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The Emperor Claudius at Ara Pacis

Until October 27th the Museo dell’Ara Pacis hosts the exhibition “The Emperor Claudius: Messalina, Agrippina and the shadows of a dynasty”, dedicated to the life and works of Claudius. An exhibition created through images, visual and sound equipment to discover one of the most controversial emperors of the Roman Empire.


The exhibition

The main purpose of the exhibition is to trace an unknown image of Claudius, different from the one outlined by the ancient authors, dark and unflattering.

The path brings out an emperor who is able to take care of his people and promote economic reforms and important public works for the administrative development of the empire.

The story of the life of Claudius is conveyed, as well as through archaeological finds, with the aid of suggestive visual and sound equipment, of which, in some cases, the visitor is actively involved.

There are several works of great historical interest, such as the Tabula Claudiana, inscribed with the famous speech given by Claudius in the Senate in 48 AD in which he argued that eminent Gauls be admitted to the Senate; the gilded bronze portrait of Agrippina the Younger from Alba Fucens and the portrait of Germanicus, displayed for the first time ever.

The figure of Claudius

Born in Lugdunum (now Lyons) in 10 BC, Claudius was the first Roman emperor to be born outside the Italian territory, so the chances of him reigning over the empire were very low.

His brother Augustus had always doubted his political skills and would have much preferred to see his brother Germanicus in that role, but unfortunately, he died prematurely.

The people of Rome and the army chose Caligula, son of Germanicus, to succeed, but he was stabbed to death in his own palace.

Thus, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus became the first emperor acclaimed by a military body, the Praetorian Guard.

As well as his family affairs, even the relationships of Claudius with his wives were not the happiest.

His third wife, Messalina, 30 years younger than him and mother of their son Britannicus (the first male heir of the Julio-Claudian dynasty born to a reigning emperor) used to betray her husband. Tired of this, Claudius ordered the killing of his wife, while the son Britannicus never gained power, as his father named his stepson Nero as his successor: it is  even said that Nero had ordered the murder of Britannicus after the death of Claudius.

The last marriage of Claudius with his niece Agrippina, will cost him his life: the woman is considered the architect of his death, probably by poisoning.

The death of Claudius, was followed by his deification, the construction of a temple in his honor on the Celio Hill and the succession in the empire of his stepson Nero.


When: April 6th – October 27th

Where: Museo dell’Ara Pacis – Lungotevere in Augusta, Rome

Price: full 11 €, reduced 9 €


Visit the exhibition dedicated to the Emperor Claudius and stay at our 47 Boutique Hotel!

For more information visit the official website or ask our staff by writing to or by going directly to the reception!