Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso
Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso (ca. 44 BC/43 BC – 20 AD), Roman statesman, was consul in 7 BC; subsequently, he was governor of Hispania and proconsul of Africa. He belonged to one of Rome's most distinguished Senatorial families, whose members included Calpurnia Pisonis, third wife of Julius Caesar.
Piso was a man of violent temper, without an idea of obedience, and a natural arrogance. He saw himself as superior to the children of Tiberius. Piso was married to Plancina, a woman of noble rank and wealth. This, combined with Piso's natural character, inflamed his ambition. His sons with Plancina were Gnaeus, who after Piso's death had to take the name of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, and Marcus.
Governorship of Syria
In AD 17 Tiberius appointed him governor of Syria (with an army of 4 legions). Some Roman sources of the period suggest that Tiberius gave Piso secret instructions to thwart and control Germanicus, who had been sent to supervise all Eastern provinces. Piso and Germanicus clashed on several occasions and, in AD 19, Piso had to leave the province.
Alleged Murder of Germanicus, Trial and Death
As the death of Germanicus occurred during the same year most people suspected Piso of having poisoned him (although no definite proof was available). The armed attempt of Piso to gain once more control of the province of Syria immediately after the death of Germanicus only aroused more indignation, and Tiberius was forced to order an investigation and a public trial in the Roman Senate for Piso and his wife. Piso committed suicide, though it was rumoured that Tiberius, fearing incriminating disclosures, had put him to death. Tiberius and his mother Livia were able to avoid incrimination of his wife Plancina.
Piso in fiction
- Tacitus, Annals, Books 1-3
- R. Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford University Press 1986.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Seneca Minor, de Ira I, XVIII, 3 - 4
- Calpurnius Piso entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
- Senatus Consultum de Cn. Pisone patre - recently discovered decree of the senate summarizing the results of Piso's trial (in Latin)
Gaius Marcius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius Gallus
|Consul of the Roman Empire
D. Laelius Balbus and C. Antistius Vetus