Julio-Claudian dynasty

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The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula (also known as: Gaius), Claudius, and Nero,[1] or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century (44/31/27) BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line, Nero, committed suicide.[2]

None of the Julio-Claudians were succeeded by their sons; only one of them had a legitimate son survive him. The ancient historical writers, chiefly Suetonius and Tacitus, write from the point of view of the Roman senatorial aristocracy, and portray the Emperors in generally negative terms, whether from preference for the Roman Republic or love of a good scandalous story.

Tacitus wrote this of the Julio-Claudian Emperors and history:

Contents

Nomenclature

Julius and Claudius were two Roman family names; in classical Latin, they came second. Such names are inherited from father to son; but a sonless Roman aristocrat would quite commonly adopt an heir, who would also take the family name - this could be done in his will. Thus (Gaius) Julius Caesar adopted his sister's grandson, Gaius Octavius, who became a Julius, eventually named Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, normally called in English Augustus, the founder of the Empire. The next four emperors were closely related, and all were named either Julius or Claudius by birth or adoption.

Tiberius, the son of Augustus' wife Livia by her first husband (thus Augustus' step-son), was born a Claudian but, like Augustus before him, became a Julian upon his adoption.

Caligula, however, had both Julian and Claudian ancestry, thus making him the first actual "Julio-Claudian" emperor. He was also a direct descendant (a great grandson) of Augustus.

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