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He ended up even dreaming of succeeding the Emperor – who had him killed for his presumption.

The second part of the Emperor’s life, after he abandoned Rome, was marred by physical and moral degeneracy.

Interestingly, as a young man he had also retired from life and went to Rhodes to live as a recluse – he was clearly not one for human company.

The villa at Sperlonga had been in Tiberius’s family for several generations: it belonged to Marcus Aufidius (or Alfidius) Lurco, the grandfather of Livia, the Emperor’s mother who was originally from the nearby town of Fondi.

Signs of human life have been found dating from the Upper Palaeolithic era and according to tradition, this is the site where Amyclae, the mythical city of the Spartans, was built.

Left substantially unchanged by the Emperor, the structure of the grotto was only embellished by the addition of benches along the walls, and mascheroni (grotesque masks) which served as lamp holders for the cave’s illumination.

Sperlonga is just a few hundred kilometres south of Rome, between the towns of Gaeta and Terracina.

The Emperor Tiberius chose this site for his summer residence: a beautiful natural setting right on the sea.

And if that were not enough: “Then in Capri’s woods and groves he arranged a number of nooks of venery where boys and girls got up as Pans and nymphs solicited outside bowers and grottoes: people openly called this “the old goat’s garden,” punning on the island’s name”.

Suetonius was somewhat overly fixated with the sexual aspects of Tiberius’ degeneracy in the same way that Tacitus’ criticisms were specifically anti-imperial as he was still nostalgic for Republican Rome. Tiberius also earned himself a reputation for being bloodthirsty, mean and subject to bouts of paranoia.

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