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1The patrician branch of the Claudian family (for there was, besides, a plebeian branch of no less influence and prestige) originated at Regilli, a town of the Sabines. From there it moved to Rome shortly after the founding of the city with a large band of dependents, through the influence of Titus Tatius, who shared the kingly power with Romulus (or, according to the generally accepted view, of Atta Claudius, the head of the family) about six years after the expulsion of the kings. It was admitted among the patrician families, receiving, besides, from the State a piece of land on the farther side of the Anio for its dependents, and a burial-site for the family at the foot of the Capitoline hill. 2Then as time went on it was honoured with twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven censorships, six triumphs, and two ovations. While the members of the family were known by various forenames and surnames, they discarded the forename Lucius by common consent after two of the family who bore it had been found guilty, the one of highway robbery, and the other of murder. To their surnames, on the other hand, they added that of Nero, which in the Sabine tongue means “strong and valiant.”
2There are on record many distinguished services of the Claudii to their country, as well as many deeds of the opposite character. But to mention only the principal instances, Appius Claudius advised against forming an alliance with king Pyrrhus as not at all expedient. Claudius Caudex was the first to cross the straits with a fleet, and drove the Carthaginians from Sicily. Tiberius Nero crushed Hasdrubal, on his arrival from Spain with a vast army, before he could unite with his brother Hannibal. 2On the other hand, Claudius Regillianus, decemvir for codifying the laws, through his lawless attempt to enslave a freeborn maid, to gratify his passion for her, was the cause of the second secession of the plebeians from the patricians. Claudius Russus, having set up his statue at Forum Appi with a crown upon its head, tried to take possession of Italy through his dependents. Claudius Pulcher began a sea-fight off Sicily, though the sacred chickens would not eat when he took the auspices, throwing them into the sea in defiance of the omen, and saying that they might drink, since they would not eat. He was defeated, and on being bidden by the senate to appoint a dictator, he appointed his messenger Glycias, as if again making a jest of his country’s peril.
3The women also have records equally diverse, since both the famous Claudias belonged to that family: the one who drew the ship with the sacred properties of the Idaean Mother of the Gods from the shoal in the Tiber on which it was stranded, after first publicly praying that it might yield to her efforts only if her chastity were beyond question; and the one who was convicted by the people of treason, an unprecedented thing in the case of a woman, because when her carriage made but slow progress through the throng, she openly gave vent to the wish that her brother Pulcher might come to life and lose another fleet, to make less of a crowd in Rome. 4It is notorious besides that all the Claudii were aristocrats and staunch upholders of the prestige and influence of the patricians, with the sole exception of Publius Clodius, who for the sake of driving Cicero from the city had himself adopted by a plebeian and one too who was younger than himself. Their attitude towards the commons was so headstrong and stubborn that not even when on trial for his life before the people did any one of them deign to put on mourning or beg for mercy; and some of them during bickerings and disputes struck the tribunes of the commons. Even a Vestal virgin mounted her brother’s chariot with him, when he was celebrating a triumph without the sanction of the people, and attended him all the way to the Capitol, in order to make it an act of sacrilege for any one of the tribunes to forbid him or interpose his veto.
3Such was the stock from which Tiberius Caesar derived his origin, and that too on both sides: on his father’s from Tiberius Nero; on his mother’s from Appius Pulcher, both of whom were sons of Appius Caecus. He was a member also of the family of the Livii, through the adoption into it of his maternal grandmother. This family too, though of plebeian origin, was yet of great prominence and had been honoured with eight consulships, two censorships, and three triumphs, as well as with the offices of dictator and master of the horse. It was made illustrious too by distinguished members, in particular Salinator and the Drusi. 2The former in his censorship put the brand on all the tribes on the charge of fickleness, because having convicted and fined him after a previous consulship, they made him consul a second time and censor as well. Drusus gained a surname for himself and his descendants by slaying Drausus, leader of the enemy, in single combat. It is also said that when propraetor he brought back from his province of Gaul the gold which was paid long before to the Senones, when they beleaguered the Capitol, and that this had not been wrested from them by Camillus, as tradition has it. His grandson’s grandson, called “Patron of the Senate” because of his distinguished services against the Gracchi, left a son who was treacherously slain by the party of his opponents, while he was busily agitating many plans during a similar dissension.
4Nero, the father of Tiberius, as a quaestor of Julius Caesar during the Alexandrian war and commander of a fleet, contributed materially to the victory. For this he was made pontiff in place of Publius Scipio and sent to conduct colonies to Gaul, among them Narbo and Arelate. Yet after the murder of Caesar, when all the others voted for an amnesty through fear of mob violence, he even favoured a proposal for rewarding the tyrannicides. 2Later on, having held the praetorship, since a dispute arose among the triumvirs at the close of his term, he retained the badges of his rank beyond the legitimate time and followed Lucius Antonius, consul and brother of the triumvir, to Perusia. When the others capitulated, he alone held to his allegiance and got away first to Praeneste and then to Naples; and after vainly trying to enlist the slaves by a promise of freedom, he took refuge in Sicily. 3Piqued however because he was not at once given an audience with Sextus Pompeius, and was denied the use of the fasces, he crossed to Achaia and joined Mark Antony. With him he shortly returned to Rome, on the conclusion of a general peace, and gave up to Augustus at his request his wife Livia Drusilla, who was pregnant at the time and had already borne him a son. Not long afterward he died, survived by both his sons, Tiberius Nero and Drusus Nero.
5Some have supposed that Tiberius was born at Fundi, on no better evidence than that his maternal grandmother was a native of that place, and that later a statue of Good Fortune was set up there by decree of the senate. But according to the most numerous and trustworthy authorities, he was born at Rome, on the Palatine, the sixteenth day before the Kalends of December, in the consulship of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Lucius Munatius Plancus (the former for the second time) while the war of Philippi was going on. In fact it is so recorded both in the calendar and in the public gazette. Yet in spite of this some write that he was born in the preceding year, that of Hirtius and Pansa, and others in the following year, in the consulate of Servilius Isauricus and Lucius Antonius.
6He passed his infancy and his youth amid hardship and tribulation, since he was everywhere the companion of his parents in their flight; at Naples indeed he all but betrayed them twice by his crying, as they were secretly on their way to a ship just as the enemy burst into the town, being suddenly torn from his nurse’s breast and again from his mother’s arms by those who tried to relieve the poor women of their burden because of the imminent danger. 2After being taken all over Sicily also and Achaia, and consigned to the public care of the Lacedaemonians, because they were dependents of the Claudii, he almost lost his life as he was leaving there by night, when the woods suddenly took fire all about them, and the flames so encircled the whole company that part of Livia’s robe and her hair were scorched. 3The gifts which were given him in Sicily by Pompeia, sister of Sextus Pompeius, a cloak and clasp, as well as studs of gold, are still kept and exhibited at Baiae. Being adopted, after his return to the city, in the will of Marcus Gallius, a senator, he accepted the inheritance, but soon gave up the name, because Gallius had been a member of the party opposed to Augustus.
4At the age of nine he delivered a eulogy of his dead father from the rostra. Then, just as he was arriving at puberty, he accompanied the chariot of Augustus in his triumph after Actium, riding the left trace-horse, while Marcellus, son of Octavia, rode the one on the right. He presided, too, at the city festival, and took part in the game of Troy during the performances in the circus, leading the band of older boys.
7The principal events of his youth and later life, from the assumption of the gown of manhood to the beginning of his reign, were these. He gave a gladiatorial show in memory of his father, and a second in honour of his grandfather Drusus, at different times and in different places, the former in the Forum and the latter in the amphitheatre, inducing some retired gladiators to appear with the rest by the payment of a hundred thousand sesterces to each. He also gave stage-plays, but without being present in person. All these were on a grand scale, at the expense of his mother and his stepfather.
2He married Agrippina, daughter of Marcus Agrippa, and granddaughter of Caecilius Atticus, a Roman knight, to whom Cicero’s letters are addressed; but after he had acknowledged a son from her, Drusus, although she was thoroughly congenial and was a second time with child, he was forced to divorce her and to contract a hurried marriage with Julia, daughter of Augustus. This caused him no little distress of mind, for he was living happily with Agrippina, and disapproved of Julia’s character, having perceived that she had a passion for him even during the lifetime of her former husband, as was in fact the general opinion. 3But even after the divorce he regretted his separation from Agrippina, and the only time that he chanced to see her, he followed her with such an intent and tearful gaze that care was taken that she should never again come before his eyes. With Julia he lived in harmony at first, and returned her love; but he soon grew cold, and went so far as to cease to live with her at all, after the severing of the tie formed by a child which was born to them, but died at Aquileia in infancy. He lost his brother Drusus in Germany and conveyed his body to Rome, going before it on foot all the way.
8He began his civil career by a defence of king Archelaus, the people of Tralles, and those of Thessaly, before the judgment seat of Augustus, the charge in each case being different. He made a plea to the senate in behalf of the citizens of Laodicea, Thyatira and Chios, who had suffered loss from an earthquake and begged for help. Fannius Caepio, who had conspired with Varro Murena against Augustus, he arraigned for high treason and secured his condemnation. In the meantime he undertook two public charges: that of the grain supply, which, as it happened, was deficient; and the investigation of the slave-prisons throughout Italy, the owners of which had gained a bad reputation; for they were charged with holding in durance not only travellers, but also those whom dread of military service had driven to such places of concealment.
9His first military service was as tribune of the soldiers in the campaign against the Cantabrians; then he led an army to the Orient and restored the throne of Armenia to Tigranes, crowning him on the tribunal. He besides recovered the standards which the Parthians had taken from Marcus Crassus. Then for about a year he was governor of Gallia Comata, which was in a state of unrest through the inroads of the barbarians and the dissensions of its chiefs. Next he carried on war with the Raeti and Vindelici, then in Pannonia, and finally in Germany. 2In the first of these wars he subdued the Alpine tribes, in the second the Breuci and Dalmatians, and in the third he brought forty thousand prisoners of war over into Gaul and assigned them homes near the bank of the Rhine. Because of these exploits he entered the city both in an ovation and riding in a chariot, having previously, as some think, been honoured with the triumphal regalia, a new kind of distinction never before conferred upon anyone.
3He entered upon the offices of quaestor, praetor, and consul before the usual age, and held them almost without an interval; then after a time he was made consul again, at the same time receiving the tribunicial power for five years.
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