NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSUS SON OF LIVIA STEPSON OF AUGUSTUS BROTHER OF TIBERIUS HUSBAND OF ANTONIA FATHER OF GERMANICUS, CLAU-DIUS AND LIVILLA GRANDFATHER OF NERO CAESAR, DRUSUS CAESAR, CALIGULA,
AGRIPPINA JUNIOR, DRUSILLA, JULIA LIVILLA, BRITANNICUS, LIVIA JULIA, TIBERIUS GEMEL-LUS AND GERMANICUS GEMEL-LUS GREAT-GRANDFATHER OF NERO
Nero Claudius Drusus (often called Drusus the Elder or Drusus Senior), 38-9 B.C. Nero Claudius Drusus was the youngest son of Livia and Tiberi-us Claudius Nero, head of the Claudii family. His father took up arms against Marc Antony and Augustus (Octavian) in 40 B.C., and after losing a battle he fled and did not return to Italy until the following year. In 38 B.C. Augustus forced Tiberius Claudius Nero to divorce Livia so Augustus could take her as his own wife. At the time this occurred Nero Claudius Drusus had been conceived, but not yet born. Thus, Nero Claudius Drusus was born into the family created by the marriage of Livia to Augustus, and into the Julio-Claudians. Augustus treated Nero Claudius Drusus as if he was a natural son of his own, for he raised him in his own household and saw to his education. In 18 or 16 B.C., Nero Claudius Drusus married Augustus’ niece Antonia, a remarkable woman who was destined to outlive her husband by nearly half a century. Their brief marriage of about seven years was a suc-cess, and they had three children. The first was a son born in 15 B.C., who eventually was given the name Germanicus; the second was Livilla, a daughter born in about 13 B.C.; and the last was a sickly son named Claudius, born in 10 B.C. All three children were destined for important roles in the history of the Julio-Claudians, with the youngest son becoming emperor in 41.
The career of Nero Claudius Drusus was as exceptional as it was brief. In 15 B.C. he campaigned with Tiberius against the Raetians and Vindelicians, and three years later he dedicated the famous altar to Augustus at Lugdunum. He was considered by Augustus to be his most capable general, and so he entrusted him with the invasion of Germany in 12 B.C. He spent the next three years fighting a host of Germanic nations. During these campaigns he conducted geographic explorations which were of great use to future generals. In 9 B.C. he held the consulship, but died unexpectedly at the age of 29. He broke one of his legs after being thrown from his horse, and was taken to the army’s summer camp, where he survived in agony for a month, only to die of complications from the wound. Tiberius was devastated.
He traveled from Rome to the army canal) at great speed, and arrived shortly be-fore his brother died. He then accompanied his brother’s body back (0 Rome for the entire, arduous journey. The news was taken badly by Augustus, who had known him since the moment he was born and had raised him as his own. The grief-stricken emperor later wrote a biography of Nero Claudius Drusus. But hardest hit of all was his wife, Antonia, who at age 27 was widowed, and refused ever to marry again. Although Nero Claudius Drusus was refused a full triumph for his Ger-manic campaigns (the results of which were somewhat illusory), in his memory the senate awarded him and his descendants the surname Germanicus, which his eldest son adopted. Nero Claudius Drusus was popular among the people, the soldiers and the senate (for he is said to have harbored strong Republican sentiments), and his death caused a lengthy period of mourning.