Emperor Claudius had a nephew named Caligula who was considered one of Rome’s worst rulers. Once Emperor Caligula was murdered in 41 A.D. Claudius took his place. That is where he is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster. Most sources claim that Emperor Claudius was probably not the most likely candidate that should have been allowed a consulship in Rome. He was a sickly child and his illness had caused him to form some disabilities. He walked with a limp for most of his life and he was considered slightly deaf as well.
When former emperors Tiberius and Caligula had ruled Rome they both got rid of any potential rivals to their power. They didn’t care who the rivals were and they executed or banished many of their kinsmen or close friends. Since Claudius wasn’t well liked because of his illness Tiberius and Caligula both had overlooked him as a threat and they left him alone.
Claudius’ Early Years
Claudius came from a wealthy and respected family within Rome who had connections with Emperor Tiberius. His father Drusus was a military commander and politician who spent a great deal of time fighting in Germania. His mother was Antonia Minor the daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. He was born in 10 B.C. and apparently his father Drusus had died shortly before or after his birth.
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Once Claudius began to grow his mother didn’t want to have anything to do with him. She referred to him as a monster because of his apparent disability. He also had some unusual illnesses during his childhood years that help to make his handicap more profound. He was then sent to live with grandmother Livia who eventually pushed him off to a former mule driver for training. As he grew into young a young adult his handicap seemed as if it went away and his family became somewhat interested in him again. He became educated but still wasn’t fully accepted by his relatives or Roman society. A well-known scholar of the time named Livy was hired to tutor Claudius and this gave him some hope of becoming a respected leader within Roman society.
The Reluctant Politician
Claudius didn’t understand how to maneuver through politics and this dashed his hopes of becoming a leader in public office. Even though his uncle Emperor Tiberius allowed him a position he didn’t want him to advance any further. Claudius decided to retire to a scholarly life instead of trying to pursue a political career. After Emperor Tiberius had died Emperor Caligula took over and when he was in charge he eventually made Claudius his co-consul. The only reason why Caligula did this was for sentimental reasons and to publicly humiliate his uncle Claudius. Sources claim that Claudius was probably so stressed out that he lost a lot of weight during the four years that Emperor Caligula ruled Rome.
Claudius becomes Emperor
Emperor Caligula was assassinated in 41 A.D. and Claudius had to go into hiding before he could become the leader of Rome. Soon the senate realized that he should become the rightful emperor and allowed him to govern Rome. Once Claudius became ruler he pardoned many of the conspirators who killed his nephew but he did kill the main instigators of this event.
Emperor Claudius expanded the Empire’s borders during his rule gaining the territories of Judea, Lycia, Thrace, Noricum, Mauretania and Pamphylia. He conducted censuses throughout the empire, personally judge legal cases and built many public works. The people loved Claudius despite his disabilities. They considered him the same type of person as they were. However, he didn’t get along with the senate and tried to make many reforms to this governing body. Emperor Claudius also built temples to honor the Roman gods and he endorsed the spectacle of Roman games. Eventually, Claudius had died in 54 A.D. either by poisoning or from natural causes. He had four wives during his lifetime and his last wife was Agrippina the Younger. He had five children and his adopted son Nero (born by Agrippina) became the next ruler of Rome after his demise.
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