digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

For the tragedy by Jean Racine, see Britannicus (play).
Britannicus
Britannicus-Louvre.jpg
Full name
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus;
initially Tiberius Claudius Germanicus
House Julio-Claudian Dynasty
Father Claudius
Mother Valeria Messalina
Born 12 February AD 41
Rome
Died 11 February AD 55 (age 13)
Rome
Burial Mausoleum of Augustus, Rome
Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Chronology
Augustus 27 BC14 AD
Tiberius 1437 AD
Caligula 3741 AD
Claudius 4154 AD
Nero 5468 AD
Family
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Succession
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus (12 February AD 41 — 11 February AD 55) was the son of the Roman emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina. He became the heir-designate of the empire at his birth, less than a month into his father's reign. He was still a young boy at the time of his mother's downfall and Claudius' marriage to Agrippina the Younger. This allowed Agrippina's older son Nero to eclipse him in the public's mind. He lived only months into his step brother Nero's reign, and was probably murdered just before his 14th birthday.

Birth and early childhood[edit]

Britannicus was the son of the Roman Emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina; he was probably born on 12 February 41.[1] Of his father's two sons, Britannicus was the longer-lived. Claudius' other son, by his first wife Plautia Urgulanilla, died at the age of 3 or 4; nearly two decades earlier. Britannicus was accordingly named Tiberius Claudius Germanicus, sharing his father's praenomen as recognition of his status as heir.

A sestertius issued to commemorate Britannicus' birth

Britannicus' father had been reigning for less than a month, and his position was boosted greatly by the arrival of a successor. To mark the birth, the emperor issued sestertii with the obverse Spes Augusta – the hope of the imperial family. Two years later, in 43, Claudius was granted the honorific "Britannicus" by the senate as a reward for his conquest of Britain. The emperor refused it for himself, but accepted it on behalf of his young son. This is the name by which the boy became known to posterity. According to Suetonius, Claudius doted extensively on Britannicus. He carried him around at public events, and shouted "Good luck to you, my boy!" to elicit a similar response from the crowds. He was supposedly a precocious child.

Fall of his mother, Messalina[edit]

In 48, Britannicus became a pawn in the acts that led to the demise of Messalina. One of the conditions for her bigamous marriage to Gaius Silius (consul designatus 49 AD) was that he adopt her son as his own. They apparently then planned to rule as regents for the boy after the planned overthrow of Claudius. Messalina may have believed this was the only way to prevent her son from being killed with his father. Messalina and Silius were discovered shortly after their wedding and put to death, having never launched their coup.

Rise of his step brother, Nero[edit]

After the downfall of his mother, Britannicus' youth became a liability for Claudius. The lack of an adult heir made the emperor vulnerable to conspiracies aimed at overthrowing the dynasty, especially those by other Julio-Claudians. It was suggested that he should find an older heir and try to bring an end to strife within the family by marrying Agrippina the Younger, the last adult Julian. Shortly after Claudius married Agrippina, he adopted her son Nero, who was older than Britannicus and a direct descendant of Augustus. Nero was married to Britannicus' sister Claudia Octavia and named joint-heir with Britannicus until such time as the latter came of age. Nero was a popular young man, and his adoption did indeed stave off coup attempts in the second half of Claudius' reign. Britannicus did not get along with his step-family. According to the historian Tacitus, Britannicus continued to refer to Nero by his birth-name, Domitius, long after the adoption. However, it must be remembered that this was an accusation, made by enemies of Britannicus. This included public events where the boys were honored as a pair, and jealousy was heightened by Nero's rise to manhood. Nero reacted to these slights by insisting that Britannicus was illegitimate, but Claudius gave no indication of believing this. Tacitus reports that those who had reason to oppose Agrippina and Nero formed a faction around Britannicus, taking advantage of this discord. Agrippina retaliated against these supporters with force, changing Britannicus' circle. His tutor, Sosibius, had once been a tool of Messalina's, and Agrippina quickly disposed of him. Claudius may have agreed to this because of their links to his old officially damned wife. Such warring factions would have undermined his very reason for adopting Nero and marrying Agrippina.

Death of his father, Claudius[edit]

O: head of Claudius

TI KΛAYΔIOC KAICAP CΕΒACTOC

R: bust of Britannicus

BPETANNIKOC ΘECCAΛONI

bronze coin struck in Thessalonica 41-54 AD; ref.: RPC 1588

The actions Claudius took to preserve his rule in the short-term were not easily undone as Britannicus approached manhood. In late 54, Britannicus was within 6 months of reaching manhood by Roman tradition, and had matured early. According to the historian Suetonius, Claudius began to mention divorcing Agrippina and dismissing Nero now that he was no longer needed. In preparation, Claudius commended both his son and adopted son to the Senate as equals in his last Senate address. Suetonius reports that Claudius now admonished his son to grow up quickly, implying that everything would be righted when he assumed the toga virilis.

Sadly for Britannicus, Nero's supporters acted to prevent this. On 13 October 54, Claudius died, perhaps by natural causes or perhaps murdered by Agrippina. Tacitus claims that Britannicus and his sisters Octavia and Antonia were locked in their rooms to ensure that no counter claim could be made to Nero's succession. Nero spoke the eulogy at the emperor's funeral and took sole power. Claudius' new will, which either granted joint-rule to Britannicus and Nero or just Britannicus, was suppressed by the new emperor's men in the senate.[2] The freedman Narcissus, Britannicus' champion according to Tacitus, was quickly put to death. Britannicus was pushed to the background.

Death[edit]

Britannicus survived for a few months under the rule of his adopted brother, mostly ignored, but the doings of his stepmother Agrippina led to his death. In early 55, one of Agrippina's favorites, the freedman Pallas, was sacked from his job as secretary of the treasury – a post he had held since the reign of Claudius. According to Tacitus, Agrippina reacted violently to this slight by Nero. She declared that she repented of her actions to bring Nero to the throne, and would throw in her lot with Britannicus, the true heir who would soon come of age. She threatened to take the boy to the Praetorian camp, where she would admit to murdering Claudius and Britannicus would be declared emperor. Nero did not take this threat lightly.

Tacitus recounts Nero's numerous attempts to publicly undermine Britannicus' image. One such attempt was when Nero asked Britannicus to sing at a drunken party, months before his 14th birthday. Britannicus however, not only avoided humiliation, but also generated sympathy amongst the guests, after singing a poem telling the tale of how he had been cast aside in favour of Nero. Tacitus also stated that a few days before his death, Britannicus was sexually molested by Nero.[3]

According to Tacitus, Nero moved against Britannicus, employing the same poisoner, Locusta, who had been hired to murder his father, Claudius. The first dose failed, and Nero decided to throw caution in the wind. Britannicus was poisoned at a dinner party attended by his sister, Claudia Octavia, Agrippina, and several other notables. The 1st-century chronicler Suetonius wrote that the assassin avoided being given away by a food taster by adding the poison to his drink when Britannicus asked for it to be cooled, as he felt it was too hot. The substance was instantly fatal, and Britannicus fell to the floor foaming at the mouth. He died on 11 February 55, one day before his 14th birthday, less than a month before he was to assume manhood, and just four months after his father's death.[4] Nero dismissed the murder by claiming that the boy suffered from epilepsy. Some modern historians, particularly Anthony Barrett, suggest that he may have indeed suffered from the disease, and that a particularly bad seizure killed him.

According to Suetonius, Britannicus was good friends with the future Emperor Titus, whose father Vespasian had commanded legions in Britain. As part of the Flavians' attempts to link themselves with the Julio-Claudians, Titus claimed that he had been seated with Britannicus on the night he was killed. He even claimed to have tasted the poison, which resulted in a serious and long illness. Titus would go on to erect a gold statue of his friend, and issue coins in his memory.

Britannicus in culture[edit]

Britannicus appears as a character in the novel Claudius the God by Robert Graves, in which Claudius belittles him as a means of keeping Britannicus obscure in the public eye and thus safe from harm. Aware that it is prophesied by the Sibyl for Nero to succeed Claudius, Claudius makes an elaborate plan to hide Britannicus in Britain and for him to return to Rome to restore the Republic. Britannicus refuses to go along with the plan, and Claudius reluctantly agrees to make Britannicus his own heir (knowing that it shall doom his son). It also claims that towards the end of his life Claudius came to believe that Britannicus may have been Caligula's son, not his own. In the 1976 television series, I, Claudius, he was portrayed by actor Graham Seed.

Britannicus is also appears in a play of that name by Jean Racine, but in spite of its title the play concentrates more on Nero and Agrippina.

Ancestry[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ This date has a margin of error of one year according to Levick
  2. ^ Barrett argues that Tacitus reference to the will being suppressed so as to prevent outrage about Nero meant that the will did not name Nero as primary or sole heir. Therefore the Senate's elevation of Nero would cause outrage if the will were read
  3. ^ Tacitus Book XIII, 17
  4. ^ According to Barrett. Most authors agree he died in that month

References[edit]

  • Barrett, Anthony (1999). Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
  • Dio Cassius. Historia Romanum. Books LX-LXII.
  • Levick, Barbara (1990). Claudius. New Haven: Yale University Press. 
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo (1934). Claudius: the Emperor and His Achievement. Cambridge: Trans. W.D. Hogarth. W. Heffer and Sons. 
  • Oost, S.V. (1958). "The Career of M. Antonius Pallas". American Journal of Philology 79: 113–139. 
  • Scramuzza, Vincent (1940). The Emperor Claudius. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 
  • Suetonius. Twelve Caesars. Life of Claudius.
  • Suetonius. Twelve Caesars. Life of Titus.
  • Tacitus. Annals. Books XI-XIII.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannicus — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1630 videos foundNext > 

Britannicus de Racine Mise en scène Laurence Andreini par Le Théâtre Amazone

BRITANNICUS de Jean Racine - Mise en scène - Laurence Andreini Avec Eric Bergeonneau, Clémentine Bernard, Maryline Even, Florian Guichard, Lydie OKrongley, P...

Documentaire Rome Claude est devenu Britannicus

Bande annonce - Britannicus

Britannicus au Théâtre Nanterre Amandiers http://www.nanterre-amandiers.com/2012-2013/britannicus/

Journal de la création - Britannicus 1/5

Journal de la création - Britannicus - Episode 1 http://www.nanterre-amandiers.com/2012-2013/britannicus/

Britannicus de Racine (extraits)

Britannicus de Jean Racine, joué par les étudiants de L'Avant-Scène: French Theater Workshop de l'Université de Princeton; mise en scène de Florent Masse; Pr...

Purcell: Orpheus britannicus | Beatrice Martin & Rachel Elliot

__ Purcell: Orpheus britannicus Sonata no. 09 in F major, Z. 810 Fairest Isle, Z. 628 Pavan No.3 in B flat major, Z.750 If music be the food of Love Z. 379 S...

Britannicus (acte V, scène 6-7) HD

Britannicus de Jean Racine, joué par les étudiants de L'Avant-Scène: French Theater Workshop de l'Université de Princeton; mise en scène de Florent Masse; Pr...

BRITANNICUS NOW de Marilyn Perreault

texte de Marilyn Perreault - mise en scène de Lilie Bergeron Présenté du 28 au 31 mars 2012 à 20 h (mercredi au samedi) au Théâtre Léonard-St-Laurent et du 2...

Britannicus (acte III, scènes 7-8)

Britannicus de Jean Racine, joué par les étudiants de L'Avant-Scène: French Theater Workshop de l'Université de Princeton; mise en scène de Florent Masse; 26...

Britannicus de Racine (monologue Néron)

Mise en scène Bernard Pisani Théâtre Mouffetard, Auditorium Saint Germain des Prés, Palais des Festivals de Cannes, Opéras de Saint-Étienne, Limoge Tournées ...

1630 videos foundNext > 

5 news items

 
Český rozhlas
Sat, 09 Aug 2014 05:00:00 -0700

Tragédii, která dodnes dojímá nešťastným osudem milenecké dvojice Junie a Britannica, nastudoval režisér Josef Melč se vzácným smyslem pro její jasný kompoziční řád a vzletný verš v roce 1991 s Ivanem Řezáčem v roli Britanika a s Pavlem Soukupem v ...

Telegraph.co.uk

Telegraph.co.uk
Fri, 01 Aug 2014 23:31:38 -0700

Deep in the countryside, we find a church up to date with the classical aspirations of the time. Its architect may well have been Roger Morris, who had been an assistant to Colen Campbell, the author of Vitruvius Britannicus, which in 1725 was in the ...

mno.hu

mno.hu
Sun, 03 Aug 2014 02:49:39 -0700

Legújabb, Homo Erraticus Britannicus című lemezén Bostock újra visszatér. „Bostocknak joga van az ilyen trükkökhöz, mivel ő az én alteregóm. Legújabb lemezünkön a viktoriánus Britanniához nyúlt. Ő olyan alteregó, aki valójában nem is hasonlít hozzám.

RTN

RTN
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:41:04 -0700

Le samedi est placé sous le signe de l'exclusivité : le groupe vallonnier Britannicus System fête ses 20 ans, Elkee donne son dernier concert et le public pourra aussi applaudir The Red County, l'un des finalistes du tRRremplin GRRIF. L'ambiance du ...
 
La Tribune.fr
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 03:54:30 -0700

@Britannicus : les cci jouent aussi le rôle de rabatteur pour les cabinets de conseil "choisis", échanges entre bons amis (invitations au restaurant étoilé du coin...) en prétextant l'aide à l'obtention de subventions pour les entreprises qui mordent ...
Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Britannicus

You can talk about Britannicus with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!