Vibulenus Agrippa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For others with this surname, see Agrippa (disambiguation).

Vibulenus Agrippa (called Vibullius Agrippa in Dio's Roman History[1]) was a Roman knight of the Equestrian rank who was accused of some crime, probably treason, before the senate in the final years of the reign of Tiberius, in 36 AD.[2] His case is often mentioned to highlight the frequency with which ordinary citizens were being executed in that time, and for the novelty of the case's outcome: Vibulenus faced his accusers in the senate and swallowed poison that he had brought with him in a ring.[3][4]

Undeterred, the lictors rushed his body to the prison (the tullianum) and hanged or strangled him anyway, but he was already dead.[5] Unlike an execution, this sort of pre-emptive suicide prevented, at least in theory, the state or his accusers from claiming a share of his property,[6][7] and allowed the suicide to be buried, provided they died before being convicted.[8] Tacitus does not record whether Agrippa's mock execution in the tullianum was sufficient to satisfy the letter of the law and allow confiscation of his property.


  1. ^ Dio, Cassius (229 CE). Roman History. p. Bk 58:21.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Smith, William (1867). "Agrippa, Vibulenus". In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 77. 
  3. ^ Tacitus, Annales vi. 40
  4. ^ Cassius Dio, lviii. 21
  5. ^ Lynam, Robert; John Tahourdin White (1850). The History of the Roman Emperors: From Augustus to the Death of Marcus Antoninus. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. pp. 204–205. 
  6. ^ Edwards, Catharine (2007). Death in Ancient Rome. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 246. ISBN 0-300-11208-4. 
  7. ^ Plass, Paul (1995). The Game of Death in Ancient Rome: Arena Sport and Political Suicide. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 95. ISBN 0-299-14574-3. 
  8. ^ Levick, Barbara (1999). Tiberius the Politician. Routledge. pp. 188–189. ISBN 0-415-21753-9. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.