The Ancient Library

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Augustus and his uncle Tiberius always treated Irim with contempt; Caligula, his nephew, raised him to the consulship indeed, but did not allow him to take any part in public affairs, and behaved towards him in the same way as his predecessors had done.

In this manner the ill-fated man had reached the age of fifty, when after the murder of Caligula he was suddenly and unexpectedly raised to the imperial throne. When he received the news of Caligula's murder, he was alarmed about his own safety, and concealed himself in a corner of the palace ; but he was discovered by a common sol­dier, and when Claudius fell prostrate before him, the soldier saluted him emperor. Other soldiers soon assembled, and Claudius in a state of agony, as if he were led to execution, was carried in a lectica into the praetorian camp. There the soldiers proclaimed him emperor, and took their oath of allegiance to him, on condition of his giving each soldier, or at least each of the praetorian guards, a donative of fifteen sestertia—the first instance of a Roman emperor being obliged to make such a promise on his accession. It is not quite certain what may have induced the soldiers to proclaim a man who had till then lived in obscurity, and had taken no part in the administration of the empire. It is said that they chose him merely on account of his connexion with the imperial family, but it is highly probable that there were also other causes at work.

During the. first two da}rs after the murder of Caligula, the senators and the city cohorts, which formed a kind of opposition to the praetorian guards, indulged in the vain hope of restoring the republic, but being unable to make head against the praeto­rians, and not being well agreed among themselves, the senators were at last obliged to give way, and on the third day they recognized Claudius as em­peror. The first act of his government was to proclaim an amnesty respecting the attempt to re­store the republic, and a few only of the murderers of Caligula were put to death, partly for the pur­pose of establishing an example, and partly because it was known that some of the conspirators had intended to murder Claudius likewise. The acts which followed these shew the same kind and amiable disposition, and must convince every one, that, if he had been left alone, or had been assisted by a sincere friend and adviser, his government would have afforded little or no ground for com­plaint. Had he been allowed to remain in a pri­vate station, he would certainly have been a kind, good, and honest man. But he was throughout his life placed in the most unfortunate circumstances. The perpetual fear in which he had passed his earlier da}rs, was now increased and abused by those by whom he was surrounded after his acces­sion. And this fear now became the cause of a series of cruel actions and of bloodshed, for which he is stamped in history with the name of a tyrant, which he does not deserve.

The first wife of Claudius was Plautia Urgula-nilla, by whom he had a son, Drusus, and a daughter, Claudia. But as he had reason for be­lieving that his own life was threatened by her, he divorced her, and married Aelia Petina, whom he likewise divorced on account of some misunder­standing. At the time of his accession he was married to his third wife, the notorious Valeria Messalina, who, together with the freedmen Nar-


cissus, Pallas, and others, led him into a mtmbetf of cruel acts. After the fall of Messalina by her own conduct and the intrigues of N arcissus, Clau­dius was, if possible, still more unfortunate in choosing for his wife his niece Agrippina, A. d. 49. She prevailed upon him to set aside his own son, Britannicus, and to adopt her son, Nero, in order that the succession might be secured to the latter. Claudius soon after regretted this step, and the consequence was, that he was poisoned by Agrip­pina in a. d. 54.

The conduct of Claudius during his government, in so far as it was not under the influence of his wives and freedmen, was mild and popular, and he made several useful and beneficial legislative en­actments. He was particularly fond of building,, and several architectural plans which had been formed, but thought impracticable by his predeces­sors, were carried out by him. He built, for ex­ample, the famous Claudian aquaeduct (Aqua Claudia}, the port of Ostia,' and the emissary by which the water of lake Fucinus was carried into the river Liris. During his reign several wars were carried on in Britain, Germany, Syria, and Mauretania; but they were conducted by his generals. The southern part of Britain was consti­tuted a Roman province in the reign of Claudius, who himself went to Britain in A. d. 43, to take part in the war ; but not being of a warlike dispo-. sition, he quitted the island after a stay of a few days, and returned to Rome, where he celebrated a splendid triumph. Mauretania was made a Roman province in A. d. 42 by the legate Cn. Hosidius.

As an author Claudius occupied himself chiefly with history, and was encouraged in this pursuit by Livy, the historian. With the assistance of Sulpicius Flavius, he began at an early age to write a history from the death of the dictator Caesar; but being too straightforward and honest in his accounts, he was severely censured by his mother and grandmother. He accordingly gave up his plan, and began his history with the restoration of peace after the battle of Actium. Of the earlier period he had written only four, but of the latter forty-one books. A third work were memoirs of his own life, in eight books, which Suetonius de­scribes as magis inepte quam ineleganter cbmposita. A fourth was a learned defence of Cicero against the attacks of Asinius Poliio. He seems to have been as well skilled in the use of the Greek as of the Latin language, for he wrote two historical works in Greek, the one a history of Carthage, in eight books, and the other a history of Etruria, in twenty books. However small the literary merit of these productions may have been, still the loss of the history of Etruria in particular is greatly to be lamented, as we know that he made use of the genuine sources of the Etruscans themselves. In a. d. 48, the Aedui petitioned that their senators should obtain thejws petendorum honorum at Rome. Claudius supported their petition in a speech which he delivered in the senate. The grateful inhabi­tants of Lyons had this speech of the emperor engraved on brazen tables, and exhibited them in public. Two of these tables were discovered at Lyons in 1529, and are still preserved there. The inscriptions are printed in Gruter's Corp. Inscript, p. mi. (Sueton. Claudius; Dion Cassius, lib. Ix.; Tacit. Annal. libb. xi. and xii.; Zonaras, xi. 8, &c.; Joseph. Ant. Jml. xix, 2, &c., xx. 1; Oros,

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