The Roman Army Mutinies of 14 CE: Transition and a Crisis of Organizational Identity


Near the beginning of the Annales, Roman historian Tacitus describes one of the first reactions to the news of the death of emperor Augustus: large-scale army mutinies in strategically sensitive locations on the Roman frontier. The new emperor, Augustus’ adopted son Tiberius, quickly sent his own son and his nephew to these locations to ascertain the causes of the rebellion and bring the armies back to order. Why the mutinies occurred as well as how they were settled reflect the dissatisfaction soldiers felt, particularly concerning the broken promises of their previous imperator Augustus, uncertainty about their new imperator Tiberius, and the general corruption of the army command structure. Several questions present themselves: What were the causes of these widespread mutinies? Were the methods of resolving the mutinies effective, both in the short and long term? Could the mutinies have been prevented? Students will be asked to consider how upper and middle leadership could have prevented these mutinies, as well as how they resolved the conflict and restored an effective workplace.

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