About Naevius Sutorius Macro, Praetorian Prefect
Quintus Naevius Cordus Sutorius Macro (21 BC - 38 AD) was a prefect of the Praetorian Guard, from 31 until 38, serving under the Roman Emperors Tiberius and Caligula. Upon falling out of favour, he committed suicide.
Macro was born in 21 BC at Alba Fucens, a Roman town at the foot of Monte Velino, situated on a hill just to the north of the Via Valeria.
Inscriptional evidence from the ruins of this town reveals that, prior to becoming Praetorian prefect, Macro had served as prefect of the vigiles, the Roman fire brigade and night watch. However the date of this appointment and the length of his tenure are unknown.
Macro was appointed Praetorian prefect by Tiberius after the arrest of Sejanus. According to Tacitus, Macro was active in discrediting Sejanus and in directing the subsequent purge against his family and followers.
As prefect, Macro wielded considerable influence. He furthered his ambitions by befriending Tiberius' grand-nephew Gaius, better known as Caligula, one of the Emperor's prospective heirs. According to Suetonius, Macro gained further favor by turning a blind eye to his wife Eunia's affair with Caligula around the year 34 AD.
When Tiberius died in the year 37 AD, Macro immediately sided with the new Emperor Caligula. According to Tacitus, Macro even played an active role in bringing about Caligula's rise to power by ordering Tiberius to be killed after it was revealed that reports of his death had been premature: Caligula had begun to take power immediately upon hearing that Tiberius had died of natural causes but without confirming that Tiberius had indeed died. In fact, Tiberius was still alive, and shortly thereafter was heard calling for food. In order to prevent an embarrassing and potentially dangerous situation, should Tiberius have reacted angrily to Caligula's hasty ascension to power, Macro "ordered the old Emperor to be smothered under a huge heap of clothes."
Macro was confident of rapid promotion for past services. However, Caligula was aware of the potential threat Macro posed and soon removed him from office. According to some sources[who?], Macro was promised the governorship of Egypt but upon arriving at Ostia with Eunia to take ship, he was instead arrested and stripped of his office in the year 38 AD. Macro and Eunia both committed suicide soon after.
- Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth (ed.) The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press (1996). p. 1458.
- Sandra J. Bingham. The praetorian guard in the political and social life of Julio-Claudian