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To what extent was Claudius's decision to invade Britain in AD43 motivated by a desire to emulate Julius Caesar

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To what extent was Claudius's decision to invade Britain in AD43 motivated by a desire to emulate Julius Caesar? There are many arguments as to why Claudius invaded Britain in AD43. One of his motives may have been to gain a quick military triumph, which is one argument that Suetonius wrote in his book 'The Twelve Caesars'. He had said, "Britain was the country where a real triumph could most readily be earned". A sentence later, he also raises a point about what is known as 'The Bericus Theory'. The basis of this theory is that a British Chieftain called Bericus persuaded Claudius to invade. Claudius also faced many political troubles when he became Emperor, so another interpretation is that he was trying to prove his position. One way he could have done this is by emulating Julius Caesar, who was seen as a great leader of Rome. This point of view has been put forward by the archaeologists Martin Millet and Peter Salway. One reason that there are so many arguments is down to the fact that we do not have much substantial evidence that shows us Claudius's true reasons for invasion. Very little contemporary evidence survives, so modern interpretations are based on opinion and the little evidence that remains. This essay examines the view that Claudius' invasion was inspired by the memories of Julius Caesar's campaigns against Britain. First we need to investigate what is known of Claudius' character and personality so that was can try and understand his motivation. ...read more.


And, as Suetonius suggested, "Britain was the country were a real triumph could most readily be earned". But how did Claudius know Britain was such an easy victory? Williams has said, "Fame awaited the conqueror of Britannia. Conversely, infamy awaited whoever might relinquish her". Contemporary sources would suggest that at the time, Britain was seen merely as a country of simple farming types, often referred to as "barbarians". Perhaps this led Claudius to believe that they would be no match for the grand Roman army. "Even though the Senate had already voted him triumphal regalia, Claudius thought it beneath his dignity to accept these". He was not safe in the knowledge that his triumph was secure anyway, so the invasion of Britain may not have simply been for show. We get some idea of how dangerous and risky the invasion was by reading Suetonius' description of the near mutiny on the coast of Gaul, when it looked as if the soldiers might refuse to set sail for Britain. Soldiers were reluctant to cross a sea where according to legend there were sea monsters. It was thought to be the edge of the world. In the end a slave persuaded to soldiers to go on board ship, but it was a risky business. Claudius himself did not actually engage in any battles, his officers had "reduced a large part of the island to submission". He had gone to Britain to receive the surrender of the Britons, which was enough to confirm his triumph. ...read more.


This connection has also been made by Robert Graves, who wrote a historical novel called 'I Claudius'. Much of it was based on Suetonius but Graves probably added in his own ideas. It was made into a TV series, showing Claudius as a clever man who ha read a lot about the history of Rome and knew about the success of Julius Caesar. Robert Graves gave the impression that Claudius was not at first keen to be emperor, but when he realised he had no choice, he got on with the job and was determined to succeed. According to Graves, Claudius was aware that capturing Britain could bring him glory. Julius Caesar, according to Derek Williams, understood that the real value of Britain was in the fact it was exciting news for the people back in Rome. Caesars stories about the exciting battles in Britain were read aloud in Rome and he benefited when he returned to Rome because he could appear to be a sensational military hero. He did not actually conquer Britain, so the results were not very good if you judge by the amount of land conquered. But Williams thinks that the territory was not as important as the publicity for Caesar. So for Claudius there was the same attraction of making news in Rome, but there was the bonus of conquering land. Therefor, the extent that the emulation of Caesar was the reason for Claudius's invasion is rather uncertain, but mixed with the argument for political stability; modern and contemporary sources show this to be the most probable motive. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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