Claudia Rufina

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Claudia Rufina was a woman of British ancestry who lived in Rome in the late 1st century AD. She is known from references in the Epigrams of Martial, who describes her as "sprung from the blue Britons" (perhaps in reference to the British custom of body-painting with woad), and extols her beauty, education and fertility.[1] She is likely identical to the Claudia Peregrina ("the foreigner") whose marriage to his friend Aulus Pudens, an Umbrian centurion, Martial celebrates.[2] She may also be the Claudia whose height he compares to the Palatine Colossus, a gigantic statue which stood on the Palatine Hill.[3]

Some have attempted to link this Claudia and her husband Pudens to two Roman Christians of the same names mention in the letters of Paul in the New Testament: "Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren."[4] Some go further, and identify the Linus mentioned with the early Bishop of Rome of that name, and identify him as British through his supposed family relationship to Claudia. However, beyond the coincidence of names – the nomen gentile Claudia was borne by every female member of the gens Claudia, a prominent aristocratic Roman family, and Pudens was not uncommon as a Roman cognomen[5] – there is no evidence to connect them. Martial wrote in the 90s, while 2 Timothy is traditionally dated to the 60s. Some scholars consider the Pastoral Epistles to be pseudepigraphical,[6] which would allow them to be dated later, but make their contents doubtful. The fact that the names Claudius and Pudens are separated in 2 Timothy by the name Linus also suggests they were not a married couple.[7]

It has also been speculated that, given her name, she may have been related to Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus, a British king who ruled as a Roman client in the 1st century.[8] An inscription by Cogidubnus found in Chichester may mention a Pudens, although the inscription is too damaged to be certain. Unlike Cogidubnus' name, this name is not written in standard Roman form, so it is unlikely that the person referred to was a Roman citizen.[9]


  1. Martial, Epigrams 11.53
  2. Martial, Epigrams 4.13
  3. Martial, Epigrams 8.60
  4. 2 Timothy 4.21 (Revised Standard Version)
  5. See William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870, Vol 1 pp. 761-762, Vol 3 p. 602 for examples
  6. Catholic Encyclopedia (1913): "Epistles to Timothy and Titus"
  7. George Edmundson, The Church in Rome in the First Century,1913, Note C: the Pudens Legend
  8. Catholic Encyclopedia (1913): Claudia"
  9. J. E. Bogaers (1979) "King Cogidubnus in Chichester: another reading of RIB 91", Britannia 10, pp. 243-254