Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus Dies

February 11, 2022

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was Rome’s 5th emperor. Today, we remember he killed his step brother Tiberius Claudius Caesar Brittanicus. 

Britannicus was Claudius’ natural-born son, whereas Nero was adopted through his mother, Agrippina the Younger’s marriage to Claudius, which also made him competition to the throne. Nero often felt undermined by Britannicus because it seemed there was nothing he was bad at. He would intentionally put Britannicus in humiliating situations, but Britannicus never faltered and somehow always seemed to surprise everyone around him.

There was one night when Nero and Britannicus were playing cards. Nero called Britannicus out and asked him to sing in front of everyone in hopes of humiliating himself. Instead, he left the crowd in awe with his amazing talent and even moved the crowd with sympathy for the story he told about how Nero was the family favorite. That’s when Nero decided he wanted to assassinate Britannicus.

Nero hired the same person who poisoned their father, Locusta, but the first dose didn’t work. After many tests, trials, and errors, Locusta mixed up a faster-working poison, which was immediately taken into the dining room by Nero.

As the family and several other nobles were attending this dinner party, Britannicus was poisoned. The poison was put in a hot drink, tested by a food tester, and once the drink was cooled, the poison was mixed in the drink with cold water. Britannicus was said to have “lost alike both voice and breath,” and it was said by Nero that he had an epileptic fit, which he’s had since childhood. He passed away sometime between December and his 14th birthday on February 11th, AD 55, which was when he would have been when he would have grown into manhood. His death occurred just four months after his father’s.

Nero also ended up poisoning his mother later in his rule.

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