Melissa also known as Messalina was the third wife of Emperor Claudius of Rome. He married her when she was 16 years old. She lived from 22 AD to 48 AD. No Roman woman of her time was as famous as she was. What did Melissa do to make herself famous?
What she did was, in 43 AD, while her husband, Emperor Claudius, was off on a military campaign to Britain, Melissa made a bet. She bet all the prostitutes in Rome that she could take on more men than any of them.
After having sexual intercourse with 18 men, Sylla gave up. She could not handle any more men.
However, Melissa was not content merely to accept victory. She continued into the night until she had had sexual intercourse with a total of 25 men. Only then did she stop.
When Claudius returned from his military campaign, all of Rome had been scandalized by the actions of the Empress. However, they were reluctant to say anything to the emperor about this. Claudius was told what his wife had done, but he did not seem concerned about it.
Later, Claudius went off on another military campaign. This time, Melissa held a mock marriage ceremony in which she married her lover. Once again, Rome was scandalized.
When Claudius returned, his generals and top advisors were concerned that even after this, Claudius would not take any action against the Empress, whom he loved very much. They felt that to ignore this marriage would destabilize the security of the Roman Empire. Therefore, they prepared an order for the execution of Melissa and put it in a pile of other papers for the Emperor to sign.
Claudius signed the papers and went to sleep. After he fell asleep, his top officers went to Melissa and chopped her head off.
The next morning, when Emperor Claudius called for his wife again and again, it was finally explained to him that his wife was dead. Her head had been chopped off, pursuant to the order he had signed the night before.
This incident is described in many history books from that era. It is also in the BBC television series, I Claudius, although the TV series was somewhat delicate in describing exactly what Melissa had done to have her head chopped off.
Here are links. Please note that authors and historians tend to be delicate in their choice of words in describing exactly what Melissa had done. Rather that say that she allegedly had sexual intercourse with 25 men in a public forum, they use other words:
It has also been suggested that Melissa was a strong and capable women who tried to take political power in Rome and that these were simply slanders spread by her enemies.
Melissa's feat has been remembered by history and she has become even more famous with the passage of time. Melissa recently even had a virus named after her, 1951 years after her death.