Appius Claudius Caecus

Appius Claudius Caecus
Born 340 BC
Died 273 BC (aged 67)
Memorial inscription of Appius Claudius C. F. Caecus, "Appius Claudius Caecus, son of Gaius."

Appius Claudius Caecus ("the blind"; c. 340 BC – 273 BC) was a Roman politician from a wealthy patrician family. He was the son of Gaius Claudius Crassus.[1] As censor he was responsible for the construction of Rome's first aqueduct and major road project.



Appius Claudius Crassus was a censor in 312 BC, although he had not previously been consul which later was effectively a prerequisite for the office.[2] He sought support from the lower classes, allowing sons of freedmen to serve in the Senate, and extending voting privileges to men in the rural tribes who did not own land. During the Second Samnite War, he advocated the founding of Roman colonies (colonia) throughout Latium and Campania to serve as fortifications against the Samnites and Etruscans.

Appius is best known for two undertakings he began as censor: the Appian Way (Latin: Via Appia), the first major Roman road, running between Rome and Beneventum to the south; and the first aqueduct in Rome, the Aqua Appia.[3] He also supported Gnaeus Flavius, who published for the first time a list of legal procedures and the legal calendar, knowledge of which, until that time, had been reserved for the pontifices, a college of priests.


He later served as consul twice, in 307 BC and 296 BC, and in 292 BC and 285 BC he was appointed Dictator. According to Livy, he had gone blind because of a curse. In 279,[4] he gave a famous speech against Cineas, an envoy of Pyrrhus of Epirus, declaring that Rome would never surrender.[5] This is the earliest known political speech in Latin, and is the source of the saying "every man is the architect of his own fortune" (Latin: quisque faber suae fortunae).[6]

Literary output

Appius wrote a book called Sententiae, based upon a verse of Greek model. It was "the first Roman book of literary character".[4] He was also concerned with literature and rhetoric, and instituted reforms in Latin orthography, allegedly ending the use of the letter Z.[6]


His sons included Gaius Claudius Centho and the first Tiberius Claudius Nero, (grandfather of the consul of 202 BC, Tiberius Claudius Nero). Centho, his son, was the consul in 240 BC and father of Appius Claudius Caudex and Publius Claudius Pulcher, consul in 249 BC and the first of the Claudii to be given the cognomen "Pulcher" ("handsome").

Appius Claudius Caecus is used in Cicero's Pro Caelio as a stern and disapproving ancestor to Clodia. Cicero assumes the voice of Caecus in a scathing prosopopoeia, where Caecus is incensed at Clodia for associating with Caelius, a member of the middle equestrian class instead of the upper patrician class. Caecus's achievements, such as the building of the Appian Way and the Aqua Appia, are mentioned as being defiled by Clodia's actions.

See also


  1. George Converse Fiske (1902). "The Politics of the Patrician Claudii". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Harvard University Press. XIII: 26.
  2. Livy, ix.29.
  3. "The Romans: From Village to Empire: A History of Rome from Earliest Times to the End of the Western Empire" by M. Boatwright, et al. 2nd edition. 2011.
  4. 1 2 Boak, Arthur E. R. & Sinnigen, William G. History of Rome to A.D. 565. 5th Edition. The Macmillan Company, 1965. Print. pg. 95
  6. 1 2 James Grout: Appius Claudius Caecus and the Letter Z, part of the Encyclopædia Romana

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Publius Decius Mus II
and Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus III
Consul of the Roman Republic
307 BC
with Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens
Succeeded by
Quintus Marcius Tremulus
and Publius Cornelius Arvina
Preceded by
Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus IV
and Publius Decius Mus III
Consul of the Roman Republic
296 BC
with Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens II
Succeeded by
Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus V
and Publius Decius Mus IV
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