I, Claudius
written by Jack Pulman, from the novels by Robert Graves

(Returning victorious to Rome after a drawn-out "war" with the god Neptune, unpredictable, murderously insane emperor Caligula (John Hurt) is, to say the least, disappointed by the lack of fanfare. The senator calls him "Jove" because Caligula emerged from a severe illness believing he has been "transformed" into the god Zeus/Jove.)
Caligula: (starts quietly, with increasing rage) Your emperor is amongst you once again. All his wars successfully concluded, and the victorious armies brought back to Rome. He had thought, in his divine innocence, that the roads might be lined with cheering crowds; he had thought that the streets might be strewn with flowers; he had thought that there'd be messages to greet him telling him of triumphs to be awarded. And what did he find, this conqueror of the Germans, this victor of the mighty Neptune? The streets empty of crowds and flowers, no triumphs rewarded, no games, no celebrations--but three miserable, old, ex-counsels waiting at the gates to meet him, and a room full of cowardly, stay-at-home senators who have spent all their time in the theatre and in the baths, while he has spent six months, living no better than a private soldier!? Yes! Your emperor has returned! BUT WITH THIS IN HIS HAND! (produces a frighteningly large battle sword from his robes)
(The terrified senators remain silent for a few beats, until one steps forward)
Senator: (cautiously) But Jove, you ordered no triumphs!
Caligula: (amazed at the senator's stupidity) Well, of course I ordered no triumphs, do you think I'd ordered triumphs for myself?!
Senator: But you ordered us not to order any!
Caligula: Yessssss, and you took me at my word, didn't you? Typical! It didnít occur to you that I might be leaving it up to you for your love to show itself freely; didn't occur to you that it might be my natural humility speaking! "I ordered you not to celebrate". But you ordered celebrations for the anniversary of Actiom, didn't you? Didn't forget to celebrate the defeat of my great-grandfather, Marc Antony! How many bottles of wine did you open, toasting his murder while I was doing battle with the sea? (to his soldiers) Show them our booty! Show them the plunder we gathered from old Neptune!
(Four soldiers quickly empty two trunks of their contents; everyone watches in silent horror as thousands of dry seashells spill out onto the floor.)
Senator: Seashells?!
Caligula: (chuckling to himself with delight) Yes! Spoils of the sea; loot from old Neptune! Hee-hee! He'll not take me on again in a hurry...
(The senators gather in a hasty huddle for several beats.) Senator: Jove--while you were away, we built a new temple to you on Palatine Hill...
Caligula: That won't save you! Down on you knees, all of you! (the senators quickly do so) Bend your heads--I shall sever each one at the neck! (Caligula moves towards them with his sword raised, but is stopped by Caligula's wife Caesonia (Freda Dowie) and his uncle Claudius (Derek Jacobi).)
Claudius (Derek Jacobi): Merciful god! Would you spoil the great day of your return with the spilling of blood? When they come to write the history of this memorable day, should they have to mix it with the murder of these fools?
Caesonia: (with extreme caution) Claudius is right, my lord--my husband. Think of your little daughter--one day when she is older she will read the account of your return. Must these fools intrude on such a glorious day in history?
(Caligula cradles her in his arms)
Caligula: (very quietly) Your soft words have appeased my wrath. As we know, prayer has softened the hearts of gods. (to the senators) You may go. I shall inspect the temple in the morning. (The relieved senators run out of the room.)

Kudos and much thanks go to Shawn for this monologue, it is very much appreciated.

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