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||The four Claudii emperors
When Ceasar died, the control of the empire was in the hands of Tiberius and the dinast of the Claudii, the four emperors, had begun.
Their names are often associated with plots and violence, here is a table that tells a bare minimum about them:
In spite of the fact that the better -and sadly- known ones are Caligula and, even more, Nero (a controversial character, nevertheless), we cannot forget that also Tiberius and Claudius were important figures, in their own way.
Tiberius remains sadly known for his incredible mistrust of everybody around him, that led him to paranoia about any potential political competitor. Not that the environment of Rome at the time could be considered generally friendly for men of power, characterized as it was by plots and power fights of all sorts, but he ended being responsible for a number of death sentences inspired by his "friend" Seianus, who aimed at taking his place. Nevertheless, he got rid of Seianus too with a trick: Seianus, without knowing that in advance, read in front of the Senate his own detah sentence, while he expcted to be reading his election to tribunicia potestas; at the time, Tiberius was 63 years old but he was not going to last much longer.
During the reign of Tiberius, around 30 A.C., an important event marked history: Jesus of Nazareth was given to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate by instigation of the priests of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Caligula was a terrible manager for the Roman finances, and also a hot-headed fanatic. He obtained the favor of pretorians with excessive premiums and could spend the whole asset left by Tiberius in one year, thanks to expensive parties, feasts and shows of every kind and of immeasurable proportions.
To replenish the Empire coffers, extorsion and taxes followed, along with death penalties for the most ridiculous reasons, especially for offence to the crown. Caligula took to its apex the concept "panem et circenses", according to which the population of Rome can be governed providing "bread and shows". Caligula, inevitably, was killed; the very same pretorians replaced him with Claudius: for the first time, the army chose an emperor.
Claudius was a very different kind of emperor. The unmerciful, official history describes him as a weak person, subdue by people around him, but, on the contrary, he was a careful administrator and developed an efficient imperial burocracy, badly needed because of the great extension of the Roman possessions.
He diminished the power of the Senate even more, as he gave long-term appointments to specialized officials, appointments that previously were given to senators but for just one year; he also wanted major public works to be achieved.
The conquest of Britannia and the romanization of the subjects in the provinces are to be remembered, too.
From the point of view of his personal life, he made the worst choices, and Agrippina, a woman without scruples, -at least according to our best sources- had him killed by poisonous mushrooms to drive his son, Nero, on the throne.
Nero was at the same time a friend of the Roman people -or a populist?- and a sort of mad bomb for the empire, but anyway his death marked the end of the dinasty of the Claudii.
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