Will Pendergrast was my fiend at Te Puke High School. His girlfriend at the time (in the sixth form) was Trish Johnson, and he used to write her name all over his books. later on, at the end of the 7th form Will went to Australia, and came back to Te Puke early in 74 and he, Trish and I went back to Sydney together. We had a lot of fun over there. It was easy to find a job, and I was a Grill Chef in a little wine bar in St Leonards, just north of the Sydney Harbour bridge.

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 There was a night in Te Puke, when I made a dramatic entrance. If you  have ever seen a motorcycle travelling at full speed underneath the ground, you will understand dramatic. This night I looked like a guy called Brice, who was Trish's boyfriend at teh time, although she must have been in the 5th form, and only about 15 or 16. She had long blonde hair. As I emerged up through the road and raced along the main street of Te Puke, Trish joined me on the pillion, just as her seat cleared the ground, holding on tight  around my (Brice's) waist, and the bike, on one wheel, raced up the Te Puke hill, from about where the KFC is now, and heading south-(east) raced along the full length of the town. That is all I remember. Now I'd challenge anybody to try to repeat that. Of course this was before I was born, and while I was probably tucked up safelyy in my bed on the farm. it wasn't long after that that Will became Trish's boyfriend.

 Now this is going to sound strange, but I remember a life as the Emperor Claudius. Much of what is known is recorded, and there is an excellent BBC drama called I Claudius which tells a lot more than I remember. He, I, Claudius was born in 13 BC, so his life overlapped that of Christ whose life I also remember, and that of Julius Caesar. Claudius came to power when in the year 41 and was opposed by the senate. However he managed despite his pretended limp, twitches and stuttering to make a fair fist of ruling Rome.

Livilla was married twice, first in 2 BC to Gaius Caesar, Augustus' grandson and potential successor. Thus, Augustus had chosen Livilla as the wife of the future Emperor. This splendid royal marriage probably gave Livilla grand aspirations for her future, perhaps at the expense of the ambition of Augustus' granddaughters, Agrippina the Elder and Julia the Younger. However, Gaius died in 4 AD, cutting short Augustus' and Livilla's plans.

In the same year, Livilla married her cousin Drusus Julius Caesar, the son of Tiberius. When Tiberius succeed Augustus as Emperor in 14 AD, Livilla again was the wife of a potential successor. Drusus and Livilla had three children, a daughter names Julia in 5 AD and twin brothers in 19 AD: of these Germanicus Gemellus died in 23, whereas Tiberius Gemellus survived his infancy.

There appears to be some confusion about two Neros, 

At the end, just before my death I can remember my sister's (who would have been Lavilla, and even though older, not able to inherit the power of Emperor) daughter, but even though I don't remember her name (which would have been Julia) I can remember taking her into the woods and fields to teach her about the different mushrooms, the poisonous ones. She prepared me a dish of mushrooms, and it is that which poisoned me. Even though I knew they were poisonous ones I didn't care at that stage, Rome was so corrupt.
She also poisoned her mother who loved figs, by painting poison on them as they were still growing in the palace.
She had no feelings, because I devised a test for her and she couldn't have cheated. It was she who married teh Emperor Nero, but that is not what history has recorded.           (Next page)

Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome
Reign 13 October 54 – 9 June 68 (13 years, 240 days)

Claudius (Latin: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus;[1] 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54), was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37. Claudius' infirmity probably saved him from the fate of many other nobles during the purges of Tiberius and Caligula's reigns; potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat. His survival led to his being declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family.

Despite his lack of experience, Claudius proved to be an able and efficient administrator. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals across the Empire. During his reign the Empire conquered Thrace, Noricum, Pamphylia, Lycia and Judaea, and began the conquest of Britain. He took a personal interest in law, presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day. However, he was seen as vulnerable throughout his reign, particularly by the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position; this resulted in the deaths of many senators. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers, though more recent historians have revised this opinion. After his death in 54, his grand-nephew and adopted son Nero succeeded him as Emperor.

Claudius was born on 1 August 10 BC in Lugdunum to Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia on the day of the dedication of the altar to Augustus at the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls. He had two older siblings named Germanicus and Livilla. Antonia may have had two other children who died young. His maternal grandparents were Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, Augustus' sister, therefore the great-great grandnephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. His paternal grandparents were Livia, Augustus' third wife, and Tiberius Claudius Nero. During his reign, Claudius revived the rumor that his father Drusus was actually the illegitimate son of Augustus, to give the false appearance that Augustus was Claudius' paternal grandfather.
Claudius married four times. His first marriage, to Plautia Urgulanilla, occurred after two failed betrothals. The first was to his distant cousin Aemilia Lepida, but was broken for political reasons. The second was to Livia Medullina, which ended with Medullina's sudden death on the wedding day. Urgulanilla was the granddaughter of Livia's confidant Urgulania. During their marriage she gave birth to a son, Claudius Drusus. Unfortunately, Drusus died of asphyxiation in his early teens, shortly after becoming engaged to Junilla, the daughter of Sejanus. Claudius later divorced Urgulanilla for adultery and on suspicion of murdering her sister-in-law Apronia. When Urgulanilla gave birth after the divorce, Claudius repudiated the baby girl, Claudia, as the father was one of his own freedmen.

Soon after (possibly in 28), Claudius married Aelia Paetina, a relative of Sejanus, if not Sejanus's adoptive sister. During their marriage, Claudius and Paetina had a daughter, Claudia Antonia. He later divorced her after the marriage became a political liability, although Leon (1948) suggests it may have been due to emotional and mental abuse by Paetina.

Some years after divorcing Aelia Paetina, in 38 or early 39, Claudius married Valeria Messalina, who was his first cousin once removed and closely allied with Caligula's circle. Shortly thereafter, she gave birth to a daughter Claudia Octavia. A son, first named Tiberius Claudius Germanicus, and later known as Britannicus, was born just after Claudius' accession. This marriage ended in tragedy. The ancient historians allege that Messalina was a nymphomaniac who was regularly unfaithful to Claudius — Tacitus states she went so far as to compete with a prostitute to see who could have the most sexual partners in a night[50] — and manipulated his policies in order to amass wealth. In 48, Messalina married her lover Gaius Silius in a public ceremony while Claudius was at Ostia.

Sources disagree as to whether or not she divorced the Emperor first, and whether the intention was to usurp the throne. Scramuzza, in his biography, suggests that Silius may have convinced Messalina that Claudius was doomed, and the union was her only hope of retaining rank and protecting her children.[51] The historian Tacitus suggests that Claudius's ongoing term as Censor may have prevented him from noticing the affair before it reached such a critical point.[52] Whatever the case, the result was the execution of Silius, Messalina, and most of her circle.[53] Claudius made the Praetorians promise to kill him if he ever married again.[citation needed]

Despite this declaration, Claudius did marry once more. The ancient sources tell that his freedmen pushed three candidates:

According to Suetonius, Agrippina won out through her feminine wiles.[54] The truth is likely more political. The attempted coup d'etat by Silius and Messalina had probably made Claudius realize the weakness of his position as a member of the Claudian but not the Julian family. This weakness was compounded by the fact that he did not have an obvious adult heir, Britannicus being just a boy. Agrippina was one of the few remaining descendants of Augustus, and her son Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (the future Emperor Nero) was one of the last males of the Imperial family. Future coup attempts could rally around the pair, and Agrippina was already showing such ambition. It has been suggested in recent times that the Senate may have pushed for the marriage to end the feud between the Julian and Claudian branches.[55] This feud dated back to Agrippina's mother's actions against Tiberius after the death of her husband Germanicus (Claudius's brother), actions which Tiberius had gladly punished. In any case, Claudius accepted Agrippina, and later adopted the newly mature Nero as his son.

Nero was made joint heir with the underage Britannicus, married to Octavia and heavily promoted. This was not as unusual as it seems to people acquainted with modern hereditary monarchies. Barbara Levick notes that Augustus had named his grandson Postumus Agrippa and his stepson Tiberius as joint heirs.[56] Tiberius named Caligula joint heir with his grandson Tiberius Gemellus. Adoption of adults or near adults was an old tradition in Rome when a suitable natural adult heir was unavailable. This was the case during Britannicus' minority. S.V. Oost suggests that Claudius had previously looked to adopt one of his sons-in-law to protect his own reign.[57] Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, married to his daughter Claudia Antonia, was only descended from Octavia and Antony on one side — not close enough to the Imperial family to prevent doubts (that did not stop others from making him the object of a coup attempt against Nero a few years later). Besides which, he was the half brother of Valeria Messalina, and at this time those wounds were still fresh. Nero was more popular with the general public as the grandson of Germanicus and the direct descendant of Augustus.

Nero Julius Caesar Germanicus (c. AD 6 –AD 30)


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