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Nero And Poppaea

Poppaea was the twice-divorced beauty Nero made his second wife. According to scholars, he loved her dearly and mourned her deeply. In 67 CE, two years after her death, he ordered a freedman who bore an uncanny resemblance to Poppaea to be castrated. He then married the eunuch and called him by his dead wife’s name.

Yes, Nero and Poppaea were an infamous pair. So much so that Judah, Miriam’s jeweler-husband, mentions them when referring to an obnoxious client:

“Then, two months ago, three days before the ides, she flounced into the shop demanding the ring. You’d think Nero and Poppaea had invited her to their wedding. In a voice loud enough to wake the Pharaohs and with a froth gathering at the corners of her mouth, she accused me of delaying the order to extort more money from Kosmos. ‘My fiancé will surely hear about this,’ she barked, ‘and I’ll see to it that he reports you to the tax collector.’ Finally, she called me a name I thought only sailors knew and stalked out in high dudgeon.”

Miriam is sure that’s the woman about to be murdered in “The Mistress.” When her best friend Phoebe asks how she knows, Miriam answers: “Other than his wife, what other woman would a man want to kill? His mistress, of course.”

Historians portray Poppaea as a ruthless schemer who pressured Nero to divorce and later execute his first wife. Judah’s client wasn’t any better. But whether she was the one targeted for murder or not, you’ll be safe as you read “The Mistress”, a short story in my newest book, The Deadliest Deceptions. To find out more, click here.


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