Germanicus was born on 24 May 15 BC. He was the grandson of Livia, the second wife of Augustus, and the Emperor’s grandnephew. In order to ensure the line of succession, Augustus requested that Tiberius adopted Germanicus - who was the Emperor’s adopted stepson. Probably for the same reason, Augustus arranged for his granddaughter Vipsania Agrippina to marry Germanicus.
Germanicus pursued a career as a military officer. He accompanied Tiberius to Germania. He spent some time in Pannonia and Dalmatia where he crushed the rebellions.
At the beginning of the year 15 AD Germanicus set off from Mainz, whereas Caecina Severus set off from Xanten, to enter further into Germania. Germanicus subdued the Chatti and liberated the Cheruscan »princeps« Segestes who was being besieged by his son-in-law Arminius. Then Germanicus returned to Mainz together with Segestes and his resisting daughter Thusnelda, Arminius’ wife. Germanicus took his legions by ship from Mainz to the river Ems, and from there to the site of the Varus Battle. He was able to bury the soldiers’ mortal remains which were still lying around. The retreat from the region however was very difficult and his legions suffered high losses due to further attacks by Germanic troops. After the construction of a transport fleet Germanicus returned once again to the troubled area, fought a battle near the river Weser and sustained high casualties, also due to severe autumn storms during the retreat. Nevertheless, Germanicus was able to recapture two of the legions’ aquilas which had been seized by Germanic troops during the Varus Battle. In 16 AD the Emperor Tiberius recalled Germanicus because he believed that further efforts to subdue Germania were futile.
On the 26 May 17 AD Germanicus celebrated his triumph in Rome. On this occasion many Cherusci, alongside a great number of other prisoners were paraded through the streets of Rome. Arminius’ wife Thusnelda, her little son Thumelicus and her brother Segimuntos were among them. On the other side, pro-Roman Cherusci, like Segestes, the father of Thusnelda and Segimuntos, were among the invited guests of the event.