Lyon to Drusus and Antonia daughter of the triumvir Anthony, he avoided politics, perhaps out of shyness, and dedicated himself to historical studies until in AD 41 the praetorians, having assassinated his nephew Caligula, proclaimed him emperor. Claudius governed honestly and moderately, refusing divine honors and showing formal respect for the Senate, which he nonetheless sought to deprive of power. He granted citizenship to many provincials, conquered Britain, enlarged the port of Ostia and gave Rome a superb aqueduct. In ca. 50, he expelled the Jews from Rome for, according to Suetonius Claud. 25, 4, causing disorders impulsore Chresto; some scholars think Chrestus is a corruption of Christus; others, perhaps the name of a Jewish agitator. This hit the Jews directly: Aquila and his wife Priscilla had to take refuge in Corinth Acts 18:2. In a letter to the Alexandrians, Claudius forbade the Jews to allow coreligionists to come from Syria or Egypt: some see this as a prohibition of Christian missionaries.

Claudius first married Messalina, then his niece Agrippina, who made him adopt her son from a previous marriage, Domitius, the future Nero, as heir over his own and Messalina’s son Brittanicus. Claudius died in 54, perhaps poisoned by Agrippina. His reign saw Paul’s missions and the first propagation of Christianity. H.I. Bell, Jews and Christians in Egypt, London 1924; L. Pareti, Storia di Roma, IV, Turin 1955; M. Sordi, Il cristianesimo e Roma, Bologna 1965, 61-66 and 420-421 bibl.; S. Benko, The Edict of Claudius of A.D. 49 and the Instigator Chrestus: Theol. Zeitschr. 25 1969 406-418; M. Sordi, I cristiani e l’impero romano, Milan 2004; G. Jossa, I cristiani e l’impero romano da Tiberio a Marco Aurelio, Naples 1991; F. Jacques – J. Sheid, Roma e il suo impero, It. tr., Rome-Bari 1992; A. Giardina – A. Schiavone, Storia di Roma, Turin 1999; S. Roda, Profilo di storia romana. Dalle origini alla caduta dell’Impero d’Occidente, Rome 2001.

CLAUDIUS Photo Gallery

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