Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina Characters

Robert Graves


(Great Characters in Literature)

Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus

Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (ti-BIH-ree-uhs KLOH-dee-uhs DREW-suhs NEE-roh jur-MA-nih-kuhs), emperor of Rome. Popularly supposed at the beginning of his rule to be a cripple, a stammerer, and an idiot, he is in reality a planner of governmental, financial, and social reforms, including the abolition of many of the previous emperor Caligula’s cruel decrees. Busy with state affairs, he is long ignorant of Messalina’s depravities. He is deified as a result of his planning of the great Roman victory in Britain at Brentwood Hill. After a wholesale execution of Messalina’s immoral associates and following his marriage to Agrippinilla, he takes little interest in governmental affairs and is finally poisoned by his wife.


Messalina (meh-suh-LI-nuh), his third wife. Though she is director of public morals, she herself pursues a life of debauchery, licentiousness, political intrigue, bribery, cheating, and murder. After her divorce from Claudius, her remarriage to Silius, and Claudius’ discovery of her debaucheries, she is killed by the colonel of the palace guard.


Calpurnia (kal-PUR-nee-uh), Claudius’ mistress, who finally reveals...

(The entire section is 465 words.)