Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber
Soon after the return of Germanicus from the north, the news came that the Parthians were threatening an invasion. Tiberius at once bade his adopted son go to Asia and fight them; but he still felt very jealous of Germanicus, and it was said that he sent secret orders to his agent, Piso, to kill the young prince.
Poor Germanicus, who little dreamed of these evil intentions, took the cup of poison which Piso offered him, and died soon after drinking it. His soldiers were so furious at his death that they would have killed the traitor had he not fled.
All the people at Antioch, where the noble prince had died, mourned him. A solemn funeral was held, and his ashes were placed in an urn, and given to Agrippina, so that she might carry them back to Italy. Even the enemies of Germanicus were sorry when they heard that he had perished, and they showed their respect for his memory by not fighting for several days.
Agrippina now sadly returned to Rome, carrying her husband's ashes, and followed by her six young children. She was met and escorted by crowds of people, and all wept as she passed slowly by on her way from the ship to the tomb of Augustus, where the ashes of Germanicus were placed.
Even Tiberius made believe to be sorry. When Agrippina came before him and accused Piso and his wife of poisoning her husband, the emperor basely deserted them both. A few days later Piso was found dead, his heart pierced by a sword; and, although no one ever knew exactly how this had happened, many of the Romans believed that he had been killed by order of Tiberius.
After the death of Germanicus, Tiberius threw aside all restraint and showed himself, as he was, a monster of cruelty and vice. He chose servants who were as wicked as he, and Sejanus, the captain of the Pretorian Guard (as his bodyguard was called), was a man after his own heart. This Sejanus, however, was ungrateful enough to have Drusus, the emperor's son, secretly poisoned; but everybody thought that the young prince had died a natural death.
Sejanus, you must know, was as ambitious as he was cruel. While he pretended to be very devoted to Tiberius, he wished to be rid of the emperor so that he might reign in his stead. He therefore began by persuading his master to retire to the island of Capri, where the climate was delightful, and from whence the emperor could easily send his orders to Rome.
Sejanus, being left in Rome with full powers, then killed all the people who would be likely to be in his way. Among his victims were many friends of Germanicus and some of the dead hero's children. Agrippina, the widow of Germanicus, was banished to a barren and rocky island, in the Mediterranean, where she is said to have died of hunger and thirst.