The gens Claudia, sometimes written Clodia, was one of the most prominent patrician houses at Rome. The gens traced its origin to the earliest days of the Roman Republic. The first of the Claudii to obtain the consulship was Appius Claudius Sabinus Regillensis, in 495 BC, and from that time its members frequently held the highest offices of the state, both under the Republic and in imperial times.
Plebeian Claudii are found fairly early in Rome's history. Some may have been descended from members of the family who had passed over to the plebeians, while others were probably the descendants of freedmen of the gens.
In his life of the emperor Tiberius, who was a scion of the Claudii, the historian Suetonius gives a summary of the gens, and says, "as time went on it was honoured with twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven censorships, six triumphs, and two ovations." Writing several decades after the fall of the so-called "Julio-Claudian dynasty", Suetonius took care to mention both the good and wicked deeds attributed to members of the family.
The patrician Claudii were noted for their pride and arrogance, and intense hatred of the commonalty. In his History of Rome, Niebuhr writes,
That house during the course of centuries produced several very eminent, few great men; hardly a single noble-minded one. In all ages it distinguished itself alike by a spirit of haughty defiance, by disdain for the laws, and iron hardness of heart.
During the Republic, no patrician Claudius adopted a member of another gens; the emperor Claudius was the first who broke this custom, by adopting Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, afterwards the emperor Nero.
Read more about Claudia (gens): Origin of The Gens, Praenomina Used By The Gens, Branches and Cognomina of The Gens, Members of The Gens