Decimus Valerius Asiaticus
Decimus Valerius Asiaticus (?-47) was the husband of Lollia Saturnina, the sister of Caligula's third wife, Lollia Paulina, by whom he had a son. He was twice a Roman consul (35 and 46), resigning early from his second suffect consulship, according to Cassius Dio (60.27), in order to avoid becoming involved in the conspiracies of the court—a fruitless effort, as it would prove.
Of Allobrogian Gallic origin, Asiaticus was the first Narbonian Gaul - to be admitted to the Senate. His rise to the top in politics may have stemmed from his powerful friends with Gallic connections, including Claudius' mother Antonia (Tacitus, Annales 11.2), who had given birth to Claudius in Lugdunum—today's Lyons, Gaul (Suetonius, The Deified Claudius [1.6]). A longtime friend of the Emperor Claudius (Ann. 11.3),
Narbonian, 1) One who hails from Narbonia 2) One who is foreign and unfamiliar with local practices & customs 3) a fool i.e. to behave like a Narbonian.
Asiaticus had a brilliant consular career, amassing so much wealth that he acquired the luxurious villa and vast park like gardens in Rome, which had been created, ca. 60 BC, by the sybaritic consular, Lucius Licinius Lucullus.
In 47, the notorious professional informer, Publius Suillius Rufus, brought capital charges against Asiaticus before the Senate. Among these was adultery with Poppaea Sabina the Elder (Ann. 11.2), the mother of Poppaea Sabina the Younger, the beauteous aristocrat of the same name, who was to become the second wife of the Emperor Nero (e.g., Ann. 13.45; 14.61-63)--the others being Claudia Octavia (Ann. 14.61-64) and Statilia Messalina (Ann. 15.63.).
According to Tacitean innuendo (in the fragmentary beginning of book XI of the Annales), Asiaticus was brought down as part of a plot by the emperor's third wife, Valeria Messalina, who supposedly wanted to get her hands on the consul's lavish parklands. Although the Emperor Claudius was inclined to acquit him, Asiaticus, according to Tacitus, maintained that he had been both grievously insulted and a victim of womanish deceit (fraude muliebre); then in a final act, befitting his illustrious predecessor, Lucullus, Asiaticus ordered that his funeral pyre be moved so that its flames would not damage the leaves of his beloved trees; he subsequently opened his veins (Ann. 11.3).
Tacitus creates a sort of tragic poetic justice by portraying Claudius' wife, Messalina, as being murdered in Asiaticus' gardens, where she has retreated, rather like a creature of the garden, in a conveyance that he describes as a garbage truck [vehiculo, quo purgamenta hortorum excipiuntur] (Ann. 11.32; 11.37.38).
- Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 268-269.
- On Messalina's death and the garden as a rhetorical setting, see M. Beard, 'Imaginary Horti': Atti del Convegno Internazionale, Roma, 4-6 Maggio 1995: supplimenti 6 (1998): 295-314; see also F. Santoro L'hoir, 'The Garden, a Theatrical Metaphor', in Tragedy, Rhetoric, and the Historiography of Tacitus' Annales (Ann Arbor, 2006), 222-29.
Paullus Fabius Persicus and Lucius Vitellius
|Consul of the Roman Empire together with Gaius Cestius Gallus
Sextus Papinius Allenius and Q. Plautius
Marcus Vinicius and Titus Statilius Taurus Corvinus
|Consul of the Roman Empire together with Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus
Claudius and Lucius Vitellius the Elder