Biography of the Ancient Roman Adultress Messalina Part 1

About the famous ancient Roman adultress Messalina, wife of Claudius, biography and history of the woman.


Probably the most notorious adultress in history was the Empress Valeria Messalina, 3rd wife of Emperor Claudius of Rome.

Her father was a chaste and stern Roman senator, and her mother was a fun-loving, sexually acrobatic lady-about-town. At 16, Messalina was married off to a cousin, 48-year-old Claudius, the grandson of Mark Antony.

Just 3 years later--in 41 A.D.--a band of conspirators assassinated Caligula, and the Praetorian Guard named Claudius the new Emperor. Thus, Messalina, at the age of 19, was elevated to Empress.

She had no respect for her royal husband. Although Claudius' own mother had branded him "a little monster" and relatives regarded him as a stupid oaf, Claudius was anything but a fool. During his lifetime, he wrote 20 scholarly books on Etruscan history, many learned papers on gambling, a play in Greek, and he added 3 letters to the Roman alphabet. Despite his impressive intelligence, his appearance worked against him. Tall and paunchy, he limped, stuttered, dribbled at the mouth, and was absentminded. His avocations were drinking and gambling. Unlike previous emperors and other aristocrats, he indulged in no sexual perversions. According to Gibbon, "Of the 1st 15 emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct."

And his young wife, Messalina, had only contempt for him.

Juvenal has cruelly pictured Messalina in this period: curly, yellow hair piled high; narrow brow; large eyes set close together, thin lips. She was sensual and passionate, and she desired men in unlimited numbers. She began her scandalous career in nymphomania by enjoying a series of affairs with various palace courtiers. When she tired of them, she turned to entertainers. Desiring a handsome actor named Mnester, she ordered him to retire from the stage to become her full-time lover. Mnester refused to oblige. Messalina then hastened to the preoccupied Claudius to complain that a common actor had refused to obey an order from her. At once, Claudius commanded the actor to obey every royal order. Mnester obeyed his Emperor. Thereafter, the actor devoted himself to his mistress. In love, Messalina was wild, unrestrained, as Mnester would testify 3 years later when he was able to show the numerous scratches and scars on his body.

While Mnester was satisfactory--sufficiently so that Messalina had a bronze statue built to honor his gifts--he was not enough for his royal mistress. She began to cast about for new conquests. As Empress, she had no trouble finding them.

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