Saturday, 30 July 2022


Bust of Claudius at the Naples National Archaeological Museum
Claudius (10 BC – AD 54) was Roman emperor from AD 41 to 54. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul, the first (and until Trajan, only) Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. His maternal grandparents were Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, Augustus' sister, and he was the great-great grandnephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. He was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness as a child, causing his family to ostracize him. Claudius's infirmity probably saved him from the fate of other nobles during the many purges of Tiberius and Caligula. He wasn't seen as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination.
On 24 January 41, Caligula was assassinated in a broad-based conspiracy involving the Praetorian commander Cassius Chaerea and several senators. There is no evidence that Claudius had a direct hand in the assassination. In the chaos following the murder, Claudius witnessed the guard cut down several uninvolved noblemen. He fled to the palace to hide. According to tradition, a Praetorian named Gratus found him hiding behind a curtain and suddenly declared him princeps. Eventually the Senate was forced to give in and, in return, Claudius pardoned virtually all the assassins. He ruled well and left a large treasury behind. After his death in 54 aged 63, his grand-nephew, step-son, and adopted son Nero succeeded him as emperor.