Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Twelve Caesars - page 200, Claudius

Until this reign there had been two terms in the Law Courts, the summer and the winter; Claudius made them continuous. Another of his changes was to institute permanent courts ... for judging fiduciary cases, instead of entrusting them to the annually appointed Roman magistrates. He cancelled Tiberius' supplement to the Papian-Poppaean Law which implied that men over sixty years of age could not beget children; and sponsored a law authorizing the Consuls to choose guardians for orphans; and passed another law, ruling that no person who had been exiled from a province might enter the city or even Italy.

A new form of punishment which forbade some persons to go more than three miles outside Rome was likewise introduced by Claudius. ... Hitherto, when Romans wished to travel abroad, the Senate had considered their applications; Claudius reserved the right to deal with these himself.

In other places in The Twelve Caesars, Claudius is portrayed somewhat as a dolt, but this passage makes him seem much more competent. Not nice, but competent. He tended to the housekeeping of the Empire with the changes listed above and other changes listed elsewhere. And, even though it's likely that a great many people were unhappy with such changes (especially those with places to go to), it's obvious that Claudius was not distant from the workings of the government.

Claudius passed laws, changed laws, altered customs, and challenged assumptions. He even proposed adding new letters of his own invention to the Latin alphabet (they didn't stick, though). And it seems like he had a purpose in mind for each change, even if it may not be obvious to a reader today or a Roman in the past.

I offer you this backward C, for all of your "PS" sounds; this upside-down F, so you can stop using V as a consonant; and this half H, because it's all Greek to me.

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