whole world, and then he lost Germany. Now he was losing his mind, with no peace in his soul. But the world was still his.

And it kept right on spinning…[20]

Next Year Book: 10 AD

Begin Footnotes to 9 AD:

[1] We don’t know what this was supposed to mean. One theory (cited in Loeb 433), says the assigned readings for the Synagogues that night was Ezekiel 37, about the valley of dry bones. Resurrection was a theme of Passover. It’s likely the Samaritan bone spreaders were making some kind of statement about that.

[2] This must be the main reason Josephus mentions the episode. Temple Security becomes a big issue during the rebellion of the late 60’s AD. It also shows that tensions between Samaritans & Jews were still ongoing despite Rome's occupation.

[3] What Herod built in 14 years (between 18 and 4 BC), the Sanhedrin needed 32 years (from 4 BC to 29 AD) to finish. That’s a total of 46 years, by the way! (See John 2:20 and also footnotes in 4 BC & 29 AD.) It’s also worth asking how the priests were able to lock people out of a courtyard whose walls were only partly finished! The answer is that the only public entrances were either at a bridge crossing [actually, one of two] or up stairs through the mountain, inside the western wall (the modern “wailing wall”, a retaining wall built up from the mountain’s foot.) So the walls at those three points must have been rebuilt early, for security at the entry locations.

[4] See last year. Swan did a very good job of clearing up the chronology here, blending the account of Dio with Suetonius and Velleius Paterculus. From this year to the death of Augustus, I rely very gratefully on Professor Swan’s extensive commentary.

[5] Germanicus had spent some time in Rome over the winter, but returned to the battlefront by Spring.

[6] Germanicus went back to the region of Splonum, where he’d fought in 7 AD. It was a rookie or sophomore level assignment, at best. Marcus Lepidus was clearly the commanding officer of the war, at this point.

[7] These are the Balkan Mountains in the former Yugoslav Republics.

[8] The Emperor called a meeting of every young single nobleman in Rome. He made a long speech about the importance of marriage and child rearing. His concern was largely for the future of the state, but Dio portrays the speech as being morally based, also. This same year, Augustus also strengthened the laws and penalties against confirmed bachelorhood, among the nobility. The speech came first, in the spring.

[9] Tiberius’ Triumph was awarded for his defeat of the Pannonians, last year, but the old General refused to be honored while his Legions were still busy fighting. Later this year, that postponement is going to get stretched out yet again, and Tiberius won’t actually celebrate the Triumph of Pannonia until October of 12 AD!

Incidently, the Senate also voted (this year, sometime) to let Tiberius’ son Drusus (now about 20 years old) attend Senate meetings without being a Senator, along with other honors similar to those granted to young Gaius Caesar at age 15. Of course, the Senate voted greater honors to Germanicus, this year, than it did to Drusus. Still, the honors voted for Drusus were as a gift to his father Tiberius. At any rate, both young men’s political careers were advanced significantly this year.

[10] Rome had been in and out of famine since 6 AD, partly because of sending supplies to the Army.

[11] This entire episode is more evidence, yet again, of Bato the Desidiatian’s significance and his prowess in leadership. In 6 AD, it was his vision and direction that united the Illyrian Rebels. In 7 & 8 AD, the Rebels in Pannonia had little to no significant success apart from his involvement. Bato the Desidiatian showed leadership in executing his namesake, the traitorous Breucian. Now, it seems, Rome finally realized how big a factor Bato the Desidiatian was and had been all along!

The facts line up very well, chronologically. Before winter, Augustus & Tiberius acted as if they could leave marching orders for mopping things up. And it wasn’t until this point that Rome reassessed the war and started calling it a Dalmatian one. Augustus’ quick re-dispatching of Tiberius shows that he had previously been expecting a quick victory – which again shows that Rome had still viewed the southern Rebels as a remnant of the Northern activities and expected Dalmatia to be a mopping up operation.

Dio says the surge of strength thru winter is what surprised Rome (Dio 56:12:1, “the remainder of the Dalmatians rose and the war kept dragging on”). This is the point in the records at which the war in Illyricum becomes the war in Dalmatia. So we see that Rome’s sudden recognition of Bato’s strength and the power of Dalmatia was the main reason why, at this point, Rome begins to respect Illyricum’s Northern and Southern halves as two separate regions – not only in war strategy and in government (this is the year we have separate governors/legates named in Pannonia & Dalmatia) – but also in Geography. Wilkes agrees. The division of Provincia Illyricum into Provincia Pannonia & Provinicia Dalmatia took place this year. Evidentely, this division also took place before the war ended, instead of after.

Finally, remember, the reason this matters for the New Testament is because Paul says he went to “Illyricum”. That might sound like a toss-away reference, but Paul’s distance (and time spent) traveling in those years (55-56 AD) is actually a major lynchpin of Pauline chronology. (See notes since 6 AD and Bonus Materials.)

[12] Vibius is named the Governor of Dalmatia (Velleius 2.116), and Lepidus (evidently made Governor of Illyricum after Messallinus) had his assignment reduced to Pannonia alone. Prior to this three way rendezvous, Silvanus was aggressively subduing the remnants of guerrilla resistance in Pannonia, having success at it, and yet facing continued raids by certain brigands that would take a long time to stamp out (Dio 55.34.7). Neither Dio nor Velleius mentions Lepidus or Silvanus after their meeting with Tiberius, suggesting that Silvanus went back to Pannonia with Lepidus..

Before this division, Lepidus had command over the brigands in Pannonia AND the strongholds in Dalmatia, which was all just too much, and that was a major reason why the war was “dragging on”. In fact, Lepidus was so incapable of addressing two regions at once that – clearly – he was still in the north when Tiberius sent word about the rendezvous. The whole land of Illyricum had become too much for one man to subdue. The split had to happen this year.

So this is why, even though there were active military operations in both regions, Augustus went ahead and made them both official Provinces before the war was fully over. This was not poor timing, but excellent timing – the split was a deliberate “divide and conquer” strategy. Even though the southern Bato had already divided things for them, de facto, it was still Rome’s prerogative and responsibility to address it that way, and make two campaigns out of one. So Augustus chose to leave Lepidus (with Silvanus) in charge of searching out and mopping up the Pannonian brigands, while Vibius was sent full scale into the Dalmatian War.

[13] Another “Provincia Illyricum” will be formed by Diocletian, about 300 years later. Until then, the name “Illyricum” will still be used occasionally in official and unofficial documents, by Italians, to refer to various parts of Pannonia and/or Dalmatia – but not as a reference to any Province, officially or properly. These records, however, do not contradict the official change of title. They are merely common use anachronisms, such as how many Americans today (in 2007) still say “the former Yugoslavia”, because most people are more familiar with that name for the region. (It’s also because you can name the place with one name, instead of many, which was exactly the same for the Romans. Sometimes they kept using the word “Illyricum” because it was easier than saying “Pannonia and Dalmatia”.) A final factor may be that the two new provinces seem to have been taxed by the same Imperial Procurator until the Flavian period (Wilkes, Illyricum, Chapter 8.)

As a matter of fact, Romans who kept saying “Illyricum” were just like Paul the Apostle when he called Western Macedonia “Illyricum”. The Romans, westerners, used the word as the name of their old province; and Paul, an easterner, used the word as the name of the ancient Kingdom around Dyrrachium (the former Epidamnus, circa 200 BC). Interestingly, the precise boundary between the provinces of Macedonia and Dalmatia was the Drin (Drillon) River – the same point marked by Octavian & Antony when they split East from the West. So East from West is the perfect difference in mid-first-century use of “Illyricum”! Above the Drin was land that Westerners might call “Illyricum”, and below the Drin was land that Easterners might call “Illyricum”. (At least, this seems secure for the years of focus, which is from “now” until 70 AD.)

Of course, when the diplomatic Doctor Luke wrote to Roman officials about Paul’s trip he called the region (properly) “Macedonia”. (Compare Romans 15:19 with Acts 20:1-2.) (See also notes to 6 thru 8 AD, and 55 thru 60 AD.)

By the way, another common use of archaic references is found today all over America when professional sports stadiums are renamed after corporations, but much of the local population continues to use the old, classic stadium name (whether habitually, nostalgically, or just stubbornly)! As of this draft (Fall 2007), I could easily list a dozen examples. But for a more personal experience, see again the footnotes for 6 AD.)

[14] Germanicus, by the way, was joined and helped by the new Governor, Vibius Postumus, who stayed to finish subduing the interior after Germanicus went back to rejoin Tiberius near Salonae.

[15] Here is a final pair of contrasts between the two Batos. First of all, the surrender of the Desidiatian was honorable, and done for the sake of his people, whereas the Breucian’s surrender in 8 AD was clearly treacherous. Moreover, Tiberius had treated the Breucian as a tool, while the Desidiatian was kept alive to display as a worthy adversary in his Triumph. It’s really amazing how many distinctive differences there are (in Dio and Velleius both) showing the impressive nature of Bato the Desidiatian. This one man did so much, envisioned an empire, turned a brief rebellion into a four year long ordeal, and essentially cost Rome Bohemia as well as Germany. Someday, someone should write a book all about Bato and his vision of a united Illyricum!

[16] How many Romans actually died with Varus in the Teutoburg Forest in Germany in 9 AD? Three Legions at full strength would have been more like Twenty Thousand troops, but those German Legions must have sent detachments to Illyricum after 6 AD (Velleius says Tiberius had 100,000 troops in Pannonia, and Suetonius says he had 15 Legions “for three years”, but Suetonius can only be correct if some of those 15 were actually detachments; see notes to 6 AD). Further, those detachments were most likely still in Dalmatia or Pannonia for most of this year.

If this is the case, then Varus’ three Legions were actually at half strength when the disaster occurred. This scenario seems even more likely, given that it would help so much in explaining the totality of the German advantage, and the result. Even with the Germans' many native, natural and strategic advantages on this particular occasion, it’s still much easier to believe they wiped out three half-Legions, than three full ones.

[17] In so many ways, this truly was Rome’s greatest defeat. Thanks to Varus, Over-Rhine Germany was lost forever. (Did any other nation EVER successfully reclaim their own territory from Rome, after Rome conquered them? I can only think of Israel, in the 60’s – but that was so very brief!)

This is a huge turning point of history, in Europe. The Rhine became Rome’s permanent boundary, and that boundary continued to affect European history and culture for fifteen centuries and more, even to the present day.

[18] That is, from 4 BC to 66 AD. The “rebellion” of Judas the Galilean in 6 AD was a failed plot that never broke into actual fighting, and the conflicts from 36 to 65 were brief, isolated events that never gained traction. Indeed, the teachings of Judas took 60 years to produce any sizably significant result.

[19] Four Legions replaced the three that were lost. This is often referred to as a year of major reorganization, but really it was just these four Legions that went anywhere new. The only other changes this year were that detachments (or whole Legions) that had been sent to Illyricum in 6 AD were now sent back where they came from.

If there were still detachments of the 17th, 18th & 19th (that is, if they were still serving in Pannonia or Dalmatia), these must have been absorbed into other Legions, perhaps to replace casualties of the Illyrian Wars. We know the Legions were not reconstituted. Their eagles were gone. So their detachments would have been reassigned – unless they had somehow rejoined Varus before the disaster, which is unlikely. (See notes above.)

This is the last realignment of Legionary positions for 33 years. So here are the assignments: 4 in Lower Germany (I,V,XX & XXI), 4 in Upper Germany (II,XIII,XIV & XVI), 3 in Pannonia (VIII, IX & XV), 2 in Dalmatia (VII & XI), 2 in Moesia (IV & V(b)), 4 in Syria (III,VI,X & XII), 3 in Spain (IV(b),VI(b) & X(b), 1 in Egypt (III(b)), and 2 in Egypt (III(c) & XXII). In years to come, nine other Legions will be created by various Emperors. Nine, that is, up to 70 AD. The next permanent shuffling of Legions comes in 43 AD, when the Emperor Claudius uses three Legions to invade Britain.

[20] One last footnote to 9 AD: of all years, this was the year when the future Emperor Vespasian was born, in November, in Italy. Vespasian and his son, Titus Vespasian, are the ones who will reconquer Israel after the rebellion begins there in 66.
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