Bust of Emperor Claudius. Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.
Claudius was born as Tiberius Claudius Drusus. He became Emperor of Rome from 41 to 54, a.D., with the name of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as the Emperor Claudius. It was the first Roman emperor who was born outside the Italian peninsula. Claudius was born in the present city of Lyon, in France, then called "Lugdunum", in Gaul.
Proclaiming Claudius Emperor, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, oil on canvas, c. 1867.
Claudius was the successor of Caligula, assassinated by his Praetorian Guard, as we saw in the previous Blog. In addition, we must remember that Caligula, Claudius nephew, took him out of ostracism and named him Consul, first, and then Senator. Some sources indicate that Claudius was the laughingstock of the Empire. Indeed, many Praetorian and senators considered him a ridiculous person serving of fun.
Soldier Gratus proclaims Claudius emperor. Detail from A Roman Emperor 41AD, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, 1871.
As shown in the picture and then the stabbing death of Caligula, Claudius was found hiding behind curtains shivering from fear. Centurions hauled him out and took him before the people as the new Emperor, so mocking and making people laugh all present.
A statue of Claudius in the Vatican Museum.
Actually, when Casius Chaerea and his Praetorian Guards stabbed Caligula, the intention was to have a weak emperor, which could be manipulated as if it were a puppet, and that the negotiations with the Senate should be treated overnight, post- Caligula mortem.
Outer side of the Porta Maggiore, aqueduct in Rome
It is not clear what caused Claudius death. Historians seem to agree that he was poisoned with poisonous mushrooms and died on October 13 of the year 54, by his wife Agrippina, Nero's mother.
Bust of Claudius. The National Archaeological Museum of Spain.
Claudius expanded the Roman Empire as not seen since the days of Augustus. Indeed, annexed everything we know today from Bulgaria (Thrace) to the Middle East, including Judea. Moreover, he finished the conquest of Mauritania that Caligula had begun. But the most significant company Claudius was programming was the conquest of Britain, which earned admiration by the military and senatorial members.
The Invasion of the Emperor Claudius. Illustration for The Pageant of British History
Rome swelled with pride with this enterprise of conquest and execution of public works such as aqueducts, roads and canals throughout the empire. Notably he did open a channel between the Rhine River, Germany, to the Adriatic sea. He built irrigation channels and drainage for all the agricultural area of the Roman Empire.