Eastern Mediterranean 46 AD: Claudius’ consolidation in the East
The reign of Claudius (41–54 AD) saw the first major period of Roman expansion since Augustus. In the East, Claudius extended Roman power by annexing Thrace and Lycia, restoring Roman rule in Judea, and temporarily annexing Rhodes.
41–72 AD Claudian Commagene▲
Following Claudius’ accession to power, he both restored Antiochus IV as client king of Commagene and returned Antiochus’ territories in Cilicia to him. Antiochus—and until her death c.52 AD his wife Julia Iotapa—ruled in Commagene and its dependencies for more than 30 years, before being deposed by Vespasian on unlikely allegations of conspiring with Parthia. Despite this, he was allowed to peacefully live out his final years in Sparta and Rome.
42 AD Armenian Succession War of 42▲
Taking advantage of the civil war raging in Parthia, Claudius ordered the restoration of Mithridates to the throne of Armenia. Invading the kingdom with a force of Roman legionaries and Iberian cavalry, Mithridates routed the Parthian client governor, Demonax, in battle and swiftly established his rule. At around this time, Sophene seems to have broken away from Armenia to become a separate Roman client kingdom.
43 AD Annexation of Lycia▲
As Caligula’s successor, Claudius sought to end the frequent unrest among the various client kingdoms of the Mediterranean. In 43 AD, following what was apparently a revolution in which a number of Romans were killed, he led a campaign to subdue the Lycian League. Lycia was then annexed as a Roman province, although its structure as a league was maintained and its ancestral laws restored.
44–53? AD Claudian Rhodes▲
In 44 AD Claudius annexed the Roman client state of Rhodes, incorporating it into the province of Asia. However, he later restored the island to its independence following an impassioned speech in Greek on its behalf by his fifteen-year-old great-nephew and adopted son, Nero. Rhodes would then continue on as a client state until annexed by Vespasian in 70 AD.
46 AD Roman Thrace▲
In 46 AD King Rhoemetalces III of Thrace was murdered—either by his wife and co-ruler, Pythodoris II, or by insurgents. The subsequent fate of Pythodoris is unknown, but apparently they had no children. Following this, Claudius annexed the kingdom as the Roman imperial province of Thracia.