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The Julio-Claudian Dynasty

The Julio-Claudian Dynasty


Julio – Claudian dynasty in Roman empire (14 – 69 AD)

Octavian Augustus had only one child, a daughter, Julia, because his two sons had died when they were young boys. Octavian last wife, Livia Drusilla persuaded him to adopt her son Tiberius Claudius Nero and to designate him as his successor to the throne. Since Tiberius mother came from a family of Claudians and her son was also Claudians, the entire dynasty in Roman empire is named Claudian dynasty.

After the death of Octavian Augustus, Tiberius Claudius Nero became Roman Emperor, and as such he was recognized even by the Senate.

A Lot of bad things could be said about Julian – Claudian dynasty, because Tiberius Claudius Nero (14 – 37 AD) was a morbid, paranoid ruler, suspicious of everyone and vindictive. He passed a Law on insult of the rulers. This law meant that anyone, who would say something negative about Tiberius even if it was a joke, could be strictly punished. He even organized a real network of agents which all suspects placed in jail. Because of the constant fear that someone will assassinate him, he retreated to his summer residence on the island of Capri near Naples, and he rarely came to Rome.

Tiberius’s heir, Gaius Caligula (37 – 41 AD) earned the nickname “Caligula” meaning “little soldier’s boot. He did not have the patience to wait for the Tiberius to die, so he ordered his murder. At the beginning of his reign Caligula acted normally, he abolished Tiberius Laws about suspects he freed political prisoners, reduced taxes and staged great games to entertain people. The situation started to change over time, and Caligula began to show a completely different character. He declared himself as a deity. Caligula also ordered to cut off heads to every statues of the gods and to put his head instead.

Denarius of Roman Emperor Gaius Caligula

Caligula appointed his favorite horse as a Consul and he even dressed him in royal purple toga when he presented him to the Senate. The highlight of his madness took place during the attack on the Britain. When Caligula arrived with his army to La Mancha he realized that he does not have the boats to cross the Channel. Then Caligula ordered the soldiers to fill their helmets with shells, and in Rome he prepared a triumph in the glory of conquering the sea! Praetorian Guard organized a conspiracy in which Caligula was murdered, and since he had no heir, Praetorian Guard set his uncle Tiberius Claudius for the Roman Emperor. His uncle was found mortally frightened hiding in the palace behind the curtain.

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (41–54 AD), although he had exceptional intellectual abilities, he suffered from physical disabilities and he was manipulated by his wife and many “advisors”. One of his wives –Valeria Messalina, was probably the most immoral person in Rome, about whose sex scandals were talking all Romans. Claudius killed her when he learned that she was plotting on setting her lover on the imperial throne. Then he married Agrippina, his niece and Caligula’s sister, which managed to convince him to designate her son from a previous marriage – Nero as his heir to the throne. Agrippina perhaps poisoned Claudius with mushrooms filled with poison. She wanted in this way to be sure that Claudius will not change his mind.

Nero Claudius Caesar (54 – 68 AD), the last Emperor of this dynasty, and he was one of the worst Emperors whose tyranny led to many rebellions throughout the Empire. Similarly like Caligula, Nero began his reign in a decent way. He cared about the poor he was righteous judge, allowed talented and capable people to participate in policy decisions, reduced taxes,…

Nero’s Torches oil on canvas by painter
Henryk Siemiradzki (1843–1902)

The reason was probably in his youth, because at the time he was still under the control of his teacher and advisor, Stoic philosopher Lucius Seneca. And then something completely different. Nero convinced himself that he is excellent actor and musician, and he began performing on the stage, which was a scandal for the decent Romans. His main ambition became building of his palace which was worthy of the reputation of the world’s greatest ruler. In 64 AD, an opportunity was given to him when a huge fire broke out in Rome, which destroyed almost half of Rome. Nero ordered the construction of the stage. On the ashes he had built a magnificent palace, which he named Domus Aurea (The Golden House). The palace had huge statue and gorgeous park. Many Romans have accused emperor Nero that he set Rome on fire in order to realize his architectural wishes. Nero said that it was Christians fault. A lot of Christians died in the persecution that started after Nero declared that they set Rome on fire.

The Nero extravagance cancelled some of the good things he did. Nero even accused his most trusted adviser Seneca, who tried to bring some sense into him, that he is working behind his back, and Seneca as a response to his accusations committed suicide.

Soon after that Nero committed suicide as well, because he did not want to fall in the hands of Praetorian Guard. Apparently his last words were: “What an artist dies in me!”

Despite of all that, such Roman Emperors from Julio-Claudian dynasty not only did they preserve Octavian Augustus heritage but they even made heritage bigger. Emperor Claudius, for example in 47 AD conquered Great Britain and turned it into the new Roman province, and with this act he finished the job Julius Caesar started with his invasion at Britain in 55/54 BC.

Centralization of power was more advanced. Roman Emperors allowed less and less for the Senate to make state decisions. Emperors started to take the matter into their own hands.

Claudius for example almost all state affairs entrusted to his assistants, and they were mostly freed slaves who were educated Greeks. Claudius system was in fact the beginning of a professional bureaucracy.

A factor that has further weakened the power of the Senate was the Praetorian Guard, which was quite often involved into politics by forcing the Senate to recognize their candidates as an Emperor. This is how Claudius and Nero came to the throne. The Senate did not have the force with which they could stand up to the Praetorian Guard.


The Julio-Claudian Dynasty (27 BC – 68 AD)

The Julio-Claudian dynasty was the first Roman imperial dynasty, consisting of the first five emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. They ruled the Roman Empire from its formation under Augustus in 27 BC until 68 AD, when Nero committed suicide. The term “Julio-Claudian” is derived from the two main branches of the imperial family: the Julii Caesares and Claudii Nerones.

(c) Rursus

Many of the Julio-Claudian emperors struggled to produce a male heir, or one that outlived them. And so adoption became a tool that most Julio-Claudian emperors utilised in order to promote their chosen heir to the front of the succession. Augustus, himself an adopted son of his great-uncle Julius Caesar, adopted his stepson Tiberius as his son and heir. Tiberius was, in turn, required to adopt his nephew Germanicus, the father of Caligula and brother of Claudius. Caligula adopted his cousin Tiberius Gemellus (grandson of Tiberius) shortly before he executed him. And finally, Claudius adopted his great-nephew and stepson Nero, who, lacking a natural or adopted son of his own, ended the reign of the Julio-Claudian dynasty with his fall from power and subsequent suicide.

Prima Porta Augustae

Lacking any male heir, Augustus married his only child, his daughter Julia, to his nephew M. Claudius Marcellus. Marcellus, unfortunately, died of food poisoning in 23 BC. Augustus then married his daughter to his loyal friend and general, M. Vipsanius Agrippa, previously married to Augustus’ niece, the sister of Marcellus. This marriage produced five children: Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, Julia the Younger, Agrippina the Elder, and Agrippa Postumus.

Gaius and Lucius, were adopted by Augustus and became his heirs however, Augustus also showed great favour towards Tiberius and Drusus, his wife Livia’s children from her first marriage to Ti. Claudius Nero. This may have been because Gaius and Lucius were too young during this period.

Procession of the Imperial Family on the Ara Pacis Augustae.

M. Agrippa died in 12 BC, and Tiberius was ordered by Augustus to divorce his wife Vipsania Agrippina, daughter of Agrippa by his first marriage, and marry his stepsister, Julia the Elder. Drusus, the brother of Tiberius, died in 9 BC after falling from a horse whilst returning from campaign in Germania. Tiberius shared in Augustus’ tribune powers, but, in 6 BC, went into voluntary exile in Rhodes. After the early deaths of both Lucius in 2 AD and Gaius in 4 AD and the exile of both Julia the Elder for adultery, Augustus was forced to recognize Tiberius as the next Roman emperor. Tiberius was recalled to Rome and officially adopted by Augustus. By Augustus’ request, Tiberius adopted his nephew Germanicus, son of his late brother Drusus. Germanicus subsequently married Augustus’ granddaughter, Agrippina the Elder.

Head of Tiberius. (c) Carole Raddato

Despite his difficult relationship with the Senate, Tiberius’ first years were generally good. He stayed true to Augustus’s plans for the succession and favoured his adopted son and nephew, Germanicus, over his natural son, Drusus, as did the Roman populace. On Tiberius’ request, Germanicus was granted proconsular power and assumed command in Germania, where he suppressed the mutiny after Augustus’ death and led army on campaigns against Germanic tribes in 14-16 AD. Germanicus died in Syria in 19 AD and, on his deathbed, accused the governor of Syria, Cn Calpurnius Piso, of murdering him at Tiberius’s orders. With Germanicus dead, Tiberius began elevating his own son Drusus as heir.

By this time, Tiberius had left more of the day-to-day running of the Roman Empire to L. Aelius Sejanus, his Praetorian Prefect. Sejanus created an atmosphere of fear in Rome, controlling a network of informers and spies whose incentive to accuse others of treason was a share in the accused’s property after their conviction and death. Treason trials became commonplace few members of the Roman aristocracy were safe. The trials played up to Tiberius’ growing paranoia, which made him more reliant on Sejanus, as well as allowing Sejanus to eliminate potential rivals.

As of Tiberius, 31 AD, from Augusta Bilbilis.
The reverse reads Augusta Bilbilis Ti(berius) Caesare L(ucius) Aelio Seiano, marking the consulship of Sejanus in that year. (c) ForumRomanCoins.com

Tiberius, perhaps sensitive to Sejanus’ ambition, rejected his proposal to marry Livilla, Germanicus’ sister and the widow of Drusus the Younger, who had died in 25 AD. However, in 30 AD, Sejanus was betrothed to Julia Livia, daughter of Livilla and Drusus the Younger, and in 31 AD he held the consulship with Tiberius as his colleague.

Sejanus was summoned to a meeting of the Senate later that year on 18 October 31 AD, and through a letter sent by Tiberius to the Senate, was denounced and put on trial for treason. A purge followed, in which Sejanus and his most prominent supporters were killed. With his son, Drusus the Younger, dead and having had Germanicus’ elder two sons Nero and Drusus convicted of treason and killed, along with their mother Agrippina the Elder, Tiberius chose Caligula, Germanicus’ youngest son, and Tiberius Gemellus, the son of Drusus the Younger, as co-heirs.

Tiberius died at Misenum on 16 March 37 AD. Suetonius writes that his Praetorian Prefect, N. Sutorius Macro, smothered Tiberius with a pillow to hasten Caligula’s accession.

Marble head of Caligula. (c) unrv.com

When Tiberius died, Caligula ordered his co-heir, Tiberius Gemellus, to be killed within his first year in power. Backed by N. Sutorius Macro, Caligula asserted himself as sole Emperor, though he later had Macro killed as well. Following Gemellus’ death, Caligula marked his brother-in-law, M. Aemilius Lepidus, husband of his sister Julia Drusilla, as his heir. However, after Drusilla’s death, Lepidus was accused of having affairs with Caligula’s other sisters, Agrippina the Younger and Julia Livilla, and he was executed. He had previously had Drusilla’s first husband L. Cassius Longinus killed.

Several unsuccessful assassination attempts were made on Caligula’s life. The successful attempt was hatched by the disgruntled Praetorian Guard with backing by the Senate. The conspirators wished to restore the Roman Republic. On 24 January 41 AD, the Praetorian tribune Cassius Chaerea and his men stopped Caligula alone in an underground passage below the Palatine and stabbed him to death. Together with another tribune, Cornelius Sabinus, he killed Caligula’s wife, Caesonia, and their infant daughter, Julia Drusilla, on the same day.

Marble head of Claudius. (c) history.com

After Caligula’s death, the Senate attempted and failed to restore the Roman Republic. Instead, Caligula’s uncle, Claudius, was made Emperor by the Praetorian Guard in order to keep their position and benefits.

Despite his lack of political experience and the disapproval of the people of Rome, Claudius proved to be an able administrator and a great builder of public works. He expanded the imperial bureaucracy to include freedmen, and helped to restore the Empire’s finances after the excess of Caligula’s reign. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals. His reign saw the Empire expand, including his important invasion of Britain in 43 AD, which strengthened his relationship with the Roman Army.

Marble statue of Valeria Messalina and her infant son Britannicus.

Suetonius accused Claudius of being dominated by women and wives, and of being a womanizer. Claudius married four times, after two failed betrothals. He divorced his first two wives for adultery and put his third wife, Valeria Messalina, to death on charges of treason. Messalina gave him two children, Britannicus and Claudia Octavia. His final marriage was to his niece, Agrippina the Younger, which was politically motivated to shore up his position as Emperor and provide him with an heir that was of age, with Britannicus still too young.

With his adoption on 25 February 50 AD, Nero became heir to the throne, over Claudius’ own son Britannicus. Claudius died on 13 October 54 AD, and Nero became Emperor. Agrippina was accused of poisoning Claudius.

Marble head of Nero. (c) cjh1452000

Nero was sixteen when he became Emperor. Like his uncle Caligula before him, Nero was also a direct descendant of Augustus, a fact which made his ascension to the throne much easier and smoother than it had been for Tiberius or Claudius, along with poisoning Claudius’ biological heir, Britannicus.

Nero’s early reign was described as being strongly influenced by his mother Agrippina the Younger, his tutor Seneca, and his Praetorian Prefect Burrus. In 55 AD, Nero began taking on a more active role as an administrator. He was consul four times between 55 and 60 AD. Nero consolidated power over time through the execution and banishment of his rivals and slowly usurped authority from the Senate. He reportedly arranged the death of his own mother, Agrippina, and after divorcing his wife Claudia Octavia, daughter of Claudius, he had her killed.

Fire in Rome by Hubert Robert.

The Great Fire of Rome occured in 64 AD and Nero enacted a public relief effort as well as large reconstruction projects. To fund this, the provinces were heavily taxed following the fire. This was followed by Pisonian conspiracy, led by C. Calpurnius Piso. The conspiracy failed and its members were executed.

In 68 AD, Vindex, governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled, with support from Galba, governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. Vindex’s revolt failed in its immediate aim, though Nero fled Rome when its discontented civil and military authorities chose Galba as Emperor. On 9 June in 68 AD, he committed suicide, becoming the first Roman Emperor to do so, after learning that he had been tried in absentia and condemned to death as a public enemy. His death ended the Julio-Claudian dynasty, sparking a period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors.


H6 W28 – The Julio-Claudian Dynasty

In today’s essay on the Julio-Claudian dynasty, we’ll go over the five Julio-claudian Roman Emperors, or these five: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. These first rulers of Rome had to work for their power, especially Augustus, who had to kill Antony and force his other rival into retirement.

Augustus was one of the three who formed the Second Triumvirate, and after he gained the benefits of that he killed or knocked down the other two people to leave him the sole ruler, and was married to a woman for political reasons, of his father’s wishes. From her he had Tiberius and Claudius.

Tiberius was a very reclusive ruler he normally ran the Empire from a great distance. When he leaned on a prefect for decision-making, that prefect started plotting for the throne, and he was caught and deposed. Later in his life, Tiberius had a stepson named Caligula, who, when his stepfather died, became the emperor.

Now Caligula was very young when he took up the throne, the youngest at the time in fact, at age 17, who became ill at 7 months on the throne. Then the Senate had had enough of him and had him assasinated.

After the death of Caligula, the last surviving member of the dynasty became the Emperor. This was Caligula’s uncle, Claudius. Now the only reason he was still alive after the last two rulers killing every rival to the throne was his physical disabilities. He had been born with a limp and had a slight deafness because of an illness from when he was young, and the last two emperors had not seen him as a threat to their thrones because of this, and therefore they had not killed Claudius. After a while, Claudius made sure he had an acceptable heir by marrying Caligula’s sister Octavia, and then adopted her son Nero.

When Claudius died, Nero took the throne, and he ruled well with the plebes and the Senate and upper classes di not like this, and after a while the Senate and his own bodyguard revolted and assassinated him, ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty.


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JulioClaudian dynasty Wikipedia

The name JulioClaudian dynasty is a historiographical term derived from the two main branches of the imperial family the gens Julia Julii Caesares and gens Claudia Claudii Nerones Primogeniture is notably absent in the history of the JulioClaudian dynasty Neither Augustus Caligula nor Nero fathered a natural and legitimate son

JulioClaudian family tree Wikipedia

The JulioClaudian dynasty was the first dynasty of Roman emperors All emperors of that dynasty descended from Julii Caesares andor from Claudii Marriages between descendants of Sextus Julius Caesar I and Claudii had occurred from the late stages of the Roman Republic but the intertwined JulioClaudian family tree resulted mostly from adoptions and marriages in Imperial Rome s first decades

The JulioClaudian Dynasty of Rome World History

The JulioClaudian dynasty produced the first five emperors who were all related through blood or marriage in an effort to consolidate power and keep inheritance within the family The “Julio” came from the first emperor Octavian who was the greatnephew of Julius Caesar

The JulioClaudian Architectural Legacy Brewminate

Augustus founded the JulioClaudian dynasty The name says it all JulioClaudian Julio for the Julian side of the family Julius Caesar and Augustus the Claudian for the Claudian side of the family That was Augustus’ wife from–her side of the family excuse me the Claudian side of the family And there were four emperors in the JulioClaudian dynasty

Dynasties Julio Claudian Family Ancestry

The JulioClaudian dynasty is a term that is used to describe the first five emperors of Rome These five emperors were Tiberius Caligula Augustus Nero and Claudius The JulioClaudian dynasty lasted from 27 BC until AD 68 This dynasty ended once Nero committed suicide The five rulers of this dynasty were connected through adoption and marriage

JulioClaudian Dynasty Crystalinks

The JulioClaudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors Augustus Tiberius Caligula also known as Gaius Claudius and Nero or the family to which they belonged they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation in the second half of the 1st century 443127 BC until AD 68 when the last of the line

JulioClaudian Dynasty World History Online

The JulioClaudian dynasty refers to a family that produced the first five Roman Emperors – Augustus r 27 BC14 AD Tiberius r 1437 Caligula r 3741 Claudius r 4154 and Nero r 5468 who ruled the Roman Empire from 27 BC to 68 AD

JulioClaudian dynasty ancient Rome Britannica

JulioClaudian dynasty ad 14󈞰 the four successors of Augustus the first Roman emperor Tiberius reigned 14󈞑 Caligula 37󈞕 Claudius I 41󈞢 and Nero 54󈞰 It was not a direct bloodline Augustus had been the greatnephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar of the Julia gens whereas Tiberius

Roman Architecture Open Yale Courses

Augustus founded the JulioClaudian dynasty The name says it all JulioClaudian Julio for the Julian side of the family Julius Caesar and Augustus the Claudian for the Claudian side of the family That was Augustus’ wife from–her side of the family excuse me the Claudian side of the family

The JulioClaudian Dynasty The History and

The JulioClaudian Dynasty The History and Legacy of the First Family to Rule the Ancient Roman Empire Kindle edition by Charles River Editors Download it once and read it on your Kindle device PC phones or tablets Use features like bookmarks note taking and highlighting while reading The JulioClaudian Dynasty The History and Legacy of the First Family to Rule the Ancient Roman Empire


Examples of Julio-Claudian dynasty in the following topics:

The Julio-Claudians

  • The Julian-Claudiandynasty was established by Augustus as the first imperial dynasty of Rome.
  • As the first emperor of Rome, Augustus established the Julio-Claudiandynasty that ruled Rome from the end of the first century BCE until 68 CE.
  • Augustus' adoption of Tiberius incorporated the Claudian family into the dynastic line.
  • Nero, the last of the Julian-Claudian line, was one of the most notorious emperors in Roman history.
  • Illustrate a timeline of events during the Julio-Claudiandynasty of Rome.

The Last Julio-Claudian Emperors

  • Nero reigned as Roman Emperor from 54 to 68 CE and was the last emperor in the Julio-Claudiandynasty.
  • When Nero returned, he received word that the Senate had declared him a public enemy and intended to beat him to death—although in actuality, the Senate remained open to mediating an end to the conflict, and many senators felt a sense of loyalty to Nero, even if only on account of his being the last of the Julio-Claudian line.
  • The Senate acknowledged Vespasian as emperor the next day, marking the beginning of the Flavian dynasty that was to succeed that of the Julio-Claudian line.
  • Explain how Nero and other factors contributed to the fall of the Julio-ClaudianDynasty.

The Flavian Dynasty

  • The Flavian dynasty was a Roman imperial dynasty, which ruled the Roman Empire between 69 AD and 96 AD, encompassing the reigns of Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96).
  • The following day, the Roman Senate officially declared Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire, thus commencing the Flavian dynasty.
  • On 9 June 68, amidst growing opposition of the Senate and the army, Nero committed suicide, and with him the Julio-Claudiandynasty came to an end.
  • His reign is best known for financial reforms following the demise of the Julio-Claudiandynasty, such as the institution of the tax on urinals, and the numerous military campaigns fought during the 70s.
  • Vespasian founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire for twenty-seven years.

The Julio-Claudian Emperors

  • The Julio-Claudian emperors expanded the boundaries of the Roman Empire and engaged in ambitious construction projects, but met with mixed public reception due to their unique ruling methods.
  • However, his biological father was Tiberius Claudius Nero, making him a Claudian by birth.
  • Subsequent emperors would continue the blended dynasty of both families for the next 30 years, leading historians to name it the Julio-Claudiandynasty.
  • As a result, Claudius was declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula’s assassination due to his position as the last man in the Julio-Claudian line.
  • He did so by emphasizing his place within the Julio-Claudian family, dropping the cognomen Nero from his name and replacing it with Caesar.

The Founding of Rome

  • But Virgil took the disconnected tales of Aeneas’s wanderings and his vague association with the foundation of Rome and fashioned it into a compelling foundation myth or national epic that tied Rome to the legends of Troy, explained the Punic Wars, glorified traditional Roman virtues, and legitimized the Julio-Claudiandynasty as descendants of the founders, heroes, and gods of Rome and Troy.

Architecture of the Early Roman Empire

  • The Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties of the early Roman Empire oversaw some of the best-known building projects of the era.
  • The early Roman Empire consisted of two dynasties: the Julio-Claudians (Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero) and the Flavians (Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian).
  • Each dynasty made significant contributions to the architecture of the capital city and the Empire.
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The Julio-Claudian Dynasty - History

The ancient historians who dealt with this period - chiefly Suetonius (c. 69 – after 122 AD) and Tacitus (c. 56 – after 117 AD) - write in generally negative terms about the Julio-Claudian Emperors - for mainly partisan, political reasons.

Julius and Claudius were two Roman family names in classical Latin, they came second.
Roman family names were inherited from father to son, but a Roman aristocrat could – either during his life or in his will – adopt an heir if he lacked a natural son.
In accordance with Roman naming conventions, the adopted son would replace his original family name with the name of his adopted family.
A famous example of this custom is Julius Caesar's adoption of his great-nephew, Gaius Octavius.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
Augustus (Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus), as Caesar's adopted son and heir, discarded the family name of his natural father, and initially renamed himself "Gaius Julius Caesar" after his adoptive father.
It was also customary for the adopted son to acknowledge his original family by adding an extra name at the end of his new name.
As such, Augustus' adopted name would have been "Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus", however, there is no evidence that he ever used the name Octavianus.
Following Augustus' ascension as the first emperor of the Roman Empire in 27 BC, his family became a de facto royal house, known in historiography as the "Julio-Claudian dynasty".
For various reasons, the Julio-Claudians followed in the example of Julius Caesar and Augustus by utilizing adoption as a tool for dynastic succession.
The next four emperors were closely related through a combination of blood relation, marriage and adoption.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
Tiberius (Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus), a Claudian by birth, became Augustus' stepson after the latter's marriage to Livia, who divorced Tiberius' natural father in the process. Tiberius' connection to the Julian side of the Imperial family grew closer when he married Augustus' only daughter, Julia the Elder.
He ultimately succeeded Augustus as emperor in 14 AD after becoming his stepfather's adopted son and heir.

Caligula (Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was born into the Julian and Claudian branches of the Imperial family, thereby making him the first actual "Julio-Claudian" emperor.
His father, Germanicus, was the son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, the son of Livia and the daughter of Octavia Minor respectively. Germanicus was also a great-nephew of Augustus on his mother's side.
His wife, Agrippina the Elder, was a granddaughter of Augustus.
Through Agrippina, Germanicus' children – including Caligula – were Augustus' great-grandchildren.
When Augustus adopted Tiberius, the latter was required to adopt his brother's eldest son as well, thus allowing Germanicus' side of the Imperial family to inherit the Julius nomen.

Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), the younger brother of Germanicus, was a Claudian on the side of his father, Nero Claudius Drusus, however, he was also related to the Julian branch of the Imperial family through his mother, Antonia Minor.
As a son of Antonia, Claudius was a great-nephew of Augustus.
Moreover, he was also Augustus' step-grandson, due to the fact that his father was a stepson of Augustus.
Unlike Tiberius and Germanicus, both of whom were born as Claudians, and became adopted Julians, Claudius was not adopted into the Julian family.
Upon becoming emperor, however, he added the Julian-affiliated cognomen Caesar to his full name.

Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was a great-great-grandson of Augustus and Livia through his mother, Agrippina the Younger.
The younger Agrippina was a daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder, as well as Caligula's sister.
Through his mother, Nero was related by blood to the Julian and Claudian branches of the Imperial family, however, he was born into the Domitii Ahenobarbi on his father's side.
Nero became a Claudian in name as a result of Agrippina's marriage to her uncle, Claudius, who ultimately adopted her son as his own.
He succeeded Claudius in 54 AD, becoming the last direct descendant of Augustus to rule the Roman Empire.
Within a year of Nero's suicide in 68 AD, the Julio-Claudian dynasty was succeeded by the Flavian emperors following a brief civil war over the vacant Imperial throne.

Relationships Between the Rulers

  • Augustus was the great-nephew and posthumously adopted son of Julius Caesar.
  • Caligula was the great-nephew and grandson (via the adoption of Germanicus) of Tiberius.
  • Claudius was the great-nephew of Augustus, as well as the nephew of Tiberius (and the only one of the five rulers to not be adopted).
  • Nero was the great-nephew and adopted son of Claudius.
  • The other recurring relationship between emperor and successor is that of stepfather/stepson, a relationship not by blood but by marriage:
  • Tiberius, the older brother of Drusus, was Claudius's paternal uncle.
  • Claudius, the younger brother of Germanicus, was Caligula's paternal uncle.
  • Caligula, the older brother of Agrippina the Younger, was Nero's maternal uncle.
  • Augustus, son of Julius Caesar (by adoption)
  • Tiberius, son of Augustus (by adoption)
  • Germanicus, son of Tiberius (by adoption)
  • Caligula, son of Germanicus (biological)
  • Drusus, son of Augustus (through marriage)
  • Claudius, son of Drusus (biological)
  • Nero, son of Claudius (by adoption)

The fact that ordinary father-son (or grandfather-grandson) succession did not occur has contributed to the image of the Julio-Claudian court presented in Robert Graves's I, Claudius, a dangerous world where scheming family members were all too ready to murder the direct heirs so as to bring themselves, their own immediate families, or their lovers closer to the succession.


Emperors Behaving Badly: The Julio-Claudian Dynasty

Nick misspent his youth studying and teaching ancient history and classics. When not yelling at kids to get off his lawn, he raises a ruckus playing guitar in the band Reserved For Rondee.

Murder. Adultery. Incest.

The Julio-Claudian dynasty was one of the most powerful families in the ancient world. Ruling over the vast territories of the Roman Empire, the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty had at their disposal unimaginable wealth and power, and the leisure time necessary to use and abuse both. Stories of imperial debauchery and misbehavior fill the pages of ancient writers who almost gleefully document even the wildest rumors of the family's inappropriate behavior.

Many of the most lurid stories are to be found in the Annals of the historian Tacitus and in Suetonius' Twelve Caesars, a collection of biographies examining the lives of Julius Caesar and the first eleven Roman emperors. Taking these texts as our point of departure, we will not only explore the various tales of misbehavior preserved in the ancient authorities, but also examine the veracity of these stories and attempt to understand how these stories, whether true or false, may have come to be associated with these individuals, and why their contemporaries would have been inclined to believe them.

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Who was the last emperor of the Julio Claudian dynasty?

Claudius adopted his great-nephew and stepson Nero, who, lacking a natural or adopted son of his own, ended the reign of the Julio-Claudian dynasty with his fall from power and subsequent suicide.

who was emperor after Augustus? ˈb??ri?s/ ty-BEER-ee-?s Latin: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus 16 November 42 BC &ndash 16 March 37 AD) was the second Roman emperor, reigning from 14 AD to 37 AD. He succeeded his stepfather, Augustus.

One may also ask, what dynasty was Julius Caesar?

The Julio-Claudians were the first dynasty to rule the Roman Empire. After the death of the dictator-for-life Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, his adopted son Octavian - later to become known as Augustus (r.

Which emperor was not a member of the Julio Claudian dynasty?

Julio-Claudian dynasty, (ad 14&ndash68), the four successors of Augustus, the first Roman emperor: Tiberius (reigned 14&ndash37), Caligula (37&ndash41), Claudius I (41&ndash54), and Nero (54&ndash68). It was not a direct bloodline.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Claudius

Born on the 1st of August 10 BCE in Lugdunum, Gaul. (Modern day Lyon, France) to Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor. Claudius was the fourth Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, ruling from January 24, AD 41 to his death in AD 54. His life was troubled with illness from infancy. He was so beset with physical problems, such as a stammer, that his family believed any public career would be impossible for him. This infirmity may have saved him from the fate of many other Roman nobles during the purges of Tiberius’ and Caligula's reigns. His very survival led to his being declared emperor after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family.

He suffered humiliation at the hands of his relatives, and his own mother called him "a monster." Discussing another person, Antonia was heard to remark: "He is a bigger fool than even my son Claudius!" During Augustus's entire reign (27 BCE󈝺 CE) the only post that Claudius received was to the College of Augurs. In the emperor's will, Claudius was given 1,000 gold pieces and treated as an heir in the sixth part, a place for non-relatives.

Beneath the terrible social manners, stuttering and clumsiness, there lurked the mind of a scholar and orator. He authored several histories, including one on Carthage and on Etruscan matters, and earned the respect of the Equestrian class. The knights rose, for example, and removed their cloaks out of respect every time that Claudius entered the theatre. Claudius was considered a rather unlikely man to become emperor, but despite this, even Augustus could be surprised by him, writing to Livia of Claudius's skill in oratory. Claudius proved to be an able administrator and a great builder of public works. His reign saw an expansion of the empire, including the conquest of Britain. He took a personal interest in the law, presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day however, he was seen as vulnerable throughout his rule, particularly by the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position—resulting in the deaths of many senators.
Despite these glimpses of his true character, Tiberius and then Gaius Caligula considered his mental capacities defective, thereby safeguarding him, because he posed no threat to their ambitions. Claudius thus survived while other members of his family and his circle of friends suffered death or exile at their hands. He served as consul for Caligula and was once thrown into the Rhine by him.

So decimated was the imperial family by 41 CE that, when Caligula fell to the blades of assassins, the Praetorian Guard had a difficult time in finding a qualified replacement. They chose Claudius because he was the brother of the beloved general Germanicus and because he was the last adult male of his family. Once Claudius finally accepted the role of Princeps, the Praetorian Guard forced Rome to accept him as their new emperor. The legions agreed, happy to have the brother of Germanicus on the throne. The Senate had little choice, with the Praetorians bent on their candidate and threatening violence. As for Claudius, he never forgot who was responsible for his elevation, granting the Guards a sizable donativum.

 Claudius' Affliction and Personality

The historian Suetonius describes the physical manifestations of Claudius' affliction in relatively good detail. His knees were weak and gave way under him and his head shook. He stammered and his speech was confused. He slobbered and his nose ran when he was excited. The Stoic Seneca states that Claudius' voice belonged to no land animal, and that his hands were weak as well. However, he showed no physical deformity, as Suetonius notes that when calm and seated he was a tall, well-built figure of dignitas. When angered or stressed, his symptoms became worse. Historians agree that this improved upon his accession to the throne. Claudius himself claimed that he had exaggerated his ailments to save his own life.
The modern diagnosis has changed several times during the 20th century. Prior to World War II, polio was the widely accepted theory for Claudius’ physical disabilities. However, according more recent medical studies, polio would not fit all of Claudius disabilities and it is now theorised by historians and medical communities that he suffered from cerebral palsy.

On the personal front, the ancient historians describe Claudius as generous and lowbrow, a man who cracked lame jokes, laughed uncontrollably, and lunched with the plebeians. They also paint him as bloodthirsty and cruel, overly fond of both gladiatorial combat and executions, and very quick to anger (though Claudius himself acknowledged this last trait, and apologized publicly for his temper). To them he was also overly trusting, and easily manipulated by his wives and freedmen. Nevertheless, at the same time they portray him as paranoid and apathetic, dull and easily confused. The extant works of Claudius present a different view, painting a picture of an intelligent, scholarly, well-read, and conscientious administrator with an eye to detail and justice. Thus, Claudius becomes an enigma. Since the discovery of his "Letter to the Alexandrians" in the last century, much work has been done to rehabilitate Claudius and determine where the truth lies.

Claudius was born Tiberius Claudius Drusus on August 1, 10 BC, in Lugdunum, Gaul, on the day of the dedication of an altar to Augustus. His parents were Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia, and he had two older siblings named Germanicus and Livilla. Antonia may have had two other children who died young, as well.
His maternal grandparents were Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, Caesar Augustus' sister. His paternal grandparents were Livia, Augustus' third wife, and Tiberius Claudius Nero. During his reign, Claudius revived the rumour that his father Drusus was actually the illegitimate son of Augustus.

In 9 BC, Drusus unexpectedly died, possibly from an injury. Claudius was then left to be raised by his mother, who never remarried. When Claudius' afflictions became evident, the relationship with his family turned sour. Antonia referred to him as a monster, and used him as a standard for stupidity. She seems to have passed her son off on his grandmother Livia for a number of years. Livia was little kinder, and often sent him short, angry letters of reproof. He was put under the care of a "former mule-driver" to keep him disciplined, under the logic that his condition was due to laziness and a lack of will-power. However, by the time he reached his teenage years his symptoms apparently waned and his family took some notice of his scholarly interests. In AD 7, Livy was hired to tutor him in history, with the assistance of Sulpicius Flavus. He spent a lot of his time with the latter and the philosopher Athenodorus. Augustus, according to a letter, was surprised at the clarity of Claudius' oratory. Expectations about his future began to increase.

In the end, it was his work as a budding historian that destroyed his early career. Claudius began work on a history of the Civil Wars that was either too truthful or too critical of Octavian. In either case, it was far too early for such an account, and may have only served to remind Augustus that Claudius was Antony's descendant. His mother and grandmother quickly put a stop to it, and this may have proved to them that Claudius was not fit for public office. He could not be trusted to toe the existing party line. When he returned to the narrative later in life, Claudius skipped over the wars of the second triumvirate altogether.

The damage was done however, and his family pushed him to the background. When the Arch of Pavia was erected to honour the imperial clan in AD 8, Claudius' name (now Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus) was inscribed on the edge past the deceased princes, Gaius and Lucius, and Germanicus' children. There is some speculation that the inscription was added by Claudius himself decades later, and that he originally did not appear at all.

When Augustus died in AD 14, Claudius—then twenty-three—appealed to his uncle Tiberius to allow him to begin the cursus honorum. Tiberius, the new emperor, responded by granting Claudius consular ornaments. Claudius requested office once more and was snubbed. Since the new emperor was not any more generous than the old, Claudius gave up hope of public office and retired to a scholarly, private life.
Despite the disdain of the imperial family, it seems that from very early on the general public respected Claudius. At Augustus' death, the equites, or knights, chose Claudius to head their delegation. When his house burned down, the Senate demanded it be rebuilt at public expense. They also requested that Claudius be allowed to debate in the senate. Tiberius turned down both motions, but the sentiment remained. During the period immediately after the death of Tiberius' son, Drusus, Claudius was pushed by some quarters as a potential heir. This again suggests the political nature of his exclusion from public life. However, as this was also the period during which the power and terror of the Praetorian Sejanus was at its peak, Claudius chose to downplay this possibility.

After the death of Tiberius the new emperor Caligula recognized Claudius to be of some use. He appointed Claudius his co-consul in AD 37 in order to emphasize the memory of Caligula's deceased father Germanicus. Despite this, Caligula relentlessly tormented his uncle: playing practical jokes, charging him enormous sums of money, humiliating him before the Senate, and the like. According to Cassius Dio, as well a possible surviving portrait, Claudius became very sickly and thin by the end of Caligula's reign—most likely due to stress.
 Reign:

On January 24, AD 41, Caligula was assassinated by a broad-based conspiracy (including Praetorian commander Cassius Chaerea and several Senators). There is no evidence that Claudius had a direct hand in the assassination, although it has been argued that he knew about the plot—particularly since he left the scene of the crime shortly before the event. However, after the deaths of Caligula's wife and daughter, it became apparent that Cassius intended to go beyond the terms of the conspiracy and wipe out the imperial family. In the chaos following the murder, Claudius witnessed the German guard cut down several uninvolved noblemen, including friends of his. Concerned for his survival, he fled to the palace to hide himself. According to tradition, a Praetorian named Gratus found him hiding behind a curtain and suddenly declared him imperator. A section of the guard may have planned in advance to seek out Claudius, perhaps with his approval. They reassured him that they were not one of the battalions looking for revenge. He was spirited away to the Praetorian camp and put under their protection.

The Senate quickly met and began debating a change of government, but this eventually devolved into an argument over which of them would be the new Princeps. When they heard of the Praetorians' claim, they demanded that Claudius be delivered to them for approval, but he refused, rightly sensing the danger that would come with complying. Some historians, particularly Josephus, claim that Claudius was directed in his actions by the Judean King Herod Agrippa. However, an earlier version of events by the same ancient author downplays Agrippa's role so it is not known how large a hand he had in things. Eventually the Senate was forced to give in and, in return, Claudius pardoned nearly all the assassins.

Claudius took several steps to legitimize his rule against potential usurpers, most of them emphasizing his place within the Julio-Claudian family. He adopted the name "Caesar" as a cognomen the name still carried great weight with the populace. In order to do so, he dropped the cognomen "Nero" which he had adopted as paterfamilias of the Claudii Nerones when his brother Germanicus was adopted out. While he had never been adopted by Augustus or his successors, he was the grandson of Octavia, and so felt he had the right. He also adopted the name "Augustus" as the two previous emperors had done at their accessions. He kept the honorific "Germanicus" in order to display the connection with his heroic brother. He deified his paternal grandmother Livia in order to highlight her position as wife of the divine Augustus. Claudius frequently used the term "filius Drusi" (son of Drusus) in his titles, in order to remind the people of his legendary father and lay claim to his reputation.

Because he was proclaimed emperor on the initiative of the Praetorian Guard instead of the Senate — the first emperor thus proclaimed Claudius' repute suffered at the hands of commentators (such as Seneca). Moreover, he was the first Emperor who resorted to bribery as a means to secure army loyalty. This is not entirely how it seems. Tiberius and Augustus had both left gifts to the army and guard in their wills, and on the death of Caligula the same would have been expected, even if no will existed. Claudius remained grateful to the guard, however, issuing coins with tributes to the praetorians in the early part of his reign.
 Expansion of the Empire

Under Claudius, the empire underwent its first major expansion since the reign of Augustus. The provinces of Thrace (Northern Greece Noricum (Modern day Austria), Pamphylia (Southern Turkey), Lycia, and Judea were annexed under various circumstances during his term. The annexation of Mauretania, begun under Caligula, was completed after the defeat of rebel forces, and the official division of the former client kingdom into two imperial provinces. The most important new conquest was that of Britannia.

In AD 43, Claudius sent Aulus Plautius with four legions to Britain (Britannia) after an appeal from an ousted tribal ally. Britain was an attractive target for Rome because of its material wealth — particularly mines and slaves. It was also a haven for Gallic rebels and the like, and so could not be left alone much longer. Claudius himself travelled to the island after the completion of initial offensives, bringing with him reinforcements and elephants. The latter must have made an impression on the Britons when they were used in the capture of Camulodunum. He left after 16 days, but remained in the provinces for some time. The Senate granted him a triumph for his efforts, as only members of the imperial family were allowed such honours. Claudius later lifted this restriction for some of his conquering generals. He was granted the honorific "Britannicus" but only accepted it on behalf of his son, never using the title himself. When the British general, Caractacus, was finally captured in AD 50, Claudius granted him clemency. Caractacus lived out his days on land provided by the Roman state, an unusual end for an enemy commander, but one that must have calmed the British opposition.

Claudius conducted a census in AD 48 that found 5,984,072 Roman citizens, an increase of around a million since the census conducted at Augustus' death. He had helped increase this number through the foundation of Roman colonies that were granted blanket citizenship. These colonies were often made out of existing communities, especially those with elites who could rally the populace to the Roman cause. Several colonies were placed in new provinces or on the border of the empire in order to secure Roman holdings as quickly as possible.

 Judicial and Legislative Affairs

Claudius personally judged many of the legal cases tried during his reign. Ancient historians have many complaints about this, stating that his judgments were variable and sometimes did not follow the law. He was also easily swayed. Nevertheless, Claudius paid detailed attention to the operation of the judicial system. He extended the summer court session, as well as the winter term, by shortening the traditional breaks. Claudius also made a law requiring plaintiffs to remain in the city while their cases were pending, as defendants had previously been required to do. These measures had the effect of clearing out the docket. The minimum age for jurors was also raised to 25 in order to ensure a more experienced jury pool.

Claudius also settled disputes in the provinces. He freed the island of Rhodes from Roman rule for their good faith and exempted Troy from taxes. Early in his reign, the Greeks and Jews of Alexandria sent him two embassies at once after riots broke out between the two communities. This resulted in the famous "Letter to the Alexandrians," which reaffirmed Jewish rights in the city but also forbade them to move in more families en masse. According to Josephus, he then reaffirmed the rights and freedoms of all the Jews in the empire. An investigator of Claudius' discovered that many old Roman citizens based in the modern city of Trento were not in fact citizens.

The emperor issued a declaration that they would be considered to hold citizenship from then on, since to strip them of their status would cause major problems. However, in individual cases, Claudius punished false assumption of citizenship harshly, making it a capital offense. Similarly, any freedmen found to be impersonating equestrians were sold back into slavery.

Numerous edicts were issued throughout Claudius' reign. These were on a number of topics, everything from medical advice to moral judgments. Two famous medical examples are one promoting Yew juice as a cure for snakebite, and another promoting public flatulence for good health. One of the more famous edicts concerned the status of sick slaves. Masters had been abandoning ailing slaves at the temple of Aesculapius to die, and then reclaiming them if they lived. Claudius ruled that slaves who recovered after such treatment would be free. Furthermore, masters who chose to kill slaves rather than take the risk were liable to be charged with murder.

Claudius embarked on many public works throughout his reign, both in the capital and in the provinces. He built two aqueducts, the Aqua Claudia, begun by Caligula, and the Anio Novus. These entered the city in AD 52 and met at the famous Porta Maggiore. He also restored a third, the Aqua Virgo.

He paid special attention to transportation. Throughout Italy and the provinces he built roads and canals. Among these was a large canal leading from the Rhine to the sea, as well as a road from Italy to Germany — both begun by his father, Drusus. Closer to Rome, he built a navigable canal on the Tiber, leading to Portus, his new port just north of Ostia. This port was constructed in a semicircle with two moles and a lighthouse at its mouth. The construction also had the effect of reducing flooding in Rome.

The port at Ostia was part of Claudius' solution to the constant grain shortages that occurred in winter, after the Roman shipping season. The other part of his solution was to insure the ships of grain merchants who were willing to risk traveling to Egypt in the off-season. He also granted their sailors special privileges, including citizenship and exemption from the Lex Papia-Poppaea, a law that regulated marriage. In addition, he repealed the taxes that Caligula had instituted on food, and further reduced taxes on communities suffering drought or famine.

The last part of Claudius' plan was to increase the amount of arable land in Italy. This was to be achieved by draining the Fucine lake, which would have the added benefit of making the nearby river navigable year-round. A tunnel was dug through the lake bed, but the plan was a failure. The tunnel was not large enough to carry the water, and crooked, which caused it to back up when opened. The resultant flood washed out a large gladiatorial exhibition held to commemorate the opening, causing Claudius to run for his life along with the other spectators. The draining of the lake was revisited many times in history, including by emperors Hadrian and Trajan, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the Middle Ages. It was finally achieved by the Prince Torlonia in the 19th century, producing over 160,000 new acres of arable land. He expanded the Claudian tunnel to three times its original size.

Because of the circumstances of his accession, Claudius took great pains to please the Senate. During regular sessions, the emperor sat amongst the Senate body, speaking in turn. When introducing a law, he sat on a bench between the consuls in his position as Holder of the Power of Tribune (The emperor could not officially serve as a Tribune of the Plebes as he was a Patrician, but it was a power taken by previous rulers). He refused to accept all his predecessors' titles (including Imperator) at the beginning of his reign, preferring to earn them in due course. He allowed the Senate to issue its own bronze coinage for the first time since Augustus. He also put the imperial provinces of Macedonia and Achaea back under Senate control.
Claudius set about remodeling the Senate into a more efficient, representative body. He chided the senators about their reluctance to debate bills introduced by himself, as noted in the fragments of a surviving speech:

“If you accept these proposals, Conscript Fathers, say so at once and simply, in accordance with your convictions. If you do not accept them, find alternatives, but do so here and now or if you wish to take time for consideration, take it, provided you do not forget that you must be ready to pronounce your opinion whenever you may be summoned to meet. It ill befits the dignity of the Senate that the consul designate should repeat the phrases of the consuls word for word as his opinion, and that every one else should merely say 'I approve', and that then, after leaving, the assembly should announce ‘We debated.’” It is not known whether this plea had any effect on discourse.

In AD 47 he assumed the office of Censor with Lucius Vitellius, which had been allowed to lapse for some time. He struck the names of many senators and equites who no longer met qualifications, but showed respect by allowing them to resign in advance. At the same time, he sought to admit eligible men from the provinces. The Lyons Tablet preserves his speech on the admittance of Gallic senators, in which he addresses the Senate with reverence but also with criticism for their disdain of these men. He also increased the number of Patricians by adding new families to the dwindling number of noble lines. Here he followed the precedent of Lucius Junius Brutus and Julius Caesar.

Despite this, many in the Senate remained hostile to Claudius, and many plots were made on his life. This hostility carried over into the historical accounts. As a result, Claudius was forced to reduce the Senate's power for efficiency. The administration of Ostia was turned over to an imperial Procurator after construction of the port. Administration of many of the empire's financial concerns was turned over to imperial appointees and freedmen. This led to further resentment and suggestions that these same freedmen were ruling the emperor.

Several coup attempts were made during Claudius' reign, resulting in the deaths of many senators. Appius Silanus was executed early in Claudius' reign under questionable circumstances. Shortly after, a large rebellion was undertaken by the Senator Vinicianus and Scribonianus, the governor of Dalmatia and gained quite a few senatorial supporters. It ultimately failed because of the reluctance of Scribonianus' troops, and the suicide of the main conspirators. Many other senators tried different conspiracies and were condemned.

Claudius' son-in-law Pompeius Magnus was executed for his part in a conspiracy with his father Crassus Frugi. Another plot involved the consulars Lusiius Saturninus, Cornelius Lupus, and Pompeius Pedo. In AD 46, Asinius Gallus, the grandson of Asinius Pollio, and Statilius Corvinus were exiled for a plot hatched with several of Claudius' own freedmen. Valerius Asiaticus was executed without public trial for unknown reasons. The ancient sources say the charge was adultery, and that Claudius was tricked into issuing the punishment.

However, Claudius singles out Asiaticus for special damnation in his speech on the Gauls, which dates over a year later, suggesting that the charge must have been much more serious. Asiaticus had been a claimant to the throne in the chaos following Caligula's death and a co-consul with the Statilius Corvinus mentioned above. Most of these conspiracies took place before Claudius' term as Censor, and may have induced him to review the Senatorial rolls.

The conspiracy of Gaius Silius in the year after his Censorship, AD 48, is detailed in the section discussing Claudius's third wife, Messalina. Suetonius states that a total of 35 senators and 300 knights were executed for offenses during Claudius' reign. Needless to say, the necessary responses to these conspiracies could not have helped Senate-emperor relations.

 The Secretariat and centralization of powers

Claudius was hardly the first emperor to use freedmen to help with the day-to-day running of the empire. He was, however, forced to increase their role as the powers of the Princeps became more centralized and the burden larger. This was partly due to the ongoing hostility of the senate, as mentioned above, but also due to his respect for the senators. Claudius did not want free-born magistrates to have to serve under him, as if they were not peers.

The secretariat was divided into bureaus, with each being placed under the leadership of one freedman. Narcissus was the secretary of correspondence. Pallas became the secretary of the treasury. Callistus became secretary of justice. There was a fourth bureau for miscellaneous issues, which was put under Polybius until his execution for treason. The freedmen could also officially speak for the emperor, as when Narcissus addressed the troops in Claudius' stead before the conquest of Britain. Since these were important positions, the senators were aghast at their being placed in the hands of former slaves. If freedmen had total control of money, letters, and law, it seemed it would not be hard for them to manipulate the emperor.

This is exactly the accusation put forth by the ancient sources. However, these same sources admit that the freedmen were loyal to Claudius. He was similarly appreciative of them and gave them due credit for policies where he had used their advice. However, if they showed treasonous inclinations, the emperor did punish them with just force, as in the case of Polybius and Pallas' brother, Felix. There is no evidence that the character of Claudius' policies and edicts changed with the rise and fall of the various freedmen, suggesting that he was firmly in control throughout.

Regardless of the extent of their political power, the freedmen did manage to amass wealth through their positions. Pliny the Elder notes that several of them were richer than Crassus, the richest man of the Republican era.

Claudius, as the author of a treatise on Augustus' religious reforms, felt himself in a good position to institute some of his own. He had strong opinions about the proper form for state religion. He refused the request of Alexandrian Greeks to dedicate a temple to his divinity, saying that only gods may choose new gods. He restored lost days to festivals and got rid of many extraneous celebrations added by Caligula. He reinstituted old observances and archaic language.

Claudius was concerned with the spread of eastern mysteries within the city and searched for more Roman replacements. He emphasized the Eleusinian mysteries which had been practiced by so many during the Republic. He expelled foreign astrologers, and at the same time rehabilitated the old Roman soothsayers (known as haruspices) as a replacement. He was especially hard on Druidism, because of its incompatibility with the Roman state religion and its proselytizing activities. It is also reported that at one time he expelled the Jews from Rome, probably because the appearance of Christianity had caused unrest within the Jewish community.

Claudius opposed proselytizing in any religion, even in those regions where he allowed natives to worship freely. The results of all these efforts were recognized even by Seneca, who has an ancient Latin god defend Claudius in his satire.

 Public Games and Entertainments

According to Suetonius, Claudius was extraordinarily fond of games. He is said to have risen with the crowd after gladiatorial matches and given unrestrained praise to the fighters. Claudius also presided over many new and original events. Soon after coming into power, Claudius instituted games to be held in honour of his father on the latter's birthday. Annual games were also held in honour of his accession, and took place at the Praetorian camp where Claudius had first been proclaimed emperor. Claudius performed the Secular games, marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Augustus had performed the same games less than a century prior. Augustus' excuse was that the interval for the games was 110 years, not 100, but his date actually did not qualify under either reasoning. Claudius also presented naval battles to mark the attempted draining of the Fucine lake, as well as many other public games and shows.

At Ostia, in front of a crowd of spectators, Claudius fought a whale trapped in the harbour.

“A killer whale was actually seen in the harbour of Ostia, locked in combat with the emperor Claudius. She had come when he was completing the construction of the harbor, drawn there by the wreck of a ship bringing leather hides from Gaul, and feeding there over a number of days, had made a furrow in the shallows: the waves had raised up such a mound of sand that she couldn't turn around at all, and while she was pursuing her banquet as the waves moved it shorewards, her back stuck up out of the water like the overturned keel of a boat. The emperor ordered that a large array of nets be stretched across the mouths of the harbor, and setting out in person with the praetorian cohorts gave a show to the Roman people, soldiers showering lances from attacking ships, one of which I saw swamped by the beast's waterspout and sunk.” From

"On Natural History" by Pliny the Elder

Claudius also restored and adorned many of the venues around Rome. The old wooden barriers of the Circus Maximus were replaced with ones made of gold-ornamented marble. A new section of the Circus was designated for seating the senators, who previously had sat among the general public. Claudius rebuilt Pompey's Theatre after it had been destroyed by fire, throwing special fights at the rededication which he observed from a special platform in the orchestra box.

 Marriages and Personal life

Claudius married four times. His first marriage, to Plautia Urgulanilla, occurred after two failed betrothals (The first was to his distant cousin Aemilia Lepida, but was broken for political reasons. The second was to Livia Medullina, which ended with the bride's sudden death on their wedding day). Urgulanilla was a relation of Livia's confidant Urgulania. During their marriage she gave birth to a son, Claudius Drusus. Unfortunately, Drusus died of asphyxiation in his early teens, shortly after becoming engaged to the daughter of Sejanus. Claudius later divorced Urgulanilla for adultery and on suspicion of murdering her sister-in-law Apronia. When Urgulanilla gave birth after the divorce, Claudius repudiated the baby girl, Claudia, as the father was one of his own freedmen. Soon after (possibly in AD 28), Claudius married Aelia Paetina, a relation of Sejanus. They had a daughter, Claudia Antonia. He later divorced her after the marriage became a political liability.

In AD 38 or early 39, Claudius married Valeria Messalina, who was his first cousin once removed and closely allied with Caligula's circle. Shortly thereafter, she gave birth to a daughter Claudia Octavia. A son, first named Tiberius Claudius Germanicus, and later known as Britannicus, was born just after Claudius' accession. This marriage ended in tragedy. The ancient historians allege that Messalina was a nymphomaniac who was regularly unfaithful to Claudius Tacitus states she went so far as to compete with a prostitute to see who could have the most sexual partners in a night and manipulated his policies in order to amass wealth. In AD 48, Messalina married her lover Gaius Silius in a public ceremony while Claudius was at Ostia. Sources disagree as to whether or not she divorced the emperor first, and whether the intention was to usurp the throne. Scramuzza, in his biography, suggests that Silius may have convinced Messalina that Claudius was doomed, and the union was her only hope of retaining rank and protecting her children. The historian Tacitus suggests that Claudius's ongoing term as Censor may have prevented him from noticing the affair before it reached such a critical point. Whatever the case, the result was the execution of Silius, Messalina, and most of her circle. Claudius made the Praetorians promise to kill him if he ever married again.

Despite this declaration, Claudius did marry once more. The ancient sources tell that his freedmen pushed three candidates, Caligula's former wife Lollia Paulina, Claudius's divorced second wife Aelia, and Claudius's niece Agrippina the Younger. According to Suetonius, Agrippina won out through her feminine wiles. The truth is likely more political. The coup attempt by Silius probably made Claudius realize the weakness of his position as a member of the Claudian but not the Julian family. This weakness was compounded by the fact that he did not have an obvious adult heir, Britannicus being just a boy. Agrippina was one of the few remaining descendants of Augustus, and her son Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (later known as Nero) was one of the last males of the imperial family. Future coup attempts could rally around the pair, and Agrippina was already showing such ambition. It has been suggested in recent times that the Senate may have pushed for the marriage to end the feud between the Julian and Claudian branches. This feud dated back to Agrippina's mother's actions against Tiberius after the death of her husband Germanicus, actions which Tiberius had gladly punished. In any case, Claudius accepted Agrippina, and later adopted the newly mature Nero as his son.

Nero was made joint heir with the underage Britannicus, married to Octavia and heavily promoted. This was not as unusual as it seems to people acquainted with modern hereditary monarchies. Barbara Levick notes that Augustus had named his grandson Postumus Agrippa and his stepson Tiberius joint heirs. Tiberius named his great-nephew Caligula joint heir with his grandson Tiberius Gemellus. Adoption of adults or near adults was an old tradition in Rome when a suitable natural adult heir was unavailable. This was the case during Britannicus' minority.

Faustus Sulla, married to his daughter Antonia, was only descended from Octavia and Antony on one side not close enough to the imperial family to prevent doubts (that didn't stop others from making him the object of a coup attempt against Nero a few years later). Besides which, he was the half brother of Messalina, and at this time those wounds were still fresh. Nero was more popular with the general public as the grandson of Germanicus and the direct descendant of Augustus.

 Death, deification, and reputation

The general consensus of ancient historians was that Claudius was murdered by poison possibly contained in mushrooms or on a feather and died in the early hours of October 13, AD 54. Accounts vary greatly. Some claim Claudius was in Rome while others claim he was in Sinuessa. Some implicate either Halotus, his taster, Xenophon, his doctor, or the infamous poisoner Locusta as the administrator of the fatal substance. Some say he died after prolonged suffering following a single dose at dinner, and some have him recovering only to be poisoned again. Nearly all implicate his final wife, Agrippina, as the instigator. Agrippina and Claudius had become more combative in the months leading up to his death. This carried on to the point where Claudius openly lamented his bad wives, and began to comment on Britannicus' approaching manhood with an eye towards restoring his status within the royal family. Agrippina had motive in ensuring the succession of Nero before Britannicus could gain power.

In modern times, some authors have cast doubt on whether Claudius was murdered or merely succumbed to illness or old age. Some modern scholars claim the universality of the accusations in ancient texts lends credence to the crime. History in those days could not be objectively collected or written, so sometimes amounted to committing whispered gossip to parchment, often years after the events, when the writer was no longer in danger of arrest. Claudius' ashes were interred in the Mausoleum of Augustus on October 24, after a funeral in the manner of Augustus.
Claudius was deified by Nero and the Senate almost immediately. Those who regard this homage as cynical should note that, cynical or not, such a move would hardly have benefited those involved, had Claudius been "hated", as some commentators, both modern and historic, characterize him. Many of Claudius' less solid supporters quickly became Nero's men. Claudius' will had been changed shortly before his death to either recommend Nero and Britannicus jointly or perhaps just Britannicus, who would be considered a man in a few months.

Agrippina had sent away Narcissus shortly before Claudius' death, and now murdered the freedman. The last act of this secretary of letters was to burn all of Claudius' correspondence—most likely so it could not be used against him and others in an already hostile new regime. Thus Claudius' private words about his own policies and motives were lost to history. Just as Claudius has criticized his predecessors in official edicts (see below), Nero often criticized the deceased emperor and many of Claudius' laws and edicts were disregarded under the reasoning that he was too stupid and senile to have meant them.

This opinion of Claudius, that he was indeed an old idiot, remained the official one for the duration of Nero's reign. Eventually Nero stopped referring to his deified adoptive father at all, and realigned with his birth family. Claudius' temple was left unfinished after only some of the foundation had been laid down. Eventually the site was overtaken by Nero's Golden House.

The Flavians, who had risen to prominence under Claudius, took a different tack. They were in a position where they needed to shore up their legitimacy, but also justify the fall of the Julio-Claudians. They reached back to Claudius in contrast with Nero, to show that they were good associated with good. Commemorative coins were issued of Claudius and his son Britannicus who had been a friend of the emperor Titus. When Nero's Golden House was buried, the Temple of Claudius was finally completed on Caelian Hill. However, as the Flavians became established, they needed to emphasize their own credentials more, and their references to Claudius ceased. Instead, he was put down with the other emperors of the fallen dynasty.

The main ancient historians Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio all wrote after the last of the Flavians had gone. All three were senators or equites. They took the side of the Senate in most conflicts with the Princeps, as well as the senator's views of the emperor. This resulted in biases, both conscious and unconscious. Suetonius lost access to the official archives shortly after beginning his work. He was forced to rely on second-hand accounts when it came to Claudius (with the exception of Augustus' letters which had been gathered earlier) and does not quote the emperor. Suetonius painted Claudius as a ridiculous figure, belittling many of his acts and attributing the objectively good works to his retinue.

Tacitus wrote a narrative for his fellow senators and fit each of the emperors into a simple mould of his choosing. He wrote Claudius as a passive pawn and an idiot—going so far as to hide his use of Claudius as a source and omit Claudius' character from his works. Even his version of Claudius' Lyons tablet speech is edited to be devoid of the emperor's personality. Dio was less biased, but seems to have used Suetonius and Tacitus as sources. Thus the conception of Claudius as the weak fool, controlled by those he supposedly ruled, was preserved for the ages.

As time passed, Claudius was mostly forgotten outside of the historians' accounts. His books were lost first, as their antiquarian subjects became unfashionable. In the second century, Pertinax, who shared his birthday, became emperor, overshadowing any commemoration of Claudius. In the third century, the emperor Claudius II Gothicus usurped his name. When Claudius Gothicus died, he was also deified, replacing Claudius in the Roman pantheon.


Watch the video: The Julio-Claudian Dynasty 14 - 68 (January 2022).