Brief overview of Claudius and the Emperor Nero

Tiberias Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (10 B.C.-54 A.D.) was emperor of Rome from 41 A.D. to 54 A.D. He was born at Lyons and his parents were Drusus the Elder and Antonia. From his infancy he suffered from some sort of illness, many think that it was some form of cerebral palsy. His own family thought that it would be impossible for him to have any sort of public career, and they were humiliated by him. Yet underneath the surface was the mind of a scholar and orator.

Tiberias and Caligula saw no threat in Claudius, although many others and his family were either executed or went into exile. Claudius had served as consul for Caligula. By 41 A.D. Caligula was assassinated, and the praetorian guard had a difficult time finding a replacement. They chose Claudius and persuaded all of Rome to follow him, even the legions were happy because the brother of Germanicus was on the throne. The Senate had no choice in the matter because they feared the praetorian guard who were rewarded greatly by Claudius.

There was never a time in the Roman Empire when the Emperor was given so much power. There were six plots against his life, many of them being organized by the Senators. Claudius had married four times, and after his third marriage to Messalina he swore he would never marry again, and if he did the praetorian guard was to kill him. His first marriage bore him to children Drusus (died in childhood) and Claudia (illegitimate). His marriage to Messalina gave him two more children, Octavia and Britannicus.

When Claudius became emperor in 41 A.D. Agrippina (his niece) was recalled from exile and allowed to return to Rome, and her estate was returned to her. In 49 A.D. following the fall and execution of Empress Messallina, Claudius married Agrippina, and many things changed for the young Domitius (Nero).

This was Julia Agrippina’s third marriage, she was 34 years old and Claudius was 59 years old at the time of their marriage. This marriage proved to play a big part in the diabolical planning of Agrippina. Claudius was a strong leader and a very influential man, and throughout his life he suffered from some form of sickness, and this is probably why historians mentioned Claudius as a man with many strange behaviors. Agrippina knew that she could have an influence over the affairs in Rome through Claudius, and his life expectancy played a big factor in her plotting.

She convinced Claudius to adopt her son and in 50 A.D. Nero became the probable heir to the throne, even over Claudius's real son Britannicus. Seneca became Nero’s tutor, and in 53 A.D. Nero married Claudius's daughter Octavia. In 54 A.D. Agrippina murdered Claudius by giving him a plate of poison mushrooms, and Nero became ruler at the age of seventeen.