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What did Claudius respond to condemned?

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Emperor Claudius
Emperor Claudius

In 52 CE on Lake Fucine at the behest of Emperor Claudius, there were naumachiae. At the famous cry of the convicts about to take part in the naval battle: Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you, Claudius replied sarcastically: Or not (“Aut non”).

This story is reported by Suetonius. The “Rhodesian” and the “Sicilian” fleets were to fight with each other (each consisted of twelve or fifty tertiary ships). Before the start of the clash, the combatants (naumachiarii) said mentioned above words for which Claudius was supposed to answer “aut non” (or not). The convicts understood that the emperor had pardoned them and refused to fight. Claudius had long wondered if they should not be killed (the praetorians armed with catapults and ballistics were placed around the “battlefield”), but eventually he managed to persuade them to fight.

  • Suetonius, Claudius, 21.6

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