Honor Cargill-Martin (2016, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History) has published a new biography of Messalina, the third wife of the ancient Roman Emperor Claudius. Messalina: A Story of Empire, Slander and Adultery was published on 11 May by Head of Zeus/Bloomsbury in the UK and Pegasus Books in the USA.

Valeria Messalina was a paternal cousin of Emperor Nero and a second cousin of Emperor Caligula. An influential woman in ancient Rome, she was ultimately executed for allegedly conspiring against her husband, the Emperor Claudius.

Where previous writings about Messalina have focused on more salacious aspects of her history, Honor’s book “reappraises one of the most slandered and underestimated female figures of ancient history. […] 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.” Honor aims to shine a light on the untold story of this powerful woman, and to explore how gender and sexuality shape our understanding of history. 

Dan Jones, NYT bestselling author of Powers and Thrones, The Plantagenets and The Templars, describes Messalina as: “a tour de force, a captivating journey into the wild world of imperial Rome and the most accomplished historical debut I have read in years."

Honor matriculated at LMH in 2016, reading for her undergraduate degree in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History and staying on to complete her MSt in Greek and Roman History at the College. She then went on to study for a second masters in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute in London. Honor is currently studying for her DPhil, which will focus on political sex scandals in Ancient Rome, at Christ Church.

The cover of a book called 'Messalina' by Honor Cargill-Martin