Messalina: A Story of Empire, Slander and Adultery (Hardback)Honor Cargill-Martin (author)
A much-needed reappraisal of one of Ancient Rome's most maligned women, Cargill-Martin's incisive biography of the Emperor Claudius' notorious third wife views her actions in the context of the time.
This is the story of Messalina - third wife of Emperor Claudius and one of the most notorious women to have inhabited the Roman world.
The scandalous image of the Empress Messalina as a ruthless and sexually insatiable schemer, derived from the work of Roman historians such as Tacitus and Suetonius, has taken deep root in the Western imagination. The stories they told about her included nightly visits to a brothel and a twenty-four-hour sex competition with a prostitute. Tales like these have defined the empress's legacy, but her real story is much more complex.
In her new life of Messalina, the classicist Honor Cargill-Martin reappraises one of the most slandered and underestimated female figures of ancient history. Looking beyond the salacious anecdotes, she finds a woman battling to assert her position in the overwhelmingly male world of imperial Roman politics - and succeeding. Intelligent, passionate, and ruthless when she needed to be, Messalina's story encapsulates the cut-throat political manoeuvring and unimaginable luxury of the Julio-Claudian dynasty in its heyday.
Cargill-Martin sets out not to 'salvage' Messalina's reputation, but to look at her life in the context of her time. Above all, she seeks to reclaim the humanity of a life story previously circumscribed by currents of high politics and patriarchy.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 432
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm
'Messalina is more than just a corrective biography of a misunderstood woman. It is a captivating journey into the wild world of imperial Rome and the most accomplished historical debut I have read in years.' - Dan Jones
'Honor Cargill-Martin writes Messalina's story with a wonderful passion and precision, in a book that reads like a thriller while delivering a nuanced examination of one woman and her many depictions.' - Elodie Harper
'Brisk, fun and fascinating, this delicious debut is the perfect marriage of scholarship and wit.' - Suzannah Lipscomb
'For all the tales of sexual jealousy, vicious retribution and (occasionally) genuine love, this is also a serious and substantial account of the political machinations of the Roman imperial court in the first half of the first century ad, from a very considerable scholar. It left me longing for the surely-inevitable Netflix series.' - Andrew Roberts
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“Scalpel sharp dissection of history and myth”
Fast paced, quick witted, funny, displaying deep scholarship delivered with the lightest touch.
“Finally a Messalina not defined by the male gaze!”
Honor Cargill-Martin’s portrait of the infamous empress of ancient Rome is a poignant analysis of a life predominantly misremembered and misinterpreted in favour of a more thrilling story. Instead, the author proves... More
Loved this book. Elegantly written with a fine sense of irony. made me want to take a new look at work on this period.
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