I've been revisiting the apparent equivalence of Doris the first wife of Herod the Great and Livia Drusilla the second wife of Octavius/Caesar Augustus. Augustus was first married to Scribonia, but not happily. In 39 BC she gave birth to a daughter, Julia, but was divorced by Augustus. In the same year he became engaged to Livia Drusilla, who was at the time pregnant, not by Augustus but by her own first husband. That husband was Tiberius Claudius Nero, praetor of 41 BC and son of another Tiberius Claudius Nero, praetor of 62 BC.
The career of the younger Tiberius Claudius Nero parallels that of Herod the Great quite well. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Tiberius supported Mark Antony, which of course Herod did also. Both Tiberius and Herod also stayed on good terms with Augustus. According to Josephus, Herod was in Rome in 39 BC. He had supposedly put away his wife "Doris" three years earlier to marry Hasmonean Mariamne. It seems that he and Augustus were engaged with each other in an act of royal wife swapping/sharing. Moreover, Scribonia apparently corresponded not only to Mariamne but also to Julia daughter of Caesar Augustus (Hasmonean Alexander II). Tiberius Claudius Nero conveniently vanished from Rome around 33 BC. He is thought to have died, but for unknown reasons. If he was one and the same as Herod the Great, then this name probably links him to the leading Claudian house, and as previously suspected. (Publius Clodius brother of the Claudian "Godfather" Appius Claudis Pulcher having been the husband of record for Fulvia at the time Herod's birth, and not Mark Antony.)
In Israel, Herod could have multiple wives without scandal. However, in Rome neither he nor Augustus would be allowed this. Although Herod may have separated from Doris in 42 BC, it was evidently not made "official", at least in Rome, until 39 BC. Conversely, even though Mariamne may have been the wife of Augustus in Rome, she was bearing children to Herod in Israel!
The paternity of the two sons of Doris/Drusilla is also curious. Her eldest, from Roman sources, was considered to be Claudius Tiberius Nero (III), the future Caesar Tiberius. He was born in 42 BC, the year Herod the Great supposedly put away Doris for Mariamne. Drusilla's younger son, Drusus Claudius Nero, was born in 39 BC, the year she divorced and married Augustus. Josephus only mentions one son of Doris, named Antipater, who is considered Herod's eldest. The fourth son of Herod, who corresponds to the future Caesar Tiberius, is the third (unnamed) son of Mariamne. It may be that Josephus only wanted to obfuscate the matter and cast Tiberius as the Herodian "Judah", regardless of the actual birth order.
Drusilla's son Drusus died in 9 BC. The "official" cause of his death was a broken leg from a riding accident, however even Roman sources question the story. This just so happens to be about the time that Herod's oldest two sons by Mariamne were disgraced and Antipater was reinstated as heir in Israel. Shortly before the death of Herod, Antipater was also disgraced and another son Archelaus was named as successor.
At this time in Rome, two sons of Augustus' daughter were the designated heirs, Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, however they died in 4 AD and 2 AD, respectively. This brought Drusilla's eldest son Tiberius and his son Drusus Julius Caesar to the forefront. Augustus eventually required Tiberius to adopt Germanicus the son of his deceased brother Drusus. According to Josephus, Herod Antipas and Archelaus were also brothers. However, Archelaus was removed as senior king in Israel and succeeded by Antipas.
The opposite appears to have happened from the perspective of Rome. The true son of Tiberius, Drusus Julius Caesar, disappeared from the scene by 23 AD and the adopted son Germanicus was designated as successor. Was Tiberius trying to protect his true son by having him rule in Judea (as Herod Antipas)? In any event, Germanicus predeceased Tiberius, after which Tiberius chose his grandson Gemellus (the son of Drusus Julius Caesar) as heir along with a son of Germanicus, Gaius Julius Caesar (future Caligula). When Tiberius finally died, Caligula outmaneuvered Gemellus for the throne, no doubt due to superior connections in Rome.
The reign of Caligula was a disaster. Nevertheless, upon his assassination the throne did not pass to Herod Antipas/Drusus Julius Caesar, but to Claudius the brother of Germanicus.
If Germanicus was one and the same as Archelaus (Zebedee of the Gospels), that leads to another interesting association. The two brothers of Caligula disgraced by Tiberius Caesar, namely Nero and Drusus (the future Emperor Vespatian), would correspond to the disciples called James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
One wonders also whether the priestly name Ananelus has more to do with the family of Honi or the line of Tiberius Claudius Nero of Rome (Nel ~ Ner). Recall that Neleus father of Nestor was renowned in Greek tradition. After the "accidental" drowning of Hasmonean Mariamne's "brother" Alexander (Caesarion?), did Caesar Augustus make a descendant of Honi the High Priest or did he actually declare Claudius Nero Tiberius (future Tiberius Caesar) High Priest (and the new Neleus) in Jerusalem?
Responses To This Message
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.