Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Adding "Sophia Loren" to the "As Seen On TV" roster the other day made me realize that the feature has been a bit skint when it comes to the portrayal of real life women. So I plan to amend that today and with another "Two For Tuesday" to boot!

How about if we get a bit slutty while doing so.....?

'I, Claudius'

Sheila White
"Imperium Nero"

Sonia Aquino

Valeria Messalina, (c. 17/20 – 48) was a Roman Empress as the third wife of Emperor Claudius. A powerful and influential woman with a reputation for promiscuity, she conspired against her husband and was executed when the plot was discovered.

The oft-repeated tale of Messalina’s all-night sex competition with a prostitute comes from Book X of Pliny’s Naturalis Historia. Pliny does not name the prostitute; the Restoration playwright Nathaniel Richards calls her Scylla in The Tragedy of Messalina, Empress of Rome, published in 1640, and Robert Graves in his novel Claudius the God also identified the prostitute as Scylla. According to Pliny, the competition lasted for 24 hours and Messalina won with a score of 25 partners. (In 'I, Claudius', an exhausted Scylla marvelled that Messalina's insides must be made of old army boots..)

Messalina became interested in the attractive Roman Senator Gaius Silius, who was happily married to the aristocratic woman Junia Silana (sister of Caligula’s first wife). Messalina and Silius became lovers and Messalina forced Silius to divorce his wife.

Messalina and Silius plotted to kill the weak emperor and Messalina would make him the new emperor. Silius was childless and wanted to adopt Britannicus. They had committed bigamy: Messalina and Silius married in a full ceremony, in front of witnesses and had signed marriage contracts while Messalina was still legally married to Claudius.

Claudius ordered the deaths of Messalina and Silius in 48. An officer and a former slave arrived together to witness Messalina’s death. The former slave verbally insulted her while the officer stood by in silence. Messalina was offered the choice of killing herself, but was too afraid to do so, so the officer stabbed Messalina with a dagger. Her dead body was left with her mother.

At the time of Messalina's death, Claudius was attending a dinner. When Messalina's death was announced to him, Claudius showed no emotion, but asked for more wine.
(edited from Wikipedia)

Played on TV by:

Sheila White in the 1976 BBC Masterpiece Theater mini-series 'I, Claudius'.

Jennifer O'Neill in the 1985 TV series 'A.D. Anno Domini'.

Sonia Aquino in the 2004 TV movie "Imperium: Nero".

(It is only coincidence that in last week's "Two For Tuesday", Sonia Aquino also played Sophia Loren as seen in "The Life and Times Of Peter Sellers". Don't read anything more into that!)


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