The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Messalla – Messallina – Messallina Statilia

MESSALLINA,

repeated annually instead of at intervals of five or ten years (Tac. Ann. i. 8, iii. 2 ; Fasti.)

13. M. valerius messalla, great-grandson of M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus (No. 8), was Nero's colleague in the consulship a. d. 58. His immediate predecessors had squandered the wealth of his ancestors; and Messalla, who had been con­ tent with; honourable poverty, received from the treasury an allowance to. enable him to meet the expences of the consulship. (Tac. Ann. xiii. 34 ; comp.. Suet. Ner. 10.) ...;.•••

14. L. vipstanus messalla, was legionary tribune in Vespasian's army, A. D. 70. He rescued the legatus Aponius Saturninus from the fury of the soldiers who suspected him of corresponding with the Vitellian party. Messalla was brother of Aquilius Regulus, the notorious delator in Domi- tian's reign (Plin. Ep. i. 5). He is one of Tacitus' authorities for the history of the civil wars after Galba's death, and a principal interlocutor in the dialogue De Oratoribus, ascribed to Tacitus. (Tac. Hist. iii. 9, 11, 18, 25, 28, iv. 42, Dialog, de Om*. 15—25.) [W. B. D.]

MESSALLA, SI'LIUS, was consul suffectus from the 1st of May, a. d. 193, and was the person who formally announced to the senate the deposi­ tion of Didius Julianus and the elevation of Sep- timius Severus. He is apparently the Messalla who stands in the Fasti as consul for a.d. 214, and who subsequently (a. d. 218) fell a sacrifice to the iealous tyranny of Elagabalus. (Dion Cass. Ixxiii. 17, Ixxix. 5.) [W. R.]

MESSALLINA STATILIA, granddaughter of T. Statilius Taurus, cos. a. d. 11, was the third wife of the emperor Nero, who married her in a. d. 66. She had previously espoused Atticus Vestinus, cos. in that year, whom Nero put to death without accusation or trial, merely that he might marry Messallina. After .Nero's death Otho, had he been successful against Vitellius, purposed to have mar­ ried her, and in the letters he sent to his friends before he destroyed himself, were some addressed to Messallina. (Tac. Ann. xv. 68 ; Suet. Ner. 35, Offi. 10.) There are only Greek coins of this empress. . [W. B. D.]

MESSALLINA, VALE'RIA, daughter of M. Valerius Messalla Barbatus and of Domitia Lepida, was the third wife of the emperor Claudius I. She married Claudius, to whom she was previously re­lated, before his accession to the empire. Her character is drawn in the darkest colours by the almost contemporary pencils of Tacitus and the elder Pliny, by the satirist Juvenal, who makes her the exemplar of female profligacy, and by the historian Dion Cassius, who wrote long after any motive remained for exaggerating h£r crimes. We must accept their evidence ;. but we may remember that in the reign of Nero even Messallina's vices may have received a deeper tinge from malignity and fear ; that it was the interest of Agrippina [ agrippina, No. 2], her successor in the imperial bed, to blacken her reputation, and that the fears of her confederates may have led them to ascribe their common guilt to their victim alone. That the reign of Claudius owed some of its worst features to the influence of his wives and freedmen is be­yond doubt; and it is equally certain that Messal­lina was faithless as a wife, and implacable where her fears were aroused, or her passions or avarice were to be gratified. The freedmen of Claudius, especially Polybius and Narcissus, were her confe-

1055

MESSALLINA.

derates ; the emperor was her instrument and her-, dupe ; the most -illustrious families of Rome were polluted by her favour, or sacrificed to her cupidity or hate, and the absence of virtue was not con­cealed by a lingering sense of shame or even by a specious veil of decorum. Among her most emi­nent victims were the two Julias, one the daughter of Germanicus [JuLiA, No. 8], the other the daughter of Drusus, the son of Tiberius [julia, No. 9], whom she offered up, the former to her jealousy, the latter to her pride ; C. Appius Silanus, who had rejected her advances and spurned her favourite Narcissus; Justus Ca-. tonius, whose impeachment of herself she anti­cipated by accusing him [catonius justus] ; M, Vinicius, who had married a daughter of Germanicus [JuLiA, No. 8], and whose illus­trious birth and affinity to Claudius awakened her. fears j and Valerius Asiaticus, whose mistress Poppaea she envied, and whose estates she coveted. The conspiracy of Aimius Vinicianus and Camillus Scribonianus in A. d. 42, afforded Messallina the means of satiating her thirst for gold, vengeance, and intrigue. '. Claudius was timid, and timidity made him cruel. Slaves were encouraged to in­form against their masters ; members of the noblest houses were subjected to the ignominy of torture and a public execution ; their heads were exposed in the forum ; their bodies were flung down the steps of the Capitol ; the prisons were filled with a crowd of both sexes j'even strangers were not secure from her suspicions or solicitations ; and the only refuge from her love or hate was the surren­der of an estate or a province, an office or a purse,, to herself or her satellites. The rights of citizen­ship were sold by Messallina and the freedmen with shameless indifference to any purchaser, and it was currently said that the Roman civitas might be purchased for two cracked drinking cups. Nor was the ambition of Messallina inferior to her other passions. She disposed of legions and provinces without consulting either Claudius or the senate ; she corrupted or intimidated the judicial tribunals; her cieatures filled the lowest as well as the highest public offices; and theirincompetency for the posts they had bought led in a. d. 43 to a scarcity and tumult. The charms, the arts, or the threats of Messallina were so potent with the stupid Claudius that he thought her worthy of the honours which Livia, the wife of Augustus, had enjoyed ; lie alone was ignorant of her infidelities, and some­times even the unconscious minister of her plea­sures. At his triumph for the campaign in Britain (a. d. 44), Messallina followed his chariot in a car-pentum or covered carriage (comp. Dion Cass. Ix. 33 ; Tac. Ann. xii. 42 ; Suet. Claud. 17)—a pri* vilege requiring a special grant from the senate. The adulteress received the title of Augusta and the right of precedence-—jus consessus—at all as­semblies ; her lover, Sabinus, once praefect of Gaul, but for his crimes degraded to a gladiator, was, at her request, reprieved from death in the arena ; and the emperor caused a serious riot at Rome, by withholding the popular pantomime Mnester from the stage while Messallina detained him in the palace. Messallina was safe so long as the freedmen felt themselves secure ; but when her malice or her rashness endangered her accomplices, her doom was inevitable. She had procured the death of Polybius, and Narcissus perceived the frail tenure of his own station and life. The iu-

Pages
About | First

1052

1053

1054
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.