Tacitus and Suetonius on Claudius


Tacitus and Suetonius on Claudius


Claudius was the son of Antonia and Drusus (Tiberius’ brother) and brother of Germanicus. Claudius suffered from physical disabilities and was therefore not considered a candidate for emperor. When Caligula (Claudius’ nephew and son of Germanicus) was assassinated, Claudius hid behind a curtain and was then found by a solider. The Praetorian Guard then made him emperor. Claudius did not have much of a military reputation, however in AD 43, he conquered Britain. Claudius had two children (Brittanicus and Octavia) by Messalina, who then married Silius which resulted in them both being executed. Claudius then married his niece (Caligula’s sister) Agrippina who had a son, Nero, who was named successor to the throne. Agrippina then poisoned Claudius so that Nero could become emperor.

Accession and Major Events of Claudius Reign


Section 10; Claudius became emperor when he was 50 “by an extraordinary accident”. Claudius hid behind some curtains when Caligula and his family were being murdered. A Praetorian guard found him and took him to the Praetorian Camp where he was proclaimed emperor. The senate tried to become a republic, however Claudius realised that if he allowed that, he would be killed, and so he assumed the title of impertorator. He became “the first of the Caesars to purchase the loyalty of his troops”.

Section 11; Claudius first steps were to execute the assassins of Caligula to make an example of them and he also gave his grandmother Livia divine honors which she had never been given.  

Section 17; Claudius decided that “Britain was the country where a real triumph could be most readily earned.” “He succeeded and “he had fought no battles and suffered no casualties but reduced a large part of the island to submission”.

Section 44; “Most people think that Claudius was poisoned, but when and by whom is disputed. Some say the ****** Halotus, his official taster administered the drug…others say that Agrippina did so herself at a family banquet by poisoning a dish of mushrooms, his favorite food”.

Section 45; Claudius’ death was not revealed until all the arrangements had been completed for his successor”.  


Administration of Rome, Italy and Empire (Provinces and Military Triumphs)


Section 18; “Claudius always interested himself in the proper upkeep of the city and the regular arrival of grain supplies”.

Section 20; Claudius had a few main building works including “the draining of the Fucine Lake…the building of the harbor at Ostia…constructed a new aqueduct….built a lighthouse.”


Page 235; There was civil unrest in Armenia, where there were arguments as to who would claim the throne. Claudius sent Mithridates back to Armenia to claim the throne, however there were fights between Vardanes and Gotarzes. Vardanes eventually won, and then went back home, where as he had become slightly arrogant, he was assassinated. Mithridates was then able to take the throne. This shows that Claudius did have some power over the provinces, as


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