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Asses the views of Tacitus and Suetonius on the reign of Claudius

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Introduction

Asses the views of Tacitus and Suetonius on the reign of Claudius. "Wholly under the control of these and of his wives, as I have said, he played the part, not of a prince, but of a servant lavishing honours" (Suetonius Claudius 29) The reign of Claudius is portrayed very badly by the ancient sources, namely Tacitus and Suetonius. Their personal view on Claudius' character clouds their judgement on the effectiveness of Claudius' reign as Emperor. The historian Tacitus objected to great concentration of power in the hands of the early emperors. In his writings he tries to paint every emperor as a corrupt despot even though he hated civil war and anarchy even more. ...read more.

Middle

It is clear that he disliked Claudius and believed that he was used and manipulated by his freedmen and wives. In the case of Claudius' reign, both sources are untied in portraying Claudius as a dupe to his imperial freedmen advisors as well as to his wives. It is possible that the hostile stance of the elite towards Claudius extended back into his reign; he was, after all, a usurper who had been foisted on the aristocrats by the solders. If so, Claudius' reliance on his freedmen, may have stemmed form this circumstance, in that the ex-slaves were (as far as he was concerned) more trustworthy that the sullen aristocracy. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sources hatred for Claudius and his reign may have been from his disability. Suetonius writes on how "he limped, he drooled, he stuttered and was constantly ill" (Suetonius Claudius 2. 1-2). It is believed today that Claudius suffered from congenital cerebral palsy involving spasticity. Suetonius and Tacitus thought that Claudius wasn't fit to be emperor and rule to empire because of his disabilities. They may have thought these disabilities as reflective of mental infirmity like Claudius' family did. Suetonius presents Claudius as a timid coward who was paranoid of conspiracies against him. "But these were nothing for which he was so notorious as timidity and suspicion". Suetonius tells of Claudius' 'shameful and cowardly fight to the camp, doing nothing all the way but ask whether his throne was secure. ?? ?? ?? ?? James Parker 12CG Ancient History Essay 3/3/06 ...read more.

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