Eager for Glory: The untold story of Drusus the Elder, Conqueror of Germany, Lindsay Powell

Eager for Glory: The untold story of Drusus the Elder, Conqueror of Germany, Lindsay Powell

Drusus the Elder was the stepson of the Emperor Augustus (at the time rumour suggested that he might have been his natural son), brother of the Emperor Tiberius, and one of the more able members of the Julio-Claudian family. In his short live he conquered the area immediately north of the Alps, securing Roman control of the mountain passes, was a popular ruler of Gaul, and campaigned successfully in Germany, reaching as far as the Elbe. His death at the age of only 29 led to one of Roman history's great 'ifs' - what might have happened in the able, popular and apparently Republican in sentiment Drusus had succeeded Augustus instead of (or after) his unwilling older brother Tiberius.

Like so many Roman figures of the Imperial age our sources for the life of Drusus are frustratingly limited. He was the subject of two biographies written by members of his own family, but neither survives, so Powell has to piece together his life from later sources. Even Livy's work on this period is lost. Powell makes the excellent decision to include an appendix dedicated to a description of his sources, discussing both the nature of the source and the light it shines on Drusus.

Drusus had an interesting life. He was a member of the first family of Rome at the time when Augustus was establishing his rule, but when the Senate still had some real power and the forms of the Republic were still largely in place. He was a successful military leader, but he was also an explorer, taking a Roman fleet along the German coast and probably reaching Jutland. He was also a successful administrator, especially in Gaul where he played a part in securing the loyalty of the province. Powell does a good job with his sources, producing as well rounded a picture as is probably possible of Drusus. We don’t really have much to go on when it comes to his personality, but his actions can be reconstructed, and placed into the context of their times. The result is a useful biography of an important figure during the birth of the Imperial Rome.

1 - Drusus the Youth
2 - Drusus the Soldier
3 - Drusus the Builder
4 - Drusus the Explorer
5 - Drusus the Commander
6 - Drusus the Consul
7 - Drusus the Hero
8 - Assessment

Author: Lindsay Powell
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 226
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011

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