by Wayne Madsen
© Photo: Defense.gov
From what historians tell
us about the Roman emperor
Claudius, the ruler of the
Roman Empire from 41 to 54 AD, he was intent on expanding the
imperial borders to include the annexation of,
Thrace, Noricum, Lycia, and Mauretania,
...but was beset with
problems at home and with his own rather unusual personality and
Seneca the Younger, Claudius
had an annoying voice and small weak hands.
When Claudius became
excited and lost his temper, he reputedly exhibited signs of
what would many centuries later be called
Claudius, known as a
womanizer and who was married three times, was also fond of
gladiator duels and executions.
The emperor was also
suffered from extreme paranoia and believed there were
conspiratorial plots afoot against him.
Several senators were
executed after the emperor fingered them as potential plotters
against his rule.
Claudius also heavily
interfered with the judiciary, often involving himself in
specific legal cases.
He took over the role
of censor, the powerful judicial authority who had control over
the census, public morality, and government finances.
Claudius maintained a
virtual veto over all other Roman magistrates.
Claudius also issued numerous edicts, sometimes as many as
twenty per day.
The edicts were the
"tweets" of that era.
They dealt with
everything from promoting yew juice as a cure for snakebite and,
according to some historical tracts, permitting public
flatulence in order to maintain good health.
One of Claudius's fondest
pursuits was engaging in opulent feasts, at which gluttony and
drunkenness was the rule of the day.
Seneca the Younger wrote
that the very last deed of the dying Claudius, whose gluttonous ways
resulted in his having severe intestinal problems, was to make a
failed attempt to pass wind.
The emperor championed major public works projects, including canals
would fall to a later emperor,
Hadrian, Claudius, as the Roman
conqueror of Britain, realized that a fortification had to be
established between the Roman province of Britannia and the restive
Celts of Scotland.
Under Hadrian, a 73-mile
wall was constructed between the Roman possessions in Britain and
the "barbarians" of the north.
Claudius relied on Roman soothsayers to guide his decision-making.
These soothsayers, known as
haruspices, had been in existence
since the pre-Roman Etruscan era.
The foibles and peculiarities of Claudius were likely known far
beyond the Roman Empire and its tributary states. One of the
missions of diplomatic and military emissaries were to provide
intelligence on the emperors and kings of powerful entities.
Therefore, leaders as far
Romania and Moldova)
Serendivi (modern Maldives and Sri Lanka, respectively)
(modern Kerala and Tamil Nadu)
...and other kingdoms in
Asia, Africa, and northern Europe.
Why is Claudius relevant today?
and abuses of power contributed to the ultimate fall
of the Roman Empire, which continued to maintain some vestiges
of the even greater Roman Republic.
predecessor, the bloodthirsty tyrant Caligula, and successor,
the bloodthirsty and inept Nero, would, together, help seal the
date of Rome.
Donald Trump exhibits many of
the traits of Claudius.
Trump revels in
banquets at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, the
abode of billionaires.
infidelity, fits of rage and frequent inability to
pronounce words, crudeness (as exhibited by his recent
re-tweeting of a YouTube fart joke video)
projects like the U.S.-Mexico border wall
legislature and judiciary
"soothsayers" at Fox News
"edicts" via Twitter
with public finances, immigration, and the census,
...would have all
been cheered on by Claudius.
Like Claudius, Trump has become the laughingstock of the
world, regardless of whether he commands a sizable military
force armed with nuclear weapons.
At the recent
Munich Security Conference (MSC),
Trump's emissary, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, himself
a clownish ideological doppelganger of the U.S.
president, gave a speech that earned not one second of
applause from the audience of world leaders, diplomats, and
It is one thing to steer
the United States away from what President George Washington
warned the young country against in his Farewell Address:
"a permanent alliance
with any portion of the foreign world."
was echoed by President Thomas Jefferson in his presidential
inaugural address, in which Jefferson called for,
"Peace, commerce, and
honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with
Washington and Jefferson
were students of classical history, so the idiosyncrasies of
Claudius would have been well known to them.
Both presidents would
have been aghast at their successor, Trump, slamming down the
telephones on at least two foreign leaders,
Prime Minister Boris
Johnson and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull...
To be sure, every foreign
ministry and intelligence agency in the world have collected
requisite information on Mr. Trump and the less-than-stellar
members of his administration.
World leaders likely
peruse such information with a combination of amusement and
bewilderment, just as ambassadors and emissaries reported on the
antics of Emperor Claudius to their kings and emperors.
Historians of the future will undoubtedly write about the,
scene at the 2019
NATO summit at Buckingham Palace in London, at which Johnson,
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President
Emmanuel Macron, and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and
British Princess Anne were caught on video
laughing about Trump's latest faux pas,
a long and drawn out Trump press conference with Macron that ran
late because Trump was jabbering on about meaningless drivel...
While addressing the
United Nations General Assembly in 2018, the entire assembly hall
broke out in laughter as Trump,
once again, made a buffoon out of himself at the very same podium
where such eloquent speakers as,
Pope Francis, Emperor
Haile Selassie, Jawaharlal Nehru, Charles De Gaulle, Dwight
Eisenhower, Kwame Nkrumah, Corazon Aquino, Dag Hammarskjold,
Salvador Allende, Lester Pearson, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Hugo
Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Harold Macmillan, Joao Goulart, Urho
Kekkonen, Norodom Sihanouk, Sukarno, Josip Broz Tito, and many
To be sure, there were
other circus clowns who have appeared before the world body -
Grenada's Prime Minister Eric Gairy and his urging the UN to
investigate Unidentified Flying Objects and the "Bermuda Triangle"
approaches the inanity of Trump's carnival sideshow at the UN.
In 2012, close Trump friend and comrade-in-corruption Binyamin
Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, displayed a cartoon
drawing of a fizzing bomb fuse to illustrate to the General Assembly
how close Iran was to possessing a nuclear bomb.
The gambit was a
propaganda victory for Iran, which only had to point to Netanyahu's
antics to prove its case that it was not developing a nuclear
In 2019, Brazilian
President Jair Bolsonaro, trying to outdo his friend Trump,
delivered a racist speech in which he targeted Brazil's indigenous
tribes of the Amazon with his vitriol.
In his 1934 novel about Claudius, "I,
Claudius," Robert Graves depicts the emperor of
Rome as someone who,
emperor, has a choice between restoring the old Republic and
ruling as a benevolent leader or becoming a mad monarch.
Claudius chose the
Trump, who is not
a student of history or knowledgeable about literature, except
for a book of Adolf Hitler's speeches he once kept by his bed, has
become a latter-day Claudius, "I, Trumpius," as it were...