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2012 British Museum: Emperor Claudius #2

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

  

Born: 1 August 10 BC

  

Birthplace: Lugdunum, Gaul

  

Died: 13 October 54 (aged 63)

  

Buried: Mausoleum of Augustus

  

Claudius was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy.

Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.

Claudius' infirmity probably saved him from the fate of many other nobles during the purges of Tiberius and Caligula's reigns; potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat.

His survival led to his being declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family.

 

Despite his lack of experience, Claudius proved to be an able and efficient administrator. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals across the Empire. During his reign the Empire conquered Thrace, Noricum, Pamphylia, Lycia and Judaea, and began the conquest of Britain. Having a personal interest in law, he presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day. However, he was seen as vulnerable throughout his reign, particularly by the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position; this resulted in the deaths of many senators. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers, though more recent historians have revised this opinion.

 

After his death in 54, his grand-nephew and adopted son Nero succeeded him as Emperor.

  

His maternal grandparents were Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, Augustus' sister, and therefore the great-great grandnephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. His paternal grandparents were Livia, Augustus' third wife, and Tiberius Claudius Nero. During his reign, Claudius revived the rumor that his father Drusus was actually the illegitimate son of Augustus, to give the false appearance that Augustus was Claudius' paternal grandfather.

  

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Taken on June 20, 2012