Claudius and Nero
Reign of Claudius
o Had the backing of the praetorian guard, was finally approved by the senate despite their dream of
restoring the Republic
Family Connections and Personal Qualities
o He was the brother of the beloved Germanicus, and ascended to the throne at the age of 50.
o Was Caligula's uncle, and could trace his bloodlines back to Augustus
o Because of a disability, his family had kept him out of politics for the first 50 years of his life.
o Instead, he was a scholar and wrote various books on roman history (none of them survive)
o Intelligent and ambitious.
o Against all odds, he was proclaimed princeps in his middle age
o In order to legitimize his reign, he emphasized his family ties - especially on coinage.
Some Successes (Including in Britain)
o First two acts as emperor showed that Claudius has good sense.
o He gave a financial bonus to every praetorian, and he pardoned the senators that had been
involved in the plot against Caligula.
o Also gave the Senate a greater scope of independence. They were allowed to create their own
o Militarily, he added to the extent of the empire. He finished organizing the province of
o He was also responsible for the annexation of southern Britain in the year of 43.
o Went to Britain with a contingent of elephants.
o Despite not having won the British victory personally, he was honored with a triumph back in
o Was granted the victory title "Britanicus", and he passed the title to his son.
o Cleaned up Caligula's mess regarding the Jews.
Unlucky in Love (Messalina and Agrippina the Younger)
o After two failed marriages, Claudius married his second cousin Messalina in the year 39
o Messalina bore him two children - Octavia and Britanicus, within their first two years of marriage.
o At the time of their marriage, Messalina was 14 and Claudius was 49.
o Apparently, Messalina would sneak in the middle of the night into brothels disguised as a
o Messalina began an affair with a senator, who was about 25 years younger than Claudius. The two
flaunted their affair in public, going as far as staging a mock wedding ceremony in the year 48.
o Claudius was eventually persuaded by his advisors to stop this affair.
o Claudius has the senator executed in the year 48, and consequently, Messalina committed suicide.
o The following year, he married his niece Agrippina the Younger (Caligula's sister, Germanicus'
o This marriage was as scandalous as his previous marriage.
o Agrippina brought an adolescent son with her into this marriage - Nero.
o In 53, Agrippina was able to secure Nero's marriage to his cousin Octavia.
Death and Final Assessment
o Claudius died in the year 54 of suspected poisoning.
o Agrippina was believed to be the mastermind behind the poisoning in order to secure Nero's place
on the throne.
o Nero was able to ascend to the throne at the age of 16.
o Immediate after his death, Claudius was deified.
o Apart from his disastrous martial life, he seemed to be reasonably competent and true.
Reign of Nero (54-68 CE)
Agrippina (mom), Octavia (Wife #1), and Poppaea Sabina (Lover and W