Sunday, 10 July 2005

Suetonius on the Death of Emperor Claudius


"Most people think that Claudius was poisoned; but when and by whom is disputed. Some say that the eunuch Halotus, his official taster, administered the drug while he was dining with the priests in the Citadel; others that Agrippina did so herself at a family banquet, poisoning a dish of mushrooms, his favourite food. An equal dicrepancy exists between teh accounts of what happened next. According to many, he lost his power of speech, suffered frightful pain all night long, and died shortly before dawn. A variant version is that he fell into a coma but vomited up the entire contents of his overloaded stomach and was then poisoned a second time, either by a gruel - the excuse being that he needed food to revive him - or by means of an enema, the excuse being that his bowels required relief and must be emptied too."

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