Valeria Messalina

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Valeria Messalina,[1] sometimes spelled Messallina, (c. 17/20 – 48) was a Roman empress as the third wife of the Emperor Claudius. She was also a paternal cousin of the Emperor Nero, second cousin of the Emperor Caligula, and great-grandniece of the Emperor Augustus. A powerful and influential woman with a reputation for promiscuity, she conspired against her husband and was executed when the plot was discovered.

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Family and early life

Messalina was the first daughter and second child of Domitia Lepida the Younger and her first cousin Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus[2][3]. Messalina's father was the son of Marcus Valerius Messala Barbatus Appianus [4], a Claudius Pulcher by birth (son of Appius Claudius Pulcher, consul 38 BC) adopted by Marcus Valerius Messala, cos. suff. 32 BC[5][6]. His mother was Claudia Marcella Minor. Messalina's elder brother, Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, served as consul in AD 58. Her mother was the youngest child of the consul Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and Antonia Major. Domitia Lepida had two siblings: Domitia Lepida the Elder, and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. Domitius was the first husband of the future Empress Agrippina the Younger and the biological father of the Emperor Nero, making Nero Messalina's first cousin despite a seventeen year age difference. Messalina's grandmothers Claudia Marcella and Antonia Major were half sisters. Claudia Marcella, Messalina's paternal grandmother, was the daughter of Augustus's sister Octavia the Younger by her marriage to Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor. Antonia Major, Messalina's maternal grandmother, was the elder daughter of Octavia by her marriage to Mark Antony, and was Claudius's maternal aunt.

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