"My poor brother was growing hourly weaker"

Germanicus, The Louvre
Creative Commons AttributionGermanicus, The Louvre - Credit: Jastrow
Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC - 19 AD), Claudius's brother and the adopted son of Tiberius, became along with Marcellus one of the "lost hopes" of the Julio-Claudian line. A highly successful general, he had achieved victories both in Germany (where he recovered two of the three legionary standards lost by Quintilius Varus) and in Asia (where he defeated the kingdoms of Cappadocia and Commagene, establishing them as Roman provinces.

His sudden death in Antioch was never fully explained - there was a strong suspicion that he had been murdered on Tiberius's orders, and that the Governor of Syria, Calpurnius Piso, with whom he had quarelled, may have been implicated. Once again, Graves's fiction (in this case, the story of the witch, Martina, employed by Piso and his wife to terrify the superstitious Germanicus), though loosely based on Tacitus's account in The Annals, shines a light on a corner of the past that history has left dark.