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Claudius, Chapter 26: His marriages.
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|He [Note 1] was twice married at a very early age, first to Aemilia Lepida, the grand-daughter of Augustus, and afterwards to Livia Medullina, who had the cognomen of Camilla, and was descended from the old dictator Camillus. The former he divorced while still a virgin, because her parents had incurred the displeasure of Augustus, and he lost the latter by sickness on the day fixed for their nuptials. He next married Plautia Urgulanilla, whose father [Note 2] had enjoyed the honour of a triumph; and soon afterwards, Aelia Paetina, the daughter of a man of consular rank. But he divorced them both; Paetina, upon some trifling cause of disgust; and Urgulanilla, for scandalous lewdness, and the suspicion of murder. After them he took in marriage Valeria Messalina, the daughter of Barbatus Messala, his cousin. But finding that, besides her other shameful debaucheries, she had even gone so far as to marry in his own absence Gaius Silius, the settlement of her dowry being formally signed, in the presence of the augurs, he put her to death. When summoning his praetorians to his presence, he made to them this declaration: "As I have been so unhappy in my unions, I am resolved to continue in future unmarried; and if I should not, I give you leave to stab me." He was, however, unable to persist in this resolution; for he began immediately to think of another wife; and even of taking back Paetina whom he had formerly divorced: he thought also of Lollia Paulina, who had been married to Gaius Caesar. But being ensnared by the arts of Agrippina, the daughter of his brother Germanicus, who took advantage of the kisses and endearments which their near relationship admitted, to inflame his desires, he got some one to propose at the next meeting of the senate, that they should oblige the emperor to marry Agrippina, as a measure highly conducive to the public interest; and that in future liberty should be given for such marriages, which until that time had been considered incestuous. In less than twenty-four hours after this, he married her. No person was found, however, to follow the example, excepting one freedman, and a centurion of the first rank, at the solemnization of whose nuptials both he and Agrippina attended.|