The subject is drawn fromThe Annals of Tacitus (Books II, LXXI, LXXII) written by the Roman historian Tacitus (ca. 54/56-ca. 120 A.D.), writing about an event that had taken place earlier in his own century. According to Tacitus’ account, Tiberius Drusus Nero, surnamed Germanicus (15 B.C.-19 A.D.) was the adopted son of the the Roman emperor Tiberius and a valient military leader. He was allegedly poisoned by Tiberius, who was jealous of his glory. Germanicus left a widow, Agrippina, mother of six children, among them the future emperor Caligula. On his deathbed Germanicus asks his followers to avenge his death and charges his wife to bear her sorrow with dignity. Poussin, who did not read Latin, must have made use of an Italian translation, which would have been available to his in the library of Cassiano del Pozzo, an erudite patron of the arts in Rome who introduced Poussin into the Barberini circle.