from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Messalina, Valeria Died A.D. 48. Roman empress as the third wife of Claudius I. She was executed after Claudius discovered that she had married a lover in his absence.


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  • According to others, it was only "Messalina" that had kept him alive so long.

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  • A local wit of the day said, "It was kind of Messalina to present her husband with these boys, otherwise he would never have had any claim on them."

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  • One might have been a tragedy, "Messalina," but there were no other dramatic works.

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  • My book still shows up on a search for "Messalina" but my sales rank is gone.

  • Though Sternberg made films as late as the early 1950s, there were no more comebacks after an aborted attempt in 1937 to film Robert Graves's "I, Claudius," with Charles Laughton in the title role and Merle Oberon as Messalina.

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  • The problem is that voters also know that Gaius Gingrich is liable to deliver his prime-time speeches in purple toga while holding tight to darling Messalina's—sorry, Callista's—bejeweled fingers.

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  • She did not attract the same attention as a Messalina or a Poppaea among writers and artists postantiquity looking for a Pygmalionesque mannequin of intoxicating sexual allure, but the fascination she has exerted has been just as enduring.

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  • There was even a “Messalina of Ilford,” twenty-nine-year-old Edith Thompson, who in January 1923 became the first woman in fifteen years to be hanged in Britain for her alleged part in the murder of her husband.

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  • Like Messalina, she was said to have used murderous force to eliminate her enemies and sexual favors to keep her supporters close.

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  • But if Messalina traded politics to gratify her love of sex, Agrippina traded sex to gratify her love of politics.64 In other words, she used sex as a means to an end, just as her great-grandfather Augustus was said to have done during his campaign against the profligate Antony, seducing the wives of his enemies to secure information against them.

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