Scene - Editor's Office, Tabloid Numismatics

Decius: I won't do it.

Centius: Yes you will. It's your job.

D: It's not my job to get my head cut off. I won't do it.

C: Look, Nero's getting married. Someone has to write the engagement announcement and you're the editor of the wedding page. So get started!

D: Let Publicus write it - He's old and won't mind being executed. Much.

C: Publicus is off covering the games in the Coliseum this week. They say the Christians have a shot at an upset.

D: The only thing the Christians can upset is the insides of a dyspeptic lion. Stop changing the subject - I won't do it.

C: Why not? You've written hundreds of these things!

D: Let's just say the subject matter is a bit sensitive. The groom's mother for instance.

C: So? She's dead.

D: Yea - he killed her.

C: He didn't kill her, she drowned.

D: Look, she didn't just drown, he rigged the boat Agrippina was sailing on. Damn thing didn't get more than 500 yards off-shore before it collapsed.

C: That was never proved. And besides, she swam to shore. 

D: Yea, the old bat could swim, I'll grant her that. I'd have loved to see Nero's face when she walked out of the surf. He had to have the sailors finish her off with swords.

C: Look - the Emperor says she drowned, so she drowned. Just say the groom's mother predeceased her son due to an unfortunate boating accident.

D: OK - so what about his first wife?

C: Octavia? Died while vacationing.

D; Yeah, right. He banished her then had her poisoned. Poor Octavia, she was way too good for him, being Claudius' daughter and all.

C: I heard she was guilty of treason.

D: If refusing to commit suicide when her bum of a husband found another woman is treason, then she committed treason. And who did Nero choose his new bimbo? Poppaea, a Senator's wife!

C: From what I hear the Senator in question didn't mind much. I think Otho considered it a career move.

D: Well, it got him a governorship. Governor of Jove-forsaken Portugal for ten years while Nero played snugglebunnies with his wife.

C: Well, I think it was romantic.

D: I doubt if Otho thought it was romantic. Or Octavia for that matter. She complained and off she went on "vacation". 

C: Where she contracted food poisoning.

D: Food poisoning?

C: Food poisoning. (pause) Well, the poison was either in the wine or the food. She didn't drink, so food poisoning.

D: (sigh) OK, food poisoning.

c: You have to admit that Nero loved Poppaea.

D: Loved her? He killed her!

C: That was an accident.

D: How do you accidentally kick a pregnant woman in the stomach?

C: He was angry at the time. And very sorry for it afterward. He deified her, didn't he?

D: Oh, that makes it all right. Sure, I understand now. Just stand there and let me kick you in the goolies. It's OK, because I'm mad as hell. 

C: Calm down. We don't have to approve of these things, just report them.

D: Oh? And just how >did< we report Poppaea's demise?

C: She died in childbirth.


C: Well, she did.


C: Didn't she? Hmmmm??? We don't have to say what caused the miscarriage.

D: I give up. OK, we are writing an engagement announcement for an Emperor who tried to drown his mother and then had her carved like a stuffed goose. He had his wife, the daughter of the Emperor who adopted him, poisoned. He then proceeded to run off with a senator's wife, killed her with a kick to the stomach, fortunately avoiding breeding in the process. And now we are supposed to write flowery prose wishing him nuptial bliss with another vacuous airhead dim enough to marry this animal?

C: I knew you'd understand. And make sure to keep the ides of June open. You'll be covering the wedding.

Tabloid Numismatics is proud to announce the engagement of our Emperor Nero and Statlia Messalina, widow of the recently deceased Julius Vestinus Atticus, who died a suicide shortly after representatives of the Emperor began negotiations for the hand of his wife. This will be our Emperor's third marriage, the two previous being ended by food-poisoning and death in childbirth respectively. The Emperor was represented at the betrothal by Pulius Decius Penurious, third cousin twice removed on his mother's side, his closest living relative since the unfortunate deaths of his mother Agrippina in a boating accident, his stepfather Claudius of food-poisoning, his step-brother Britanicus of food-poisoning, his stepsister Claudia Antonia by execution for treason and his uncle Caligula by falling on several sharp objects. A June wedding is planned.