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E&D 5: Claudius: Remember, Remember...

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James Corke-Webster

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Transcript of E&D 5: Claudius: Remember, Remember...


invasion of Britain (third time lucky?)
AD43
took part (16 days)
triumph (record number of imperial acclamations)
cognomen
"Britannicus"
over-compensation? cf. Caligula
clever self-fashioning?
demonstrate divine support

Claudius: Remember, Remember..
BANDITS!
I. SUCCESSION & THE POINT OF NO RETURN?
II. BRITAIN
III. PLOTS
IV. NERO & BRITANNICUS

"People wondered at him for his strange obliviousness and unconcern. [... ... ...]
When he was going to adopt Nero, as if there was little cause for censure in his adopting a son-in-law, when he had a son of his own arrived at years of maturity
, he continually gave out in public ‘that no one had ever been admitted by adoption into the Claudian family’.
...
Towards the end of his life, he gave certain indications, and those evident enough, that
he repented both his marriage with Agrippina, and his adoption of Nero
. [... ... ...] Often, when he happened to meet Britannicus, he would embrace him tenderly, and charge him ‘to grow apace, and take account of me for all that I have done’. [... ... ...] And intending to give him his virile robe, while he was yet under age and a tender youth, because his growth would permit it, he added:
“I do so, that the people of Rome may at last have a true Caesar”, that is, Caesar by birth and not by adoption
."

Suetonius,
Life of Claudius
38&42



“‘
Claudius was the first Roman Emperor
’. [… …] Augustus had made a position, a bundle of powers collected at different times, cemented by the authority of success, and reinforced by the ultimate sanction of force, and he had changed it more than once. Tiberius, receiving the powers likewise at widely separated intervals, and with his minimalist interpretation of his position, had begun by acting as if he were still a private individual who happened to have had distinct powers conferred on him. Even the legitimacy of speaking of his ‘accession’ has been questioned. [… …] Gaius by contrast had received virtually all the powers of his predecessors at one blow. [… …] Like Gaius, Claudius received the title Augustus and all significant powers at a stroke - against the wishes of the majority of the senate. [… …]
The Principate was now a single office and Claudius was Emperor for a day before the senate confirmed him
.”
B. Levick,
Claudius
(New Haven: Yale, 1990), 41
II. BRITAIN
"Now that they had finished with Gaius, Charea and his friends saw that there was no escape if they went back the same way. What caused them hesitation was the act itself; for
great danger faced the assassins of an emperor whom the foolish people loved and honoured, and when the soldiers came to look for him there would be bloodshed
.
...
In the theatre, meanwhile,
there was horror and disbelief when the word came that Gaius was dead
. [… … …] Those on the other hand who, far from hoping, did not want any such thing to happen to Gaius - women and children, all the slaves,
some of the soldiers
- were reluctant to accept the truth on the grounds that no human being could be brave enough to do it.
The reason for the soldiers’ attitude was the pay they received and the fact that they were, in effect, partners in Gaius’ tyranny
. [… … …] The women and the younger generation had been won over by popular delights - games, gladiatorial shows, and the enjoyment of certain meat-distributions which were in theory for the welfare of the people but in fact to satisfy Gaius’ bloodthirsty madness. As for the slaves, they were on familiar terms with their masters and despised them; Gaius offered them a refuge against ill-treatment, since it was easy for them to give false information against their masters, and be believed."
Josephus,
Antiquities
19.115; 19.127-31
I. THE THIRD SUCCESSION
(& THE POINT OF NO RETURN)

Sources -

Tacitus,
Annals
but depleted
books 7-8 (Caligula) missing
9-10 (first 6 years Claudius) missing
Suetonius
Dio: only summary for Caligula's death & Claudius' accession
for accession only Flavius Josephus
V. NERO & BRITANNICUS
"[After the murder of Caligula:] The Senators were so
unanimous in their resolution to assert the liberty of their country
, that the consuls assembled them at first, not in the usual place of meeting, because it was named after Julius Caesar, but in the Capitol.
Some proposed to abolish the memory of the Caesars, and level their temples with the ground.
"
Suetonius,
Life of Caligula
60
death of Caligula Jan. 24, 41 AD
via conspiracy, praetorians
damnatio memoriae
but not universal
[elite bias of sources?]
Senate meets on the Capitol
to restore republic
demolish imperial temple
Portraits of Gaius smashed
Cassius Charea, nominated assassin of Gaius adopts ‘libertas’ as password
Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus, a leading senator, makes speech urging abolition of principate

BUT
Senate isolated? power been waning...
Claudius chosen by praetorians and received popular acclaim; oath of loyalty sworn
"
He undertook only one expedition, and that was of short duration
. The triumphal ornaments decreed him by the Senate, he considered as beneath the majesty of an emperor, and was therefore resolved to have the honour of a real triumph. For this purpose,
he selected Britain, which had never been attempted by any one since Julius Caesar
. [... ... ...]
Having travelled by land from Marseilles to Gessioriachum, he thence passed over to Britain; and
within a few days after his arrival, without battle or bloodshed, part of the island submitted to him. So, in the 6th month after his departure, he returned to Rome, and triumphed in the most pompous manner
. [... ... ...]
Among the spoils taken from the enemy, he fixed upon the pediment of his house in the Palatium a naval crown, in token of his having passed and, as it were, conquered the Ocean."
Suetonius,
Life of Claudius 17
"Having spent the greater part of his life in passing through these and similar troubles,
he came at last, in the 50th year of his age, to the empire, and that by a very strange and surprising trick of fortune
. [… … …]
[Claudius] crept into an adjoining balcony, where he hid himself behind the hangings of the door. A common soldier, who happened to pass that way, espied his feet, and desirous of knowing who he was, pulled him out; when, immediately recognizing him, he threw himself in a great fright at his feet, and saluted him by the title of emperor. [… … …]
Being received [by the soldiers] within the ramparts, he continued all night with the sentries on guard, and recovered somewhat from his fright, but
in no great hopes of the succession
. For the consuls, with the Senate and civic troops, had possessed themselves of the Forum and the Capitol, with the purpose of restoring the public liberty. [… … …]
The day afterwards,
the Senate being dilatory in their proceedings and worn out by division among themselves, while the people who surrounded the Senate house shouted that they would have one master, naming Claudius
,
he suffered the soldiers assembled under arms to swear allegiance
to him, promising them 15,000 sesterces a man;
he being the first of the Caesars who purchased the submission of the soldiers with money.
"
"Suetonius,
Life of Claudius
10 (selections)
"
In fulfilment of a vow, for the safety and the return and the British victory of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
, Pontifex Maximus, in the 5th year of tribunician power, Imperator 10 times, Father of his Country, consul designate for the 4th time; Aulus Vicirius Proculus, priest of Augustus, military tribune,
fulfilled his vow for the British victory
"

Inscription a statue base from Etruria (AD 45) [V. Saladino, in ZPE 39 (1980), no24; Braund, no211]


RIC 45, BMC 50. Denarius of Claudius, AD 49/50. Obverse: bust of Claudius, with legend TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P VIIII IMP XVI; reverse: triumphal arch surmounted by equestrian statue + two trophies, legend on architrave DE BRITANN

"He possessed majesty and dignity of appearance, but only when he was standing still or sitting, and especially when he was lying down; for he was tall but not slender, with an attractive face, becoming white hair, and a full neck. But
when he walked, his weak knees gave way under him and he had many disagreeable traits both in his lighter moments and when he was engaged in business; his laughter was unseemly and his anger still more disgusting, for he would foam at the mouth and trickle at the nose; he stammered besides and his head was very shaky at all times, but especially when he made the least exertion
."
Suetonius,
Life of Claudius
30.1
vs.
"The night was now well advanced, and
Chaerea asked the consuls for the password. They gave him ‘Liberty’. The solemn act was like a miracle that they could hardly believe.
Before the city was ruled by autocrats, the consuls had been the military commanders; now, in the 100th year since they had been robbed of the republic, they resumed the right to give the password."
Josephus,
Antiquities
19.186
A Roman Emperor 41AD, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, c. 1871
"It was while matters were at this stage that
Claudius was suddenly kidnapped from the palace
. The soldiers had held a meeting, and argued among themselves about what should be done. T
hey could see that a republic would never be able to keep control of so great a state, and if it did come into being it would not govern in their interest. If on the other hand some individual should gain power it would do them great harm not to have helped him to gain it
. So the best thing was to choose an emperor themselves,
while the situation was still fluid
. Claudius was the man - he was the dead Gaius’ uncle, and more illustrious than any of those gathered in the Senate house, whether in the distinction of his ancestors or in his own devotion to learning. Besides, if they made him emperor he would probably honour them for it and reward them with handouts. That was the plan. It was carried out immediately, and Claudius was kidnapped by the soldiers.
...
Claudius stood back in the darkness in a place accessible by a short flight of steps. But he was seen by one of the palace guard. [… … …] When Claudius tried to retreat, [the guard] caught hold of him, overpowered him, and then recognised who he was. “
Here’s a Germanicus!”
, he called to the soldiers behind; “let’s carry him off and set him up as emperor!”
Josephus
Antiquities
19.216-7
RIC 7: Aureus of Claudius, AD 41/2. Obverse: bust of Claudius, with legend TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P; reverse: battlemented wall inscribed IMPER RECEPT, enclosing praetorian camp in which Fides Praetorianorum stands, spear in right hand, aquilla in front of him [cf. Braund, no194]
RIC 11, BMC 8: Aureus of Claudius, AD 41/2. Obverse: bust of Claudius, with legend TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P; reverse: Claudius in toga clasping hands with soldier in military attire and holding aquila in left hand, with legend PRAETOR RECEPT [Smallwood, no36b; Braund, no194b]
"With these conciliatory words the envoys were dismissed.
Claudius then addressed the assembled troops, and made them swear an oath that they would be loyal to him
. In return, he gave the Praetorian guard 5,000 denarii per man, with proportionately more for the officers, and promised similar sums to all the other armies."
Josephus,
Antiquities
19.247
lingering senatorial resentment?
"So
the Senate’s position had become even more painful; they were already afraid of Claudius, and now they had even lost the liberty of which they were so proud
. Even so,
there were some among them whose illustrious birth and marriage connections made them ambitious
. Marcus Vinicius, for example: distinguished for his own nobility, he was also the husband of Julia, the sister of Gaius. He was keen to make a bid for power, but the consuls restrained him by devising one pretext after another. Valerius Asiaticus had similar ambitions, but he was checked by Minucianus, one of the assassins. If these would-be emperors had been allowed to take up arms against Claudius there would have been a massacre without parallel, not least because of the large number of gladiators in the city; these, with the soldiers of the night watch and the rowers from the fleet, were all streaming into the Praetorians’ barracks.
So the claimants withdrew, some to spare the city, others in fear for their own lives.
"


Josephus,
Antiquities
19.250-3
Relief from Aphrodisias: Claudius subduing Britannia; left: ‘Tiberius Claudius Caesar’; right: ‘Britannia’ [Braund, no211]
III. PLOTS
RPC 2371: coin from Ephesos. Obverse: bust of Britannicus, with legend BPETANNIKOC; reverse: bust of Nero with legend NEPOC KAICAP

RIC 76, BMC 84, coin issued under Claudius, AD 51-54). Obverse: bust of Nero, with legend ‘Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, princeps iuventutis’. Reverse: sacerdotal symbols, with legend ‘chosen supernumerary priest in all the colleges, by Senatorial Decree’. [Smallwood, no104a; Braund, no222a]
RIC 79; BMC 93, coin issued under Claudius (AD 51-54). Obverse: bust of Nero, with legend ‘to Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, consul designate’. Reverse: shield with legend ‘the equestrian order to the princeps iuventutis’ [Smallwood, no104b; Braund, no222b]

"he was encouraged [to claim the government] partly by the boldness of the soldiers, and
partly by the persuasion of king Agrippa
, who exhorted him not to let such a dominion slip out of his hands, when it came thus to him of its own accord."
Josephus,
Antiquities
19.236-38
"In matters of of religious ritual, civil and military customs, and the social status of all classes at home and abroad,
Claudius not only revived obsolescent traditions but invented new ones
."


Suetonius,
Life of Claudius
22
"But
there was nothing for which he was so notorious as timidity and suspicion
. Although in the early days of his reign, as we have said, he made a display of simplicity, he never ventured to go to a banquet without being surrounded by guards with lances and having his soldiers wait upon him in place of the servants; and he never visited a man who was ill without having the patient's room examined beforehand and his pillows and bed-clothing felt over and shaken out.
Afterwards he even subjected those who came to pay their morning calls to search, sparing none the strictest examination
. Indeed, it was not until late, and then reluctantly, that he gave up having women and young boys and girls grossly mishandled, and the cases for pens and styles taken from every man's attendant or scribe."
Suetonius,
Life of Claudius
35
"Mushrooms should be classed amongst foods which are eaten rashly. Though delicacies, they are associated with the most notorious murder, having been
the means by which Agrippina poisoned her husband, the emperor Claudius
, and by so doing, gave the whole world, and especially herself
another poison
- her son Nero."

Pliny the Elder,
Natural History
22.92


"
Some dodgy helping of toadstools is what's set in front of his guests
Of low grade. For the master,
porcini
, as eaten by Claudius,
Until they were served by his wife as the last things he would ever eat
."
Juvenal,
Satires
5.146-8
"And he would certainly have deceived Heracles, who was pretty dim, if
the goddess Fever had not been there
. Abandoning her own shrine,
she alone had come with him
, leaving all the rest of the gods in Rome."

Seneca?
Apocolocyntosis
6.1
"All other animals have fixed mating seasons in the year. Mankind, as has been said, mates at every hour of day and night. Other animals have enough of intercourse, mankind is almost insatiable. Messalina, the wife of Claudius Caesar, thinking this would be a crowning victory, selected as an opponent in this contest the highest ranking slave-girl of the prostitutes who provided their services for a fee.
Messalina beat her in a twenty-four hour contest, having sexual intercourse twenty-five times.
"
Pliny,
Natural History
10.171-2
"And now came the end of his domestic blindness: before long, he was driven to note and to avenge the excesses of his wife — only to burn afterwards for an incestuous union...
By now the ease of adultery had cloyed on Messalina and she was drifting towards untried debaucheries, when
Silius himself, blinded by his fate, or convinced perhaps that the antidote to impending danger was actual danger, began to press for the mask to be dropped
... Yet, for the sake of that transcendent infamy which constitutes the last delight of the profligate, she coveted the name of wife; and, waiting only till Claudius left for Ostia to hold a sacrifice, she celebrated the full solemnities of marriage.
It will seem, I am aware, fabulous
that, in a city cognizant of all things and reticent of none, any human beings could have felt so much security... But
I have added no touch of the marvellous
: all that I record shall be the oral or written evidence of my seniors.
A shudder, then, had passed through the imperial household. In particular, the holders of power with all to fear from a reversal of the established order
, gave voice to their indignation, no longer in private colloquies, but without disguise:— "
Whilst an actor profaned the imperial bedchamber, humiliation might have been inflicted, but destruction had still been in the far distance. Now, with his stately presence, his vigour of mind, and his impending consulate, a youthful noble was girding himself to a greater ambition — for the sequel of such a marriage was no mystery
!""

Tacitus,
Annals
11.25-28
"If you ask how much wealth is enough, I'll give you my answer:
Enough to keep hunger and thirst at bay, and to ward off the cold...
...But if that's not enough for your appetite, nothing will do: not even the wealth of a Croesus,
Not the kingdoms of Persia, not even the wealth of Narcissus, the freedman.
The emperor Claudius granted him anything that he requested;
Followed whatever Narcissus demanded: so killed his wife.
"


Juvenal,
Satires
14.327-332
"In the consulate of Faustus Sulla and Salvius Otho, Furius Scribonianus was driven into exile, on a charge of inquiring into the end of the sovereign by the agency of astrologers: his mother Vibidia was included in the arraignment, on the ground that she had not acquiesced in her former misadventure — she had been sentenced to relegation.
Camillus, the father of Scribonianus, had taken arms in Dalmatia: a point placed by the emperor to the credit of his clemency, since he was sparing this hostile stock for a second time.
"
Suetonius,
Life of Claudius 17
"...the Romans no longer cherished fair hopes of Claudius, and
Annius Vinicianus with some others straightway formed a plot against him. Annius was one of those who had been proposed for the throne after the death of Gaius, and it was partly fear inspired by this circumstance that caused him to rebel
. As he possessed no military force, however, he sent to Furius Camillus Scribonianus, the governor of Dalmatia, who had a large body of citizen and foreign troops, and enlisted his support; for Camillus was already making his own plans for an uprising, more especially because he had been spoken of for emperor.
When Annius had got thus far, many senators and knights flocked to him; but they were of no avail, for the soldiers, when Camillus held out to them the hope of seeing the republic restored and promised to give back to them their ancient freedom, suspected that they should have trouble and strife once more, and would therefore no longer listen to him
. At this he became frightened and fled from them, and coming to the island of Issa he there took his life.
Claudius for a time had been in great terror, and had been ready to abdicate his power voluntarily in Camillus' favour; but he now recovered courage
."

Dio Cassius
Roman History
60.15-16
AD 42: conspiracy by Annius Vinicianus

AD 47/8: conspiracy by Messalina & adulterous partner, Silius, ‘to share the empire’
BUT
... women and freedmen

AD 54: Agrippina (the Younger)... for Nero?

... 35 senators; 300 equites executed in total during reign, but also took steps to curb
maiestas
trials

"Publius Palpellius Clodius Quirinalis, son of Publius, of the Maecian voting-tribe,
primipilus
of legion XX, military tribune of legion VII,
Claudia Pia Fidelis [legion of Claudius, loyal and faithful]
, procurator of the emperor, prefect of the fleet, gave [this]."

ILS 2702 = Smallwood 291


"On the ninth day before the Kalends of February at about the seventh hour he hesitated whether or not to get up for luncheon, since his stomach was still disordered from excess of food on the day before, but at length he came out at the persuasion of his friends. In the covered passage through which he had to pass, some boys of good birth, who had been summoned from Asia to appear on the stage, were rehearsing their parts, and he stopped to watch and to encourage them; and had not the leader of the troop complained that he had a chill, he would have returned and had the performance given at once.
From this point there are two versions of the story: some say that as he was talking with the boys, Chaerea came up behind, and gave him a deep cut in the neck, having first cried, "Take that," and that then the tribune Cornelius Sabinus, who was the other conspirator and faced Gaius, stabbed him in the breast. Others say that Sabinus, after getting rid of the crowd through centurions who were in the plot, asked for the watchword, as soldiers do, and that when Gaius gave him "Jupiter," he cried "So be it,"
and as Gaius looked around, he split his jawbone with a blow of his sword. As he lay upon the ground and with writhing limbs called out that he still lived, the others dispatched him with thirty wounds; for the general signal was "Strike again." Some even thrust their swords through his privates. At the beginning of the disturbance his bearers ran to his aid with their poles, and presently the Germans of his body-guard, and they slew several of his assassins, as well as some inoffensive senators.


Suetonius,
Life of Caligula
58
"Thus Gaius, after doing in three years, nine months, and twenty-eight days all that has been related,
learned by actual experience that he was not a god
.
Now he was spat upon by those who had been accustomed to do him reverence even when he was absent; and he became a sacrificial victim at the hands of those who were wont to speak and write of him as "Jupiter" and "god."
His statues and his images were dragged from their pedestals, for the people in particular remembered the distress they had endured
."
Cassius Dio,
Roman History
59.30
"When the news of Gaius' death reached the theatre, there was shock and disbelief.
Some there were who welcomed the news of his elimination with absolute delight
and would have long ago regarded such an event as a blessing for themselves. But their terror made them refuse to believe it.
There were others whose hopes were diametrically the opposite, because they had no wish for any such thing to happen to Gaius.
They too refused to believe it, because they could not imagine that any man would have the courage for such a deed"

Josephus,
Jewish Antiquities
19.127-8
[19.167-8] “Romans:
it seems incredible, since it comes upon us unexpectedly after so long a time, but we really do possess the dignity of freedom
. How long it will last we do not know: that lies with the will of the gods, who have bestowed it. But it is enough to make us glad, and to bring us together in joy, even if we are to be deprived of it. For men with a sense of honour and independent judgement, it is enough to live even one hour in a country that governs itself, controlled by the laws that made it great.”
[175] “
There have been many tyrants, and grievous and intolerable rulers they have shown themselves.
But one man - Gaius, who died today, outdid them all in his display of terror.”
[178] “Well, now you are rid of such evils. You are accountable only to each other, which is the best of all constitutions for guaranteeing present concord, future security and the glory that goes with the prosperity of the city. It is your duty to take thought individually for the public benefit - and to declare your opinion against anything previously suggested which you may not like. There is no danger in that. No despot is set over you now with a free hand to ruin the city, and to remove autocratically those who open their mouths.”
[182] “But our first duty is to confer the highest possible honours on the tyrannicides and on Cassius Chaerea in particular. With the gods’ help, in planning and action this one man has shown himself the giver of liberty.”
Josephus,
Antiquities
19.167-184 [speech by Senator Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus]
Full transcript