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Tiberius, Messalina, and Caligula Reproach One Another in the Midst of Flames
Paris, France (Place Created)
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
Ms. 63 (96.MR.17), fol. 218v
Leaf: 42 × 29.6 cm (16 9/16 × 11 5/8 in.)
Messalina, the young wife of the aged emperor Claudius, stands between the Roman emperors
Messalina admitted her sin of lust but blamed her libidinous nature on the astrological configuration present at her birth. She then reminded the emperors of their sins. Caligula had committed incest with his three sisters, exiled them, and had them killed. He had raped married women, poisoned people, and declared himself a god. Tiberius had killed his brothers, committed false accusations, and perpetrated sins against nature. Messalina won the debate by demonstrating that their sins were far worse than hers and reminding them to repent first, before reproaching others.