Charismatic figure with a strong personality, also known as the first prince-woman, Julia Agrippina Augusta of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, was one of the most powerful women of the Roman Empire.
Daughter of Agrippina Major and Germanicus Julius Caesar, she was born in Ara Ubiorum (now the German city of Cologne) in her father’s military camp.
Since she was young Agrippina hated her great-uncle Tiberius, who, with his acts, certainly wasn’t worthy of the affection of the great-granddaughter. Tiberius in fact, probably out of envy towards the military conquests of Germanicus Julius Caesar, exterminated her family. The survivors were only her, her sisters Julia Livilla and Julia Drusilla and Gaius Caesar, better known as Caligula, the third Roman emperor, succeeded to Tiberius.
The same great-uncle then forced Agrippina to marry the Roman politician Gnaeus Domitius Enobarbus. From this marriage was born Lucius Nero.
A few years after the death of her husband, in 49 AD, she was chosen as his wife by Emperor Claudius, exercising an increasing influence on the political decisions of the family, coming to designate as heir his son Nero. In this period she was given the role of flaminica, the highest priestess of the Roman state.
The enterprising character of the woman, however, soon clashed with an increasing need for independence of the son, as Nero, now emperor, felt too oppressed by the constant presence of his mother, even in his private life.
So he decided to kill his mother, or at least this is what the most reliable sources say. Some scholars, through inconsistencies noted in the writings of Tacitus, historian, orator and Roman senator, argue that Agrippina had managed to escape without the knowledge of her son, others instead, that she had committed suicide.
Agrippina also received the title of Augusta, which, although it did not respond directly to the meaning of empress, was certainly an office of honorable prestige as a result of her tenacity and strength. She was the founder of the Roman city of Cologne on the Rhine.
Legend and history meet
It seems that his son Lucius Nero one day decided to sink the ship that carried his mother Agrippina from Baia, along the Phlegrean coast, to Anzio. It turned out that there was another woman on the ship, who fell into the sea claimed to be Agrippina to be rescued. The sailors then, accomplices of Nero, killed her by hitting her with the oars.
Agrippina witnessed the scene and swimming she reached her villa in Lucrino. There she was later found by the assassins of Nero and killed. It is said that the empress spontaneously asked to be hit in the belly, where she had given birth to her son.
There are many doubts about the burial place of the woman. Tacitus speaks of a hill between Baia and Bacoli, but in the absence of a finding a very different complex is indicated as the tomb that is located along the beach of the marina of Bacoli, an ancient odeion (theater) of a Roman villa, called the Tomb of Agrippina.
It is here that the rumors are consumed that speak of this spectral figure wandering around her tomb combing her long hair mirrored in the clear waters of the sea.
Considering Agrippina’s stubbornness, it is not difficult for us to believe this popular tale, which gives the place a mysterious atmosphere.