The life of Locusta of Gaul is both outlandish and interesting. Alive during the first century, she is the first documented serial killer in history. The full count of her death total is said to have been in the thousands. Poisoning was her specialty and she used it for both pleasure and profit.
Poison Master in Rome
Locusta did have some help along the way. In order to poison thousands of people, she required a few pardons. Her first powerful ally when Empress Agrippina who hired her to poison Emperor Claudius. His death cleared the way for Nero – Agrippina’s son – to become the next emperor. With Nero in power, Locusta was pardoned and free to keep adding to her long list of victims. Nero himself even hired her to poison his step brother Britannicus.
Reputation and Referrals
She was widely known as a poisoning expert and quickly obtained many referrals and assignments from the emperor. Poisoning kept her busy, but she also began teaching others her craft. Emperor Nero opened a school dedicated to teaching the art of mixing toxins and herbs. At this school, she shared her knowledge with others. However, her time of notoriety and acceptance was short lived.
Demise and Fall of Locusta
Once the Roman Senate decided to get rid of Nero, he took his own life and left Locusta without a powerful ally. She was sentenced to suffer for her mass murders and died a violent death. The actual details of her death are not completely known however, her final ‘job’ was the preparation a poison kit for Nero to take before his sentencing. Unfortunately he didn’t have the kit with him when he was brought to trial for his crimes. It was only a matter of time until Locusta, too, was brought to trial.
To learn more about folk heroes and folk heroines, click here.