Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo


Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo
The so-called "Pseudo-Corbulo", once thought to be the portrait of Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, actually a portrait of an unknown personality of the 1st century BC. Parian marble. (Centrale Montemartini, Rome)

Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo (c. 7 - 67 AD) was a Roman general and a brother-in-law of the emperor Caligula.

Contents

Life

Descent

Corbulo was born in Italy into a senatorial family. His father (who entered the senate as a formal praetor under Tiberius) had the same name and his mother was named Vistilia, who came from a family who held the praetorship.

Reign of Caligula

The early career of Corbulo is unknown but he was consul in 39 during the reign of Caligula, his brother-in-law through Caligula's marriage to Corbulo's half-sister Milonia Caesonia.

In Germania Inferior

Statue of Corbulo in Voorburg, Netherlands

After Caligula's assassination, Corbulo's career went into a halt until, in 47, when the new Emperor Claudius made him commander of the Germania Inferior armies, with base camp in Cologne.

The new assignment was a difficult one and Corbulo had to deal with major rebellions and violence outbreaks coming from Cherusci and Chauci Germanic tribes. During his stay in Germania, the general ordered the construction of a canal between the rivers Rhine and Meuse.[1] Parts of this engineering work, known as Fossa Corbulonis or Corbulo's Canal, have been found at archeological digs. Its course is about identical to the Vliet, which connects the modern towns of Leiden (ancient Matilo) and Voorburg (Forum Hadriani).

In the east

Corbulo returned to Rome, where he stayed until 52, when he was named governor of the province of Asia. Following Claudius' death in 54, the new emperor Nero sent him to the eastern provinces to deal with the Armenian question. After some delay, he took the offensive in 58, and, reinforced by troops from Germany, attacked Tiridates, king of Armenia and brother of Vologases I of Parthia. Artaxata and Tigranocerta were captured by his legions (III Gallica, VI Ferrata, and X Fretensis), and Tigranes, who had been brought up in Rome and was the obedient servant of the government, was installed king of Armenia.

In 61 Tigranes invaded Adiabene, an integral portion of the Parthian Kingdom, and a conflict between Rome and Parthia seemed unavoidable. Vologases, however, thought it better to come to terms. It was agreed that both the Roman and Parthian troops should evacuate Armenia, that Tigranes should be dethroned, and the position of Tiridates recognized. The Roman government declined to accede to these arrangements, and Lucius Caesennius Paetus, governor of Cappadocia, was ordered to settle the question by bringing Armenia under direct Roman administration.

The protection of Syria in the meantime claimed all of Corbulo's attention. Lucius Caesannius Paetus, a weak and incapable commander, who "despised the fame acquired by Corbulo (2), suffered a severe defeat at Rhandeia (62), where he was surrounded and forced to capitulate to the Parthians and evacuated to Armenia. The command of the troops was again entrusted to Corbulo. In 63 AD, with a strong army, he crossed the Euphrates, but Tiridates declined to give battle and arranged a peace. At Rhandea he laid down his diadem at the foot of the emperor's statue, promising not to resume it until he received it from the hand of Nero himself in Rome.

Fall and death

After two failed plots by noblemen and senators, including Corbulo's son-in-law Roman Senator Lucius Annius Vinicianus, to overthrow Nero in 62, he became suspicious of Corbulo and his support among the Roman masses. In 67 disturbances broke out in Judaea and Nero, ordering Vespasian to take command of the Roman forces, summoned Corbulo, as well as two brothers who were the governors of Upper and Lower Germany, to Greece. On his arrival at Cenchreae, the port of Corinth, messengers from Nero met Corbulo, and ordered him to commit suicide, which he loyally obeyed by falling on his own sword, saying, "Axios!".[2]

Works

Corbulo wrote an account of his Asiatic experiences, which is now lost.

Marriage and issue

Corbulo married Cassia Longina, a Roman woman from a senatorial family, daughter of Gaius Cassius Longinus and wife Junia Lepida. Cassia bore Corbulo two daughters. The elder daughter Domitia Corbula married the senator Lucius Annius Vinicianus and their second daughter Domitia Longina became a Roman Empress and married the future Roman Emperor Domitian. Through Junia Lepida, a great-great granddaughter of Augustus, both of Cassia's daughters by Corbulo were direct descendants of the first Roman emperor and thus, the surviving members of the Imperial Julio-Claudian family.

Notes

References

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Military History, Vol. 23, Number 5, p. 47-53
  • Christian Settipani, Continuite Gentilice et Continuite Familiale Dans Les Familles Senatoriales Romaines, A L'Epoque Imperiale, Mythe et Realite. Linacre, UK: Prosopographica et Genealogica, 2000. ILL. NYPL ASY (Rome) 03-983.

External links


Preceded by
Marcus Aquila Iulianus and Publius Nonius Asprenas
Suffect Consul of the Roman Empire
suffect consul under Caligula with Lucius Apronius Caesianus; and Quintus Sanquinius Maximus, Domitius Afer, Aulus Didius Gallus suffects
39 AD
Succeeded by
Caligula

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