Claudius, the name of two Roman emperors. I. Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, the fourth emperor, born at Lugdunum (Lyons), Aug. 1, 10 B. C, died A. D. 54. He was the son of Drusus and Antonia, and the grandson of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia, who subsequently became the wife of Augustus. In his youth he was of delicate constitution and feeble intellect, neglected and despised by his relatives, and left to the care of pedagogues, women, and slaves. He possessed, however, great industry, and became a tolerable scholar. He was 50 years old and totally inexperienced in political affairs when the murder of Caligula, A. D. 41, called him to the throne. When the timid student heard of Caligula's fate, he hid himself in a remote apartment of the palace, fearing to be the next victim. In this position he was found by a common soldier, who raised him from the ground and saluted him as emperor. Other soldiers now entered the palace and joined their comrade, and presently the despised recluse was borne to the praetorian camj), and proclaimed by the legionaries, who immediately took the oath of allegiance to their new sovereign. His first acts were acts of mercy.
The enthusiasts who had dreamed of restoring the republic were freely pardoned, while only a few of the murderers of Caligula were put to death. But soon evil counsellors alarmed him with fictitious tales of conspiracies, and continually incited him to injustice and cruelty. Daring his reign the southern part of Britain was subdued and converted into a Roman province, the emperor himself taking part in the conquest, and celebrating a splendid triumph in consequence of it on his return to Rome, on which occasion he obtained from the senate the surname of Britannicus. Several other wars were also waged in this reign, with the nations of Germany, Syria, and Mauritania. He constructed the famous aqueduct which was named after himself, the harbor of Ostia, and the conduit which carried the waters of Lake Fucinus to the river Liris. lie was four times married. His last wife was his own niece Agrippina, who prevailed on him to set aside his son Britannicus, and to adopt hers in his stead; and who, when he repented of this act, and gave indication of his intention to annul it, killed him with poison.
He was the author of several historical works, the principal of which were a history of Rome from the battle of Actium to his own times, in 41 books, and a history of Etruria, in 20 books, all lost. II. Marcus Aurelius Claudius Gotliicus, born of humble parents in Dardania or Illyria in 214, died in 270. On the murder of Gal-lienus he was proclaimed emperor by the conspirators, whose choice was confirmed by the army and senate, March 24, 208. That day was signalized by a victory which the new emperor obtained over the Alemanni, in consequence of which he assumed the surname of Germanicus. The next year the Goths, having collected a vast fleet manned with over 300,-000 men, entered the Euxine from one of the Scythian rivers, passed into the AEgean, and, debarking their forces on the Macedonian coast, laid siege to Thessalonica. Claudius collected a great army, and hastened to encounter the barbarians. A terrible engagement took place near Naissus (now Nissa), in which the Goths were totally defeated, with 50,000 slain. The survivors retreated to the defiles of the Hsemus, where they endeavored to make a stand against the victors; but famine, cold, and pestilence so reduced their ranks that they were soon glad to surrender on condition of having their lives spared.
But the pestilence presently spread to the camp of their conquerors, and among its victims was Claudius.