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Useful Notes / Claudius

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Caligula's uncle and Tiberius' nephew, unexpectedly becoming emperor at age 51 after escaping the murders of his family. Is famous for a certain TV Series, and for conquering Britain. Surviving his murderous family and eventually obtaining the imperial throne due to his Obfuscating Stupidity, he had a fairly successful reign. Poisoned by his wife (and niece) in 54, and succeeded by his adoptive son Nero.


  • Action Survivor: He managed to survive the deadly maze of conspiracies and backstabbings that was the Julio-Claudian family, in no small part due to his Obfuscating Stupidity. The imperial family ripped itself apart, and nobody bothered to kill "Claudius the Idiot" until he was the last man standing (well, crouching behind a curtain).
  • Almighty Janitor: During his nephew Caligula's reign, Claudius was appointed Consul to the Senate and was left in charge of administration. So when Claudius became Emperor, he was already experienced with the job of running the Empire, he was just higher up in the hierarchy.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Whether he actually was as dumb as his mother and nephew claimed or was Obfuscating Stupidity is the subject of much debate among historians. As is the degree to which he was manipulated by his wives and the freedmen who formed his most trusted advisers.
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  • Black Widow: His death was often believed to be by poison or poison mushroom, and his wife Agrippina is often believed to be responsible. Why would she do such a thing? So her son (and hence, Claudius' adopted son) Nero can become Emperor.
  • Bread and Circuses: Massively expanded during Claudius' reign, and the main reason for his huge popularity with the plebs.
  • Hidden Depths: Before becoming Emperor, he wrote several histories, one of which was censored by the Imperial Family for being too truthful. Though people thought he would be a poor Emperor, he turned out to be probably the best Julio-Claudian Emperors after Augustus. Though admittedly that isn't saying much.
  • Sadist: Other Roman Emperors, one of them having been his own nephew and predecessor Caligula, took part in Gladiator Games. What would weak, old Claudius do? Fight against a stranded orca. Granted, Pliny the Elder's account claims the whale managed to sink one of the ships attacking it, so it wasn't entirely one-sided and moving it into an arena would have been impossible for the time.
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  • Standardized Leader: Claudius was never really one of the greatest leaders of Rome, in his dynasty he would be the second greatest after Augustus, but many historians agree that at the very least, he was not incompetent as an Emperor. He certainly wasn't, compared to the late rule of Caligula.
  • Word of Dante: That the modern, academic consensus on Claudius matching what Robert Grave depicted in I, Claudius, particularly the whole idea of him Obfuscating Stupidity, is actually the result of a re-evaluation of the source material sparked by the popularity of Graves' novel and the subsequent mini-series.

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