1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Britannicus

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BRITANNICUS, son of the Roman emperor Claudius by his third wife Messallina, was born probably A.D. 41. He was originally called Claudius Tiberius Germanicus, and received the name Britannicus from the senate on account of the conquest made in Britain about the time of his birth. Till 48, the date of his mother’s execution, he was looked upon as the heir presumptive; but Agrippina, the new wife of Claudius, soon persuaded the feeble emperor to adopt Lucius Domitius, known later as Nero, her son by a previous marriage. After the accession of Nero, Agrippina, by playing on his fears, induced him to poison Britannicus at a banquet (A.D. 55). A golden statue of the young prince was set up by the emperor Titus. Britannicus is the subject of a tragedy by Racine.

Tacitus, Annals, xii. 25, 41, xiii. 14-16; Suetonius, Nero, 33; Dio Cassius lx. 32, 34; works quoted under Nero.