Assisted by the influential freedman Pallas, she induced her uncle the emperor Claudius to marry her after the death of Messalina, and adopt the future Nero as heir to the throne in place of Britannicus.
It is true that he finds the most typical examples of lust, cruelty, levity and weakness in the emperors and their wives - in Domitian, Otho, Nero, Claudius and Messalina.
The passage about Marie Antoinette, which has since become a stock piece in books of recitation, seemed to Francis a mere piece of foppery; for was she not a Messalina and a jade?
"I know nothing of your story of Messalina," answered Burke; "am I obliged to prove judicially the virtues of all those I shall see suffering every kind of wrong and contumely and risk of life, before I endeavour to interest others in their sufferings?.
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