Caecus was a Roman censor from 312 to 308 b.c. As censor, Claudius completed the construction of the Aqua Appia, Rome’s first aqueduct, bringing in water from the Sabine Hills. He also initiated the Via Appia, the great military and commercial road between Rome and Capua.
In 298 b.c. he was appointed interrex (ruler during an interregnum) and held this office three times.
Appius was twice consul, in 307 b.c. and in 296 b.c. In his consulship of 296 b.c., he conducted a war against the Samnites and the Etruscans.
When Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, came to assist the Tarentines against the Romans and won a major victory, in 280 b.c., some Roman statesmen favored making peace; but Appius, then old and blind (his surname, Caecus, means "blind"), arose in the Senate and, in a stirring speech, encouraged the Romans to continue the war. This is the earliest known political speech in Latin, and is the source of the saying "every man is the architect of his own fortune."
Claudius is the earliest Roman prose writer whose name has survived. He wrote a legal treatise, De Usurpationibus, and he also wrote poetry.
Appius was responsible for a number of political reforms, which included revision of the rolls of the Senate, redistribution of the city population among the tribes, and opening the magistracies, previously restricted to the wealthy, to sons of freedmen. This latter democratic reform shifted the balance of power to his party. Later censors abolished his reforms, and returned to the original status.
During the Second Samnite War, he advocated the founding of Roman colonies (colonia) throughout Latium and Campania to serve as fortifications against the Samnites and Etruscans.
Physical Characteristics: Appius Claudius suffered blindness in old age, hence his surname Caecus (“the blind”). He owed his blindness (according to ancient sources) to the punishment of the gods inflicted on him for his religious reforms.
Caecus's sons included Gaius Claudius Centho and the first Tiberius Claudius Nero, (grandfather of the consul of 202 b.c., Tiberius Claudius Nero). Centho, his son, was the consul in 240 b.c. and father of Appius Claudius Caudex and Publius Claudius Pulcher, consul in 249 b.c. and the first of the Claudii to be given the cognomen "Pulcher" ("handsome").