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A speech for eternity

An echo from two thousand years ago

Claudian Table / Lugdunum
Claudian Table / Lugdunum Claudian Table, speech made by the Emperor Claudius © Lugdunum

Rome wants not only men, but also nations and vast territories, to be associated to her name. Claudius

Rome, 48 A.D. Emperor Claudius finds himself in a delicate situation. He must convince the Senate to accept the "hairy" Gauls, who cover the north and west parts of the territory. These inhabitants have been part of the Roman Empire for more than a century, but they are still unable to be part of the Senate.

The senators complain: these are barbarians! War did not end all that long ago. It must not be forgotten that these Gauls massacred Roman legionnaires. It is whispered that the Emperor is blinded by his origins, because he was born in Lyon.

But Claudius doesn't give in. For him, the greatness of Rome comes from its diversity. The voice of this people, who are now part of the Empire, must be heard. Hairy Gaul must enter the Senate.

What was the outcome of the debate? Claudius prevailed, as indicated in a text by the historian Tacitus and confirmed by the text of the Claudian Table. This impressive bronze plaque transcribes the Emperor's vibrant speech. The Gauls undoubtedly decided to have it engraved to celebrate a major political change that was to their benefit.

Thanks to this magnificent plaque, which was found on the slopes of Croix-Rousse Hill, we know the exact words Claudius said two thousand years ago. A fine speech, engraved for posterity! Well, almost. The Table was broken into four pieces, and we are familiar with only two of them. Part of the words of Claudius are buried in the depths of history…or perhaps in the ground under Lyon?

By Artips

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