Vibullius Agrippa

Vibullius Agrippa[1] (also sometimes called Vibulenus Agrippa) was an ancient Roman man of the first century who was accused of a crime and killed himself in front of the Roman senate.


Agrippa is called "Vibulenus" by Tacitus and "Vibullius" Cassius Dio. Modern historians, such as Ronald Syme, tend to favour "Vibullius" based on inscriptional evidence. "Vibulenus" may have been a praenomen.[2][3]


Agrippa was accused of some crime, probably treason, before the senate in the final years of the reign of Tiberius, in 33 AD according to Dio and 36 AD according to Tacitus.[4] 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: Agrippa faced his accusers in the senate and swallowed poison that he had brought with him in a ring.[5][1] Undeterred, the lictors rushed his body to the prison (the tullianum) and hanged or strangled him anyway, but he was already dead.[6] 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,[7][8] and allowed the suicide to be buried, provided they died before being convicted.[9] 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.


Vibullia Alcia Agrippina may have been his descendant or other type of relative.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b Cassius Dio, lviii. 21
  2. ^ Syme, Ronald (1949). "Personal Names in Annals I-VI". The Journal of Roman Studies. Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. 39: 6-18 (13). doi:10.2307/297702. JSTOR 297702.
  3. ^ Martin, Ronald (2001). Tacitus: Annals V and VI. Oxford University Press. p. 178. ISBN 9781800346239.
  4. ^   Smith, William (1870). "Agrippa, Vibulenus". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Vol. 1. p. 78.
  5. ^ Tacitus, Annales vi. 40
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Edwards, Catharine (2007). Death in Ancient Rome. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-300-11208-5.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Levick, Barbara (1999). Tiberius the Politician. Routledge. pp. 188–189. ISBN 0-415-21753-9.
  10. ^ Rogers, Robert Samuel (1931). Criminal Trials and Criminal Legislation Under Tiberius. Vol. 6. University of California: American Philological Association. p. 158.
  11. ^ Müller, Christel; Hasenohr, Claire (2002). Les italiens dans le monde grec: IIe siècle av. J.-C.-Ier siècle ap. J.-C. : circulation, activités, intégration : actes de la table ronde, Ecole normale supérieur, Paris, 14-16 mai 1998. Ecole française d'Athènes. p. 103. ISBN 9782869581920.