Julio-Claudian dynasty

Julio-Claudian dynasty
Domus Iulio-Claudia
Imperial house
Julio-claudian prince CdM Inv57-7.jpg
Bust of a Julio-Claudian prince.
Parent houseGens Julia and Gens Claudia
EthnicityAncient Roman
Founded44 BC (44 BC)
Final rulerNero

Roman Religion

Imperial cult
Nicene Christianity
DissolutionAD 68 (AD 68)
DepositionAD 68 (AD 68) (deposed by Galba)
Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
The statue known as the Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century
Augustus27 BC – 14 AD
Tiberius14–37 AD
Caligula37–41 AD
Claudius41–54 AD
Nero54–68 AD
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors

The Julio-Claudian dynasty was the first Roman imperial dynasty, consisting of the first five emperorsAugustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero[1]—or the family to which they belonged. They ruled the Roman Empire from its formation under Augustus in 27 BC, until AD 68 when the last of the line, Nero, committed suicide.[2] The name "Julio-Claudian dynasty" is a historiographical term derived from the two main branches of the imperial family: the gens Julia (Julii Caesares) and gens Claudia (Claudii Nerones).

Primogeniture is notably absent in the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Neither Augustus, Caligula, nor Nero fathered a natural and legitimate son. Tiberius' own son, Drusus predeceased him. Only Claudius was outlived by his son, Britannicus, although he opted to promote his adopted son Nero as his successor to the throne. Adoption ultimately became a tool that most Julio-Claudian emperors utilized in order to promote their chosen heir to the front of the succession. Augustus—himself an adopted son of his great-uncle, the Roman dictator Julius Caesar—adopted his stepson Tiberius as his son and heir. Tiberius was, in turn, required to adopt his nephew Germanicus, the father of Caligula and brother of Claudius. Caligula adopted his cousin Tiberius Gemellus (grandson of the emperor Tiberius) shortly before executing him. Claudius adopted his great-nephew and stepson Nero, who, lacking a natural or adopted son of his own, ended the reign of the Julio-Claudian dynasty with his fall from power and subsequent suicide.

The ancient historians who dealt with the Julio-Claudian period—chiefly Suetonius (c. 69 – after 122 AD) and Tacitus (c. 56 – after AD 117)—write in generally negative terms about their reign. In Tacitus's historiography of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he states:

But the successes and reverses of the old Roman people have been recorded by famous historians; and fine intellects were not wanting to describe the times of Augustus, till growing sycophancy scared them away. The histories of Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, and Nero, while they were in power, were falsified through terror, and after their death were written under the irritation of a recent hatred.[3]


Julius and Claudius were two Roman family names; in classical Latin, they came second. Roman family names were inherited from father to son, but a Roman aristocrat could – either during his life or in his will – adopt an heir if he lacked a natural son. In accordance with Roman naming conventions, the adopted son would replace his original family name with the name of his adopted family. A famous example of this custom is Julius Caesar's adoption of his great-nephew, Gaius Octavius.[citation needed]

Augustus (Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus), as Caesar's adopted son and heir, discarded the family name of his natural father and initially renamed himself "Gaius Julius Caesar" after his adoptive father. It was also customary for the adopted son to acknowledge his original family by adding an extra name at the end of his new name. As such, Augustus' adopted name would have been "Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus". However, there is no evidence that he ever used the name Octavianus.[citation needed]

Following Augustus' ascension as the first emperor of the Roman Empire in 27 BC, his family became a de facto royal house, known in historiography as the "Julio-Claudian dynasty". For various reasons, the Julio-Claudians followed in the example of Julius Caesar and Augustus by utilizing adoption as a tool for dynastic succession. The next four emperors were closely related through a combination of blood relation, marriage and adoption.[citation needed]

Tiberius (Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus), a Claudian by birth, became Augustus' stepson after the latter's marriage to Livia, who divorced Tiberius' natural father in the process. Tiberius' connection to the Julian side of the Imperial family grew closer when he married Augustus' only daughter, Julia the Elder. He ultimately succeeded Augustus as emperor in AD 14 after becoming his stepfather's adopted son and heir.[4][dead link]

Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was born into the Julian and Claudian branches of the Imperial family, thereby making him the first actual "Julio-Claudian" emperor. His father, Germanicus, was the son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, the son of Livia and the daughter of Octavia Minor respectively. Germanicus was also a great-nephew of Augustus on his mother's side and nephew of Tiberius on his father's side. His wife, Agrippina the Elder, was a granddaughter of Augustus. Through Agrippina, Germanicus' children – including Caligula – were Augustus' great-grandchildren. When Augustus adopted Tiberius, the latter was required to adopt his brother's eldest son as well, thus allowing Germanicus' side of the Imperial family to inherit the Julius nomen.[citation needed]

Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), the younger brother of Germanicus, was a Claudian on the side of his father, Nero Claudius Drusus, younger brother of Tiberius. However, he was also related to the Julian branch of the Imperial family through his mother, Antonia Minor. As a son of Antonia, Claudius was a great-nephew of Augustus. Moreover, he was also Augustus' step-grandson due to the fact that his father was a stepson of Augustus. Unlike Tiberius and Germanicus, both of whom were born as Claudians and became adopted Julians, Claudius was not adopted into the Julian family. Upon becoming emperor, however, he added the Julian-affiliated cognomen Caesar to his full name.[citation needed]

Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was a great-great-grandson of Augustus and Livia through his mother, Agrippina the Younger. The younger Agrippina was a daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder, as well as Caligula's sister. Through his mother, Nero was related by blood to the Julian and Claudian branches of the Imperial family. However, he was born into the Domitii Ahenobarbi on his father's side. Nero became a Claudian in name as a result of Agrippina's marriage to her uncle, Claudius, who ultimately adopted her son as his own. He succeeded Claudius in AD 54, becoming the last direct descendant of Augustus to rule the Roman Empire. Within a year of Nero's suicide in AD 68, the Julio-Claudian dynasty was succeeded by the Flavian emperors following a brief civil war over the vacant Imperial throne.[citation needed]

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Yulilər-Klavdilər
français: Julio-Claudiens
русский: Юлии-Клавдии
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Julijevci-Klaudijevci