Gaius Caesar

Gaius Caesar

Gaius Caesar
Born 20 BC
Died 21 February 4 AD
Burial Mausoleum of Augustus
Spouse Livilla
Full name
Birth to adoption: Gaius Vipsanius Agrippa
After adoption: Gaius Julius Caesar
Mother Julia the Elder
Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus 27 BC 14 AD
Tiberius 14-37 AD
Caligula 37–41 AD
Claudius 41–54 AD
Nero 54–68 AD
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors

Gaius Julius Caesar (20 BC – 21 February AD 4), most commonly known as Gaius Caesar or Caius Caesar, was the oldest son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder.[1] He was born between 14 August and 13 September 20 BC or according to other sources on 23 September 20 BC. Originally named Gaius Vipsanius Agrippa, when he was adopted by his maternal grandfather the Roman emperor, Augustus, of the Julian gens, his name was accordingly changed to Gaius Julius Caesar.

Although Roman adoption practices may imply the use of the cognomen Vipsanianus, there is no literary or material evidence to indicate that this cognomen was ever used by any of Agrippa's sons adopted by Augustus.

Early life

Gaius Caesar

Gaius was adopted along with his brother Lucius Caesar in 17 BC by their maternal grandfather, the Roman Emperor Augustus, who named the two boys as his heirs. In 6 BC the Roman plebs agitated for Gaius to be created consul, despite the fact that he was only 14 and had not yet assumed the toga virilis. As a compromise, it was agreed that he should have the right to sit in the Senate House, and he was made consul designatus with the intention that he should assume the consulship in his twentieth year. Gaius was at this point created "Youth Leader" ("princeps iuventutis"), an honorific that made him one of the symbolic heads of the equestrian order. Lucius, three years his junior, was granted the same honours after the appropriate interval had elapsed. Temples and statues were erected in their honour (as in the case of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes).

In 1 BC he was made army commander in the East and made a peace treaty with Phraates V on an island in the river Euphrates. In the same year, he married his second cousin, Livilla, daughter of Drusus the Elder and Antonia Minor. This union had no issue.[2]

In 1 AD, he was made Consul with Lucius Aemilius Paullus as his colleague.

Lucius died at Massalia in Gaul on 21 or 22 February AD 2 and his cenotaph is situated there. Gaius died two years later in Lycia at the age of 24, after being wounded during a campaign in Artagira, Armenia.[3]

The death of both Gaius and Lucius, the Emperor's two most favored heirs, led Augustus to adopt his stepson, Tiberius, and his sole remaining grandson, Postumus Agrippa as his new heirs.

Tacitus suggested that there may have been foul play involved in the death of Gaius and that Gaius's step grandmother Livia may have had a hand in his death. Livia's presumed motive may have been to orchestrate the accession of her own son Tiberius as heir to Augustus.[4]

Gaius was played by Earl Rhodes in the 1976 TV series I, Claudius.

See also


  1. Wood, Susan. (1999) Imperial Women: A Study in Public Images, 40 B.C. – A.D. 68 "Brill Academic Publishers". p. 321. ISBN 90-04-11969-8.
  2. Hazel, John. (2002) Who's Who in the Roman World "Routledge (UK)". p. 48. ISBN 0-415-29162-3.
  3. Mommsen, Theodore. (1996) A History of Rome Under the Emperors "Routledge (UK)". p. 107. ISBN 0-415-10113-1.
  4. Tacitus, The Annals 1.3

Media related to Gaius Caesar at Wikimedia Commons

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Caesar of the Roman Empire
1 BC – 4 AD
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Cossus Cornelius Lentulus
Lucius Calpurnius Piso
Consul of the Roman Empire
1 AD
With: Lucius Aemilius Paullus and
(suff.) M. Herennius Picens
Succeeded by
Publius Vinicius
Publius Alfenus Varus
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