Tiberius Gemellus

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

Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, known as Tiberius Gemellus (10 October AD 19AD 37 or 38) was the son of Drusus and Livilla, the grandson of the Emperor Tiberius, and the cousin of the Emperor Caligula. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin". His twin brother, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus II Gemellus, died in early childhood in 23 AD.

Gemellus' father Drusus died mysteriously when Gemellus was only four. It is believed that Drusus died at the hands of the Praetorian Prefect, Lucius Aelius Sejanus. His mother Livilla was either put to death or committed suicide because she had been plotting with Sejanus to overthrow Tiberius, and also because she may have worked with Sejanus to poison her husband.

Little is known about Gemellus' life, as he was largely ignored by most of the Imperial family, so much so that one of the major landmarks of his youth, the toga virilis, wasn't celebrated until he was eighteen. The normal age to celebrate this was fourteen years.

At the age of twelve Gemellus was summoned to the island of Capri where Tiberius lived, along with his cousin Caligula. Tiberius made both Caligula and Gemellus joint-heirs, but it was clear that Tiberius favored Caligula over his own grandson. Livilla had been Sejanus' lover for a number of years before their deaths, and many including Tiberius believed that both Gemelli were really Sejanus' sons.

Tiberius died March 16, 37 AD, and Caligula became Emperor. Caligula made Gemellus his adopted son not long afterwards, but ordered him killed in late 37 AD or early 38 AD for allegedly plotting against Caligula while he was ill. Suetonius writes that Caligula "sent a military tribune to kill young Tiberius without warning, on the pretext that Tiberius had insulted him by taking an antidote against poison -his breath smelled of it... young Tiberius' breath smelled of medicine taken for a persistent cough which was gaining a hold on his lungs."[1]

Little has been written about Gemellus. Most of the information we know about him has been connected to material about Caligula.


In the episode "Zeus, by Jove!" of the 1976 BBC TV series I, Claudius, based on the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves, Gemellus was portrayed by Douglas Melbourne. In this version Gemellus is beheaded as a child on the orders of Caligula as a cure for his constant coughing. The novel outright states that Gemellus is the son of Sejanus and not Castor. In the theatrical film Caligula he was portrayed by Bruno Brive.


  1. Suetonius (2007). The Twelve Caesars. Penguin Books. p. 157.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII ch.6, is invaluable.

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