In a now famous remark, Edward Gibbons observed that ‘of the first fifteen emperors Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct’, meaning heterosexual. If Gibbon was right, the Roman Empire was ruled for almost 200 consecutive years by men whose homosexual interests, if not exclusive, were sufficiently noteworthy to be included for posterity.

Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality by John Boswell.

“But,” added W.C. Firebaugh in 1966, “Claudius was a moron.”


October 13th 54 AD: Claudius dies

On this day in 54 AD, the Roman Emperor Claudius died in Rome aged 63. Claudius was the fourth emperor after the Empire was consolidated by the first emperor Augustus. Tiberius, the second emperor, was Claudius’s uncle, and the young Claudius came to power after Tiberius’s successor, the insane Caligula, was assassinated by his own guard. Claudius proved a much more moderate and even-tempered leader than his predecessor, despite having previously been excluded from power due to his health problems. The new emperor had a strained relationship with the Roman Senate, who believed they did not have enough power under Claudius. However, the fourth emperor is responsible for several notable achievements, perhaps most importantly the Roman conquest of Britain, which greatly added to the territorial power of the Roman Empire. After his wife Messallina was executed for plotting against him, Claudius married his niece Agrippina. However, Agrippina had ambitions and supporters of her own, and feared Claudius would name his own son as his heir rather than her son Nero. Emperor Claudius died the day after holding a sumptuous banquet, and Roman opinion believed he was poisoned by Agrippina herself in order to secure her son’s succession. She was successful, and Nero became Roman Emperor, thus beginning the brutal rule of one of Rome’s most infamous emperors.

UK unveils rare Roman helmet mistaken for bucket

LONDON (Reuters) - A rare Roman cavalry helmet dating from Emperor Claudius’ invasion of Britain nearly 2,000 years ago was unveiled on Tuesday after painstaking restoration lasting nearly a decade.

The so-called Hallaton Helmet was found 10 years ago during the excavation of an Iron Age shrine at Hallaton in Leicestershire, central England.

At the time, archaeologists used to finding more instantly recognizable gold and silver coins joked that they had unearthed a fairly modern “rusty bucket.”

In fact what they had found was a treasure of considerable importance which experts said pointed to the close relationship between Roman invaders and some native Britons. Read more.

Everything, members of the senate, which is now considered to be of the highest antiquity was once new.
—  Claudius, Roman emperor from 41-54 AD, who drew from past historical events in Roman history to justify his actions in excepting Gauls into the senate in 48 AD. Many senators saw this as an affront to Italian pride and claimed that it was an insult to Italians to draw from other provinces, however close to Rome, in order to fill the ranks of the senate.

anonymous asked:

Well i just saw your post on Claudius which says that he was a dumb person. Do you think that he was dull just because he was a cripple? Personally, i dont think that he was not intelligent at all. Just because he was a stutterer and had a handicap doesnt make him a dumb personality. Or what do you think? :)

It was mainly based on the idea that (as is seen in I, Claudius, and maybe in the contemporary accounts as well, I’m not sure) Claudius pretended to be stupid, so he wouldn’t be seen as a threat to Caligula and thus wouldn’t be killed. That he had handicaps helped him in convincing others that he wasn’t to be taken seriously. Later, when he became Emperor, he dropped that façade (although his stutter etc. remained, but they’re not indicators of intelligence).

Day 4: Claudius

A while ago I read someone refer to Claudius as “the stupidest emperor.” If anything is evidence of falling prey to contemporary biases, that is for sure. Claudius was not a trained politician, nor a general of any ability, which according to Roman tradition made him probably the worst possible choice to lead the empire. (Sure, Caligula had been young and inexperienced, but at least he was the son of Germanicus!) Worst choice he may have been, but he was also the only choice. Claudius: Emperor by process of elimination. 

Being shut away for the vast majority of his life turned Claudius into the kind of emperor you might expect. He was a scholar, and more interested in infrastructure than combat. His one real foray into war ended rather bloodlessly–though not without plenty of bragging rights to go with it. My favorite thing about Claudius is that he was a linguist–he could read ancient Etruscan, and he cared about the purity of Latin. He tried to slow or halt the pronunciation creep that was happening at the time, and went so far as to introduce a few new letters to the alphabet! Fortunately or unfortunately, they didn’t stick. 

But being shut away had some pretty severe negative consequences too, most obviously in that he had no idea how to be in love. It seems like such a mundane problem for an emperor to have! And yet, while we can’t know for sure, the consensus is that it lead directly to his death. 


The metamorphosis of a great actor. Process for removing makeup: leaving Emperor Claudius to become Derek again. Impressive.

“Playing Claudius as an old man I wore an uncomfortable prosthetic mask and a false nose.
First they made a cast of my face, covering my head in plaster of Paris, with two straws stuck up my nose to breathe through for 40 minutes until it set. It was like being buried alive.
From the cast they made a mask of rubber strips placed next to one another and then glued on, then blended.
I had to arrive at the studio at 4am for this, and it took six hours to put on. To take it off was very difficult, too.
They had to use spirit remover and acetate, and it broke blood vessels, so once I got the rubber off I would be bleeding. The best way was for me to soak in a hot bath and put my head under using a snorkel.
Then if I was lucky I could lift off the face in one piece. I worked hard at the stammer, but the twitch was more hazardous. In one scene Claudius visits the Sybil and we decided I should raise my arms in supplication, bow my head, and twitch!
Doing this I cricked my neck and had to wear a white-collar support. But I couldn’t disguise the pain in my eyes”