Claudius I

Claudius I (Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus)klôdˈēəs, 10 B.C.–A.D. 54, Roman emperor (A.D. 41–A.D. 54), son of Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus and thus nephew of Tiberius. When Caligula was murdered (A.D. 41), the soldiers found Claudius, who had been of little importance, hiding in abject terror behind a curtain in the palace. They hauled him forth, and the Praetorians proclaimed him emperor. This act offended the senators, who never forgave Claudius. It also made him favor the army. He annexed Mauretania and landed in A.D. 43 in Britain, which he made a province. Agrippa's kingdom of Judaea and the kingdom of Thrace were reabsorbed into the empire, and the authority of the provincial procurators was extended. He caused Messalina, his third wife, to be executed and was in turn supposedly poisoned by her successor, Agrippina the Younger, after she had persuaded him to pass over his son Britannicus as heir in favor of Nero, her son by a former husband. Claudius was much reviled by his enemies and historians have accused him of being only a tool in the hands of his freedmen-secretaries and his wives; there are indications, however, that he had considerable administrative ability. Claudius' literary works are lost. He is the chief figure in two novels by Robert Graves, I, Claudius (1934) and Claudius the God (1935).

See studies by A. Momigliano (tr. 1962) and V. M. Scramuzza (1940).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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