Claudius (Tiberius Drusus Nero Claudius Caesar) was the great uncle and stepfather of Nero. When Caligula was murdered, in 41 A.D., there remained this Claudius, his uncle, who was now 51 years of age but who, as the butt of the family, had been excluded from the functions of the government, neglected, ill-treated, and allowed to divide his time between low company and literary studies. He was known as "Claudius, the Idiot or the Stutterer." No one had considered him a serious candidate save the shrewd Herod Agrippa II., who, having successfully schemed for the elevation of Caligula and reaped a rich reward, was silently meditating a second coup. Perhaps instead of being weak-minded, Claudius merely feigned madness in order to escape poisoning. On his father's side he was descended from Appius Claudius, a Roman decemivir in 450 B.C., whose name survives in the Appian Way. Born in Lyons (Lugdunum), 10 B.C., Claudius in 43 A.D. determined to carry out the conquest of Britain which Augustus had meditated, but decided to postpone, if not to forego. Seneca records with a sneer that Claudius "had determined to see every German, Gaul , and Briton in a toga." He sent Aulus Platius against Caractacus, in 43 A.D., and himself soon joined his victorious army in time to see the crossing of the Thames and the fall of Colchester, Cymbeline's capital, and to receive the "submission of the eleven British kings." These successes, gained only with the hardest fighting, led him to make treaties with the British chiefs (See Wurts, pp. 155-156). After but sixteen days in the island he returned to celebrate his triumph, leaving his generals to carry on. This was the most notable achievement of the reign of Claudius, who was also the builder of the conduit Aqua Claudius and other public works. He married four times: (1) Plautia Urgulanilla, who died on her wedding day, (2) Aelia Paetina, whom he divorced, and (3) *Valeria Messalina, aged sixteen, an exceedingly wicked woman, mother of little Octavia, had the title of Augusta conferred upon her, whom he also divorced. Then at age forty-eight, he married (4) Agrippina the Younger, his niece, who was already twice a widow, daughter of Agrippina the Elder and Germanicus. Claudius conferred the title of Augusta upon her. By her first husband, Cnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, she had a son Nero. She was also married the second time to Caius Crispus. Her problem was to become the wife of Claudius, to get rid of his son, Britannicus, and make Nero, by adoption, heir to the Empire. The fact that she was Claudius' niece did not deter her, but gave her opportunities for fond intimacies that stirred the old ruler in no avuncular manner. She, at the age of thirty-two, while Claudius was fifty-seven, became the 4th wife of her uncle. The Senate approved, the Praetorians laughed, and Agrippina reached the throne. Claudius, to whom she gave poison and caused his death on October 13, 54 A.D. On that day her son, Nero, was proclaimed Emperor.
Go to http://www.roman-emperors.org/claudius.htm for a detailed biography of Claudius.
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