Key Questions


  1. How does Tacitus depict the relationship between Agrippina and Nero?
  2. Discuss the use of language and style. How does Tacitus portray Agrippina? How does he portray Nero? What kind of language does he use? Why?
  3. How far is Agrippina's behaviour normal/abnormal in the context of Roman society?
  4. How far is this portrait of Agrippina a literary construct?
  5. What is the role of the other female figures (Poppaea, Acte, Acerronia) in these chapters? Are they just bit players or do they also have significance in the narrative?
  6. What is Tacitus trying to say about the role of women in imperial society?
  7. Should you feel sympathy for Agrippina? What about the other female figures in this story?
Background and Commentaries


Secondary Reading

Other Ancient Texts




  • The ever-reliable John D. Clare has a piece on The ever-reliable John D. Clare has a piece on the death of Agrippina and on the sources for Agrippina. Particularly worth reading for what he has to say about the use of sources.
  • An alternative take on Agrippina presented as a dating show.




Books and Plays


  • R. DeMaria (1978) Empress of Rome.





Agrippina Crowning Nero

Sebasteion (c. AD 45); Aphrodisias Museum.

© John D. Clare.


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