Naevius Sutorius Macro

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 favor, he committed suicide.

Quintus Naevius Cordus Sutorius Macro
Born21 BC
Alba Fucens
Died38 AD (aged 57 or 58)
Allegiance Roman Empire
Years of service3138
RankPraetorian prefect
UnitPraetorian Guard


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 in Italy.[1] Inscriptional evidence from the ruins of this town reveal that, prior to becoming Praetorian prefect, Macro had served as Praefectus vigilum, prefect of the vigiles, the Roman fire brigade and night watch. The date of this appointment and the length of his tenure are unknown.[2]

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 Caligula, one of the Emperor's prospective heirs. According to Suetonius, Macro gained further favor by turning a blind eye to his wife Ennia Thrasylla's affair with Caligula, around the year 34.[3]

When Tiberius died in the year 37, Macro sided with the new Emperor Caligula. According to Tacitus, Macro even played a 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 making sure that Tiberius was dead. Tiberius was still alive and, shortly after, 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."[4]

Macro was confident of rapid promotion for past services but Caligula was aware of the potential threat Macro posed and soon removed him from office. According to some sources, Macro was promised the governorship of Egypt but upon arriving at Ostia with Ennia to take ship, he was instead arrested and stripped of his office in the year 38. Macro committed suicide soon after. Macro was able to leave enough money to provide an amphitheatre for his home town of Alba Fucens.[5]

Macro in fiction

In the 1954 film, Demetrius and the Gladiators, he was played by Karl Davis. In the 1968 ITV Granada-TV production The Caesars, Jerome Willis played the part of Macro. John Rhys-Davies played him in the 1976 BBC serial I, Claudius and Guido Mannari in Caligula. In the trailer for the fictional remake of Caligula, he was played by Benicio del Toro. He also appears in Rick Riordan’s book, The Burning Maze.


  1. Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth (ed.) The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press (1996). p. 1458.
  2. Sandra J. Bingham. The praetorian guard in the political and social life of Julio-Claudian Rome. Ottawa: National Library of Canada (1997), p. 63.
  3. Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Caligula 12
  4. Tacitus, Annals VI.50
  5. Barrett, Caligula: The Corruption of Power, p.79
Government offices
Preceded by
Lucius Aelius Sejanus
Praetorian prefect
Succeeded by
Marcus Arrecinus Clemens,
and Lucius Arruntius Stella
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