20 September 1976
Elderly and lame from birth emperor Claudius is writing his biography and the history of his family. He recalls an encounter with the Sibyl, who recognizes him from his stutter and tells him that his account will be famous in 1900 years time. Back in Rome in 24AD emperor Augustus is celebrating the anniversary of the battle of Actium, when he and his friend Agrippa defeated Antony and Cleopatra. However now Augustus is tipping his young nephew Marcellus as his heir. This displeases the emperor's wife, the formidable Livia, who wants the succession to pass to her son from her first marriage, Tiberias, even though Tiberias believes that Augustus dislikes him. Agrippa is also annoyed and leaves Rome. When Marcellus falls ill Livia insists on nursing him and he dies soon after, as she has clearly poisoned him. This provokes a riot among the citizens but it is quelled by the return of Agrippa, who calms the crowd down. A grateful Augustus gives Julia, Marcellus's widow to Agrippa as his wife, which once more angers Livia, seeing the union as yet another obstacle to her ambitions as there was once a time when Julia and Tiberias seemed destined to be married.
20 September 1976
It is now AD 9. Livia has poisoned Agrippa and Tiberius is being forced to divorce his wife Vipsania to marry Julia. Neither Tiberius or Julia are happy with this arrangement and Julia also confesses to Antonia, daughter of Antony and wife of Tiberius's popular brother Drusus Germannicus, that she believes Livia killed Marcellus. Drusus is all for a return to the Republic and Tiberius envies him because he is not stuck in Rome but spear-heading military campaigns in Northern Europe. However Drusus dies after a fall from his horse. Livia is anxious that Augustus be deified but there is general caution lest it angers the Gods. After Julia has complained of her husband's ill treatment of her Tiberius is banished from Rome and Augustus sees the future as lying in his young grandsons Lucius and Gaius. Antonia has also borne a child by Drusus - Claudius.
27 September 1976
Whilst Tiberius in exile derives some comfort from hearing of the mysterious death of Gaius, Antonia confesses to Julia her disappointment in Claudius. She chastises his siblings Germannicus and Livilla for shunning him but still feels that he is stupid. However everybody is amazed when an eagle drops a wolf cub into Claudius's arms and an augur reader interprets this as meaning that in the future Claudius will save Rome in its hour of need. Livia continues her campaign against Julia by proving that she is a serial adulteress, leading to her banishment, a fact which upsets Augustus, who actually loved her. With the news that Lucius has also perished, drowned in a boating accident, Augustus recalls Tiberius from his exile to be his co-heir with his grandson Postumus.
4 October 1976
Six years have passed. Germannicus has joined Tiberius in the Germanian campaign, to avenge the Roman legion slaughtered at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Claudius remains at home, researching his family history and despised for his weakness - he faints at the gladiatorial games. In the library Pollio the historian advises him to accentuate his deficiencies. That way he will not be seen as a threat in the murderous world about him and has a greater chance of survival. Augustus names Postumus as his successor but Livia aims to thwart him. She gets Livilla to invite him to her room and then claim that he tried to rape her. Postumus is banished but manages to briefly escape before recapture and tells Claudius that he believes Livia killed Marcellus, Agrippa, Lucius and Gaius and that Claudius should inform Germannicus. He too advises the young man to play on his weaknesses. Some time later Claudius is again an object of scorn as he is married to the considerably taller Urgulanilla.
11 October 1976
Germannicus returns from Germania in triumph and he and Claudius catch up on family news - Claudius now has a son but is not enjoying married life. He tells Germannicus what Postumus had passed onto him about Livia's murderous exploits and Germannicus in turn tells the emperor. Augustus is pleased with Claudius and apologizes to him for doubting his capabilities. As Augustus visits Postumus to restore him to his will Livia works out what has happened and initially suspects Livilla, believing Claudius to be too stupid. Augustus is determined to survive any efforts to poison him and resolves only to eat food he has grown himself. However he falls ill and dies as Livia has presumably poisoned the fruit trees in his garden. Postumus is killed by the brutal soldier Sejanus and at last Livia has her wish - to see Tiberius declared emperor of Rome.
18 October 1976
Tiberius, aided by Sejanus, is proving to be a harsh ruler with only Germannicus able to keep him under control. However, whilst he is in Syria Germannicus is mysteriously poisoned. His widow Agrippina is able to rally public support due to his popularity and accuses Piso, the governor of Syria, of being the slayer Despite claiming an alibi Piso and his wife Plancina are brought before the senate to stand trial, with Martina, a star witness, being kept under wraps. In fact Martina was the poisoner, encouraged by Germannicus's son, young Caligula, whose insolence and taste for incest with his sister are already giving his elders cause for concern. Piso claims to have scrolls incriminating Livia and Tiberius in the murder but Plancina, in an effort to save herself, stabs her husband to death and passes it off as remorseful suicide. Thus the case is closed.
25 October 1976
Tiberius embarks on a series of acts of debauchery, having sex with anybody he pleases, with Caligula a willing participant. Livia is shocked and Tiberius arranges to give her a horoscope for her birthday to suggest to her that she has not long to live. Augustus's son Castor is perturbed at the free hand given Sejanus in bringing to trial anybody Tiberius feels is opposing him but Castor's wife, Livilla, disagrees and is having an affair with Sejanus, ultimately poisoning Castor to get him out of the way. After Sejanus has forced him to marry Aelia, Sejanus's adopted sister, Claudius attends to the dying Livia, who confesses her murderous misdeeds to him and expresses her fear that they will relegate her to Hades. She tells Claudius of a prophecy that claimed he would become emperor and, before she dies, asks that when he is ruler he make her a goddess.
1 November 1976
Sejanus divorces his wife in order to marry Livilla but Tiberius refuses permission and suggests that he marries Livilla's daughter Helen instead, which so enrages Livilla that she poisons Helen. With Tiberius spending most of his time on Capri Sejanus seems to hold absolute power in Rome and, to consolidate his position, has Agrippina and her son Nero banished and her other son Drusus arrested and sent to prison where he dies. A shocked Antonia finally sees evidence of the plots her daughter Livilla and Sejanus have hatched together and has Claudius smuggle the incriminating facts to Tiberius. As a result the new prefect of the Praetorian guard Macro kills Sejanus and his followers are also put to death.
8 November 1976
Tiberius summons Caligula and his cousin Gemellus to Capri, declaring them his joint successors. Soon afterwards Tiberius is smothered by Macro, on the orders of Caligula, and his death is hailed joyfully by the citizens of Rome, unaware that worse is to come. Caligula, clearly unstable, sinks into a coma and on recovering, in addition to having Gemellus executed for trying to poison him, declares that he is the god Zeus and marries his sister Drusilla, declaring her a deity also. When Drusilla falls pregnant by him he cuts open her belly and eats the unborn child to prevent him having greater powers than himself as Zeus once allegedly did. Antonia, sickened by his depravity, kills herself.
Season 1, Episode 10: Hail Who?15 November 1976
Caligula has not only made his horse a senator but has turned the palace into a brothel, selling off senators and their wives for sex. Although scared of him - and getting thrown into a river for his pains - Claudius is seemingly the only person who can put any sort of brake on the mad emperor, intervening to save mens' lives on at least two occasions, the second when Caligula fails in his attempt to defeat Neptune and push back the waves, blaming his generals for his failure. Although Claudius has been living in peace with ex-prostitute Calpurnia Caligula thinks it would be fun to mismatch him with the beautiful but wanton Messalina and has them marry each other. Finally, sickened by his excesses the Praetorian guard under Cassius Chaerea kills Caligula. A sergeant finds Claudius cowering under a table and, in the absence of any other claimants, he is declared the emperor of Rome.
22 November 1976
Claudius accepts the crown and spares all the conspirators except Cassius for killing Caligula's wife and family. He also deifies Livia. Messalina, having borne him children, persuades him to let her rule alongside him and brings in senator Silanus as an aide, Silanus marrying Domitia, Messalina's mother. However Messalina attempts to seduce Silanus, leading him to try and kill Claudius, for which he is executed. Not for nothing has Claudius's friend Herod Agrippa warned him to trust nobody.
29 November 1976
Whilst Claudius is invading Britain Messalina is challenging the prostitute Scylla to see who can take the most partners, Messalina easily winning. She also takes the young senator Silius as her lover, forcing him to divorce his wife so that she can marry him whilst sending Claudius a divorce decree when he is away. She hopes that Rome will rally with her against her aging husband but she is mistaken as, on Claudius's return, he is informed of her treachery and she and Silius are executed. At the same time Claudius learns that Herod has died whilst also planning to overthrow him. However there is some good news - he has been proclaimed a god in Colchester in Britain.
6 December 1976
AD 54: Claudius feels that Rome should return to be a Republic but nonetheless marries his niece Agripinilla and makes her son Nero co-heir with his own, teen-aged son Britannicus. Aware of a prophecy that Nero will indeed become sole emperor Claudius encourages Britannicus to flee abroad and then return to restore the Republic but the boy refuses and he is killed by Nero. Claudius resignedly allows himself to be poisoned by his wife and dies. Nero and Agripinilla look for his will but find only his chronicle which they burn. However Claudius and the Sibyl have the last laugh as he has made a copy, which he has buried to be found long after his death.
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