Social policies under Claudius I by Keith Armstrong


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Discusses Social policies under Claudius I. The treatment of old or impaired slaves in both Roman and Anglo-Saxon societies. Claudius also made substantial changes to the laws governing women as he "upgraded the mother's right to inherit. This concession to her contribution to the family was also a move in line to the 'cognatic' principle of wills, which tended to spread goods beyond the male line of agnatic succession.

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Social policies under Claudius I by Keith Armstrong

  1. 1. Social Policies under Claudius I by Keith Armstrong 2013 London
  2. 2. Acknowledgments I am grateful to Miss Eva Skoulariki and Miss Katie Surridge for transcribing from the original text. I would also like to thank the many people who have helped me to live and given me the energy and encouragement to complete this article. This includes the people of Camden and my late mother Mrs. Nina Armstrong. I am particularly grateful to the kind members of staff at all levels within the British Library in London. ----------I must point out that any factual errors or sentiment unwittingly suggested are my responsibility alone. The punctuation and typeface of the authors quoted have at times been modified. All rights are reserved. The author's moral rights are asserted. No part of this paper may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the author. © Copyright 2013 Keith Armstrong, London
  3. 3. It is recommended that you read "Emperor Claudius I: the man, his physical impairment, and reactions to it by Keith Armstrong" prior to reading this paper. eactions_to_it_by_Keith_Armstrong
  4. 4. 1 Social Policies under Claudius I Emperor Claudius I (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), (1 August 10 BCE – 13 October 54 CE) was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy at Lugdunum in Gaul (now in France). It is likely that Claudius had the congenital physical impairment from birth known today as cerebral palsy. Claudius suffered throughout his life because of the negative attitudes of others to his physical impairments. It can be concluded that, in spite of the hostility Claudius suffered at the hands of a vindictive family, he succeeded in exercising his power in an unusual, even radical style, by introducing new laws for the benefit of women and slaves, the consequences of which were far-reaching. Nevertheless, Claudius as a leader was not without his faults. Suetonius comments that Claudius "played the part, not of a prince, but of a servant, lavishing honours, the command of armies, pardons or punishments, according to the interests of each of them, or even their wish or whim; and that too for the most part in ignorance [...]" 1 However, Claudius did introduce a number of lasting reforms. Barbara Levick tells us that Claudius also made substantial changes to the laws governing women as he "upgraded the mother's right to inherit. This concession to her contribution to the family was also a move in line to what Crook calls the 'cognatic' principle of wills, which tended to spread goods beyond the male line of agnatic succession." 2 One of the main criticisms levelled against Claudius by many historians such as Suetonius including those in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on his policies and proclamations, is that he was too heavily influenced by women. A number of significant historians such as Tacitus and Suetonius are critical of Claudius I, in both his personal and public life because he had physical impairments. Tacitus in his Annals of Imperial Rome reports that in 47 CE Claudius also passed a law against the severe treatment of debtors, outlawing loans to minors for repayment after their fathers' deaths. 3 Perhaps Claudius' most long-lasting contribution to Western society was his edict forbidding the killing of slaves who had physical impairments or who had become infirm due to old age. John Kemble has noted that "the Romans used to slay their infirm and useless serfs or expose them in Aesculapius, an island on the Tiber until they starved to death. Claudius made several regulations in their favour." 4 Cum quidam aegra et affecta mancipia in insulam Aes(c)ulapii taedio medendi exponerent, omnes, qui expo(n)erentur, li(b)eros esse sanxit, nec redire in di(c)ionem domini, si convaluissent; quod si quis ne(c)are mallet quem quam exponere, caedis crimine teneri. 5
  5. 5. 2 J. C. Rolfe translates this portion of the text as: When certain men were exposing their sick and worn out slaves on the Island of Aesculapius' because of the trouble of treating them, Claudius decreed that all such slaves were free, and that if they recovered, they should not return to the control of their master; but if anyone preferred to kill such a slave rather than to abandon him, he was liable to the charge of murder. 6 Professor K. R. Bradley, writing in Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire, considers that: Claudius' grant of freedom to abandoned sick slaves who recovered their health is the only certain case in which genuine protection against future abuse and violence can be allowed: freedom permitted change because subjection to the will of a slave-owner was fully eradicated [...] 7 In her biography of Claudius, Barbara Levick comments that: [...] This measure has caught the imagination and sympathy of historians; it shows Claudius sensitive to a change in attitudes towards slaves which, if loudly opposed by some senators, was accepted and promoted by the most humane men of the first century (many of Claudius' best friends had been slaves). The edict created a new kind of manumission, justified by the master's refusal of care, and avoided disputes over ownership if the slave recovered. It did not, however, deprive the master of his property rights over the ex-slave's possessions. 8 The term 'exposure', which appears many times in ancient literature is a euphemism, mainly used in the context of the killing of babies or children. What it really means is that the person would be deliberately chained up and then left to face the elements, usually they would starve to death or be eaten by wild animals. 9 The well-known Athenian Greek tragedy of Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) by Sophocles tells the story of Oedipus's deliberate exposure. Likewise, all stories of rescued foundlings can be said to illustrate humanity's endeavour to save the 'exposed' infant. Amongst these can be cited the mythological story of the co-founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. 10 It appears that the manumission edict (the freeing of slaves) might have become a precedent that was not rescinded as subsequent Roman laws which built upon Claudius' decree gave further protection for slaves. As the French historian Jerome Carcopino commented in his book Daily Life in Ancient Rome: [...] A short time afterwards an edict possibly drawn up by Nero under the inspiration of Seneca, who had vigorously championed the human rights of the slave, charged the praefectus urbi to receive and investigate complaints laid before him by his slaves concerning the injustice of their masters [...] 11
  6. 6. 3 John Kemble, commenting on the legacy of Claudius in The Saxons in England, writes of the Anglo-Saxon Christian slave that: [...] his lord was bound to feed him for his own sake, and if, when old and worn out, he wished to rid himself of a useless burden, he could by an act of emancipation hand over his broken-down labourer to the care of a Church which, with all its faults, never totally lost sight of the divine precepts of charity. We are not altogether without the means of judging as to the condition of the serf, and the provision made for him; although the instances which we may cite are not all either of one period, or one country, or indeed derived from compilations having the authority of law, they show sufficiently what opinion was entertained on this subject by some among the ruling class. In the prose version of Salomon and Saturn, it is said that every serf ought to receive yearly seven hundred and thirty loaves, that is, two loaves a day, beside morning meals and noon meals this cannot be said to be a very niggardly portion. [...] 13 The Theodosian Code, a compilation of the laws or decrees issued by Christian Roman Emperors, from 313 until 438, makes general reference to manumissions of the Christian Church (De Manumissione in Ecclesia) in Book 4. 7.1. 14 However, we do not know if there was a specific name or term that was used to describe these 'broken-down labourers' who had been emancipated from slavery after Claudius' edict. We do not have records of the Anglo-Saxon term, but in Latin they were called the Liberti. King Alfred [The Great] (849 - 899 CE), King of West Saxons (871 - 899 CE), a slave owner, continued in this 'liberalisation' by decreeing that slaves should have a right to certain holidays. 15 Christian Saxons generally observed contemporary Roman law, which itself followed older Roman precedents. Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge recount, in their book Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred [...], that Alfred twice visited Rome when he was a young atheling (an Anglo-Saxon prince) in 853 CE and 855 CE. 16
  7. 7. 4 Arcera, a close covered cart which was used in ancient Rome for the transport of rich people with physical impairments before the invention of other contrivances. The passenger reclined in it at full length, for which purpose it was furnished with cushions and pillows. The exterior was usually covered over with loose drapery to give it a more enhanced appearance, and conceal the rough boarding of which it was made . 12 Suetonius also reveals a darker side to Claudius. He had his father-in-law, Appius Silanus, executed without a trial and on the very day of his marriage to Agrippina. He also inflicted the death penalty on thirty-five senators and more than three hundred Roman knights. Claudius' reign was certainly not without irrational blood letting. Though Claudius' reign was violent and sometimes irrational by today's standards, his rule lies between emperors Caligula and Nero. History conveys that both of them had much more senseless blood on their hands than Claudius.
  8. 8. 5 End Notes Note 1: Suetonius, T., The Lives of the Caesars,: I. XXIX. Suetonius, Tranquillus, Caius, (1997, 2001: 56-57), The Lives of the Caesars: Vol. II, Loeb Classical Library No. 38, [trans. from the Latin by J. C. Rolfe], (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press). Note 2: agnatic succession: inheritance by only the male line. Levick, Barbara, (1990, 1993: 125), Claudius, (London: Batsford). Note 3: Tacitus Ann. xi. 13, (1996: 231), Tacitus: The Annals of Ancient Rome [trans. from the Latin by Michael Grant], (London: Penguin Books). Note 4: Kemble, John Mitchell, (1876: 214), [revised by Birch, W. De Gray] The Saxons in England, A history of the English Commonwealth till the period of the Norman Conquest, Vol. II, (London: Bernard Quartich). Note 5: Suetonius, T., The Lives of the Caesars, V: XXV. Suetonius, Tranquillus, Caius, (1997, 2001: 48), The Lives of the Caesars: Vol. II, Loeb Classical Library No. 38, [trans. from the Latin by J. C. Rolfe], (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press). Note 6: Suetonius, T., The Lives of the Caesars, V: XXV. Suetonius, Tranquillus, Caius, (1997, 2001: 49), The Lives of the Caesars: Vol. II, Loeb Classical Library No. 38, [trans. from the Latin by J. C. Rolfe], (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press). Note 7: Bradley, K. R., (1984: 127), Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire, A Study in Social Control, (New York: Oxford University Press). Note 8: Levick, Barbara, (1990, 1993: 124 - 125), Claudius, (London: Batsford). Note 9: A good source for information on the 'exposure' of children is Professor John Boswell's (1947 - 1994), The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance of 1988.
  9. 9. 6 Boswell, John, (1988), The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance, (Pantheon Books). Note 10: Berg, Stephen and Clay, Diskin, (1978), Sophocles: Oedipus the King, (New York: Oxford University Press). Lowell Edmunds and Alan Dundes maintain in their book Oedipus: A folklore casebook that this story is almost universal, appearing in many of the world's mythologies, including those of Albania, Burma, Papua New Guinea and Southern Africa. Edmunds, Lowell, and Dundes Alan (Eds.), (1983, 1995), Oedipus: a Folklore Casebook, (Madison, Wisconsin: London: University of Wisconsin Press). Note 11: Carcopino, Jéróme, (1941, 1991: 70), Daily life in ancient Rome: the people and the city at the height of the empire, [Trans. from the French by E. O. Lorimer], Rowell, Henry T., (Ed.), (London: Penguin). the praefectus urbi was the title of warden of the city, for the time that the consuls were absent from Rome purpose of celebrating the Feriae Latinae. however, this annually appointed office was without any power or speaking rights. Smith, William, (1875: 953 - 954), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, (London: John Murray). Note 12: The illustration is from a marble sepulchral in the Museum at Baden in Germany. this vehicles' great antiquity is confirmed by its' mention in the Twelve Tables (451 - 450 BCE) which is considered to be the earliest known codification of ancient Roman law. Rich, Anthony, (Ed.), (1873: 50), Dictionary of Roman and Greek Antiquities, (3rd Ed.), (London: Longmans, Green, & Co.). Note 13: Corrections to Kemble's translation are in brackets ( ) compared with the later J. C. Rolfe's translation published in the Loeb edition of Suetonius: Lives of the Caesars. In addition the word mallet should be between quem and quam to read quem mallet quam. Kemble, John Mitchell, (1876: 214), [revised by Birch, W. De Gray], The Saxons in England, A history of the English Commonwealth till the period of the Norman Conquest, Vol. II, (London: Bernard Quartich).
  10. 10. 7 Note 14: Davidson, Theresa Sherrer and Pharr, Clyde, (1952: xvii, 87 - 88), The Corpus of Roman Law ... A translation, with commentary, of all the source material of Roman law, Vol. 1., The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions, (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Note 15: Keynes and Lapidge's quote King Alfred's law on holidays for slaves; [?43] 39- [...] And the four Wednesdays in the four Ember weeks are to be given to all slaves, to sell to whomsoever they please anything of what anyone has given them in God's name, or of what they can earn in any of their spare time. [...] Keynes and Lapidge also note that; The 'four Ember weeks' were those in which the Ember days fell: the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following (a) the first Sunday in Lent, (b) Whit Sunday, (c) Holy Cross Day (14 September), and (d) St. Lucy's Day (13 December). The days were observed by the Church as days of fasting and abstinence. Keynes, Simon and Lapidge, Michael, (1983: 170, 310, (n. 32)), Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources, (London: Penguin). Note 16: Keynes, Simon and Lapidge, Michael, (1983: 69 - 70), Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources, (London: Penguin). .).
  11. 11. Media by Keith Armstrong Classical history Emperor Claudius I the man: his physical impairment and reactions to it by Keith Armstrong "Challenges the suggestion that both Emperor Claudius I and Franklin Delano Roosevelt had Polio. Both world leaders had major physical impairments before they came to public office." t_and_reactions_to_it_by_Keith_Armstrong India and Sri Lanka in the time of the Roman Julio-Claudians by Keith Armstrong o-Claudians_by_Keith_Armstrong A few words about the word the 'claudius': An etymological journey; five short essays on the word 'claudius' by Keith Armstrong ological_journey_Five_short_essays_on_the_word_claudius-_Keith_Armstrong Etymology The Old English Origin of the Word Cripple Revised by Keith Armstrong Linguistics, Etymology, Anglo-Saxon, Bible Studies, Disability Studies, Latin, Lindisfarne Gospels, Old English ed_-_Keith_Armstrong
  12. 12. A history of the word handicap extended by Keith Armstrong Linguistics, Etymology, Disability Studies, history, US & UK English, biology, Oxford English Dictionary, eugenics, euthanasia, 1915, The Atlantic Monthly,history of sport mstrong ded_by_Keith_Armstrong A few words about the word the claudius An etymological journey five short essays on the word claudius by Keith Armstrong Claudius or Claudia as a personal or first name, The word 'claudius' and it many meanings in Latin, The word 'claudius' as used in Old and Medieval English, The word 'claudius' in the Cymraeg-Welsh language, The word claudius as used in Anatomical Biological and Medical terms ological_journey_Five_short_essays_on_the_word_claudius-_Keith_Armstrong Transport Travelling behind Bars - rail travel in 1980's Early 19th Century bicycles Bicycles and manual wheelchairs - a short history Transport & Disability Issues (Audio) - Transport & building design USA
  13. 13. Voices on accessible public transport part one (Audio) Transport issues USA Voices on accessible public transport part two (Audio) Transport issues USA A Review of the Alder Valley North Careline Accessible Bus Service 1986 by Keith Armstrong London's first hourly accessible bus service ssible_Bus_Service_1986_by_Keith_Armstrong Literature Informer International Poetry Magazine No 8: 1968 Edited by Keith Armstrong and David Gill Content Details P5-6 Break Ice For The Wild Swan, article by Hugh McKinley P7-11 Poems by Ondra Lysohorsky (translated by Hugh McKinley) The Sun, On Lysohorsa, Town On The Black Sea, In The Quarry, The House, The Tree, The Tuner P11 A Slav Poet, article by Boris Pasternak P12-18 Poems by Ondra Lysohorsky (translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater) Vegetable Market In Ostrava, Ponds of Hrusov, Venetian Bridges, Beethoven In The Desert, Summer, Room In Tashkent, DragonFly In Autumn, By The Open Window, In The Ukraine (For Alexander Dowzhenko), Mahatma Gandhi, Poetry (For Charles Baudelaire) Holderlin P19-25 Poems by Ondra Lysohorsky (translated by Ewald Osers) Universe And History, Rhymes?, Early Spring, Dawn, John Huss, Swallow In Poitiers, Ballad Of Jan Pallach, Student And Heretic P26-27 Review by David Gill (The White Hind by David Morrison) P27- Night Has Fallen by Georg Coombs, OMNES by John Fleming, Plea by Wanda Allen Moore, Answer To An Invitation by Lydia Pasternak Slater P28- Message To An Unborn Infant by Martin Booth P29-33 Review by R.G (Junior poems, Stroud Festival 1968, Review Eastern Lovesong And Other Poems by Violet Bowen, Review Living Poetry by Claire May Overy, Review World Aflame by Billy Graham P35- Evergreen, Message and Sierre Madre by Iain Sinclair, Fruit Salad by Lydia Pasternak Slater