Locusta the Poisoner—Ancient Rome’s Deadliest Assassin,
Perhaps the most feared woman in the ancient world, Locusta was a first century AD assassin who offered her services to wealthy and powerful Roman patricians, politicians, and military leaders. So infamous were her deeds that her career was detailed by Juvenal, Seutonius, Cassius Dio, and Tacitus. Born in Gaul (modern day France) Locusta was raised by her mother to be an herbalist, a healer who specialized in using medicinal plants and herbs. However, her career abruptly changed when she moved to Rome in search for greater opportunities, she found that her skills could put to much more lucrative uses killing people rather than healing. Rome was rife with political intrigue, and skilled assassins were in high demand.
Locusta intensely studied poisonous plants, becoming a “master poisoner” in short time. She knew of scores of different poisons; poisons that could bring about a heart attack, poisons that could cause a stroke, poisons that affected the nervous system, even poisons that would make it seem like the victim had died of something completely natural, such as the flu or plague. For several years, Locusta hired out her services to wealthy patrician families and powerful politicians, or whoever was the highest bidder. In 54 AD Locusta was approached by Agrippina, wife of Emperor Claudius, with perhaps the biggest and most important job of her career; to assassinate the Emperor himself. Agrippina wanted her son from another marriage to be Emperor, and thus Claudius had to go. On October 13th, Locusta infiltrated Claudius’ palace, distracting a guard by placing a laxative in his drink. She then tainted a dish of mushrooms, Claudius’ favorite dish, with strychnine. Claudius consumed the poisoned mushrooms. A few hours later, he began suffering strong stomach cramps, then he began foaming at the mouth and convulsing. Agrippina appeared to attempt to force Claudius to vomit the poison by sticking a feather down his throat. Of course, the feather was also poisoned by Locusta with a potent toxin. Emperor Claudius died a short time later.
When Nero came to throne, he made Locusta his personal assassin. Among another of her famous hits was the poisoning of his brother, Britannicus, whom he felt threatened his rule. Between 55 and 68 AD, Locusta was responsible for removing a number of Nero’s rivals and enemies. Of course, Nero was not a popular Emperor, and after the burning of Rome he was stripped of his titles and declared an enemy of the state by the senate. After Nero’s suicide Rome fell into a chaotic civil war as Roman generals and warlords fought for control over the empire. One of these generals, a short reigning Emperor named Galba, despised Locusta because of her former status as Nero’s chief assassin. On January 15th, 69 AD, Locusta was dragged from her home into the streets of Rome, and was publicly executed.
Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was 14 years old when he became Roman Emperor. He is known to history as Elagabalus because he was from birth the high priest of the androgynous sun deity Elagabal. Elagabalus is recorded as having been one of the most infamous and degenerate figures in Roman history.
Elagabalus married and divorced five women but his most stable relationship seems to have been his chariot driver, a blond slave from Caria name Hierocles, whom he referred to as his husband. He married a man name Zoticus, an athlete from Smyrna, in a pubic ceremony at Rome.
When he was married to Hierocles, Elagabalus would dress like a woman and allow himself to be caught in the act of adultery by his husband, who would then beat him as husbands were then allowed to beat their wives.
Elagabalus would paint his eyes, epilate his hair and wear wigs before prostituting himself in taverns, brothels, and even in the imperial palace:
“Finally, he set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain which hung from gold rings, while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by. There were, of course, men who had been specially instructed to play their part. For, as in other matters, so in this business, too, he had numerous agents who sought out those who could best please him by the size of their penis. He would collect money from his patrons and give himself airs over his gains; he would also dispute with his associates in this shameful occupation, claiming that he had more lovers than they and took in more money.”
He was described as having been “delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles” and was reported to have offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia.
One of his palace orgies was the scene of an inadvertent massacre when so many flower petals were showered upon the banquet guests that dozens of people suffocated to death as they reclined on their couches.
He was known to harness teams of naked women to his chariot and whip them as they pulled him around the palace grounds.
On his head, he wore a crown in the shape of a tiara, glittering with gold and precious stones.
He preferred to spend his days in the company of the palace women, singing, dancing and weaving.
The soldiers were revolted at the sight of him. With his face made up more elaborately than a modest woman, he was effeminately dressed up in golden necklaces and soft clothes, dancing for everyone to see.
At the age of 18, in March 222 AD, Rome’s soldiers finally rebelled against their Emperor. After slaughtering his minions and tearing out their vital organs, they then fell upon Elagabalus as he hid cowering in a latrine. After killing him, they dragged his body through the streets by a hook and attempted to stuff it into a sewer. When it proved too big, they threw him into the River Tiber.
The theatre at Hierapolis was built in the second century AD under the Roman Emperor Hadrian during a period of extensive rebuilding following a devastating earthquake in 60 AD. It was later renovated under Septimus Severus (193-211 AD). At this time, the scaenae frons was modified and decorated with elaborate limestone and marble carvings. Although the exterior is relatively unassuming as viewed from the front, the interior contains one of Anatolia’s most complete and best-preserved collection of Greco-Roman theatre decorations. In 343 AD the scaenae was renovated and the orchestra was altered so that it could hold aquatic displays. In the later years of the Roman Empire the orchestra was converted into a cellar. Renovation work since 1977 has restored many of the arches and a portion of the stage floor. Prior to this date, the stage as well as its arched support system lay in ruins. Recent archaeological evidence shows that the theatre was in use through the 5th and into the 6th century AD. In 532 AD the scaenae, which had been weakened by seismic activity, was repaired.
Antinous (Roman) Lover to Roman Emperor Hadrian, Antinous was known for his extraordinary beauty. He was often compared to Adonis, or a living angel. When the Emperor Hadrian visited Bithnyia in 123 CE, the two fell in love, and Antinous was admitted to the Imperial court. When visiting Egypt in 130 CE, Antinous drowned in the Nile, coincidentally, the same day of the commemoration of Osiris’ drowning in the Nile. Hadrian’s grief caused him to deify Antinous, and the young man quickly became the object of a new cult. However, this cult and the god Antinous often came into conflict with Christianity, and as a result Christianity will condemn his relationship with Hadrian as immoral and cast off any acceptance of homosexuality.
All names/terms are depicted with the page in which they first appear in the American Gods Tenth Anniversary Edition of the author’s preferred text.
The roll of Emperors spans more than 500 years of Roman History. All of those listed below bore the title; ten of the most famous are pictured above. The list has been simpilfied by excluding certain usurpers, claimants and co-emperors of little importance. The emperors’ reigns varies enormously. The Golden Age of Augustus lasted 41 years, and Theodosius II served for 42 years; but in the troubled years of 68-69 AD, Galba, Otho and Vitellius averaged less than six months on the throne. By the end of the 4th Century, during the reign of Honorius, the empire had been permanently divided, with separate rulers for the West, in Rome, and for the East, in Constantinople.
what i learned today: there was a roman emperor called elagabalus who was probably a bi trans girl because they were married to both men and women and they preferred to be referred to as a woman and was extremely interested in being equipped with female genitalia
context i learned this in: a video meant for primary school kids about a competition between the roman emperors on who was the weirdest and seeing elegabalus get a lot of weird points for saying they wanted to be a girl
stop teaching kids that being transgender is weird or abnormal
it turns cis kids who’ve never heard the term into transphobes
it makes trans kids afraid of being who they want to be