Roman emperor, 41-54 C.E. Claudius was the second son of Drusus, the brother of the emperor Tiberius. Being of a feeble constitution, and unprepossessing in appearance, he was slighted by everybody, even by his own mother. During his reign both his freedmen and his wife Agrippina exerted a great influence over him. Finally, Agrippina, in order to secure the succession of Nero, her son by her first marriage, had Claudius poisoned.
After the murder of Caligula, Claudius had been brought forth from his hiding-place by a pretorian and proclaimed emperor. Thanks to the advice and diplomatic skill of his friend, the Jewish king Agrippa I., the accession of Claudius was, on the following day, recognized by the senate. In return he confirmed Agrippa in his possession of the dominions granted him by Caligula, and added thereto Judea and Samaria, so that Agrippa had now under his rule the whole former kingdom of Herod. He also interposed between the Jewish and the pagan citizens of Alexandria, who had been in open hostility to one another since 38 C.E. The leaders of the anti-Jewish Alexandrians, Isidorus and Lampon, were called to account in Rome, and executed (Wilcken, in "Hermes," xxx. 481 et seq.; "Berliner Philol. Wochenschrift," 1896, pp. 1617 et seq.; ib. 1897, pp. 410 et seq.; Th. Reinach, in "Rev. Et. Juives," xxxi. 161 et seq.; ib. xxxii. 160; ib. xxxiv. 296; Weil, in "Revue des Etudes Grecques," xi. 243 et seq.; Mommsen, in "Sitzungsberichte der Berliner Akademie," 1898, p. 498; idem "Römisches Strafrecht," p. 265; Mitteis, in "Hermes," xxxiv. 88 et seq.). The governor of Egypt was ordered to suppress the disorder; the Alexandrian Jews had their privileges reconfirmed; and, at the instigation of Agrippa and Herod, an edict of tolerance was issued for the Jews of the whole Roman empire. On the death of Agrippa his kingdom was again taken under Roman administration. Repeated charges brought against the governor by Jewish envoys received favorable attention from the emperor, owing chiefly to the intervention of Agrippa the Younger. Thus, on one occasion the garments of the high priest were handed back to the Jews; and Agrippa's brother Herod was put in charge of the Temple, with the right of appointing the high priests. On the decision of Claudius in a dispute between Samaritans and Judeans, see Cumanus.
The Jews in Rome itself, however, in the year 49, were forbidden to hold religious gatherings, owing to continued disturbances resulting from the frequency of Christian Messianic sermons. No expulsion took place; but many Jews no doubt left Rome voluntarily. However, this measure of Claudius was certainly not directed against the Jewish religion.
Bibliography:G. H. V.
- H. Lehmann, Claudius und Nero, i.;
- Schiller, Gesch. der Römischen Kaiserzeit, i. 314 et seq.;
- Mommsen, Römische Geschichte, v.;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., passim;
- Vogelstein and Rieger. Gesch. der Juden in Rom. i. 19 et seq.;
- Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyc. iii. 2777 et seq.;
- Harnack, Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums in den Ersten Drei Jahrhunderten, p. 4.