Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus (c. 12 February AD 41 – 11 February AD 55), usually called Britannicus, was the son of Roman emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina. For a time he was considered his father's heir, but that changed after his mother's downfall in 48, when it was revealed she had a bigamous marriage without Claudius' knowledge. The next year, his father married Agrippina the Younger, Claudius' fourth and final marriage. Their marriage was followed by the adoption of Agrippina's son, Lucius Domitius, whose name became Nero as a result. His step-brother would later be married to his sister Octavia, and soon eclipsed him as Claudius' heir. Following his father's death in October 54, Nero became emperor. The sudden death of Britannicus shortly before his fourteenth birthday is reported by all extant sources as a poisoning on Nero's orders—as Claudius' natural son, he represented a threat to Nero's claim to the throne.

Born12 February AD 41
Diedc.11 February AD 55 (aged 13)
Full name
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus;
initially Tiberius Claudius Germanicus
HouseJulio-Claudian Dynasty
MotherValeria Messalina
Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus 27 BC – AD 14
Tiberius AD 14–37
Caligula AD 37–41
Claudius AD 41–54
Nero AD 54–68
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors


Britannicus' name at birth was Tiberius Claudius Germanicus. The agnomen, his first surname Germanicus, was first awarded to his paternal grandfather Drusus the Elder after his death in 9 BC to commemorate his victories over the Germanic tribes. Accordingly, Drusus' sons (Claudius and Germanicus) inherited the name and passed it to their sons as well. Britannicus was given to his father in AD 43 following his conquest of Britain. Claudius never used it himself and gave the name to his son instead, and his full name became: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus. He came to be known by his new name which seems to have replaced Germanicus altogether.[1][2]

Background and family

A sestertius issued to commemorate Britannicus' birth

Britannicus was born on or about 12 February 41 in Rome, to Emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina. As such, he was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, specifically of the gens Claudia.[note 1] Britannicus' father had been reigning for less than a month, and his position was boosted greatly by the birth of an heir. To mark the birth, the emperor issued sestertii with the obverse Spes Augusta – the hope of the imperial family.[3]

Britannicus had four siblings: a half-brother, Claudius Drusus, by Claudius' first wife (Plautia Urgulanilla) who died at the age of 3 or 4; a half-sister, Antonia, by Claudius' second wife (Aelia Paetina); a sister by the same mother named Octavia; and an adoptive brother, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (the future emperor Nero), who was adopted in AD 49 and renamed Nero Claudius Caesar as a result.[4][5]

Two years later, in 43, Claudius was granted the honorific "Britannicus" by the senate as a reward for his conquest of Britain. The emperor never used the name himself, but allowed his son to inherit it. This is the name by which the boy became known to posterity. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, a Roman historian writing from the late first century, says that Claudius adored Britannicus, carrying him around at public events, and "would wish him happy auspices, joined by the applauding throng."[6]

During his father's marriage to Messalina


Britannicus was tutored by Sosibius, who was a close associate of Publius Suillius Rufus and a friend of his mother.[7] He was educated alongside Titus Vespasianus, the future emperor of Rome. They were brought up together and taught similar subjects by the same tutors.[8]

In 47, Sosibius gave Claudius a reminder of the power and wealth which threatened the Emperor's throne. His tutor then, as part of his mother's contrivances, told the emperor of Decimus Valerius Asiaticus's involvement in the murder of Caligula and of his growing popularity in Rome. Sosibius went on, saying Asiaticus meant to rally Roman legions in Germany against the throne. Asiaticus was apprehended immediately, and brought to Rome in chains.[7] Sullius successfully pursued charges against other equestrians in the Senate.[9] According to Cassius Dio, Asiaticus was put to death as a favor to Messalina for his property (the Gardens of Lucullus).[10][11]

It was later voted by the Senate that Sosibius be given a million sesterces for giving Britannicus the benefit of his teachings and Claudius that of his counsel (i.e. for his involvement in the case against Asiaticus).[12]

Fall of Messalina

Messalina holding her son Britannicus, Louvre

Brittanicus took part in the celebrations of Rome's 800th anniversary (48). It was the sixth ever Ludi Saeculares ("Secular Games") and sixty-four years since the last one held in the summer of 17 BC by Augustus. Britannicus' father was there as was Lucius Domitius and his mother Agrippina who were the last surviving descendants of Germanicus. Claudius watched the young nobility, including Britannicus and Domitius, enact the Battle of Troy in the circus. Tacitus says Domitius was greeted with more enthusiasm than Britannicus.[note 2][13][14]

The games were seen as the introduction of Agrippina and Domitius to public life, and his mother Messalina must have been aware of this and envious of Agrippina. Tacitus writes that Messalina was too busy engaging in an "insane" affair to plot the destruction of Agrippina.[15] He says:[16]

She had grown so frantically enamoured of Gaius Silius, the handsomest of the young nobility of Rome, that she drove from his bed Junia Silana, a high-born lady, and had her lover wholly to herself. Silius was not unconscious of his wickedness and his peril; but a refusal would have insured destruction, and he had some hope of escaping exposure; the prize too was great, and so he consoled himself by awaiting the future and enjoying the present. As for her, careless of concealment, she went continually with a numerous retinue to his house, she haunted his steps, showered on him wealth and honours, and, at last, as though empire had passed to another, the slaves, the freedmen, the very furniture of the emperor were to been seen in the possession of the paramour.

— Tacitus, The Annales, 11.12

The affair continued into the next year. It was then that the affair between Messalina and Silius took a new turn. Silius, who had no children of his own, proposed to marry Messalina on condition that she allow him to adopt Britannicus.[note 3] The plan was to overthrow Claudius and rule together as regents of Britannicus. She acquiesced and waited for Claudius to leave Rome before performing the sacrifice and entering the bigamous marriage. The illegal union was made known to Claudius by Callistus and Narcissus, freedmen in his service. Claudius had Messalina, Silius, and others who knew of the affair put to death. Messalina was given a knife to kill herself with, though a tribune of the Praetorian Guard had to force it through her neck.[11] Images and statues of Silius and his associates were ordered destroyed.[17][18]

During his father's marriage to Agrippina

The fall of Silius and Messalina opened the way for Agrippina the Younger to become his father's fourth wife. His father claimed to be disinterested in another marriage,[19] but it wouldn't be long. Unlike his uncle Germanicus, his father had never been adopted into the Julii. Claudius thought marrying his niece would bring his family closer to that of Augustus, as Agrippina and Domitius were the last living descendants of Germanicus. So, in 49, despite a marriage between uncle and niece being incestuous under Roman law, his father remarried.[20][21]

Rise of Nero

Young Nero Palatino Inv616
Bust of the young Nero

In 49, during the term of consul-elect Mammius Pollio (March–June), Domitius was betrothed to his sister Octavia and thus became his equal in rank. Tacitus suggests this move had the support of those who feared the vengeance of Britannicus against those who wronged his mother.[22][23]

Through the insistence of Pallas, his father was convinced to adopt Domitius as his son. Claudius was convinced to do as Augustus had done in adopting Gaius and Lucius Caesar, and as Tiberius had done in adopting Germanicus despite having a son already. It was in February 50 that his father passed a law adopting Domitius into the Claudii and naming him Nero, and Domitius became "Nero Claudius Caesar". Nero and Britannicus then became joint-heirs to the emperor, and Agrippina was then given the title of Augusta.[24][23]

In AD 51, his brother Nero assumed the toga virilis despite not yet being 14. The Senate also decided then that Nero should hold the consulship during his twentieth year (AD 56) and, as consul-elect, that he should enjoy imperium proconsulare ("proconsular authority") beyond the limits of Rome with the title of princeps iuventutis ("prince of the youth of Rome"). The progress of Nero seems to have followed in the footsteps of Gaius and Lucius Caesar. To mark the occasion, a donative was given to the soldiery of Rome, and presents to the people. His step-brother's status, along with that of Agrippina, is echoed on contemporary coinage.[25][23]

By contrast, Britannicus was progressively isolated. At the games of the circus Nero appeared in triumphal robes while Britannicus was still dressed as a boy. Tacitus says their clothing at the games affected the expectations of the people: with Nero in a general's clothing, and Britannicus in the dress of boyhood. He wouldn't be due for the toga until 12 February AD 55. He and his supporters were seen as a potential problem for Nero. Agrippina replaced his tutors with her own nominees, having convinced Claudius to order their executions, including the execution of Sosibius.[25][26] Not just his tutors, but the two prefects of the Praetorian Guard, Lusius Geta and Rufius Crispinus, were replaced as well. They were thought to be sympathetic to the cause of Britannicus and his mother, as Tacitus reports: it would have been risky to surround Nero with any but those loyal to Claudius and Agrippina.[27] His step-mother had them replaced with Sextus Afranius Burrus who was a good soldier, but knew to whom he owed his allegiance.[28][23]

Nero's career progressed steadily: he gave speeches in AD 51 and 52. The speech in 51 thanked the emperor for honours given to him, and that of 52 was a vow for the safe recovery of the emperor from illness.[23] It was in 53 that Nero married Britannicus' sister Octavia, who first had to be legally transferred to another family to obviate charges of incest.[29] By this time it became clear that Nero was the unambiguous designate.[30] His step-brother became more politically active following his marriage to Octavia: he exempted Illium from all public burdens arguing that Rome was descended from Troy through Aeneas (the founder of the Julian line), procured funds for the colony of Bononia (modern Bologna, Italy) which had been devastated by fire, and the people of Rhodes had their freedom restored.[31]

Meanwhile, Britannicus himself was kept in reserve in case Nero died, with deaths of princes being recent (such as Tiberius Gemellus). Though Nero was clearly the heir-designate, he was not named princeps designate to avoid hurting both Republican sentiment and the Augustan compromise of a principate that lay between monarchy and magistracy.[32]

Death of his father, Claudius

O: head of Claudius


R: bust of Britannicus


bronze coin struck in Thessalonica 53 - 54 AD; ref.: RPC 1588

Suetonius reports that Claudius wished Rome to have a "real Caesar", and Britannicus enjoyed support from Claudius' loyal and influential freedman, Narcissus. There are possible signs of support for Britannicus seen on coins from Moesia and North Africa, placing Britannicus' head and title on the obverse side.[33] Claudius became aware of his wife's actions and began preparing for the end of her power. His father wished to bestow upon him the toga, and to declare Britannicus as his heir. According to Suetonius, when Claudius mentioned his intention to give Britannicus the toga of manhood he said, "That the Roman people may at last have a genuine Caesar."[34][35][36]

The actions Claudius took to preserve his rule in the short-term were not easily undone as Britannicus approached manhood. In late 54, Britannicus was within 6 months of reaching manhood by Roman tradition, and had matured early. According to the historian Suetonius, Claudius began to mention divorcing Agrippina and dismissing Nero now that he was no longer needed. In preparation, Claudius commended both his son and adopted son to the Senate as equals in his last Senate address. Suetonius reports that Claudius now admonished his son to grow up quickly, implying that everything would be righted when he assumed the toga virilis.[34]

On 13 October 54, Claudius died, either by natural causes or poison. In the accounts of his death by poison, Agrippina, aware of Claudius' intentions of placing Britannicus on the throne, had a well-known poisoner, Locusta, infuse mushrooms with poison that were fed to the emperor.[35][36][33]

There were those who preferred Britannicus over Nero, such as Claudius' freedman Narcissus.[37] Unfortunately for his cause, Narcissus was away in Campania when the emperor was poisoned, while Britannicus and his sisters, Octavia and Antonia, were kept out of sight in their rooms by Agrippina.[35] That way none could challenge Nero's succession. If one thought that Britannicus' claim should take precedence, the response was that Nero too was the son of Claudius, with Agrippina linking him back to Augustus.[38] It didn't help that many were convinced that Britannicus was no longer in the line of succession, a direct effect of the propaganda against him by Agrippina.[29] Nero spoke the eulogy at the emperor's funeral and took sole power. Claudius' new will, which either granted joint-rule to Britannicus and Nero or just Britannicus, was suppressed by the new emperor's men in the senate.[note 4]


Nerón y Agripina
Agrippina crowns her young son Nero with a laurel wreath.

Immediately following the death of Claudius, Agrippina set upon removing those she had seen as a threat. Marcus Junius Silanus, proconsul of Asia whose brother Lucius had been eliminated by her as well, was poisoned for no other reason than that he had been the great-great-grandson of Augustus. Claudius' freedman Narcissus, Britannicus' champion according to Tacitus, had been driven to suicide after a harsh imprisonment. In Tacitus XIII, this was carried out by Agrippina against the wishes of Nero.[39][40]

Before Nero's consulship in 55, Nero forbade the persecution of a Julius Densus, an equestrian whose partiality for Britannicus had been construed as a crime.[41]

During his consulship, Nero had become more independent from his mother's influence. He began a relationship with a slave girl, and removed Pallas, a favorite of Agrippina, from his post as secretary of the treasury. In response, Agrippina threatened to champion the cause of Britannicus to keep her son in line.[42] In the account of Tacitus, Agrippina says to Nero:[43]

that Britannicus was now of full age, he who was the true and worthy heir of his father's sovereignty, which a son, by mere admission and adoption, was abusing in outrages on his mother. She shrank not from an utter exposure of the wickedness of that ill-starred house, of her own marriage, to begin with, and of her poisoner's craft. All that the gods and she herself had taken care of was that her stepson was yet alive; with him she would go to the camp, where on one side should be heard the daughter of Germanicus; on the other, the crippled Burrus and the exile Seneca, claiming, forsooth, with disfigured hand, and a pedant's tongue, the government of the world.

— Tacitus, The Annales, 13.14

Tacitus recounts Nero's numerous attempts to publicly undermine Britannicus' image. In one such attempt, during the feast of Saturn (the Saturnalia), he and Nero were playing a game among a group of their friends, and Nero chose Britannicus to sing a song with the expectation that Britannicus would embarrass himself. Britannicus however, not only avoided humiliation, but also generated sympathy amongst the guests, after singing a poem telling the tale of how he had been cast aside in favour of Nero. The young emperor immediately began plotting his step-brother's assassination.[42]

According to Suetonius, Nero moved against Britannicus, employing the same poisoner, Locusta, who had been hired to murder his father, Claudius. The first dose failed, and Nero decided to throw caution to the wind. In the account of Suetonius, he had Locusta brought to his room to mix a faster acting poison before his very eyes. After many tests on kids, there was a mixture that killed an animal instantly. Being pleased, Nero had the concoction brought immediately to the dining room.[44]

Britannicus was poisoned at a dinner party attended by his sister, Octavia, Agrippina, and several other notables. Tacitus' account of the event is as follows: Britannicus was given a hot drink, which was tested by a food taster, and when he asked for it to be cooled, the poison was added to it with the cold water. The substance was instantly effective, and he "lost alike both voice and breath."[45] Nero claimed to those present that Britannicus was merely suffering from an epileptic fit, and that he had been afflicted with the condition since childhood.[42] He died sometime between December and his 14th birthday, on 11 February 55, when he was to assume manhood, and just four months after his father's death.[42][27] For her service, the emperor had Locusta rewarded with large estates, and even sent her pupils.[44]

Tacitus alleges that Britannicus was sexually abused by his step-brother in the period leading up to his death, and claims that, because he was a victim of sexual abuse, his death was not cruel.[42][46]

Post mortem

Britannicus was cremated and his ashes placed with those of his father in the Mausoleum of Augustus. Nero held his funeral the very next day in the rain and gave no eulogy, saying it was "a tradition in the case of untimely deaths not to oppress the public with eulogies and processions." Dio says that Nero had the corpse covered in gypsum to cover the effects of the poison on the skin. While he was being carried through the Forum, the rain had uncovered the body making plain to all who could see that he had been poisoned.[47] Author and historian Beacham considers Dio's account to be "theatrical".[48]

Given his and Nero's relationship, it was not surprising when Britannicus died just before his fourteenth birthday. Britannicus criticized Nero's singing voice, and referred to his adoptive brother by his original name of Lucius Domitius.[49] In favoring Nero, Claudius sealed the fate of his son, and perhaps his own. Ominously for Agrippina, Seneca and Burrus did not complain: either they had been bought off, or regarded Britannicus' death as inevitable given his relationship with Nero. Instead, they concentrated on growing their influence with Nero.[50][27]

According to Suetonius, Britannicus was good friends with the future Emperor Titus, whose father Vespasian had commanded legions in Britain. As part of the Flavians' attempts to link themselves with the Julio-Claudians, Titus claimed that he had been seated with Britannicus on the night he was killed. He even claimed to have tasted the poison, which resulted in a serious and long illness. Titus would go on to erect a gold statue of his childhood friend, and issue coins in his memory.[51]

Britannicus in popular culture

Britannicus is portrayed in Britannicus (1669) by French playwright Jean Racine. [52]

He was played by Graham Seed in I, Claudius, a 1976 television series by Jack Pulman.[53]


Ancestors of Britannicus[54][55]
16. Drusus Claudius Nero I
8. Tiberius Claudius Nero
17. Claudia
4. Nero Claudius Drusus
18. Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus
9. Livia Drusilla
19. Aufidia
2. Claudius
20. Marcus Antonius Creticus
10. Mark Antony (=30.)
21. Julia Antonia
5. Antonia Minor
22. Gaius Octavius
11. Octavia Minor (=27. & 31.)
23. Atia Balba Caesonia
1. Britannicus
24. Appius Claudius Pulcher
12. Marcus Valerius Messala Barbatus Appianus
6. Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus
26. Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor
13. Claudia Marcella Minor
27. Octavia Minor (=11. & 31.)
3. Valeria Messalina
28. Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
14. Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
29. Aemilia Lepida
7. Domitia Lepida the Younger
30. Mark Antony (=10.)
15. Antonia Major
31. Octavia Minor (=11. & 27.)


  1. ^ It is uncertain what the exact date of Britannicus' birthday was, with the earliest possible date being early 39 or 40, and the latest as AD 42. The year 41 is widely accepted due to the fact that Britannicus was almost 14, and therefore on the cusp of assuming the toga virilis, when he was killed in 55 (Smith 1880, p. 505). The day 12 February is based off the testimony of Suetonius that Britannicus was born on the twenty-second day of his fathers' reign. (Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Life of Claudius, 27 Archived 2017-01-06 at the Wayback Machine).
  2. ^ Tacitus claims the enthusiasm in which the future emperor Nero was greeted is a sign of his greatness. He wrote during the reign of Nero and in this same passage claims to have overseen the seventh Ludi Saeculares as it was his duty being a member of the Quindecimviri sacris faciundis and holding the title of praetor (Tacitus, The Annals, XI.1112).
  3. ^ In the account of Cassius Dio, she proposed to marry him as she not only wanted to have affairs, but to hold many husbands as well. She also grants him a royal residence and grants him a consulship (Dio, LX.31).
  4. ^ Barrett argues that Tacitus' reference to the will being suppressed so as to prevent outrage about Nero meant that the will did not name Nero as primary or sole heir. Therefore the Senate's elevation of Nero would have caused outrage if the will were read (Barrett 1996, p. 174).


  1. ^ Hornblower, Spawforth & Esther 2012, p. 325
  2. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History LV.2 for Germanicus; Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX.22 Archived 2012-07-17 at for Britannicus
  3. ^ Levick 2012, p. 55
  4. ^ Osgood 2011, p. 207
  5. ^ Shotter 1997, p. 9
  6. ^ Suetonius, Life of Claudius, 27 Archived 2012-06-30 at
  7. ^ a b Tacitus, XI.1
  8. ^ Suetonius, Life of Titus, 2
  9. ^ Tacitus, XI.23
  10. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX.29
  11. ^ a b Dando-Collins 2008, p. 152
  12. ^ Tacitus, XI.4
  13. ^ Tacitus, The Annals, XI.11
  14. ^ Shotter 1997, p. 8
  15. ^ Shotter 1997, p. 8
  16. ^ Tacitus, The Annals, XI.12
  17. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XI.2938
  18. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX.31
  19. ^ Suetonius, Life of Claudius 26 Archived 2012-06-30 at
  20. ^ Osgood 2011, p. 222
  21. ^ Shotter 1997, pp. 6-8
  22. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XII.9
  23. ^ a b c d e Shotter 1997, p. 9
  24. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XII.2526
  25. ^ a b Tacitus, The Annales, XII.41
  26. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX.32
  27. ^ a b c Osgood 2011, p. 333
  28. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XII.42
  29. ^ a b Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX.33
  30. ^ Osgood 2011, p. 227
  31. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XII.58
  32. ^ Osgood 2011, p. 232
  33. ^ a b Shotter 1997, p. 10
  34. ^ a b Suetonius, Life of Claudius, 43 Archived 2012-06-30 at
  35. ^ a b c Cassius Dio, Roman History, LX.34
  36. ^ a b Tacitus, The Annales, XII.6569
  37. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XII.65
  38. ^ Osgood 2011, p. 247
  39. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XIII.1
  40. ^ Osgood 2011, p. 250
  41. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XIII.10
  42. ^ a b c d e Tacitus, The Annales, XIII.1217
  43. ^ Tacitus, The Annales, XIII.14
  44. ^ a b Suetonius, Life of Nero, 33
  45. ^ "Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals, BOOK XIII, chapter 16". Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  46. ^ Woodman 2009, p. 135
  47. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXI.7
  48. ^ Beacham 1999, p. 200
  49. ^ Suetonius, Life of Nero, 7
  50. ^ Shotter 1997, p. 12
  51. ^ Suetonius, Life of Titus, 2
  52. ^ Burgwinkle, Hammond & Wilson 2011, p. 1669
  53. ^ Newcomb 1997, p. 1158
  54. ^ Anderson, James (1732). Royal Genealogies, Or the Genealogical Tables of Emperors, Kings and Princes. Bettenham. p. 12. Archived from the original on 10 February 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  55. ^ Ronald Syme, Augustan Aristocracy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p.147.


Primary sources

  • Dio Cassius. Historia Romanum. Books LX-LXII.
  • Suetonius. Twelve Caesars. Life of Claudius.
  • Suetonius. Twelve Caesars. Life of Titus.
  • Tacitus. Annals. Books XI-XIII.

Secondary sources

  • Barrett, Anthony A. (1996). Agrippina: Mother of Nero. B. T. Batsford. ISBN 0-203-48106-2.
  • Barrett, Anthony (1999). Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Beacham, Richard C. (1999). Spectacle Entertainments of Early Imperial Rome. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07382-8.
  • Burgwinkle, William; Hammond, Nicholas; Wilson, Emma (2011). The Cambridge History of French. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521897860.
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen (2008). Blood of the Caesars: How the Murder of Germanicus Led to the Fall of Rome. Wiley. ISBN 9780470137413.
  • Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Esther, Eidinow (2012). The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199545568.
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo (1934). Claudius: the Emperor and His Achievement. Cambridge: Trans. W.D. Hogarth. W. Heffer and Sons.
  • Oost, S.V. (1958). "The Career of M. Antonius Pallas". American Journal of Philology. 79: 113–139.
  • Osgood, Josiah (2011). Claudius Caesar: Image and Power in the Early Roman Empire. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521881814.
  • Newcomb, Horace (1997), Encyclopedia of Television, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-203-93734-1
  • Scramuzza, Vincent (1940). The Emperor Claudius. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Shotter, David (2014). Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome. Routledge. ISBN 9781317865902.
  • Shotter, David (1997). Nero. Routledge. ISBN 9780415129312.
  • Levick, Barbara (2012). Claudius. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9781135107710.
  • Woodman, A.J. (2009), The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521874601
  • Girolamo Cardano Neronis Encomium Translated by Angelo Paratico as Nero. An Exemplary Life. Inkstone Books, 2012.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1880). "Britannicus". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. p. 505.

External links

1999 Laurence Olivier Awards

The 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards were held in 1999 in London celebrating excellence in West End theatre by the Society of London Theatre.

Agrippina the Younger

Agrippina the Younger (Latin: Julia Agrippina; 6 November AD 15 – 23 March AD 59), also referred to as Agrippina Minor (Minor, which is Latin for "the Younger") was a Roman empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Her father was Germanicus, a popular general and one-time heir apparent to the Roman Empire under Tiberius; and her mother was Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of the first Roman emperor Augustus. She was also the younger sister of Caligula, as well as the niece and fourth wife of Claudius.

Both ancient and modern sources describe Agrippina's personality as ruthless, ambitious, violent, and domineering. Physically she was a beautiful and reputable woman; according to Pliny the Elder, she had a double canine in her upper right jaw, a sign of good fortune. Many ancient historians accuse Agrippina of poisoning her husband Claudius, though accounts vary. In AD 59 Agrippina was executed on the orders of her son, the emperor Nero.

Britannicus (play)

Britannicus is a five-act tragic play by the French dramatist Jean Racine. It was first performed on 13 December 1669 at the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris.Britannicus is the first play in which Racine depicted Roman history. The tale of moral choice takes as its subject Britannicus, the son of the Roman emperor Claudius, and heir to the imperial throne. Britannicus' succession to the throne is however usurped by Lucius, later known as Nero, and the son of Claudius' wife Agrippina the Younger.

Racine portrays Nero's true nature as revealed by his sudden desire for Britannicus's fiancée Junia. He wrests himself free from his mother's domination and plots to assassinate his adoptive brother. Nero is driven less by fear of being overthrown by Britannicus than by competition in love. His desire for Junia manifests itself in sadism towards the young woman and all that she loves. Agrippina is portrayed as a possessive mother who will not accept the loss of control over both her son and the Empire. Despite giving his name to the play, the character of Britannicus is more minor than those of Agrippina and Nero.

Success only came to the play slowly, but of Racine's works, Britannicus is today second only to Andromaque amongst the repertory of the Comédie-Française, and is frequently studied in high school.

Claudia Antonia

Claudia Antonia (Classical Latin: ANTONIA•CLAUDII•CAESARIS•FILIA) (c. AD 30–AD 66) was the daughter and oldest surviving child of the Roman Emperor Claudius and the only child of his second wife Aelia Paetina. Antonia was a great great-niece of the Emperor Augustus, great-niece of the Emperor Tiberius, first cousin of the Emperor Caligula, half-sister to Claudia Octavia and Britannicus (her father's children by his third marriage to Valeria Messalina), and cousin, stepsister and sister-in-law of the Emperor Nero.


Claudius (; Latin: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54 ) was Roman emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul, the first (and until Trajan, only) Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.

Claudius' infirmity probably saved him from the fate of many other nobles during the purges of Tiberius's and Caligula's reigns; potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last man of his family. Despite his lack of experience, Claudius proved to be an able and efficient administrator. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals across the Empire. During his reign the Empire began the conquest of Britain (if the earlier invasions of Britain by Caesar and Caligula's aborted attempts are not counted).

Having a personal interest in law, he presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day. He was seen as vulnerable throughout his reign, particularly by elements of the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position; this resulted in the deaths of many senators. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers, though more recent historians have revised this opinion. Many authors contend that he was murdered by his own wife. After his death in 54 AD (at the age of 63), his grand-nephew, step-son, and adopted son Nero succeeded him as Emperor. His 13-year reign (slightly longer than Nero's) would not be surpassed by any successors until that of Domitian, who reigned for 15 years.

He was a descendant of the Octavii Rufi (through Gaius Octavius), Julii Caesares (through Julia Minor and Julia Antonia), and the Claudii Nerones (through Nero Claudius Drusus). He was a step-grandson (through his father Drusus) and great-nephew (through his mother Antonia Minor) of Augustus. He was a nephew of Tiberius through his father, Tiberius' brother. Through his brother Germanicus, Claudius was an uncle of Caligula and a great-uncle of Nero.

Codex Montfortianus

Codex Montfortianus designated by 61 (on the list Gregory-Aland; Soden's δ 603), and known as minuscule 61 is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament on paper. Erasmus named it Codex Britannicus. Its completion is dated on the basis of its textual affinities to no earlier than the second decade of the 16th century, though a 15th-century date is possible on palaeographic grounds.

The manuscript is famous for including a unique version of the Comma Johanneum. It has marginalia.

Colen Campbell

Colen Campbell (15 June 1676 – 13 September 1729) was a pioneering Scottish architect and architectural writer, credited as a founder of the Georgian style. For most of his career, he resided in Italy and England.

A descendant of the Campbells of Cawdor Castle, he is believed to be the Colinus Campbell who graduated from the University of Edinburgh in July 1695. He initially trained as a lawyer, being admitted to the Faculty of Advocates on 29 July 1702.

He had travelled in Italy from 1695–1702 and is believed to be the Colinus Campbell who signed the visitor's book at the University of Padua in 1697. He is believed to have trained in and studied architecture under James Smith, this belief is strengthened by Campbell owning several drawings of buildings designed by Smith.


Emplastus is an extinct morphogenus of ants in the subfamily Dolichoderinae, known from fossils found in Asia and Europe. The genus contains twelve species described from sites in England, Eastern Europe and Far Eastern Russia.

Inula britannica

Inula britannica, the British yellowhead or meadow fleabane, is a Eurasian species of plant in the genus Inula within the daisy family. It is widespread across much of Europe and Asia, and sparingly naturalized in scattered locations in North America.Inula britannica is an erect herb up to 75 cm (30 inches) tall, with fine hairs but not the thick woolly coat characterizing some related species. Leaves are lance-shaped, up to 5 cm (2 inches) long. One plant produces a few heads, each on a long flower stalk. Each had contains 50-150 yellow ray flowers and 100-250 yellow disc flowers.The plant produces the flavonol axillarin.

Limes Britannicus

The Limes Britannicus ("British Limes") is a relatively modern collective name sometimes used for those fortifications and defensive ramparts that were built to protect the north, the coasts, and major transport routes of Roman Britain. These defences existed from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD and ran through the territory of present-day England, Scotland and Wales.

Britain was one of the most troubled regions in the European part of the Roman Empire and could only be secured by the Roman Army at considerable effort. Despite a rapid victory over the tribes in the south, which Claudius' field commander, Aulus Plautius, achieved in 43 AD for Rome, the resistance of the British was not completely broken for a long time afterwards. Nevertheless, the Romans succeeded in further consolidating their rule in the period that followed, although the troops stationed there were overburdened by having to defend Britain simultaneously on three fronts. The incursions of barbarians from the north of the island repeatedly caused serious problems. To the west and south, the Britannic provinces had to be defended against Hibernian and Germanic attacks. Against all odds, Britain was held for almost three centuries by the Roman Empire. In retrospect, the Roman domination of Britain is generally considered to be positive. For a long time there was peace and prosperity on the island. Behind the protection of Hadrian's Wall and that formed by the natural coastal boundaries to the east, south and west, the region we now know as England was heavily influenced by the achievements of Roman civilization. Hadrian's Wall and the castra on the Saxon Shore are still the most prominent symbols of Roman rule over Britain.

List of Roman imperial victory titles

This document is a list of victory titles assumed by Roman Emperors, not including assumption of the title Imperator (originally itself a victory title); note that the Roman Emperors were not the only persons to assume victory titles (Maximinus Thrax acquired his victory title during the reign of a previous Emperor). In a sense, the Imperial victory titles give an interesting summary of which wars and which adversaries were considered significant by the senior leadership of the Roman Empire, but in some cases more opportunistic motifs play a role, even to the point of glorifying a victory that was by no means a real triumph (but celebrated as one for internal political prestige). For a more complete list of the Emperors themselves, see List of Roman Emperors.

Caligula, 37–41

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), born with it

Claudius, 41–54

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), born with it

Britannicus ("Victorious in Britain"), 44

Vitellius, 69

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), 69

Domitian, 81–96

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), late 83

Nerva, 96 98

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), October 97

Trajan, 98–117

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), October 97

Dacicus ("Victorious in Dacia"), 102

Parthicus ("Victorious in Parthia") and Optimus ("the Best"), 114

Marcus Aurelius, 161–180

Armeniacus ("Victorious in Armenia"), 164

Medicus ("Victorious in Media") and Parthicus Maximus ("The great victor in Parthia"), 166

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), 172

Sarmaticus ("Victorious in Sarmatia"), 175

Lucius Verus, 161–169

Armeniacus ("Victorious in Armenia"), 164

Parthicus Maximus ("The great victor in Parthia"), 165

Medicus ("Victorious in Media"), 166

Commodus, 177–192

Germanicus ("Victorious in Germania"), 15 October 172

Sarmaticus ("Victorious in Sarmatia"), spring 175

Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania"), mid-182

Britannicus, late 184

Septimius Severus, 193–211

Arabicus ("Victorious in Arabia") and Adiabenicus ("the victor of Adiabene"), 195

Parthicus Maximus ("The great victor in Parthia"), 198

Britannicus Maximus ("The great victor in Britain"), 209 or 210

Caracalla, 198–217

Britannicus Maximus ("The great victor in Britain"), 209 or 210

Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania"), 213

Maximinus Thrax, 235–238

Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania"), 235 (awarded by Emperor Alexander Severus)

Claudius II, 268–270

Gothicus Maximus ("The great victor against the Goths"), 269

Aurelian, 270–275

Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania"), 270 and 271

Gothicus Maximus ("The great victor of the Goths"), 271

Parthicus Maximus ("The great victor in Parthia"), 273

Tacitus, 275–276

Gothicus Maximus ("The great victor of the Goths"), 276

Probus, 276–282

Gothicus ("the victor of the Goths"), 277

Gothicus Maximus, Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania"), and Persicus Maximus ("The great victor in Persia"), 279

Diocletian, 284–305

Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania") and Sarmaticus Maximus ("The great victor of the Sarmatians"), 285

Diocletian claimed the title Germanicus Maximus five more times (twice in 287, and in 288, 293, and 301) and the title Sarmaticus Maximus three more times (in 289, 294, and 300)

Persicus Maximus ("The great victor over the Persians"), 295

Diocletian claimed the title Persicus Maximus again in 298

Britannicus Maximus ("The great victor in Britain") and Carpicus Maximus ("The great victor over Carpians"), 297

Armenicus Maximus ("Victorious in Armenia"), Medicus Maximus ("The great victor in Media"), and Adiabenicus Maximus ("The great victor in Adiabene"), 298

Maximian, 286–305, 306–308

Maximian's victory titles are the same as those of Diocletian, except that he did not share Diocletian's first assumption of the titles

Galerius Maximianus, 305–311

Britannicus Maximus ("The great victory in Britain"), and Carpicus Maximus ("The great victor of the Carpians"), 297

Galerius claimed the title Carpicus Maximus five more times until the Carpicus Maximus VI ("The 6th great victor of the Carpians"), 308

Constantine I, 307–337

Germanicus Maximus ("The great victor in Germania"), 307

Constantine claimed the title Germanicus Maximus three more times (in 308, 314, and 328)

Sarmaticus Maximus ("The great victor over the Sarmatians"), 323

Constantine claimed the title Sarmaticus Maximus one more time (in 334)

Gothicus Maximus ("The great victor over the Goths"), 328

Constantine claimed the title Gothicus Maximus one more time (in 332)

Dacicus Maximus ("The great Victor over the Dacian"), (336)

Constans, 337–350

Sarmaticus ("Victorious over the Sarmatians"). The title was awarded twice, and later critics wrote that proper form required that Constans be called "Sarmaticus Sarmaticus".

Justinian I, 527–565

Alamannicus ("Victorious over the Alamanni"), on accession

Gothicus ("Victorious over the Goths"), on accession

Francicus ("Victorious over the Franks"), on accession

Anticus ("Victorious over the Antae"), on accession

Alanicus ("Victorious over the Alans"), on accession

Vandalicus ("Victorious over the Vandals"), after the Vandalic War, 534

Africanus ("Victorious in Africa"), after the Vandalic War, 534


Locusta or Lucusta (d. 69), was a notorious maker of poisons in the 1st-century Roman Empire, active in the final two reigns of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. She supposedly took part in the assassinations of Claudius and Britannicus. She was a favourite of emperor Nero for several years, and Nero had her provide training to other poisoners in his service. Following Nero's death, Locusta was executed by his successor, Galba (reigned 68-69).

Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski

Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (in Latin, Matthias Casimirus Sarbievius; Lithuanian: Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus; Sarbiewo, Poland, 24 February 1595 – 2 April 1640, Warsaw, Poland), was Europe's most prominent Latin poet of the 17th century, and a renowned theoretician of poetics.

Orpheus Britannicus

Orpheus Britannicus is a collection of songs by Henry Purcell, published posthumously in London in two volumes, the first in 1698 and the second in 1702. In the preface to the first volume, Henry Playford, the printer of the volume and the son of the famous John Playford, extolls Purcell's skill as setter of English texts.The portrait on the frontispiece was based on John Closterman's portrait of Purcell, currently in the National Portrait Gallery.The first publication of a section of Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas was the air "Ah! Belinda" in Orpheus Britannicus, transposed up one step, from C to D.Henry Hall, who had studied composition with Purcell under John Blow, wrote the dedicatory poems at the beginning of each volume, (1698 and 1702) and also wrote one for Blow's Amphion Anglicus.The later 1706 London printing of Orpheus Britannicus by William Pearson utilized a new style of music printing to great success, where the notehead was in one piece with the background staff.John Blow's Amphion Anglicus (1700), a collection of Blow's songs, excerpts from odes, and chamber music, was published by subscription, after Orpheus Britannicus' success, and even shows a certain symmetry in title.A later engraver, Cole Benjamin (fl 1740–1760), printed as Orpheus Britannicus a seemingly unrelated set of engravings which he had made originally for The New Universal Magazine (1751–9).Benjamin Britten, working with Peter Pears,

realized and edited a number of songs from Orpheus Britannicus for both solo singer with piano and solo singer with orchestra.

Robert Sweet (botanist)

Robert Sweet (1783–20 January 1835) was an English botanist, horticulturist and ornithologist.Born at Cockington near Torquay, Devonshire, England in 1783, Sweet worked as a gardener from the age of sixteen, and became foreman or partner in a series of nurseries. He was associated with nurseries at Stockwell, Fulham and Chelsea. In 1812 he joined Colvills, the famous Chelsea nursery, and was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society. By 1818 he was publishing horticultural and botanical works.

He published a number of beautifully illustrated works on plants cultivatd in British gardens and hothouses. The fine plates were mainly drawn by Edwin Dalton Smith (1800–1883), a botanical artist, who was attached to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. His works include Hortus Suburbanus Londinensis (1818), Geraniaceae (five volumes) (1820–30), Cistineae, Sweet's Hortus Britannicus (1826–27), Flora Australasica (1827–28) and British Botany (with H. Weddell) (1831). He died at Chelsea, London in January 1835.

He was charged with receiving a batch of plants allegedly stolen from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. It was suggested that this was an attempt to frame him by an official at Kew whom Sweet had criticised. He was acquitted after a well-publicised trial.

Robert Sweet received high praise from his contemporaries at his trial and was described as possibly the first practical botanist.

The Skystone

The Skystone is a historical fiction novel written by Jack Whyte, which was first published in 1992. The story is told by a Roman Officer called Publius Varrus, who is an expert blacksmith as well as a soldier. In the early fifth century, amid the violent struggles between the people of Britain and the invading Saxons, Picts and Scots, he and his former General, Caius Britannicus, forge the government and military system that will become known as the Round Table, and initiate a chain of events that will lead to the coronation of the High King known as Arthur.

Thymus pseudolanuginosus

Thymus pseudolanuginosus - commonly called woolly thyme - is now also classified as Thymus praecox subsp. britannicus. It was also formerly known as Thymus lanuginosus.

Tiberius Claudius Narcissus

Tiberius Claudius Narcissus (fl. 1st century) was one of the freedmen who formed the core of the imperial court under the Roman emperor Claudius. He is described as praepositus ab epistulis (in charge of correspondence).

He reportedly had great influence over the emperor and amassed a great deal of money. He is said to have conspired with Claudius's third wife Valeria Messalina to manipulate him into having several men executed, although this is unproven. However, the sources admit that Narcissus, as Claudius' own former slave, was extremely loyal to the emperor, and so entrusted with more responsibility than the others.

In 43, during the preparations for the Roman conquest of Britain, he headed off a mutiny by addressing the troops. Seeing a former slave in their commander's position, they cried "Io Saturnalia!" (Saturnalia was a Roman festival when slaves and masters switched places for the day) and the mutiny ended. It was through his influence that the future emperor Vespasian was appointed legate of the Legio II Augusta in Germania.

When Messalina married Gaius Silius in 48, it was Narcissus who warned Claudius about Messalina, and seeing the emperor hesitate, he gave the order for her execution himself. Narcissus may have feared that Britannicus, Claudius's son with Messalina, would hold a grudge against him for this role. When the time came for the emperor to select his fourth wife, Narcissus suggested to Claudius to remarry Aelia Paetina, the emperor's second wife.

Anthony Barrett suggests that Narcissus' intention was to allow Claudius reason to pick Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, the husband of Claudius and Aelia's daughter Claudia Antonia, as his successor rather than the hostile Britannicus. It would also have given Claudius an adult heir, for which he was looking to shore up his position. When Claudius chose Agrippina the Younger in order to consolidate the Julio-Claudian family, and picked her son, the future Emperor Nero, to fill the role of temporary older heir, Narcissus allied with Britannicus' circle in order to secure his future.

Claudius still trusted Narcissus, and had him named praetor. He was charged with overseeing the construction of a canal to drain Fucine Lake, but Agrippina, now Claudius's fourth wife, accused him of embezzling funds from the project, possibly as punishment for his support of Britannicus. According to Tacitus, Narcissus hoped to bring down Agrippina by revealing her affair with the freedman Pallas, which would also have destroyed her son.

He supposedly told Britannicus of his plans in front of others, and was brazen in his intentions, promising to right all wrongs against him. It has been suggested that this last detail is an example of Tacitus altering facts to make Claudius a passive character in his reign. Suetonius and Dio report that, after reconciling with Brittanicus, Claudius -- not Narcissus -- openly planned to bring Agrippina down.

In any case, Agrippina was suspicious of Narcissus and had him sent away to Campania, ostensibly to take advantage of the warm baths there to relieve his gout. This was probably intended to remove him as an obstacle of the assassination of Claudius and the accession of Nero. Agrippina ordered Narcissus' execution within weeks of Claudius' death in October, 54. Shortly after the announcement Narcissus returned to Rome. Just before his imprisonment and execution, he burned all Claudius' letters to prevent Nero from using their contents for nefarious ends.

An inscription names his wife as Claudia Dicaeosyna.

Walter of Oxford

Walter of Oxford (died 1151) (Latin: Valterus Calenius) was a British cleric and writer. He served as archdeacon of Oxford in the 12th century. Walter was a friend of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who claimed he got his chief source for the Historia Regum Britanniae from him.

In the dedication to his Historia Regum Britanniae, Geoffrey claims that while writing the book he had struggled to find material on the early Kings of the Britons. This problem had been solved when Walter gave him a "very ancient book" written in britannicus sermo (The "British" tongue, i.e. Brittonic, Welsh, or Breton). Geoffrey claims that his Historia is a faithful translation of that book into Latin. However, few modern scholars believe this to be true.

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