Thursday, March 7, 2013

Villa Of Tiberius

In 26AD the Roman Emperor Tiberius left Rome to relocate to an enormous villa he had constructed on  Capri, an island at the entrance of the Bay of Naples.  He never returned to the city, dying on Capri in 37AD and being succeeded by his abominable nephew Caligula.  We visited the villa a couple of thousands years later and it looks like the emperor had not provided for its upkeep.

Capri, a small 4 square mile island, became Tiberius' private preserve.  He had twelve villas built on the island of which the largest by far was the Villa Jovis, pictured below.

(Aerial view of the Villa ruins, the building at the upper right is a small church of more recent vintage)

(Fanciful early 20th century portrayals imagining what the villa looked like)
File:Villa Jovis, Reconstructed by C. Weichardt.jpg
Tiberius was born in 42BC, the son of Livia, who later married Octavian, the nephew of Julius Caesar, who ultimately became known as Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome (31BC-14AD).  A very capable military man, Tiberius and his brother Drusus led the Roman campaigns to subdue the German tribes.  For dynastic reasons, Augustus had Tiberius marry his daughter Julia, though the emperor was never fond of Livia's son. Julia and Tiberius could not tolerate each other and Tiberius left Rome for voluntary exile on Rhodes, an Aegean island.  When Julia became enmeshed in a sexual scandal, Augustus banished her from Rome and several years later, after his preferred successors had all died, Augustus summoned Tiberius back as his chosen successor.  Tiberius did not want to become emperor and would have preferred to continue to live a more secluded life.  As Augustus' successor, Tiberius was unpopular.  In return he was disdainful of Rome's populace and its politics and spent less and less time there over the years before finally leaving in 26.

When we were there in 2010 we walked up to the Villa Jovis one morning (Capri has only walkways other than one road for buses and taxis).  It is located on the second highest point of the island.  The two pictures below were taken as we neared the villa.  The hilly area with the cliffs that you see is Anacapri, the western end of the island.

Sure has changed over the past 20 centuries!

 On the other side of the villa are spectacular views of the Sorrentine Peninsula and Bay of Naples.  This first view is of the tip of the Sorrentine Peninsula.  One the right side in the far distance is the start of the Amalfi Coast.

According to Tacitus and Suetonius, Tiberius threw many victims from the cliffs of the Villa Jovis. Tacitus wanted the Roman Republic restored and Suetonius loved gossip so it's hard at this distance to know what credence to give their reports of the cruelty of Tiberius.

One our way back from the Villa we stopped and ate at this restaurant.  There are lemon trees everywhere on Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

                                                    If I were Emperor!!


  1. Fascinating history and beautiful professional looking photography! Lol, Emperor is good but how about that Pope opening?

  2. Oh, that was from me above...DM.