Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016) s03e03 Episode Script

In Search of an Heir

You called for me? I keep thinking about Gemellus.
- You made the best decision.
- So you told me.
You've proven your loyalty, Macro.
It's time I reward you.
[suspenseful music playing] You've served me well as the head of my guard.
But you deserve better.
You've earned it.
I'm appointing you Prefect of Egypt.
If Egypt is where you feel I can best serve you, it would be my honor.
[music intensifies] [bird screeches] [crows cawing] [horse neighing] [intense music playing] [horse neighing] [both grunt] [heavy breathing] [theme music playing] [narrator] In a matter of days, Caligula has executed his heir and his personal guard, and his paranoia continues to grow.
[Amanda Ruggeri] Certainly, by this period, Caligula was concerned that people were trying to kill him.
He had evidence, at least it seems that he had some evidence of this having been the case already.
And he was trying to make himself as invulnerable as possible.
He went kind of crazy and he was never the same and he started lashing out at all of these people close to him.
[narrator] After the betrayal of both Gemellus and Macro, Caligula needs people he can trust.
And while many fear getting close to the emperor, others see an opportunity.
I know how much you trusted him.
I'm sorry.
That was a mistake.
Now you know to be more careful.
Have you thought about who you'll name? I'm not in any rush.
It's important.
For your own protection.
You need someone you can trust.
Someone who owes you everything.
[scoffs] And who are you suggesting? What you need is a son.
I can give that to you.
You and I are descendants of Caesar and Augustus.
There is no stronger bloodline.
You're serious? No one could question our child's claim.
[chuckles] What would people think? Whatever you tell them to.
It's how the pharaohs protected their power for thousands of years.
I can help you do the same.
Agrippina has gone down in history as one of the most ambitious and power-hungry women to ever be close to the Imperial throne.
She was extremely well-educated, a very intelligent woman.
Agrippina was unusual for women of that time in Rome.
However, she wasn't necessarily unusual for women of the Imperial family.
She wanted the throne, and she worked her entire life to get there.
[Caligula murmurs] Thank you.
- [Caligula] Morning.
- Morning.
Incest in Roman society was absolutely a taboo.
Roman myths, Roman stories are replete with tales that talk about the consequences of incest, whether it's the outbreak of plagues within cities or giant monsters being born as a byproduct of incest.
It was clear that Roman society didn't just frown on such actions, that such actions were seen as destructive to society.
[intense music playing] [narrator] While the relationship could jeopardize her place in society, as the mother of his heir, Agrippina would be named Empress of Rome and secure her position in the Imperial family.
After months of trying, Caligula and Agrippina fail to conceive a child.
The lack of children for Caligula seems to have become an issue over time, where he realizes after his illness that he is susceptible to being overthrown, and that there is no immediate successor to his position.
[narrator] Determined to produce an heir, Caligula sets his sights on someone else.
Turn around.
Go on.
I had the jeweler make this for you.
It's beautiful.
What are you doing? [Caitlin Gillespie] Drusilla was famed as a beauty.
She is very similar to her sisters, but Caligula favored her above all others.
[narrator] Caligula begins a sexual relationship with all three of his sisters, hoping that one of them will conceive his child.
Caligula's relationship with his sisters is something that gets historians incredibly excited.
Incest is thrown around, left, right, and center.
In reality, it's worth questioning to what extent this happened.
But either way, they wanted to make sure that they survived.
They knew what it was like to be a member of the royal family.
They knew that if they stopped paying attention, they would die.
[narrator] As Caligula grows more desperate and unpredictable, his sisters know that rejecting his advances could cause their brother to turn on them, and cost them their lives.
[indistinct chatter] [chattering] It's a time to celebrate.
Come on.
There is no one kinder, or more beautiful, in all of Rome.
That's why I'm excited to share our good news with you.
Drusilla and I are expecting a child.
A toast to you both.
- To health and happiness.
- To health and happiness.
To family.
- To family.
- [guests] To family.
[Caligula] To family.
[narrator] Drusilla's pregnancy is devastating news to Agrippina, and destroys any chance she had of becoming empress of Rome.
When Drusilla had become pregnant, Agrippina at this point, of course, is looking out for herself, looking out for her own position.
So you could certainly look back and see, not only was she ambitious, but she's already plotting how to turn against her own brother.
[narrator] With a potential heir on the way, Caligula gives Drusilla a higher role within the Empire, and begins to treat his younger sister as his wife.
Drusilla became head of the house.
I think it was a way of showing quite how close he was to his sister and how important she was to his rule.
This gives an indication that she must've been at least aware of the decisions he was making as emperor.
And it doesn't take a lot to see how the tabloid newspapers of the time or the tittle-tattle of gossip would have seen that relationship.
[narrator] As word of Caligula's relationship with his sister spreads beyond the palace, the Roman people begin to see him in a different light, and the former "Emperor of the People" is now considered a sexual deviant.
Incest was viewed as probably the worst sexual taboo in Ancient Rome.
Stories of incest or other acts of sexual depravity are part of the arsenal that gets thrown against those who are regarded as tyrants, despots, or otherwise unhelpful political characters.
Why is Caligula accused of incest? Drusilla was the sister whom Caligula really, seriously loved.
And that was a great sort of scandal to the Roman people.
It added a sort of murderous passion to palace conspiracies and relationships inside the palace.
Rulers had their own rules that were different from those that ordinary people had to obey.
[narrator] As public opinion sways, Drusilla falls ill.
Despite being the most powerful man in Rome, there is nothing Caligula can do to save Drusilla or the baby.
And once again, the emperor is left without an heir.
The death of Drusilla was clearly a turning point for Caligula.
There weren't many people in Caligula's life, certainly family members, who he could talk to and who he could rely on.
[Adrian Murdoch] He hadn't been able to mourn his mother.
His father had died when he was young.
This was the closest person that he had had.
So when she died, he went completely over the top.
He went into full mourning as if she were his wife.
[narrator] In the wake of Drusilla's death, Caligula falls into a deep depression, and rather than focusing on Rome, he becomes obsessed with keeping her memory alive.
After the death of his sister Drusilla, Caligula's actions were even more over the top than they had been up to that point.
[Aaron Irvin] Her image was placed on the statues of various goddesses.
Temples were dedicated to her.
Caligula spent a lavish amount of money on a massive funeral for her, complete with extensive gladiatorial games and festivals and contests where hundreds of gladiators were slain in her honor.
[narrator] Caligula proclaims Drusilla a goddess, like Venus and Juno.
Caligula literally gets a bill passed naming Drusilla a goddess.
And then even goes so far as to proclaim that any woman taking an oath has to swear by the Divine Drusilla.
No woman had ever been made a goddess, not even Augustus' own wife at this point had been made a goddess.
So this was a very, very important moment for Roman history.
And this is something the Roman world had never seen before.
You look exhausted.
- Come, you should rest.
- I'm not tired.
- Come to bed anyway.
- Not tonight.
She's gone.
You have to let her go.
You were jealous of her.
You were always jealous of her.
Even when we were children.
She was my sister, too.
I mourned her.
But now, I can give you what you've lost You can give me nothing! Because you have nothing to give.
Now leave.
Leave! [narrator] As months pass, Caligula's grief only gets worse, sending him into a state of madness, and the people of Rome suffer the consequences.
Caligula's not just a normal brother.
He's the emperor.
He can also take this mourning a step beyond.
So he passes laws saying that during this period Romans aren't able to carry on with a lot of their normal daily habits.
There's one story about how a Roman who was selling hot water is even executed for having done so in this period.
[grunting] This display of depression, the Romans weren't exactly sure what to make of it, because this was not how a Roman was supposed to behave and this was certainly not how the ideal Roman as the emperor was supposed to behave.
[man] There are matters that require your attention.
A column fracture has caused a major setback on the temple reconstruction project you ordered.
Then have them rebuild it.
Next, there's the matter of a potential grain shortage.
Do I need to figure out everything? I can't be bothered with that.
You could defer some of your duties.
The Senate is prepared to oversee these matters.
My uncle will handle it.
Do whatever you need to.
Any resolution will cost us.
Give the people their grain! [intense music playing] It's very clear that Caligula was not a well man.
He seemed to be going out of his way to cause offense because he was being particularly hostile to the Senate.
He's not placating them anymore.
The initial moves that he made to try and rule hand-in-hand with the Senate are completely out of the window.
[grunting] [groans] [soldier groans, grunts] Give me your sword.
I'd like to try.
You don't think I know how to wield a sword? Come on.
One round.
I'd rather not.
Are you refusing your emperor? Fight me.
Stop holding back! Fight me.
[Caligula] Fight me.
Come on! Fight! Good.
Let's go again.
[groans] [soldier whimpers, groans] Caligula did not know what he was doing.
You have this damaged individual that you have now thrust into a position of power, with no skills, no background, nothing but this damaged psyche, who you have now given all the power in the world to, and asked him to behave properly.
[ominous music playing] [gasps] We assemble here today to bond two people in loving union.
[narrator] Out of desperation for an heir, Caligula marries a woman who is already pregnant with another man's child.
Her name is Caesonia.
as husband and wife.
[Corey Brennan] Caligula clearly put a premium on having an heir, and he singles out a certain Caesonia, who had a brother who was a famous military man.
But the most important thing is that she was eight months pregnant.
And so her fertility was proven.
So this was an extreme example of Caligula trying to take no chances whatsoever, to makes sure that when he married, it was going to be a woman who could produce an heir.
[narrator] One month after their wedding day, Caesonia goes into labor.
[baby crying] [baby mewls] Is the baby healthy? Yes.
You have a beautiful baby girl.
Publicly, Caligula is absolutely thrilled that now he has this daughter.
Privately, though, he hasn't solved any of his problems at all.
He is still incredibly vulnerable to being replaced.
His daughter will have to be married to somebody someday in order to make her a viable candidate for the throne.
[narrator] While his daughter poses no real threat, Caligula's family knows it's only a matter of time before his wife is pregnant with a son, cutting off their ties to the throne and leaving their futures uncertain.
[Adrian Murdoch] Lepidus, the husband of Drusilla, Livilla and Agrippina wanted to make sure that they had a secure position.
Here were three people who knew what happened if you stopped paying attention in Ancient Rome, and they were going to make damn sure it wasn't going to happen to them.
As soon as she has a son, he'll have no more use for us.
He's hurt so many people.
He'll hurt us, too.
It's just a matter of time.
[Agrippina] Something must be done.
Like what? Some people can only be dealt with one way.
I can get him alone.
[ominous music playing] [narrator] Together, Agrippina, Livilla, and Lepidus devise a plan to murder Caligula.
It will become known as The Plot of the Three Daggers.
The Plot of the Three Daggers was palace intrigue at its most extreme.
They were conspiring to take over the throne.
And in one sense, this is not too unsurprising.
All three of them, as awful as it sounds, for the fact that they had a conspiracy to execute him, had very good reason, in some ways, for doing so.
They knew that when Caligula died, if one of them was not the one to be in power, then they would almost certainly be edged out and possibly executed.
So to them it might have seemed as almost a preemptive strike for their own preservation.
[indistinct whispering] I don't know if I can do this.
Too late for that now.
[intense music playing] [theme music playing]