Marcus Claudius Marcellus (Julio-Claudian dynasty)

Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Portrait Marcellus Louvre Ma3547.jpg
Marcellus, nephew and son-in-law of Augustus
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

Marcus Claudius Marcellus (42 – 23 BC) was the eldest son of Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor and Octavia Minor, sister of Augustus (then known as Octavius). He was Augustus' nephew and closest male relative, and began to enjoy an accelerated political career as a result. He was educated with his cousin Tiberius and traveled with him to Hispania where they served under Augustus in the Cantabrian Wars. In 25 BC he returned to Rome where he married his cousin Julia, who was the emperor's daughter. Marcellus and Augustus' general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa were the two popular choices as heir to the empire. According to Suetonius, this put Agrippa at odds with Marcellus and is the reason why Agrippa traveled away from Rome to Mytilene in 23 BC.[1]

That year, an illness was spreading in Rome which afflicted both Augustus and Marcellus. Augustus caught it earlier in the year, and Marcellus caught it later in the year after the emperor had already recovered. The illness proved fatal and killed Marcellus at Baiae, in Campania, Italy. He would be the first member of the royal family whose ashes were placed in the Mausoleum of Augustus. Though dying young and unproven, Marcellus' position led to his celebration by Sextus Propertius and by Virgil in the Aeneid.


Marcellus was born into the Claudii Marcelli, a plebeian branch of the gens Claudia in 42 BC, the eldest son of Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor and Octavia Minor.[2] He had two younger sisters: Claudia Marcella Major and Claudia Marcella Minor.[3]

His mother was the great-niece of Julius Caesar and the sister of Octavius. Octavius would later become the first emperor of Rome and assume the name "Augustus". His father was consul in 50 BC and, despite his initial loyalty to Pompey, sided with Caesar during Caesar's Civil War in 49 BC. After his father's death in 40 BC his mother was married to Marc Antony when Antony and her brother were the most powerful men in the Roman world.[2]

Sextus Propertius and Virgil connect Marcellus to his famous (alleged) ancestor Marcus Claudius Marcellus, a famous general who fought in the Second Punic War.[4]

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