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A New Wife for Claudius

Contributed by David Verne

Now that Messalina is dead, Claudius needs a new wife. His son, Brittanicus is only 8 years old and isn't a guaranteed heir. There is no shortage of candidates, but each member of the cabinet backs a different woman. Narcissus supported Aelia Paetina, Claudius' former second wife, while Pallas and Callistus supported Agrippina, Claudius' niece, and Lollia Paulina, Claudius' former third wife, was also considered. Agrippina was exiled by her brother Caligula and had returned to Rome a few years into Claudius' reign. In the end, Agrippina is chosen, and on New Years Day, Claudius marries his niece. Agrippina is ambitious and within weeks she schemes to have Paulina charged with attempting black magic. Paulina isn't given a trial and will be killed while in exile. She also gets Claudius to adopt her son, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, as his son and heir. After the adoption Lucius' first name will be changed to Nero. [1]

My Take by David Verne
Agrippina was chosen to cement Claudius' relation within the family. She was the daughter of the famous general Germanicus; his birthday will be a public holiday well into the third century. The recent failed coup was an obvious reminder to Claudius that very few people respected him enough to not attempt overthrowing him. However, this decision was a very bad one. The Ancient Romans were more lenient about marrying within families than in the modern era, but even to them this was incest. The historian Tacitus comments on the marriage saying, "From it would come terrible consequences." These terrible consequences will be Nero becoming Emperor in a few years.

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References

  1. Tacitus, Cornelius. The Annals. 

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