"My Uncle Tiberius was one of the bad Claudians"

The Emperor Tiberius, The Louvre,
Public DomainThe Emperor Tiberius, The Louvre, - Credit: Jastrow
Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus (42 BC - 37 AD), the son of Livia and step-son of Augustus, reigned as Emperor from 14 AD until his death. A successful general, with victories over the Balkan and German tribes, he was described by Pliny the Elder in his Natural Histories as "the gloomiest of men." After 26 AD he became a recluse, retiring to the island of Capri and leaving the government of Rome, disastrously, in the hands of a brutal military strongman, Lucius Aelius Sejanus.

Graves's physical description of Tiberius draws heavily on Suetonius's account in The Twelve Caesars, even down to the strength of his hands ("his left hand was the more agile and powerful and his joints were so strong that he could push a finger through a fresh and sound apple and, with the tap of a finger, could injure the head of a boy or even a youth").