Namque Britannicum fratrem, quod se post adoptionem Ahenobarbum ex consuetudine salutasset, ut subditivum apud patrem arguere conatus est. This curious notice has been largely passed over in the vast amount of scholarship on Nero, but requires explanation, particularly with respect to what Nero, or indeed his biographer Suetonius, meant when he called his younger stepbrother Britannicum subditivum . 1 The word subditivus , the authenticity of which seems to be relatively secure from an inspection of Ihm’s text, is generally assumed to mean ‘a substitute’, often with shades of trickery or general malfeasance associated with it. 2 If we are to extrapolate from this, Nero, at this locus , is accusing Britannicus of not being the real thing, i.e., that he is not a biological or even adoptive son of Claudius, the emperor. This suggests that Nero, recently adopted by Claudius, this being the reason why he should no longer be referred to as Ahenobarbus (his birth name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus), is angling to become his adoptive father’s sole male heir. 3 In effect, he is trying to convince Claudius to remove Britannicus from the imperial succession. This locus therefore forms part of the story of an
Mnemosyne – Brill
Published: Feb 3, 2015
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