The Emperor as the Detective: Tiberius loved mysteries and secrets of all kinds

Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus he was the second emperor of the Roman Empire. He seemed unusually “normal” and in fact quite capable. Especially if you take into account that his direct successor was Caligula and that many particular tyrants, dictators and madmen settled on the throne of the empire in the following centuries.

Tiberius had the natural talent of a military leader and a good manager. During the twenty-three years of his reign, he slowed down the pace of conquests and concentrated on consolidating the borders. He introduced a series of economic reforms, filled the treasury and behaved relatively conscientiously. It is a pity that the account of the act by which he differentiates himself from his predecessors and followers is almost remembered at the time. Tiberius unknowingly entered the history of criminology as a very shrewd investigator.

Accident or misdemeanor?

There is no crime without a victim, and there is no lack in the case, which occurred in the year 24. She is Aproniaa young and apparently very beautiful woman. One morning she was found completely lifeless on the stone pavement just below her bedroom window. A fall from such a height was expected to be fatal, but its exact cause remained somewhat uncertain.. The husband of the beautiful Apronia, the praetor, could certainly have brought the light of knowledge into this Marcus Plautius Silvanus. At that time, he was sleeping soundly in the marital bed, in fact a few steps from the scene of the accident. He may have been a witness for the prosecution, but he could also be a prime suspect. But there should be police or investigators in Rome. But such a function or profession did not exist at that time.

On my own

The Romans clearly separated the perception of private things from public things. Spoiled bread or stinky fish at the market? It was everyone’s problem, just like the crowded streets or the crowded toilets in the city. But none of the honest people were involved in strange murdered women, poisoned men or pierced left-handers, events outside the gates of houses and palaces. Neither the government nor the senate had anything to intervene in such an act. If Apronia was indeed murdered, it is up to her guardian’s husband to seek compensation. In practice, this meant finding the culprit on your own, finding the appropriate prosecutor (or becoming one), and arranging a trial in public court.. Therefore, if the family of the accused did not want to pay the appropriate compensation.

Having fun out of boredom

It is certainly not possible to say that Silvanus exaggerates the initiative. Perhaps he was betting that no one would blame him as Praetor, one of the empire’s top officials. But he had obviously forgotten whose daughter Apronie was. Which was a critical error. His father, Lucius Apronius, did not believe for a moment in an unfortunate accident. He was probably aware of the relationship between Apronie and Silvan. It should be mentioned that while Silvanus was one of the highest officials in the empire, Apronius was one of those at the top. Consul, received honorary titles and ranks, including honors triumphal ornamentsuppressed uprising in Dalmatia and fought in Germany and Friesland. By any measure, he paid for a man respected by both the Senate and Rome. And he was fine with the emperor.

Finally, it was Lucius Apronius who went to see Silvan to testify to the circumstances of his daughter’s death. And it is said that he met only rudeness and disrespect: Silvanus would have slept soundly and knows nothing. His wife probably committed suicide. Ended. Moreover, he only offered an unspecified amount as formal compensation for the loss of a loved one. We don’t know how much it was, but Apronius felt offended by the offer. He demanded justice. AND he could make use of contacts in the highest places. He went to see Tibere, who was probably very bored. It was his majesty that led to the resolution of the whole detective story.

Spicy detective story

It was certainly not customary for the “government”, i.e. the emperor accompanied by his guard, to ever invade the house of a free Roman citizen. But Tiberius did it and subjected Mark Silvan to “interrogation”. His inconsistent and contradictory answers do not satisfy the emperor. Completely against custom, he decided to inspect the crime scene. He noticed “discord and clutter” in the room – perhaps traces of a struggle. The emperor deduced definitive proofs and suspicions. He presented his findings to the Senate, which sentenced the poor killer to death. The condemned man’s mother allegedly used her influence to smuggle a dagger into his cell. Silvanus could thus commit suicide without public shame. However, he failed and eventually a slave had to cut his wrists.

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However, Emperor Tiberius was able to write the first comma for a solved criminal case. At the same time, he probably didn’t realize that he was working with witness testimony, cross-examination of the prime suspect and crime scene inspection, i.e. real “methods of investigation”. ‘modern investigation’. Its success was also due to the fact that the author was so sure of his inviolability that he did not even try to erase the traces of the murder at the scene. And at the same time, it was enough to clean. It was truly unprecedented for the Emperor and the Armed Forces Guard to knock on the doors of your home in Rome and demand a search. But Emperor Tiberius was already like that. History remembers him as a somewhat boring but powerful leader, reformer, and legal pundit.

A lover of mysteries

When farmers found the skeletal remains of a mammoth in present-day Turkey, they considered it a giant, according to knowledge at the time. Tiberius had the bones transported to his palace at his own expense. He then spends his days “composing” the image of the giant from the remains. Without success. Likewise, he treated the teeth of a giant carcass (probably a narwhal or other cetacean), taken somewhere on the coast of present-day Lyon. The emperor simply loved mysteries and secrets.

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