April 19, 2021

A new biography breaks with the fame of Agrippina's evil tyrant | Culture

A new biography breaks with the fame of Agrippina's evil tyrant | Culture

She was the sister of Caligula, wife of her uncle Claudio and mother of Nero. Agripina the Minor (15-59 AD), daughter of General Germánico and the intriguing Agripina La Mayor, was the woman closest to the power was in the Roman Empire in an era full of incest, plots with various murders and crazy and all kinds of depravations, according to historians Tacitus and Suetonius in the Annals Y Lives of the twelve Césares, respectively. Agrippina was always portrayed as a murderer -making her husband- and an evil woman -intrigated against her brother- in this orgy of sex, blood and deaths and this is how she came to popular culture with series such as Me, Claudio,in the seventies.

However, now a new biography of the British historian Emma Southon, Agrippina The first empress of Rome (Past and Present) shows another profile. "She was also a great diplomat and politician. If he had been allowed to govern in his own name, I think he would have run Rome well and he would have been remembered as a good emperor just as Marco Aurelio is remembered today, "he says.

Southon is not a researcher to use. Have a podcast called History is sexy and his book is littered with references to current culture with annotations on Princes William and Kate Middleton, as well as other British celebrities of music or cinema. This is how it draws a new portrait of Agrippina, more human, and like that of a woman who "actually had a very frustrating life", since, like any other Roman, she was given many obstacles to participate in the daily administration of the empire.

For the historian and disseminator, the bad press of Agripina as tirana "It comes from authors who were dismayed by their actions as a political woman. Women who acted in politics were considered monsters by men. Tacitus, for example, portrays her as a symbol of corruption and depravity of the Julio-Claudia family and hence the characterization of the evil one. " In addition, insists the historian, the female presence in Rome ended up largely silenced by history, since "only appears in the texts when you have some kind of relationship with a powerful man, and it is always by their actions. It is possible to tell the history of Rome without making any mention beyond men, and many do so, but women were always there and always fought and talked. "


Agrippina, although she only lived 44 years, had an extraordinary existence and full of vicissitudes. They married her at the age of 13 with a man decades older than her, she was a princess, her brother Caligula, who is said to have had sexual relations, sent her into exile – death or disputes were halted with death – they killed all of her family and, when he returned, got the law changed to marry his uncle Claudio. Then he would rebel against all so that his son Nero would be proclaimed emperor. "She had many ups and downs, but also a lot of survival instincts and she never allowed herself to be humiliated. That's very inspiring, "says Southon.

In the end, his ambition took its toll. Nero ended up sending several assassins to kill her. This was paid in Rome. During the writing of this essay, Southon always had two references in mind: "Who speaks and why, that is the only question", phrase of Chris Kraus, author of the novel I love Dick -After converted into a television series- and Women have always fought, the title of an essay by the writer Kameron Hurley. "I summarize what I think is important when it comes to telling stories about Roman women. The Romans are valued as a pinnacle of culture and civilization, but it must be remembered that this culture was often quite horrible. Every woman who tried to have power was brutally murdered and that is not something to value, "says the historian.

A woman who also wanted to send

Agripina's life has little to do with that of other women with a certain power at this time, such as Livia, Tiberio's wife, or Messalina, Claudio's third wife. The former exercised its power through patronage and the raising of children, and the latter was more interested in the domestic dramas of the Roman elite than in political matters. Agripina, meanwhile, wanted to raise her voice. He founded the current city of Cologne in Germany to maintain his position and spread the Roman culture in the Rhine region and, although he did not have all the decision-making power, he wanted to sit in meetings with ambassadors and diplomats. And, as the historian adds, the time in which she was married to Claudius was the most prosperous and peaceful in Rome.


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