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Emperor Claudius

By Vikasacharya

Emperor Claudius

After the death of Emperor Caligula and his family at the hands of the Praetorian Guard, the future Emperor Claudius (41-54 CE) was found quivering behind a set of curtains, fearing for his own life, and named emperor.  Historian Cassius Dio wrote, “At first the soldiers, supposing that he was someone else or perhaps had something worth taking, dragged him forth; and then, on recognizing him, they hailed him emperor and conducted him to the camp.  Afterwards they together with their comrades entrusted to him the supreme power. As the emperor, he is credited to have expanded the Roman Empire to include Britain as a province. He was born as the son of Nero Claudius Drusus, a popular and successful Roman general who died when Claudius was just a baby. Raised by his mother who never remarried, he grew up to be a clumsy and unattractive young man who also suffered from a limp and slight deafness. He was ostracized by his own family because of these factors and was excluded from public office. However, his infirmity proved to be a blessing in disguise as the enemies of the noble family did not view him as a serious threat and he escaped the fate of several other nobles who had been assassinated by their rivals. His ascent to the throne happened by chance. Tiberius, the second emperor of Rome, was his uncle, and when Tiberius’s successor Caligula was assassinated in January 41 AD, Claudius was declared the emperor. In spite of ascending the throne late in life, and despite not being experienced on the political fronts, he proved to be an efficient administrator. He began the conquest of Britain, and his empire underwent a vast expansion under his rule. He was also an intellectual and a noted historian who had a keen interest in books and academic study.

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