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Claudius and Nero

Claudius 41-54

Nero 54-68
Claudius Marries his
Tutored, when young, by Livy
Messalina, 3rd wife of Claudius
Her lover, Gaius Silius, “the best
looking man in Rome”
“It was as though the empire
changed hands, since the imperial
slaves, ex-slaves and furniture
were found in his home”
His affliction
The historian Suetonius describes the physical manifestations of Claudius'
affliction in relatively good detail.
“ His knees were weak and gave way under him and his head shook. He
stammered and his speech was confused. He slobbered and his nose ran
when he was excited.”
Seneca “Claudius' voice belonged to no land animal, and that his hands
were weak as well”
Suetonius notes that “when calm and seated he was a tall, well-built figure
of dignitas.”
When angered or stressed, his symptoms became worse. Historians agree
that this improved upon his accession to the throne. Claudius himself
claimed that he had exaggerated his ailments to save his own life.
Claudius Keeps Busy

Introduces three new characters to the

“The three letters that he invented
become obsolete after his reign”
Note the theme of Claudius’ legacy not
lasting beyond his reign
His son, Britannicus, does not succeed
him to the throne—too young
– He is killed by 4th wife and her son, Nero,
when he was 14
Messalina Comes to a Bad
While Claudius is at
Ostia, Messalina
marries Silius in public

“All that is left is for you

to make a decent end”

Messalina and hunted

down and executed
Nero’s Mother
Claudius marries his niece, Agrippina (II)

– Daughter of Agrippina (I) and Germanicus

– Sister to Caligula
– Already has a son, Tiberius Claudius Nero,
from a previous marriage (husband died
of edema)

He will become Nero, the next emperor


Her son is adopted by Claudius

Claudius’s son by Messalina,

Britannicus, is afterwards treated
as second-best

Nero becomes consul and “Prince

of Youth”
Murder of Claudius

Agrippina decides to poison


Too sudden – obvious

Too slow – Claudius might come to

his senses and restore Britannicus
Murder, Part II

Claudius loves mushrooms

Slow acting poison can allay


A feather dipped in poison does

the trick