Page images
PDF
EPUB

composed a brief answer to a work of the Port- cerning the country of his birth ; yet it seems royalists, on the perpetuity of the doctrine of sufficiently decided by the absolute assertion of the Roman church concerning the eucharist. Suidas, asserting him to have been a native of This was the origin of a famous controversy, Alexandria, confirmed by Sidonius Apollinaris, in which several pieces were written on both and by some lines of Claudian's own, in which sides, and Claude displayed his talents for dis- he speaks of Egypt as his country, and calls the putation to great advantage. Unable to obtain Nile “his own." He appears, however, to have any favour from the court, he went from Paris lived chiefly in Italy and Rome. He early atto Montauban, where he was chosen minister; tached himself to the renowned general Stilicho, and after four years' residence at that place, be- whom he seems to have accompanied during the ing again silenced by an order from court, he five years preceding the consulship of that comaccepted, in 1666, an invitation from the church mander, and whose friendships and enmities he át Charenton. In this situation he performed adopted with all the zeal of a partisan. By the the most essential services to his party, by se- favour of Serena, the spouse of Stilicho, he obveral controversial works, and by his able con- tained a rich and noble wife in Africa. He arduct at synods and consistories, in which he rived at the titular dignity of tribune and nodisplayed admirable talents in the management tary; and the Roman senate erected a statue to of business. In 1678 he held a private dispu- his honour in the forum of Trajan. That he tation with the celebrated Bossuet, in which was not a christian, as some have maintained, each party, as usual, claimed the victory. Bos- is sufficiently apparent from the whole tenor of suet published an account of this conference, his writings. Some short pieces on christian which was answered by that of Claude. At topics, inserted among his works, were either the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685, written by another of the same name, or were he received an order to depart the kingdom in composed by him merely as exercises. His twenty-four hours, though fifteen days was the disposition to satire and invective seems, after time allowed to the other ministers--so eager the fall of his great patron, to have involved him were the catholic clergy to get rid of a man in trouble ; but with the latter part of his life, whose influence they had sensibly felt! He and his death, we are totally unacquainted. retired to Holland, where he was honourably As a poet, Claudian is a remarkable phenomereceived by the prince of Orange, who granted non in the history of literature. After the rahim a considerable pension. This he lived pid decline of taste and purity in writing from but a short time to enjoy, being carried off by the Augustan period, and the intervention of a sudden illness, in January, 1687, to the great centuries without any name in Roman poetry concern of the whole protestant party. Claude superior to that of Ausonius, a foreigner, eduwas allowed, even by his antagonists, to pos- cated in Greek literature, started up, who was sess great powers as a controversialist. His able to take his place among the most admired style, if not brilliant, was strong, vigorous, of the Latin classics, and to contend for the close, and correct; and no one knew better palm with the masters of the language. It how to employ all the subtleties of logic in seems to be agreed upon by critics, that Claupushing an adversary. He had sound learning dian wanted a topic and an age, rather than a and solid judgment, keen wit, and a ready elo genius, to rise to the first rank among poets. cution. His figure was ordinary, and his voice The greater part of his subjects have precluded bad; yet he was listened to with great atten- any considerable efforts of the sublime or the tion, and made a strong impression on his pathetic; for what can be more unfavourable audience. His morals were irreproachable, and to mental elevation than the necessity of behis integrity untainted. He left a son, who was coming a slavish panegyrist, or a bitter 'satirist? minister at the Hague, and published his fa- Yet some of his narrative-pieces have been the ther's posthumous works, in 5 vols. 12mo. means of preserving various facts illustrative of Amst. 1688. Bayle. Moreri.-- A.

the manners and events of the times, which are CLAUDIAN. CLAUDIUS CLAUDIANUS, a not to be learned from the barren histories of Latin poet of great celebrity, flourished in that period; and some of the objects of his dethe fourth century, under the reigns of Theo- scription, particularly the hosts of martial bardosius, and his sons Arcadius and Honorius. barians which then began to burst like an inunLittle is known with certainty concerning his dation into the Roman empire, are fertile in culife and fortunes, further than can be deduced rious and striking imagery. Gibbon, who has from the incidental notices contained in his own derived much historical matter from the works writings. Much doubt has been raised con- of Claudian, and was well capable of appre

a

ciating him both as a narrator and a poet, after fects. He was the object of contempt and stating his defects, as arising from the purpose harshness to all around him; and even his moand character of his compositions, thus points ther regarded him as a sort of monstrous proout his excellences: “ He was endowed with duction, and was used to say, by way of comthe rare and precious talent of raising the mean- parison, “ As stupid as my son Claudius.” est, of adorning the most barren, and of diver- His great uncle Augustus alone behaved to him sifying the most similar topics : his colouring, with some kindness, but he could not venture more especially in descriptive poetry, is soft to produce him in any public office, and in his and splendid ; and he seldom fails to display, testament he placed him only among his heirs and even to abuse, the advantages of a culti- of the third rank. Tiberius in like manner exvated understanding, a copious fancy, an easy cluded him from honours and employments, and sometimes forcible expression, and a per- and suffered him to live in retirement, assopetual flow of harmonious versification.” (Decl. ciating with men of the meanest condition, who and Fall, &c. ch. 30.) It may be added, that plunged him in low debauchery, and rendered his latinity, if not perfectly pure, is much su- him still more despicable. That tyrant, howperior to that of the generality of writers in ever, after destroying almost the whole imperial that

age, and such as none but a rigid critic family, entertained some thoughts of making will often censure. The principal of his works Claudius his successor; and though his imbeare his invectives against Rufinus and Eutro- cility prevented this design from taking place, pius; his consulates of Honorius; his Gildonic he recommended him by name in his will to and Getic wars, and other pieces devoted to the the protection of the senate, people, and army. praise of Stilicho; his court epithalamiums and Caligula, among the popular acts in the begincpistles; and his rape of Proserpine, an unfi- ning of his reign, brought forward his uncle nished poem, the commencement of a grand Claudius; and after introducing him into the epic design. There are, besides, several short senate, made him his partner in the consulship. pieces, entitled Idylliums, and others called Epi- He also more than once allowed him to preside grams. Among the latter none is more re- in his stead at the public games, to the great markable than a copy of verses on the sphere satisfaction of the people, who could not view of Archimedes, which seems to have been a without a certain respect, even under such a very curious piece of astronomical clock-work, form, the brother of their darling Germanicus. inclosed in a glass case. Of the editions of It was not long, however, before the wanton Claudian, the most esteemed are those of Hein- caprice of that imperial madman was exercised sius, of Barthius, the Variorum, the Delphin, against his uncle, as well as against the rest of Gesner's at Leipsic, 1759, 2 vols. 8vo. and mankind; and he was subjected to all the inBurman's, Amst. 1760, 4to. Vossii Poet. Lat. sults of ridicule and buffoonery. He also inVita Claudiani ad edit. Gesneri. Tiraboschi. Gib- curred some serious danger from accusations bon.-A.

brought against him by his domestics, which CLAUDIUS, fifth emperor of Rome, whose he escaped only by being too much despised to name at length was Tiberius Claudius Drusus be an object of suspicion : so abject a creature Germanicus, the son of Nero Claudius Drusus was Claudius at the time of the assassination of by Antonia minor, brother of Germanicus, and Caligula! The news of that event so operated nephew of the emperor Tiberius, was born at upon his fears, the strongest feelings of his naLyons, in the year of Rome 742. From his ture, that he ascended to the upper story of the childhood he was aflicted with diseases which palace, and hid himself in a door-way behind injured both his mind and his body, and were some hangings. A common soldier, happenthe cause of a lasting stupidity and weakness of ing to enter the room, discovered his feet peepunderstanding, which rendered him incapable ing from the cloth, and dragged him to view. of filling with propriety any of the offices of Claudius threw himself on his knees before the life, though it did not absolutely disqualify him soldier, and begged his life. By one of those from literary attainments. He acquired a know- strange turns which sometimes rule the fate of ledge of the Greek language, as well as of his men and nations, the soldier, who recognised own, and was able to write with purity and a him, instantly saluted him emperor. Some of degree of elegance; but he was radically defi- his comrades who came up concurred in this micient in judgment and comprehension, and litary nomination, and placing Claudius in a was equally dull in his perceptions and blunt in litter, they carried him on their shoulders to his feelings. The treatment he met with, in- their camp; while the marks of consternation deed, was such as to aggravate his natural de- still impressed on his countenance, caused the

spectators, as he passed through the market- quest, but hazardous to attempt. Claudius was place, to pity him, under the persuasion that he induced to send over an army under his general was going to be put to death. The contest Plautius, whose success was such, that the emwhich ensued between the senate, which de- peror himself, desirous of a pretext for triumphsired to restore a free government, and the præ- ing, crossed the sea, and ri mained sixteen days torian bands, which determined upon supporting in the island, occupied in receiving the suba master of their own choosing, soon ended in mission of the vanquished trib's as far as the favour of the power of the sword; and Clau- Thames. His triumph was a farce; but the dius, in his fiftieth year, A.D. 41, was una- design of pursuing the conquest of Britain was nimously elevated to the imperial dignity. He seriously executed. The first acquisitions were began his reign with mild and moderate mea- formed into a Roman province. Ostorius, the

а sures. He published a general amnesty with successor of Plautius, greatly extended the limits respect to the opposition he had met with; and, of the Roman dominion ; and, by the defeat more perhaps through insensibility than magna- and capture of Caractacus, made an important nimity, he passed over with neglect all the progress in subduing the southern portion of the scorns and insults with which his former weak- island. Little more was effected by his succesness had been treated. He shewed an extraor- sor Didius; and it was not till the reign of Dodinary reverence for the memory of Augustus, mitian that the conquest could be reckoned and paid honours to almost all his deceased re- complete and secure. latives and progenitors. He also abolished the Claudius likewise obtained some credit by the formidable laws of treason, and set at liberty public works undertaken in his reign. One of those whom Caligula had imprisoned on that the most splendid and useful of these, was an account. He displayed profound respect to the artificial port formed at Ostia, the mouth of the senate, and deference to the magistrates, and Tiber. The draining of the waters of the Fuwas extremely modest in the assumption of cine lake, on which thirty thousand men were personal honours and distinctions. But these employed eleven years, appears to have been a tokens of a good disposition were little to be work not adequate to its expence. The comrelied upon in one so radically weak, and made pletion of the aqueduct of Caius, for bringing to be governed by women and favourites. His water to Rome, was an object worthy of imwife was at that time the infamous Messalina, perial magnificence. Claudius had also a great whose cruelty was little inferior to that unchas- passion for reforming and regulating the courts tity which has made her name proverbial. of law, and other civil matters. He frequently Three potent freedmen, Pallas, Narcissus, and sat in person on the bench, and delighted to Callistus, rivals in insolence and rapacity, held hear and decide causes, in which he sometimes him in the most disgraceful subjection. They displayed a gleam of good sense, but oftener, inspired him with apprehensions of all of whose by his stupidity and inconsistency, exposed himapproach they were jealous, and disposed at self to ridicule. The numerous ordinances their pleasure of all the great offices of state. which he issued, were a mixture of sense and Hence the public events of Claudius's reign be folly, generally well intended, but little conlong so little to the emperor himself, that a sidered. Among other novelties, he introduced very slight notice of them will suffice in a bio- by the imperial authority three new letters into graphical sketch; nor is there much to record the Roman alphabet, the want of which he of his private life, except further instances of proved by a learned dissertation. They were his stupid insensibility. The empire had the employed in the public monuments of his reign, fortune in this reign of possessing commanders but afterwards fell into total disuse. There of great vigour and military skill, who enlarged were many real or pretended conspiracies against its boundaries, and secured it against foreign him, which cost much of the best blood of attacks. Galba and Corbulo obtained advantages Rome; for it was easy to work upon his fears over the Germans. Mauritania and Thrace so as to extinguish all the compunction he inight were reduced to the condition of Roman pro- feel for acts of severity ; indeed, his natural invinces. But it was principally by the conquest sensibility was such, that he was nearly indifof the best part of the island of Britain, that ferent to the fate even of those who were nearest the period of Claudius is rendered illustrious in him. It was computed that thirty senators, and the historical annals of Rome. From the time three hundred and twenty-five knights, were put of Julius Cæsar, Britain had been viewed at a to death by his orders, though probably he distance by the Roman emperors, as an acqui- scarcely knew the names of many of the vicsition flattering indeed to the vanity of con- tims, who were really those of his wives and

VOL. III.

с

freedmen. He was fond of public spectacles, or the succeeding days. After the death of and especially of gladiatorian combats, which, Messalina, Claudius fell into the power of his indeed, was the taste of the whole Roman niece Agrippina, who by her arts induced him to people, and nourished their appetite for cruelty. take her for a wife, though not till he had overat the completion of the work for letting outcome his scruples with respect to an alliance the waters of the Fucine lake, before they were deemed incestuous among the Romans. Her discharged, Claudius gave the spectacle of a domination was not less haughty and cruel than naumachia, such as probably was never before that of her predecessor had been ; and she was nor since exhibited. "Two fleets were manned able to effect the great point of causing her son with nineteen thousand combatants, all con- Nero to be adopted by the emperor, to the predemned criminals, who shewing an unwillinge judice of his own son, the young Britannicus, ness to engage; were compelled to it by the em- from whose person she removed all who were peror's guards, and not suffered to desist till attached to hiin. Yet Claudius really loved his after much bloodshed.

son, as much as he was capable of loving any The most extraordinary domestic event in the thing; but he saw nothing with his own eyes, reign of Claudius, and one, indeed, which would and was no more than a mere machine in the be incredible, were it not for the concurrent hands of those who governed him. (See the testimony of historians, was the public marriage article of AGRIPPINA The Younger.) He of Messalina, to her lover Silius, a young noble- passed some years more in this insignificant man of singular beauty, and the designated con- condition : till at length, being made sensible of sul. That abandoned woman, not content with some of the enormities of his wife, he unguardthe most undisguised display of her fondness edly dropt some expressions which implied an for her paramour, had resolved to show her con- intention of punishing them. Agrippina, intempt for all decency, and her utter disregard formed of these by her spies, resolved to be for her husband, by publicly marrying Silius beforehand with him; and accordingly took adwhile the emperor was living. It appears, in- vantage of his gluttonous voracity, to administer deed, that this was a desperate measure pro- poison to him in a dish of mushrooms. He posed by Silius, who was sensible that the no- struggled a short time against its effects, and toriety of his amour with the empress must, then expired, A.D. 54, in the sixty-fourth year at length, become his ruin, if not prevented by of his age, and fourteenth of his reign. It is the death of Claudius, which was doubtless a unnecessary to add any more circumstances to part of the design. They were actually united characterise an animal of so mean a species, in sight of the whole city, with all the ac- that nothing but his possession of imperial customed nuptial ceremonies; and it is affirmed power could have rendered him an object of by Suetonius, that Claudius himself signed the rational curiosity. Tacit. Annal. Sueton. Vit. contract, deluded by Messalina with some Claud. Dio Cass.-A. superstitious pretence. He was at Ostia when CLAUDIUS, M. AURELIUS, Roman emthe event took place, and he remained ignorant peror, was one of those martial characters of of it after it was the common discourse of all barbarian birth who upheld the decline of Rome. At length the freedman Narcissus un- Rome. Illyricum, Dardania, and Dalmatia, is dertook to inform him of his dishonour and each mentioned as his native country. His danger. Struck with consternation, he was at origin was obscure, though after his elevation a loss how to act, but at length he issued orders the genealogists, as usual, exercised their inlo arrest the culprits. Messalina, who had

Messalina, who had vention in giving him an ancient pedigree. He thoughtlessly abandoned herself to all the disso- was bred to arms, and first obtained distinction lute pleasures of her guilty connection, was ap- under the emperor Decius. Valerian gave him prised of the approaching storm, and still hoped, the command of a legion, and afterwards raised by her ascendancy over her weak husband, to him to the important post of general in chief of divert it. But Narcissus took care that she the troops which guarded the Illyrian frontier. should not obtain the advantage of an interview; In this situation, his victories over the Goths and finding the emperor waver, he himself gave obtained for him the honour of a statue from orders to put her to death. When the deed the Roman senate. He was an object of apwas perpetrated, Claudius was made acquainted 'prehension to Gallienus, who being informed with it as he sat at table. He did not interrupt that Claudius had spoken of him with disaphis repast by any enquiry; but, sunk in stupid probation, employed a friend to mediate between insensibility, he exhibited not the least mark of them, and endeavoured to secure his allegiance joy, sorrow, or any human affection, on that by rich presents. When Gallienus was mortally wounded in a tumult excited by conspira- was the ancestor of Constantine. Univers. tors, he requested, before he expired, that the Hist. Gibbon.--A. imperial ornaments should be delivered to Clau- CLAUDIUS, Appius, founder of the illusdius, then at the head of a body of troops near trious patrician family of Claudii, at Rome, was Pavia. This, at least, was the report; and originally a Sabine, named Atta Clausus, and Claudius, then in his fifty-fourth year, A.D. was settled at Regillum. Becoming obnoxious 268, was raised to the throne. The consent of to his countrymen on account of his opposition the army was secured by a donative, and the to hostilities with Rome, he came over to the senate chearfully confirmed the election. The Romans with a large body of kindred and de

. usurper Aureolus, then besieged in Milan, at- pendants, in the year of Rome 250, B.C. 504. tempted to negociate with Claudius, but was He was honourably received, had a grant of not listened to ; and his surrender and death public land, and a quarter of the city assigned soon followed. Claudius then led all his troops to himself and his followers, who were admitted against the Germans, who had made an irrup- to all the privileges of Roman citizens. He tion into Italy, and whom he totally defeated in himself was elected into the senate, when he a battle near the lake Benacus. After this suc- took the name of Appius Claudius, and became cess he visited Rome, where he was received a person of the first consequence. Being of a with the greatest demonstrations of attachment; stern and rigid disposition, and a firm opposer and he spent the remainder of the year in re- of the claims of the plebeians, he was elected forming the abuses and healing the disorders consul B.C. 495, at a time when popular disof the state, in which he displayed equal justice sensions ran high, on account of the severity and prudence. He also bent his cares in a pe- with which the poor debtors were treated by culiar manner to the restoration of order and their patrician creditors. In this station he was discipline in the army, whose services were de- the constant patron of firm and severe measures, manded in the beginning of the next year, by a while his colleague Servilius inclined to lenity most formidable invasion of the Goths, and and indulgence, and favoured the cause of the other northern people; who, issuing in a nu- people. During all the subsequent troubles, the merous fleet from the Euxine sea, had ravaged conduct of Appius Claudius was uniform. He the coasts of Europe and Asia, and were now withstood all concessions to the people, resisted engaged in the siege of Thessalonica. Claudius the encroachments of the tribunes, and opposed flew to the scene of danger, and was met by the agrarian law. The senate, in consequence, the barbarian host in the province of Upper regarded him as their great bulwark, while to Moesia. A letter, still extant, which he wrote the people he was the object of equal dread and to the senate, forcibly displays his sense of the aversion. The time of his death is not recorddifficulties he had to encounter, and his reso'. ed. Livii Hist. II. Univers. Hist.-A. lution to do all in his power in overcoming CLAUDIUS, APPIUS, son of the preceding,

A great battle ensued in the neighbour- inherited both the unyielding temper and the hood of Naissus, in which the emperor's ac- party principles of his father. On occasion of tivity and military skill regained the field which the proposing of a law by the tribune Volero, had been nearly lost, and a great slaughter was by which the influence of the patricians in the made of the barbarians. The large bodies who future elections of tribunes would be entirely escaped still, however, maintained the war in subverted, the senate procured the election of the Macedonian and Thracian provinces ; till, Appius Claudius to the consulate, B.C. 471, as after the ruin of the Gothic fleet, and a long the most effectual measure to resist the attack, series of operations, conducted by Claudius To moderate his warmth, a colleague was given with consummate judgment, the invaders were him of a more gentle and complying disposition, almost entirely destroyed, or compelled to sur- in consequence of which they acted without render. But a pestilential disease, which was unanimity; and in spite of all the efforts of one of the scourges endured and inflicted by the Claudius, the law of Volero was carried. Rome barbarians, spread to the emperor himself, and was soon after engaged in a war against the carried him off at Sirmium in Pannonia, in the Aqui and Volsci, when a memorable example spring of 270, after a glorious reign of two was given of the bad effects of popular odium years and one month. His last cares were oc- against a commander. Claudius led out his uncupied in promoting the welfare of the empire, willing troops against the Volsci; and being no by the recommendation of Aurelian, as his suc- longer checked in the field by tribunitian aucessor. Crispus, the elder brother of Claudius, thority, he made the soldiers feel the full weight

a

« PreviousContinue »