Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Woods, D.
Museum Helveticum
Tacitus, the Ficus Ruminalis, and the Intertwined Fates of Agrippina and Vespasian (Ann. 13.57-58)
In Press
Optional Fields
Tacitus, omen, tree, Agrippina, Vespasian
Tacitus concludes Book 13 of the Annals with a brief description of the sudden withering and regrowth of the ficus Ruminalis at Rome in AD 58, but does not explain the significance of this omen. Interpretations have varied, but it has often been argued that this portends the death of Nero and the accession of Vespasian and so looks forward to the events of AD 69. It is argued here that the tree symbolizes Vespasian, that the withering symbolizes the negative effect of Agrippina upon his career, and that the regrowth symbolizes the re-flowering of his career after her death in AD 59. Hence the omen does not look beyond the immediate future, the death of Agrippina in AD 59, exactly as described at the beginning of the next book in the Annals.
Grant Details