- "But now that I am thirteen and practically grown up I'd still rather be a baker like Father than a housewife like Mother. But then I'd rather be almost anything than that."
Claudia (born c. AD 65) was the daughter of a Roman baker and his wife. She had two brothers, Marcus and Sextus. Her best friends were Calpurnia, a fellow Roman girl, and a Briton slave, Aengus. Claudia lived in Pompeii, where her father operated a bakery, until Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.
Claudia was born around AD 65 to a baker and his wife, both former slaves. Her mother was born in Egypt, making Claudia half-Egyptian. Claudia had an older brother, Marcus, and a younger brother, Sextus.
When she was younger, Claudia's family rented the upstairs apartment of the home they later purchased. At age seven, her father taught her how to bake bread in the family bakery.
AD 78 – 79
In August AD 78, Claudia and her father were watching a slave auction at the Forum in Pompeii. Vastus, a friend of Claudia's father, won Aengus, a Briton boy, shortly before an earthquake struck. That September, Claudia's family had dinner at Vastus' house, where she saw Aengus again. Claudia met him two weeks later, when she twisted her ankle and he helped her home. After her ankle healed, Claudia ran into him at the market, where they had a small fight. They became friends, when he returned Claudia's dog, Pollux, to her.
Claudia befriended Calpurnia, the cousin of Claudia's old friend Aemilia, in January AD 79. Later that month, Claudia learned that Aengus was sold to a gladiator trainer. She saw him at a gladiator fight, where he saved a charioteer, in May. She also divulged her friendship with Aengus to Calpurnia that month. Over the next few months, Calpurnia helped Claudia gather information about Aengus and also helped her record omens. Calpurnia and her family moved to Rome in September.
In October, Aengus escaped from the gladiators barracks and said goodbye to Claudia, before leaving Pompeii forever. Claudia's family made the decision to leave Pompeii, after the city's water supply failed. As they were leaving, Mount Vesuvius began erupting. The family headed toward Herculaneum and stopped briefly to find water. They continued their journey, but eventually had to leave their wagon behind. Claudia and her family later found a safe house to rest.
Personality and traits
Claudia was a worrier, whether it was about Pompeii's earthquakes or Aengus' safety. She wrote about her worries at length in her diary. Claudia was also intelligent, being able to read and write well at a young age. Her mother tried to teach Claudia various housewife duties, but she was terrible at most of them, including spinning. Claudia confessed to her brother that she did not want to be a Roman housewife.
She was also kind and hated to see humans or animals mistreated. Claudia especially disliked the gladiator games, and attended one game only to see Aengus.
(b. AD 65)
(b. AD 71)
Behind the scenes
- Claudia is the main character in the My Story book, Pompeii by Sue Reid.
- Les cendres de Pompéi, a book in the French series Mon Histoire, is also set in Pompeii during AD 79. Unlike Pompeii, the tragic event is told from the point-of-view of a slave.