"My grandmother Livia was one of the worst of the Claudians"
Bust of the Empress Livia, The Louvre
Public DomainBust of the Empress Livia, The Louvre - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Livia Drusilla (58 BC - 29 AD) was the third wife of Augustus, and Empress from 27 BC to 14 AD.

Whilst Tacitus, in The Annals, portrays her as manipulative, particularly in her relationship with her son, Tiberius, Graves goes much further in rendering his fictional Livia a serial murderer. This fictional character deserves a place alongside Lady Macbeth as one of literature's great female villains, but she is precisely that – a fictional character. Matthew Dennison, in his recent biography (Empress of Rome, The Life of Livia, Quercus 2011), has done much to put the historical figure back on her feet.