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A Lesson From History

I am, among other things, a student of history. There are scholars who assert that we shouldn't bother with learning history written by "old, dead white guys," that the history of the losers, of the "little people" is just as valuable and should be taught instead. Hogwash! There's a good reason why the history of ancient Rome has long been studied: it has much to teach us. While all history must be taken with a grain of salt and there is evidence to the contrary, the rumors and stories about Augustus and Livia are particularly instructive.

Yes, that Augustus, the one called Octavius until he maneuvered himself into becoming Caesar. He was intelligent and very politically savvy. Why he married Livia is a mystery, but according to ancient historians, she married him because she wanted her son to become Caesar. (Had women been allowed to rule, she would have wanted to do so in her own right.) And what's the best, quickest way for him to become Caesar? Eliminate all of Augustus's presumptive heirs, have Tiberius adopted by Augustus, and then have Augustus meet a premature end. At some point, Augustus, astute politico that he was, figured out what was up. He also knew Livia's weapon of choice was poison. Rather than alert her to his suspicions by having someone taste his food for him, Augustus opted to eat only figs that he personally picked off his trees.

Now, while Augustus was smart, Livia was smarter. She came up with a very clever solution. She coated each of the fruits on the trees with poison. Her plan succeeded, Augustus dropped dead, and Tiberius became Caesar.

I wonder what poison Livia used?

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A Lesson From History + things