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Head of Zeus
11 May 2023 * EBOOK * £9.99 * 9781801102612

A standalone biography of the Empress Messalina – third wife of Emperor Claudius and one of the most notorious women to have inhabited the Roman world.

Non Fiction / HBLA1 (Ancient History)
Extent: 352 pages  Illus: 2 x 8pp col
Exclusive: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG   Not for sale: CA US
Messalina: A Story of Empire, Slander and Adulteryby Honor Cargill-Martin

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.

Honor Cargill-Martin is an author, classicist, and art historian from London. She read Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Oxford, winning a scholarship and graduating with a first-class degree in 2019. She has masters degrees in Greek and Roman history and Italian Renaissance Art. She is currently studying for a doctorate focusing on political sex scandals in Ancient Rome at Christ Church College Oxford. She has published a number of children's fiction titles. Her upcoming biography of the oft-slandered Roman empress Messalina is her first non-fiction title.

A long overdue biography of a politically and culturally important Julio-Claudian woman.

Reconstructs the life of a woman whose story has previously been overlooked by male historians.

Honor Cargill-Martin is a well-connected young historian and author, with a first class degree and a masters from Oxford University.

MARKET: Bettany Hughes; Emma Southon; Annelise Freisenbruch; Helen Castor; Hallie Rubenhold; Natalie Haynes.

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