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Divine Excuse

One evening, Agrippina, bent on securing the imperial throne for her son Nero (at the expense of the emperor's favorite, Britannicus), plied Claudius (the emperor, and her own husband) with poisonous mushrooms. Claudius died in agony, without clarifying his wishes regarding succession.

Nero subsequently ascended the throne, honored Claudius with an elaborate funeral, and deified him: The mushroom, Nero declared, was a food of the gods; they had, after all, made Claudius divine.

[The Julio-Claudian dynasty (A.D. 14-68) was marked, according to Maxim magazine, by jealousy, greed, sexual depravity, and bad haircuts. "The dynasty begins with stepson Tiberius, who raped boys until his grandson Caligula killed him, took the throne, married his sister, and murdered dinner guests for fun. He was assassinated after he appointed a horse to the Senate. Caligula's uncle Claudius was murdered by his wife so son, Nero, could be emperor. Nero then had Mom killed before castrating a boy to make into a wife. The dynasty ends with his suicide."]

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