Claudia Acte

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Claudia Acte († after 68) was a lover of the Roman emperor Nero .


Acte probably came from the province of Asia and probably came to Rome as a minor slave . There they came apparently in the possession of the Emperor Claudius , who later released her . The relationship between her and Claudius has not been established, but it appears that she remained in the imperial palace until after his death, where she met the young Nero 55, who was inflamed with a violent love for her.

Nero's mother Agrippina opposed her son's new love affair. and tried to fight them with all means, Nero's teachers Sextus Afranius Burrus and Seneca, however, strengthened Nero in order to break Agrippina's influence on their son. In fact, despite many efforts, Agrippina could no longer regain the former power over Nero. The harder she fought his relationship, the more intense his love for Claudia Acte became. Agrippina then changed her tactics and is said to have even given the couple their own bedroom. But mother and son remained permanently estranged. According to a rumor that goes back to later senatorial historians, Claudia Acte allegedly prevented an incestuous relationship between Nero and his mother on behalf of Seneca, which Nero wanted to establish in order to regain her influence at court.

Nero seems to have showered Claudia with presents. Their extensive estates in Puteoli and Velitrae are attested by inscriptions on water pipes, bricks and amphorae. In addition, its epitaph was discovered in Velitrae. Many of their slaves and freedmen are known by name from inscription finds. Many of these slaves are said to have been Christians . The fact that Claudia Acte could also have been Christin is nowhere proven and is viewed by today's research as rather unlikely.

In order to legitimize the love affair with Claudia Acte, which was scandalous according to the conventions of the time, Nero even toyed with the idea of leaving his wife Octavia , Claudius' daughter, and marrying Claudia. But against it stood a law from the time of Augustus , which forbade a marriage between freedmen and members of the Senate . This also applied to members of the ruling house. To get around this, Nero devised a ruse. Bribed with lavish gifts, he won over a number of influential men in high offices who were ready to swear that Claudia Acte was of royal birth and descended directly from the Attalids .

The affair ended when Nero met about 59 Poppaea Sabina . The outcast Claudia seems to have remained loyal to him. As can be seen from an inscription on a wall of the cathedral of Pisa , Claudia dedicated a temple in this city to the goddess Ceres with the request that Nero's love for her should not be extinguished and that his marriage to Poppaea Sabina should be prevented. After Nero's death (68), only she and two wet nurses looked after his remains and buried him. Claudia also paid the burial costs of an impressive 200,000 sesterces.

Literary representations

The French writer Alexandre Dumas and his novel Acte in 1838 and the Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz in his novel Quo vadis? . Acte in Lion Feuchtwanger's novel The False Nero is also relevant.



  • Attilio Mastino, Paola Ruggeri: Claudia Augusti liberta Acte, la liberta amata da Nerone ad Olbia . In: Latomus Vol. 54 (1995), Issue 3, pp. 513-544.
  • Arthur Stein: Claudius 399). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume III, 2, Stuttgart 1899, Col. 2888 f.

supporting documents

  1. ^ Cassius Dio 61, 7, 1.
  2. Publius Cornelius Tacitus , Annalen 13, 12f.
  3. ^ Tacitus, Annals 14, 2.
  4. CIL X 6599.
  5. Cassius Dio 61, 7, 1; Suetonius , Nero 28.
  6. ^ Suetonius, Nero 50.