There is a passage in the Bible (II Timothy 4:21) about a woman named Claudia, whom presumably was married to a man mentioned in the same passage named Pudens. I've read various blogs that suggest this woman Claudia was a princess from Wales and was in Rome at the time and that this man Pudens was a Roman senator. Does anyone have any historical references for this Rome/Wales connection? This would have been during the period of about 60-70 AD

Might tie in with this king Wikipedia:Cassivellaunus

  • 2
    Did the Welsh have princesses during the 1st Century AD? Sep 8 '21 at 21:13
  • I dont know that either? Good question.
    – bitshift
    Sep 8 '21 at 21:24
  • 1
    According to the linked Wikipedia article, Cassivellaunus was 'king' of the Catuvellauni who were in the south eastern part of England so if she is related to him, she's not Welsh.
    – Steve Bird
    Sep 8 '21 at 21:58
  • 5
    @KillingTime - I think that was still Celtic territory, so they would have had whatever the Celtic equivalent of that was. However, "Claudia" as a girl's name in Rome would usually indicate a female whose father's family name was "Claudius" (or sometimes his cognomen). That's a common Roman name, and doesn't sound Celtic at all.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 8 '21 at 22:40
  • 2

We don't in fact really know anything about Second Timothy's "Claudia".

II Timothy is one of the letters of Paul that contains enough unique linguistic and anachronistic elements that scholars believe it was most likely not in fact written by Paul. In addition, there's no third-party reference to that letter existing before about 100AD. So its probably best to think of it as Pauline rather than literally written by Paul.

There does appear to be a later Christian tradition that elaborates on who the people mentioned in the letter were. However, the suppositions for "Claudia" appear to be based on a bawdy contemporary poet having mentioned a "Claudia" in one of his poems. Rome of course at that time contained on the order of 250,000 residents, and (for reasons I touched on in a comment above) "Claudia" was a very common name. In the absence of any other connection, it seems exceedingly unlikely that these two "Claudia"s were the same woman.

The other bit is that according to Tacitus, there was an inscription found in Chichester, England, claiming her as one of their own. That's just their claim though. If you feel like crediting it, Chichester is on the southern coast of England, and was firmly Romano-British at the time.

For the curious, here's the poem in question, along with an attempt at English translation.

Claudia, Rufe, meo nubit Peregrina Pudenti:
Macte esto taedis, o Hymenaee, tuis.
Tam bene rara suo miscentur cinnama nardo,
Massica Theseis tam bene vina favis;
Nec melius teneris iunguntur vitibus ulmi,
Nec plus lotos aquas, litora myrtus amat.
Candida perpetuo reside, Concordia, lecto,
Tamque pari semper sit Venus aequa iugo:
Diligat illa senem quondam, sed et ipsa marito
Tum quoque, cum fuerit, non videatur anus.


Claudia, Rufus, is married to my alien Pudentius
Be well with your torch, O Hymenaeus.
Its rare to mix so much cinnamon and bacon
Massica combs theseis wines so well;
Nor is it better for the tender vines
Nor does myrtle love the washed waters more than the shores.
Reside always in white, Concord, on the couch
Venus will always be so close to the yoke
She loves the old man once, but she and her husband
And even then, when she is, the old woman will not be seen.

This is just dumbly run through Google Translate. I got D-'s in Latin, but even that is enough to tell me that the names "Pudenti", and "Hymenaee" were probably meant to be crude joke names. I'm also quite skeptical about its decision on translating the final word.

  • That funny last word seems quite well chosen, at least at first glance? But as riddled as Martial appears here, his words are usually all translated, like loebclassics.com/view/martial-epigrams/1993/pb_LCL094.271.xml (Although this still leaves a lot to unearth in translations & interpretations — "my Pudens", hohoho… Sep 9 '21 at 14:26
  • @LаngLаngС - Yes, if I were good enough to do my own translations, I'd probably feel compelled to point out the double-entendres by giving both meanings, separated by a slash or something.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 9 '21 at 14:28
  • @LаngLаngС - Hmmm, having looked over their translation, IMHO the fact that its cleaned up also serves to further obscure the entendre's. Not sure I like that.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 9 '21 at 14:41
  • "I'm also quite skeptical about its decision on translating the final word". What? "Anus" means "old lady" (perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/…). And Hymenaeus was a god (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymen_(god)), of marriages (the occasion Martial wrote the poem for). Sep 9 '21 at 14:51
  • @CarlosMartin - Yes, that is literally true. But if you read poetry only for what's literally true, you aren't really reading the poetry. This would be like insisting AC/DC's Big Balls is only about dance parties.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 9 '21 at 14:57

No, almost nothing. That any Claudia in Timothy would be of 'British' descent rests on zero information from the bible and depends on interpreting two of Martial's epigrams in a very thinly stretched way, together. It is a hypothesis with a perhaps popular but quite sandy foundation.

The biblical text is:

Ἀσπάζεταί σε Εὔβουλος καὶ Πούδης καὶ Λίνος καὶ Κλαυδία καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ πάντες.

Nestle-Aland 28, 2012

Where we have a male 'Pudens', then a male 'Linus', and only then a 'Claudia'. This word occurs only once in the entire bible text.

The entire conjecture of a congruency for the two Claudias goes only back to an exemplification of popular thought as found in one very short letter in a journal. It is barely over a page long, and rests on these lines:

To one familiar with the supremely witty but often immoral epigrams of Martial, nothing could at first sight seem more grotesque than to couple his name with that of the most out-standing saint of New Testament history; yet they have one slight and curious point of contact. They were contemporaries at Rome; and though we have no knowledge that they ever met personally, there is strong evidence that they had at least two acquaintances in common: Pudens and his wife Claudia.

In St. Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy Iv, 21, written from Rome, we read:

"Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens and Linus and Claudia, and all the brethren."

Among Martial's Epigrams (Iv, 13), we find the followiing:

Ad Rufum, De Nuptiis Pudentis Et Claudiae Peregrinae
Claudia, Rufe […]

Pierce does not explain what else would constitute this "strong evidence" other than the two names appearing close together:

[…] that both Pudens and Claudia are described, in a series of poetic similes as most lovely characters, mutually congenial; and that the poet predicts that their affection for each other will last even into age - an evidence of some Christian graces, even though Martial was ignorant of that fact. [emphasis added, LLC]

It may be objected that it is strange that St. Paul did not couple their names more closely in the letter to Timothy, but this fact probably indicates nothing more than that they were not yet married at the time when the letter was written.

— Edwin H. Pierce: “Martial and Saint Paul”, The Classical Journal, Vol 27, No 9, 1932: p683–684. (jstor)

This is the very flimsy base of the claim. And it is a rather far reaching one. Not only is it speculated that Paul and Martial had mutual acquaintances, but also that both people in Martial's epigram were early Christians? The fun thing about this is that Pierce obviously knows of Martial's usual style of fun, 'best for the emperor to be read at dinner time', but here choses to ignore that completely to make his case.

If we ignore for now what any Roman Timothy might have read in a letter addressed to him or his community, and focus just on Martial, we see quite a few layers emerge within the poem that make the above conjecture a few degrees too steep.

The two poems written by Martial that are needed to be interpreted together to construct this argument. They are 4,13 and 11,53 — spread wide apart 'between books' — which read in comparison of the relevant lines:

Claudia, Rufe, meo nubit Peregrina Pudenti: macte esto taedis, o Hymenaee, tuis.

(Claudia Peregrina, Rufus, is marrying my dear Pudens: blessed be you, Hymenaeus, and your torches!) (translation: Soldevila)


Claudia caeruleis cum sit Rufina Britannis edita, quam Latiae genti habet!

(Although born among the woad-stained Britons, how fully has Claudia Rufina the intelligence of the Roman people!) (translation: Bohn's Classical Library (1897))

If taken at face value, then the wish for happiness up into old age for a couple is by no means of Christian exclusivity. Harmony and concord are also pagan Roman ideals, also shown, albeit a rarity for Martial who opted much more often for a certain crudeness in general, liber 4,75, showing a well-matched couple of husband and matrona.

So this first connection between second Timothy's and Martial's Claudia is tenuous already. When read in a row, Martial's epigrams might show a remarkable intertextuality. As in the just preceding epigram 4,12 we find a rather different use of pudens:

Let us return now to epigram 4.12, the trigger for this brief digression on the negare cycle. It addresses Thais, someone who is not ashamed (non pudet) to take part in sexual practices of any kind. The subsequent poem then talks of very different relations between men and women: 4.13 celebrates the wedding of one Pudens to his Claudia Peregrina. The juxtaposition of the two epigrams possibly serves to create a contrast between the unstinting Thais and the unswerving wife-once again a striking and dissonant pairing typical of epigram. And, even if there may well have been a historical Pudens, it can hardly be a coincidence that he appears here, directly after two poems in which pudere plays a large part.

— Sven Lorenz: "Waterscape with Black and White: Epigrams, Cycles, and Webs in Martial's 'Epigrammaton Liber Quartus'", The American Journal of Philology , Summer, 2004, Vol. 125, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), pp. 255–278. (jstor)

With poems as usual and Martial in particular, any 'this is it, definitely' is of course not rather likely anyway. For an example of describing an argument on this matter that mainly relies on descriptive adjectives and adverbs rather a sound argument:

The Claudia of these epigrams, as we see, was a Briton, and it has ever been an interesting and a pardonable weakness among English writers to identify the Pudens and Claudia of the epigrams with the Pudens and Claudia of St. Paul's Epistle, and, as Dr. Lingard says, the coincidence and the inference are striking.

— Henry H. Howorth: "Christianity in Roman Britain", Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 2, 1885, pp117–172. jstor

Which is in stark contrast to the identifications of characters in more modern interpretations of Martial.

It is, however, equally possible that the praises sung of Claudia are to be taken ironically. As this pair of poems illustrates, the conclusions that can be drawn from deliberate juxtaposition of this kind are often far from clear.
Cf. Citroni 1982 for an attempt to identify Martial's Pudens. It is interesting that Pudens is portrayed as a lover of young boys in 1.31, 5.48, and 13.69, which may also be play on the meaning of the name Pudens; cf. Lorenz 2002, 93, n. 178.
(— Lorenz)

For a more classical approach at dismantling some layers that remain obscured after s at least apparently 'solving' the mere vocabulary problems when reading Latin:

  1. Claudia … Peregrina: Peregrina prompts the identification with Claudia Rufina (11.53), from Britannia. In that poem, Martial wishes lasting conjugal happiness for her and her husband (11.53.7–8), sancto … marito.

We need to remember that even in the Martial poem we look at, there is no clear info on which Claudia we might read about here, if she even is any real person…

However, Claudia was a common name in Rome (Kay ad loc.): it is likely that they were two different ladies. Pierce (1931–1932) linked these same Claudia and Pudens with two characters mentioned in Saint Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy (4.21).

Nevertheless, the evidence for this identification is not strong enough.

Rufe: Rufus is a common name in Martial’s epigrams, both belonging to fictional characters (1.68; 1.106; 3.94; 8.52.7; 9.88) and to real people, such as the poet Canius Rufus (1.61; 1.69; 3.20.1; 3.64; 7.69; 7.87; 10.48.5); Camonius Rufus (6.85; 9.74; 9.76); Instantius Rufus, proconsul of Baetica (7.68; 8.50; 12.95; 12.98 and, perhaps, 9.93.3, Henriksén ad loc.); Safronius Rufus (4.71 and, possibly, 11.103; Kay ad loc.); Julius Rufus, satirical poet (10.99.2), and finally, Rufus, husband of Caesonia (9.39) and another Rufus, husband of Sempronia (12.52).

Apart from all these occurrences, the vocative Rufe is widely used in all kinds of epigrams (2.11; 2.29; 2.48; 2.84; 3.82.33; 3.97; 3.100; 4.82; 5.51; 5.72; 6.82). Nauta calls it the ‘isolated vocative’ (2002: 42–43; 45–47): ‘The addressee of the “isolated vocative” is not satirised himself, and therefore need not be fictional’.

Traditionally, the Rufus in this epigram has been identified with Canius Rufus (e.g. Cartault, 1903: 111); however, Safronius Rufus, renowned for his modesty (11.103) could be an appropriate addressee for an epigram about marriage, though this is only a conjecture.


Pudenti: Aulus Pudens (7.97.3), an old friend of Martial’s, who is mentioned by the poet in almost all his books, sometimes calling him Aulus, his praenomen (5.28; 6.54; 6.78; 7.14; 8.63; 9.81; 11.38; 12.51; see Cartault, 1903: 109), sometimes Pudens, his cognomen (1.31.3; 4.29.1; 5.48.3; 7.11.2; 13.69.2); it seems most likely that all these refer to the same person (Citroni, 1975: 101–102; 1982; PIR1 P 794). He was of Umbrian origin (7.97; cf. 13.69), was in love with a young slave, Encolpus (1.31; Citroni and Howell ad loc.; 5.48.3), and was very fond of poetry (4.29; 7.11; Galán ad loc.; 7.14; 9.81.1; Henriksén ad loc.; cf. 8.63, about boys and literature). There was a close bond of friendship between the poet and Pudens (cf. 6.58), further stressed here by the possessive meo (cf. 7.97.3). For an more detailed account, see Citroni, 1982.

— Rosario Moreno Soldevila: "Martial, Book IV. A Commentary", Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2006. (p166–177)

In light of this flimsy base, one can easily assume that any such identification of first all the Claudias in Martial with a 'Welsh princess' is as wrong as is second drawing a plausible connection between Martial and either Paul himself or the pseudo-epigraphical letter attributed traditionally to Paul. 'Claudia Peregrina' and 'Claudia Rufina' are not 'obviously' the same. All the steps depend on so much coincidence that they are more than likely due to an availability error heuristic and not much more.

In favour of this hypothesis:

H. PUDENS AND CLAUDIA. The late Dean Merivale, the author of the History of the Romans, gives the following reasonable estimate of the recent efforts made to throw light on these members of the Christian Church at Rome.

"The attempt has been made to identify the Pudens and Claudia, whose greetings are mentioned, 2 Tim. iv. 21, with persons of distinction in the city. Pudens, it is surmised, is the son of the Pudentinus, whose name is read together with his own in a well-known British inscription at Chichester. This was the seat of a king Cogidubnus, who had attached himself to the gens of the Emperor Claudius and assumed his gentile designation. It is conjectured that this Claudius Cogidubnus may have had a daughter called after himself Claudia; that she may have married Pudens, and have eventually settled at Rome with him. These two suppositions granted, she may, very possibly, it is said, be the same Claudia who is complimented more than once by Martial as a British lady of great accomplishments, and the wife of a certain Pudens, a friend of his own. The dates of Martial's compositions are too uncertain to allow us to argue upon them one way or the other ; but, at least, it must be remarked that the Pudens of the poet was a man of licentious morality, such as might pass indeed with little comment among men of the world at the time, but from which the Apostle would surely have turned with indignation. Another guess that the Claudia of the epistle was the daughter of the British hero Caractacus, brought up as a client of the emperor's during her father's captivity at Rome, is hardly less attractive, but this can only be regarded as at best an idle fancy, besides that it is liable to the same fatal objection as the former." St Paul at Rome, p. 149.

—John James Stewart Perowne: "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Epistles to Timothy and Titus.", Cambridge university Press: Cambridge, Glasgow etc, 1884 (p256).

Note that this has it the other way around for dating the two possible sources to compare. Martial was writing in the nineties, Paul died most probably in the early 60s, but this pastoral letter 2nd Timothy is most probably written around 140. Contrast this please to Wikipedia Claudia Rufina, also making the mistake of dating 2 Tim as most probably too early. This makes for the interesting additional conundrum that if the traditional opinion of Pauline authenticity for 2nd Timothy dated to 62–64 would be correct (a position without much scholarly support since around 1880), then the names would be mentioned too early for a likely match. But if the more accepted scholarly view of late dating 2 Tim would be correct

Since the secure reception of the letters can only be proven in the 2nd century, it is usually assumed that they were written around 100 AD. However, a late dating of the Epistles to Timothy (e.g. on the basis of 1Tim 6,20: "falsely so-called gnosis") around 130 or 140 AD cannot be ruled out. The terminus ante quem can be determined on the basis of the earliest proven reception. The Epistles attributed to Ignatius of Antioch know the Pastoral Epistles, but their dating is also disputed. Thus, the Epistle of Polycarp remains the oldest evidence of knowledge of the Pastoral Epistles. Since this letter was written between 144 and 156, the Pastoral Epistles could have been written immediately before.
— Predrag Dragutinović: "Timotheusbriefe", Wibilex, March 2020.

then the dating would be too late for a likely match.

The most likely reason we see this theory being created and still making the rounds is because not of its simplistic convincingness on its face.

But Claudia’s existence, a composite formed from Paul, Martial, and the anonymous daughter of Caractacus mentioned by Tacitus, suggested an alternative history of British religion that proved hugely useful and influential for Protestants after the Reformation, and which gained new impetus in our period. Her life suggested that the Britons’ part in bringing Christianity to their own shores had been drastically underestimated, or even deliberately overlooked. This claim had particular valence within the established Church, keen to stress both its Protestant nature but also its apostolic inheritance in an increasingly sectarian Wales. By the later nineteenth century, High Church historical scholarship stressing continuities between the medieval and post-Reformation Churches, and arguing that the Church of England had always been both Catholic and Reformed, made such narratives less important. Claudia and her coadjutors were not forgotten, but they did become the property of nationalist and racially inflected semi-scholarly subcultures, joining a host of other real and imagined figures in the mythology of British Israelism, for example.


Yet Claudia serves also to show the extent to which the lines between supposition and evidence, between amateur antiquarianism and scholarly history, and between faith and fiction, remained as they always had been, blurred. It was only with the rise of history as a profession, in the later nineteenth century, that boundaries were drawn more firmly. Even so, novels still projected evidence against an imagined background, and in some circles at least, embellishment could still take the place of historical reasoning.

Fact, fiction, and faith were combined and recombined in various iterations, none of which was ever refined into the authoritative version of Britain’s Christian antiquity. It was this very lack of authority that gave Claudia’s story purchase. If for some the search for origins and solid data to back them up was of paramount importance, Claudia tells a somewhat different story, about how tradition, local and regional identities, nationalism, and scholarship intersected; how scraps of ancient evidence could be used to construct a liminal narrative suspended between fact and fiction, but built solidly on faith.

— Martha Vandrei: "Claudia Rufina", in: Gareth Atkins (ed): "Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain", Manchester university Press: Manchester, 2016. (p60–76). (doi)


It was common for pople who were granted Roman Citizenship to take the names of their benefactors.

Claudius was emperor for a number of years and was responisible for granting Roman citizenship to a lot of noncitizens, many of whom would take the name of Claudius, thus adding to the number of Romans with that name. It was customary for Roman women to use the feminine form of their father's nomen or gens name.

So any daughter of any Claudius would be a Claudia - and we hope use another name in addition, to avoid confusion.

Claudius invaded and conquered a lot of southern Britain beginning in AD 43, so after that there were opportunities for Britons to become Roman citizens.

And in fact there was a client king in soutthern Britain, Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus. When he became a Claudius, his daughters, if any, became Claudias. And his title was not merely king, but "Great KIng of the Britons", which should make his daughters princesses.

Not exactly Welsh princesses, but definately Romano-Celtic princesses from Britain. The Welsh are descended from the Romano-Britons who lived in regions not conquered by the invading Anglo-Saxons, and so did not assimulate and eventually become English.


At any one time, there should have been thousands of Claudias living in Rome. If any hopothetical British princesses name Claudia lived in Rome, there would be a small probability that a reference to a Claudia in Rome referred to her and not to any of the thousands of other Claudias.

And that is all I can say on the subject.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.