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Tiberius Claudius Narcissus (fl. 1st century) was one of the freedmen who formed the core of the imperial court under the Roman emperor Claudius. He is described as praepositus ab epistulis (in charge of correspondence).
He reportedly had great influence over the emperor and amassed a great deal of money. He is said to have conspired with Claudius's third wife Valeria Messalina to manipulate him into having several men executed, although this is unproven. However, the sources admit that Narcissus, as Claudius' own former slave, was extremely loyal to the emperor, and so entrusted with more responsibility than the others.
In 43, during the preparations for the Roman conquest of Britain, he headed off a mutiny by addressing the troops. Seeing a former slave in their commander's position, they cried "Io Saturnalia!" (Saturnalia was a Roman festival when slaves and masters switched places for the day) and the mutiny ended. It was through his influence that the future emperor Vespasian was appointed legate of the Legio II Augusta in Germania.
When Messalina married Gaius Silius in 48, it was Narcissus who warned Claudius about Messalina, and seeing the emperor hesitate, he gave the order for her execution himself. Narcissus may have feared that Britannicus, Claudius's son with Messalina, would hold a grudge against him for this role. When the time came for the emperor to select his fourth wife, Narcissus suggested to Claudius to remarry Aelia Paetina, the emperor's second wife.
Anthony Barrett suggests that Narcissus' intention was to allow Claudius reason to pick Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, the husband of Claudius and Aelia's daughter Claudia Antonia, as his successor rather than the hostile Britannicus. It would also have given Claudius an adult heir, for which he was looking to shore up his position. When Claudius chose Agrippina the Younger in order to consolidate the Julio-Claudian family, and picked her son, the future Emperor Nero, to fill the role of temporary older heir, Narcissus allied with Britannicus' circle in order to secure his future.
Claudius still trusted Narcissus, and had him named praetor . He was charged with overseeing the construction of a canal to drain Fucine Lake, but Agrippina, now Claudius's fourth wife, accused him of embezzling funds from the project, possibly as punishment for his support of Britannicus. According to Tacitus, Narcissus hoped to bring down Agrippina by revealing her affair with the freedman Pallas, which would also have destroyed her son.
He supposedly told Britannicus of his plans in front of others, and was brazen in his intentions, promising to right all wrongs against him. It has been suggested that this last detail is an example of Tacitus altering facts to make Claudius a passive character in his reign. Suetonius and Dio report that, after reconciling with Brittanicus, Claudius -- not Narcissus -- openly planned to bring Agrippina down.
In any case, Agrippina was suspicious of Narcissus and had him sent away to Campania, ostensibly to take advantage of the warm baths there to relieve his gout. This was probably intended to remove him as an obstacle of the assassination of Claudius and the accession of Nero. Agrippina ordered Narcissus' execution within weeks of Claudius' death in October, 54. Shortly after the announcement Narcissus returned to Rome. Just before his imprisonment and execution, he burned all Claudius' letters to prevent Nero from using their contents for nefarious ends.
An inscription names his wife as Claudia Dicaeosyna.
Narcissus is a character in the Apocolocyntosis of Seneca the Younger, written soon after his death. He greets Claudius in Hades and runs ahead of him through the gates of the underworld. He is scared by Cerberus, a dog-beast so unlike the little white dog Narcissus is mentioned as owning in life.
Narcissus is a character in Robert Graves' novel I, Claudius ; in the TV adaptation, he is portrayed by John Cater.
Narcissus is a character in the French tragedy Britannicus , written by Racine in 1669, it is a drama about the assassination of Britannicus by Nero, and its author is a well-known playwright at the court of Louis XIV .
He also appears in Simon Scarrow's Eagle Series of books and Douglas Jackson's Caligula & Claudius books.
He also appears in Lindsey Davis' book, The Course of Honour .
He also appears in Robert Fabbri's Vespasian Series.
Julia Agrippina, also referred to as Agrippina the Younger, was a powerful Roman empress and one of the prominent and effective women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Her father was Germanicus, a popular general and one-time heir apparent to the Roman Empire under Tiberius; and her mother was Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of the first Roman emperor Augustus. She was also the younger sister of Caligula, and the niece and fourth wife of Claudius.
Claudius was Roman emperor from AD 41 to 54. Born to Drusus and Antonia Minor at Lugdunum in Roman Gaul, where his father was stationed as a military legate, he was the first Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. Nonetheless, Claudius was an Italic of Sabine origins and a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.
The Julio-Claudian dynasty was the first Roman imperial dynasty, consisting of the first five emperors—Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero—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. The name "Julio-Claudian dynasty" is a historiographical term derived from the two main branches of the imperial family: the Julii Caesares and Claudii Nerones.
Nero was Roman emperor from 54 to 68, the last ruler of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius, thus becoming his heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, dominated Nero's early life and decisions until he cast her off and had her killed five years into his reign.
Valeria Messalina, sometimes spelled Messallina, was the third wife of the Roman emperor Claudius. She was a paternal cousin of Emperor Nero, a second cousin of Emperor Caligula, and a great-grandniece of Emperor Augustus. A powerful and influential woman with a reputation for promiscuity, she allegedly conspired against her husband and was executed on the discovery of the plot. Her notorious reputation arguably results from political bias, but works of art and literature have perpetuated it into modern times.
Antonia Minor, also known as Julia Antonia Minor, Antonia the Younger or simply Antonia was the younger of two daughters of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. She was a niece of the Emperor Augustus, sister of Cleopatra Selene II, sister-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, paternal grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, mother of the Emperor Claudius, and both maternal great-grandmother and paternal great-aunt of the Emperor Nero. She was additionally the maternal great-aunt of the Empress Valeria Messalina and Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, the paternal grandmother of Claudia Antonia, Claudia Octavia, and Britannicus and the maternal grandmother of Julia Livia and Tiberius Gemellus.
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus, usually called Britannicus, was the son of Roman emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina. For a time he was considered his father's heir, but that changed after his mother's downfall in 48, when it was revealed she had engaged in a bigamous marriage without Claudius' knowledge. The next year, his father married Agrippina the Younger, Claudius' fourth and final marriage. Their marriage was followed by the adoption of Agrippina's son, Lucius Domitius, whose name became Nero as a result. His step-brother would later be married to his sister Octavia, and soon eclipsed him as Claudius' heir. Following his father's death in October 54, Nero became emperor. The sudden death of Britannicus shortly before his fourteenth birthday is reported by all extant sources as being the result of poisoning on Nero's orders—as Claudius' natural son, he represented a threat to Nero's claim to the throne.
Aulus Plautius was a Roman politician and general of the mid-1st century. He began the Roman conquest of Britain in 43, and became the first governor of the new province, serving from 43 to 46.
Aelia Paetina or Paetina was the second wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Her biological father was a consul of 4 AD, Sextus Aelius Catus, while her mother is unknown.
Poppaea Sabina —known as Poppaea Sabina the Younger and, after AD 63, as Poppaea Augusta Sabina—was a Roman Empress as the second wife of the Emperor Nero. She had also been wife to the future Emperor Otho. The historians of antiquity describe her as a beautiful woman who used intrigues to become empress.
Claudia Acte was a freedwoman of ancient Rome who became a mistress of the emperor Nero. She came from Asia Minor and might have become a slave of the Emperor Claudius, following his expansion of the Roman Empire into Lycia and Pamphylia; or she might have been purchased later, by Octavia, Claudius' daughter.
Domitia Lepida, also known as Domitia Lepida the Younger, or Domitia Lepida Minor, ; was the younger daughter of consul, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and Antonia Major. Her elder sister was Domitia Lepida the Elder and her younger brother was Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, father of the Emperor Nero. She was the great niece of Emperor Augustus, granddaughter of Octavia the Younger and Triumvir Mark Antony, second cousin to the Emperor Caligula, first cousin and mother-in-law to the Emperor Claudius and paternal aunt of the Emperor Nero. Lepida was a beautiful and influential figure. Like her sister, she was also very wealthy. She had holdings in Calabria and owned the praedia Lepidiana.
Gaius Rubellius Plautus was a Roman noble and a political rival of Emperor Nero. Through his mother Julia, he was a relative of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was the grandson of Drusus, and the great-grandson of Tiberius and his brother Drusus. Through his great-grandmothers Vipsania Agrippina and Antonia Minor, he was also descended from Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Mark Antony. He was descended from Augustus' sister Octavia Minor, herself a grand-niece of Julius Caesar.
Claudia Antonia was the daughter and oldest surviving child of the Roman Emperor Claudius and the only child of his second wife Aelia Paetina. Antonia was a great great-niece of the Emperor Augustus, great-niece of the Emperor Tiberius, first cousin of the Emperor Caligula, half-sister to Claudia Octavia and Britannicus, and cousin, stepsister and sister-in-law of the Emperor Nero.
Gaius Sallustius Passienus Crispus was a prominent figure in the Roman Empire during the first century. He held the consulship twice, and was stepfather of the future emperor Nero.
Claudia Octavia was an empress of Rome. She was the daughter of the Emperor Claudius and stepsister and first wife of Emperor Nero.
Marcus Antonius Pallas was a prominent Greek freedman and secretary during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Claudius and Nero. His younger brother was Marcus Antonius Felix, a procurator of Iudaea Province. According to Tacitus, Pallas and Felix descended from the Greek Kings of Arcadia.
Lucius Lusius Geta was a Roman politician in the 1st century AD.
Gaius Silius was a Roman senator who was nominated as consul designate for 49 AD, but was executed by the emperor Claudius for his affair with the empress Valeria Messalina.