I, Claudius Zeus, by Jove! Ep9

Rome, AD 37–38. After suffering a stroke, Tiberius is smothered to death by Macro with Caligula’s connivance, leaving Caligula and Tiberius’ grandson Gemellus as his joint heirs. Claudius’ life-long friend Herod has returned to Rome in time for Caligula’s ascension. Caligula chooses Claudius to be his co-Consul, over Claudius’ objections. Caligula displays signs of mental instability and falls into a coma; upon awakening he declares that he has become the god Zeus. Claudius humors him, hoping that Caligula will reveal his divinity to the Senate and be deposed, restoring the Republic; instead, the Senate accepts Caligula’s claims of divinity. Caligula becomes increasingly violent: a Senator who told Macro during Caligula’s coma that he would give his life if Caligula lived is forced by Caligula to commit suicide; Caligula also has Gemellus killed, removes Claudius from his position of Counsel, and declares his sister Drusilla his wife and fellow goddess Hera. Disgusted with the depths of depravity that her family and Rome have sunk to, Antonia commits suicide, leaving Claudius distraught. Fearing that his child will become greater than he, Caligula tries to recreate the birth of Athena: as Zeus reportedly did with Metis, Caligula cuts his unborn child from his sister’s belly and eats it.

A shot of Caligula cutting the fetus from Drusilla’s womb was considered too shocking and was therefore re-edited several times, even on the day of its premiere by order of Bill Slater, then head of Serials Department. After initial broadcast and a rerun two days later, the shot of the fetus was removed so that the episode now ends with Claudius looking in shock and horror but the audience is not shown what he sees. The deleted shot was only shown twice in 1976 and is now lost.

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