The genealogical tree of Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus

Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus younger brother of Tiberius ..

Claudius had a difficult youth and was not accepted by his family due to conditions imposed by what modern medicine believes to be cerebral palsy, Tourette syndrome, or autism. His infirmity caused him to drag his right leg, drool, his voice cracked and his speech was often unintelligible. His mother, Antonia, frequently called him "". These weaknesses forced the family to keep him out of sight during his entire childhood and much of his youth for fear of embarrassment. He was carried to the Capitol in a litter at night where he assumed the toga virilis (normally performed in public in the Forum). His illness and seclusion served him well as he was not seen as a contender to the throne and survived the political bloodshed associated with the reigns of and his cousin .

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Claudius' physical condition apparently improved during his teens and he began to pursue scholarly interests. He was tutored by the historian Livy and the philosopher Athenodorus. Claudius possessed a sound and inquiring mind and spent his time in reading and writing works on history. He wrote twenty books in Greek on Etruscan history and eight about the Carthaginians and a history of Rome in Latin. It is said that he was the last person who could read Etruscan.

Tiberius Claudius Drusus was born into the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Lugdunum, Gaul in l0 BCE. His father was Nero Claudius Drusus, his mother was Antonia Minor the daughter of Marc Antony. Claudius’ brother was the highly regarded Germanicus, father of . Emperor was his uncle.

He was a descendant of the first named Tiberius Claudius Nero , ..

Claudius' first marriage was to Plautia Urgulanilla. They had two children, a son, Claudius Drusus, and a daughter named Claudia. The boy accidentally died of asphyxiation while attempting to catch a pear in his mouth. Claudius divorced Plautia on grounds of adultery. He next married Aelia Paetina and had a daughter, Antonia. They divorced when the marriage no longer suited Claudius' political position. In 38 CE he married Valeria Messalina who bore him a daughter, Octavia, and a son, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus, later called Britannicus. Messalina sought to keep Britannicus in line for the position of emperor by destroying anyone she considered a threat. As an example, she conspired to kill , son of Agrippina the Younger. Some historians allege that she was a nymphomaniac. She was young and Claudius was nearing 50 when they married. One account tells of a competition between her and a prostitute to see who could rack up the most sexual partners in one night. Pliny states that Messalina won with a score of 25 partners.

Tiberius Claudius Nero was born on 16 November 42 BC

, mint of Lyons, 46-47 CE;
The reverse shows the personification of Constantia as a draped female seated on the folding curule chair () holding her right hand toward her face and with her feet on a cushion; the legend reads CONSTANTIAE AVGVSTI. The hairstyle and pose of Constantia strongly suggest Livia, whom Claudius had deified in 42 CE.
Rome, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (National Museums). Credits: Barbara McManus, 2004
Keywords: coin; imperial symbolism

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Tiberius Claudius Nero was born on 16 November 42 BC. In 39 BC, his mother Livia divorced his father and married Octavian, the future emperor Augustus in 27 BC. Tiberius had a brilliant military career and with his younger brother Drusus helped carry out the expansion of the Roman empire along the Danube and into modern day Germany (16 BC - 7 BC, 4 AD - 9 AD).

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, 50-54 CE
.Reverse depicts the head of Claudius's wife, Agrippina the Younger, wearing a wreath of wheat.
Rome, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (National Museums). Credits: Barbara McManus, 2012
Keywords: coin, empress, Agrippina Minor