Skip to content
October 13, 2015

13 Oct 54: Claudius poisoned; Nero ascends

On this day in 54, Roman emperor Claudius was poisoned; his adopted son, Nero, ascended to the throne.

Here are some more details on Claudius:

  • became the fourth Roman emperor in 41 A.D., succeeding Caligula
  • allegedly limped and stuttered
  • first emperor born outside of Italy (Gaul, 10 B.C.)

Claudius, a known womanizer, took four wives:

  • Urgulanilla, whom he divorced
  • Paetina, whom he also divorced
  • Messalina*, allegedly a nymphomaniac, whom Claudius had executed after she conspired against him
  • Agrippina the Younger, who probably had him killed to elevate Nero, her own son

*this has been a bottom-row response several times!

In literature:

  • Robert Graves wrote I, Claudius in 1934; takes the form of an autobiographical memoir
    • Graves later wrote a sequel, Claudius the God
    • a 1976 BBC adaptation of both starring Derek Jacobi received critical acclaim
  • a character of the same name murdered Hamlet’s father in the Shakespeare play

Image: contemporary marble bust, Naples National Archaeological Museum

Leave a Comment

What do you think?