Claudius - Romen Emperor answers questions
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Claudius dressed as a hero (from the Vatican Museum)

Claudius was born in 10 BC in the city of Lugdunum in Gaul (modern Lyons, France). His mother was Antonia Minor, Mark Anthony's youngest daughter with Octavia, and his father was Drusus, Tiberius' younger brother. Because his mother was the emperor Augustus' niece, Claudius was related to Augustus, and his uncle Tiberius was in line to become emperor, so Claudius was an important person even as a child. He had an older sister and an older brother, Germanicus (who grew up to be Caligula's father). Claudius' father died suddenly when Claudius was only a year old, and he was raised by his mother Antonia and his father's mother Livia. They hired the historian Livy to teach him history.

Claudius had a disability, so that his mother thought he would not be able to be a politician. He stammered, and his head shook, and his knees were weak, and he slobbered when he was excited. He may have been sick with a rare illness called Wilson's Disease, which can also make people psychotic (crazy) - Caligula may have had it too. Or it might have been cerebral palsy.

More about Claudius
More about the Julio-Claudian emperors

Bibliography and further reading about the Julio-Claudians:

Classical Rome, by John Clare (1993). For kids, the whole political history from beginning to end.

Oxford First Ancient History, by Roy Burrell (reissued 1997). Easy reading. It skips around a lot, not trying to tell everything, just highlights.

The Romans: From Village to Empire, by Mary Boatwright, Daniel Gargola, and Richard Talbert (2004). Okay, it's a little dry, but it is up to date and has all the facts you could want.

The Roman Revolution, by Ronald Syme (1960). Still a classic.

From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68
by H. H. Scullard (1959, 5th edition 1990). Another classic.

More about the Julio-Claudians
Year of the Four Emperors
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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