She was a beloved eldest daughter in a golden political family, destined for greatness. As is expected, she gives birth to the future emperor—but hungers for more power than women are allowed. So she poisons her husbands and exiles her enemies. Her list of lovers grows long as she seduces and controls the men around her. In the end, her own child has her assassinated. The chronicles say that through sex, murder, and manipulation Agrippina became Empress of Rome and used men as prosthetics to rule one of the largest empires in history. Exhausted by the misogyny of today, a poet reaches into the past to try to understand how we got here. She learns of the many written versions of Agrippina’s life—and that all are made to paint her a villain. Desperate to learn more about the ancient noblewoman as a child, a politician, a mother, Arterian pursues Agrippina through ancient texts, contemporary films, and Roman ruins in an attempt to find the hidden details of Agrippina’s life—a life defined by extremes of power and violence.
This manuscript was a finalist for the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, and received an Honorable Mention from Claudia Rankine for the AWP Donald Hall Prize. Agrippina the Younger is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press/Curbstone in 2025.