Purchase includes free access to book updates online and a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Chapters: Claudius, Britannicus, Drusus Julius Caesar, Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus. Excerpt: Roman imperial dynasties For the 1669 tragedy by French dramatist Jean Racine , see Britannicus (play) . Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus (12 February 41 before 12 February 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 , murdered just before his 14th birthday. Birth and early childhood A sestertius issued to commemorate Britannicus' birth Britannicus was probably born on 12 February 41 to the Roman Emperor Claudius and his wife Valeria Messalina . He was the oldest surviving son of his father at birth, Claudius' older son having died at the age of 14 nearly two decades before. He was accordingly named Tiberius Claudius Germanicus , sharing his father's praenomen as recognition of his status as heir. 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
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