There are different forms of governments that existed in the past in form of kingdoms and empires. Each of these had a particular impact in the society and therefore able to earn a place in historical records. However, among the empires that had the greatest impact on the lives of human beings is the Roman Empire. This empire was mainly led by the Caesars. However, the Caesars are not the only people in the Roman Empire whose role has been recorded in history. There are other people too who made a lasting impact in this empire. Among them is Germanicus.
Germanicus has been cited as one of the most important figures in the history of the Roman Empire. He was an adopted son of Tiberius and was poised to take on the leadership of the Roman Empire after Tiberius. Therefore, to prepare him for such a role, he was enrolled in the Roman army, a role that he played so well and rose to the rank of a general. There are various reasons that have caused Germanicus to be cited as one of the important figures in the Roman Empire. To begin with, through Germanicus, Tiberius was assured that the leadership of the Roman Empire would remain in his family and nothing would threaten it. This was because after being adopted by Tiberius, Germanicus was able to sire nine children, six of whom survived. Similarly, Tiberius’s son had offended him and thus he needed somebody else apart from his son to take after him (Suetonius, Graves and Grant 137).
Germanicus was also important to the people of Rome in the sense that he carried himself with dignity as an army officer and there are no acknowledgment against him that could agitate him to resolve to use violence and other crude means of dealing with problems in the Roman Empire. As a result, the people of Rome looked up to him as their next emperor. This is because their previous emperor, Tiberius was rude and difficult and didn’t care much about the business of this empire. According to Suetonius, Gaius, Graves and Grant (2002), Germanicus occasionally served as an example of how people were required to live in the Roman Empire (65). For example, when Emperor Augustus wanted to pass new laws especially those that encouraged marriage and large, he used the family of Germanicus as an example that people were required to follow since this empire was characterized by young people who had no interest in marriage (65). Therefore, his character alone made Germanicus one of the most important figures in the Roman Empire.
Similarly, Germanicus played an important role in averting an uprising and probably the division of the Roman Empire. After the death of Emperor Augustus, the Roman Empire was torn between choosing Germanicus or Tiberius as their next emperor. This was particularly so when the soldiers in Germany declined openly to accept an emperor whom they had not chosen themselves (Suetonius, Gaius, Graves and Grant 123). They therefore demanded Germanicus to accept to take over the empire as its next emperor. However, he refused to honor their demand and instead led them to an offensive of another empire to help them cool down their tempers against his decline. On the other hand, his offensive missions because of his military skills enabled the Roman Empire to enjoy some form of peace, extend its territories and to bring its provinces under extreme order since Germanicus did not encourage any form of revolt.
However, the dreams of the citizens of the Roman Empire that one day Germanicus would hold the office of the emperor were cut short while he was on an expedition to Syria where he suddenly fell sick and was murdered. His death caused a lot of problem. To begin with, the entire Rome became a place of revolt as people stoned the temple and caused other problems as a result of their rebellion in a show of their love for Germanicus. The people believed that because of Germanicus, Tiberius had been kept under control and could not exercise the cruelty that was in his heart. Therefore, they believed that with the death of Germanicus, Tiberius would soon burst out with cruelty and wickedness that had not been seen before in Rome that would see Germanicus’ own family persecuted. As a result of this, people expressed their anger by revolting and refused to be consoled (Dando-Collins 49).
Apart from the uprising, another problem that emerged in the Roman Empire at that time after the death of Germanicus was the wickedness of Tiberius. This emperor began behaving with a lot of cruelty and wickedness towards his own people. This was due to the fact that Germanicus has acted as a possible rival towards Tiberius in regard to the emperor’s seat and therefore this restrained him from behaving badly towards the people. However, the death of Germanicus marked the end of this rivalry and thus Tiberius behaved the way he wanted (Dando-Collins 49).
On the other hand, the reinstatement of Germanicus son Gaius as the next emperor after Tiberius was seen as a sign of relief to the citizens of Roman Empire as it was seen as an honor to their fallen hero Germanicus. However, Gaius popularly known as Caligula was so cruel that he would order people to be thrown to wild animals in the arena since there were no prisoners to execute. Similarly, this emperor was immoral and acted in sexual pervasive ways, turning the palace into a brothel. This may have been avoided if Germanicus had lived to become an emperor (Scullard 284).
Germanicus is one of the key figures that held himself with dignity and honor that he earned respect from the Roman citizens. However, to their surprise and disappointed, they failed to live under his leadership as an emperor since he died while he had not become an emperor. His death caused a lot of problems not only because of the uprising in protest by people but also the emperors, Tiberius who was ruling at the time of Germanicus death and Germanicus’ son Gaius Caligula ruled with an iron fist after his death, oppressing people without any cause. Germanicus’ life was thus a restraint to all forms of cruelty and disorder.