Curule aedile in 253 BC, as consul in 249 he was given command of the Roman fleet during the First Punic War. He lost the Battle of Drepana against the Carthaginians after ignoring a bad omen. According to Valerius Maximus, Suetonius and Cicero, when the sacred chickens refused to eat, Claudius threw them into the sea, saying: "Since they do not wish to eat, let them drink!" (Latin "Bibant, quoniam esse nollent"). He was recalled to Rome and ordered to appoint a dictator; his nomination of his subordinate Marcus Claudius Glicia was overruled. He was tried for incompetence and impiety, avoiding capital or corporal punishment due to double jeopardy and was instead fined a 120,000 assēs, 1,000 for each ship Rome had lost in the battle against Carthage. He died soon afterwards, possibly by suicide.