Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I, Wiki

Today's featured article on Wikipedia is Claudius. It contains at least one thing I wish I'd known when I wrote this article: that Claudius revived the rumour that his father Drusus was actually the illegitimate son of Augustus (a rumour that started because Augustus married Drusus' mother Livia when she was still pregnant with the boy). I argued in my article that one of Claudius' problems was the lack of a direct blood or adoptive relationship to Augustus, and that this was the most significant factor in his choosing to marry Agrippina the Younger and adopt the future Nero, since both of those had such a relationship (the Wiki article agrees on that point). It fits neatly with that theory that, whilst not officially denying his father's legitimacy, which would have carried with it a whole new series of problems, he might revive a rumour that would suggest that, even though he 'officially' had no blood relationship to Augustus, in reality such did exist.

I don't agree with Wikipedia's poo-pooing of the notion that Claudius might have died of illness or old age. The argument is based on the fact that his uncle Tiberius, grandmother Livia and mother Antonia all lived into their seventies or eighties, whereas Claudius was sixty-three. However, the other three were in generally good health throughout their lives, which Claudius was not. As I've pointed out, he was seriously ill and expected to die a full year before he actually did.

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