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Everyone remembers Claudius don't they? They remember that statue of him with big ears that was fished out of that river in England, or perhaps they remember him being played by theatrical Shakespearian gay Derek Jacobi on the television where he was shouted at by Brian Blessed. Nobody really remembers Claudius II who was also a Roman emperor and therefore very very important in his day. Despite this he's never been played by Derek Jacobi or even Nicholas Cage. And yet lets look at all the things he did!
Claudius II wasn't born Claudius II, he was born Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius which is a much more sensible name. His early life was spent not having a lisp or being lame and yet he still hasn't starred in his own 1970s BBC drama. I bet his childhood was really exciting, though, and I bet he was really great because he ended up joining the army.
Claudius II was a really great soldier. It's true that he's never had a book, or even two books, written about him by Robert Graves, but none of that means he wasn't an exceptional soldier. He was certainly quick with his fists and once punched a horse out, like Mongo in that film, or that English bloke who got drunk at the football and pretended that he was trying to give the horse a carrot or something. Despite that, there were people who were still foolish enough to piss off old Claud-o and when someone tweaked one of his love spuds during a wrestling match he punched the bloke so hard that his pelvis came flying out of his back. Claudius was a wit as well, proclaiming "I certainly had a bone to pick with him, a pelvic bone, do you see?" before the man's pelvis had even landed in a nearby pond.
Claudius's ability to de-bone his enemies encouraged him to join the Roman army. His butchery skills brought early promotion and gained the attention of emperor Gallienus. Claudius became a body guard and checked the soap for any hidden razor blades. The emperor granted him full use of any discarded mistresses but Claudius wasn't one for the girls, His interests were manly and requested to be back with the boys in Company X.
It was quite a good time for being in the imperial army what with the Roman Empire being divided and each division being constantly at war with the others and all that. Being the emperor of Rome was therefore a dangerous and insecure position, although by this time the Romans had come to see it as less of a problem and more of a glorious tradition.
When Gallienus's former 'best boy' Aurelos rebelled (and a previous holder of the Imperial Soap), Gallienus sped up towards Milan to confront the rebel. In a confusion of single, double and triple whammy treachery, Gallienus was murdered but asked to make a dying last wish. He chose Claudius and said 'don't dribble or stutter like that other emperor Claudius' before laying a bloody hand on his chosen successor. Claudius II cleaned his toga afterwards and sent the bill to Gallienus's surviving relatives. When they refused to pay it he had them killed. "That's just the kind of man I am" he explained to the Roman Senate when they confirmed him as emperor. "I'm a bad motherfucker. And haters gonna hate."
Having been made emperor of Rome, Claudius II was still faced with the large-to-massive problem of the continuing disunity of the Roman world and the continuing massing of opportunistic barbarian armies on the empire's border. With the infamous goths marching their black-clad, pasty-faced forces into the Roman world hoping to make it as gloomy as they were, Claudius gave a motivational speech to his troops only unlike most motivational speeches it wasn't complete bullshit and he meant every single word. "Let's get those fucking goths!" he said, ripping his steel breastplate off as if it were a vest, and presenting his manly, hairless chest to the troops. With a mixture of confidence and arousal, the Roman army marched straight into the approaching gothic army and cut them to ribbons. Despite the pleas of his slaves, Claudius refused to replace his breastplate stating that his chest would deflect any gothic arrow or sword, which it indeed did, whilst the emperor laughed heartily. "Don't lose your head!" he quipped whilst chopping off a gothic commander's head. "That'll teach you to go into battle legless!" he quipped as a well-swung gladius chopped the legs off a gothic infantryman. "I do like a horse keb... fuck it, that just looks funny! Look at the expression on its stupid horse face!" he quipped as a spear plunged into a horse carrying a gothic infantryman.
Having put paid to the barbarian menace and claiming the title 'Gothicus Smashicus', the emperor turned his attentions to a much more pressing issue. The Roman Empire remained divided with much of its Western provinces ruled under a "pretender" as the Gallic Empire (not to be confused with the Garlic Empire). After some post-battles manly "messing around" in the showers that involved a bit of flicking towels at tough male bottoms and then maybe a bit of pinching and groping, to make sure that they were really firm, then maybe some kissing and then rough anal sex, Claudius got out his Big Map and pointed at the Western provinces. "Here next" he said. Then he gave a passing soldier a playful smack on the arse. "Here, Next" he said patting his knee. "The soldier's name was Next, that's a joke" he said. "My name's not Next" said the soldier "It's Flavius". "Nevertheless I command you to laugh!" said the emperor. Flavius laughed as ordered but then hung himself in shame. "Who said you could stick around, I mean hang around!" said Claudius. Everyone laughed, but in that forced way like an English teacher at a performance of a Shakespeare comedy.
Taking a time out from his larks in the showers, Claudius received a card from a man called Valentine. It was addressed to 'Be Mine For Ever Claudy'. The emperor was so happy to receive a card (any card) from a stranger who wasn't paid to be his friend or feared losing their head if they didn't laugh at his jokes, Claudius wrote back and asked to meet Valentine. When the young man did not reply, Claudius instead looked for Valentine. The emperor arrived in full expectation of happiness that evening, bringing along various toys and gizmos to make the evening pleasant (at least for him).
But to his dismay, Claudius spied Valentine entertaining a young woman on his dining couch. Angered and upset, Claudius slew Valentine and his female companion but then regretted his actions. It turned out the card was meant for Claudia Cardinalius, Valentine's companion and had gone astray in the Imperial post. Later Christian writers claimed Valentine and Claudia were two of theirs and that the emperor had slaughtered them for refusing to service his pagan lusts. Along the way Claudia was dropped from the story and this day became 'St.Valentine's Day'.
Not Quite Crushing the Gallic (Empire)
Claudius was forgetting himself, though, he had decided to destroy the usurpers calling themselves Emperors of Rome who ruled over the Gallic Empire. He put on his shiniest helmet, mounted his meatiest horse and prepared for battle against the forces of the Gallic Emperor, somethingorotherius. Claudius was initially successful, smashing the Gallic forces and pseudo-quipping "Gallic! Gothic, more like! Because I have defeated the goths! And I have defeated the Gallic army. Look, if I have to explain it it doesn't work. Just piss off, I'll have you executed! And you, you mincing ponce!". The Roman Empire once more took control of Hispania and much of Gaul and there was much drinking and using of recreational powders. However, just before another battle with the Gallic foe that was set to end the pretender empire in the West, Claudius "felt a little queer", then he announced that he was feeling ill. He immediately started to sweat and grunt and had to be taken to the imperial bed. There he would call out "mildred!","I cuss Robert Graves!", "did you see what I did there?". Then he died of the plague.
As I complainted right at the start of this entry, the BBC have never made a TV series about him, even though they made one about that other Claudius and filled it with expensive sets and people out of Shakespeare. This is truly a great injustice since I have demonstrated that Claudius was a man's man who loved the banter. Perhaps the BBC should rectify that right now and make up for employing Jimmy Savile. Ricky Gervais could play Claudius and Matt Smith could be a Gothic commander with Jack Whitehall as the Gallic emperor and Paddy McGuinness as himself. It could be written by Jenny Eclair.