Drusus

Drusus (drōˈsəs) [key], Roman family of the gens Livius. An early distinguished member was Marcus Livius Drusus, d. 109? B.C., tribune of the people (122) with Caius Sempronius Gracchus (see under Gracchi). As a member of the senatorial party he led a successful attack on Gracchus by making more extreme democratic proposals than Gracchus had dared to. By these and other, more unscrupulous tactics, Drusus disgraced Gracchus. In 112, Drusus was made consul by the senatorial party. His son Marcus Livius Drusus, d. 91 B.C., was also a leader of the senatorial party. His policy was to win the people and the Italian allies over to the senate, so that the senate might recover from the knights (equites) the control of the courts. By a general increase in the franchise he won the support of the people and of the Italians, but the senate, alarmed over popular unrest, annulled Drusus' laws. The Italians were infuriated, and the Social War between Rome and the Italians broke out. Drusus was assassinated. A member of the family by adoption was Livia Drusilla, mother of Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, 38 B.C.–9 B.C., called Drusus Senior; he was the stepson of Augustus. He fought (15 B.C.) against the Rhaetians and gained much credit for his generalship. In 13 B.C.–12 B.C. he was in Gaul pacifying the tribes, and on his return to Rome he was made (11 B.C.) urban praetor. Returning to the provinces, he ravaged Germany E and N of the Rhine. He fortified the Rhine but put the Germans under no permanent subjection. He died in Germany. His brother was the emperor Tiberius. He married Antonia Minor, the daughter of Antony, and had three children, Germanicus Caesar, Livilla, and Claudius I. Tiberius' son, Drusus Caesar, d. A.D. 23, called Drusus Junior, served in the provinces—in Pannonia (A.D. 15) and in Illyricum (A.D. 17–A.D. 20). In A.D. 22 he was made tribune. Meanwhile, Sejanus, Tiberius' minister, had become jealous of Drusus' power and tried to turn Tiberius against him. Drusus may have been poisoned by Sejanus or by his wife under Sejanus' influence.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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