Journal Article


David Woods



rome history nero 54 68 suetonius dio nero emperor of rome 37 68 julio claudians marriage roman history poppaea sabina nero sporus

Nero and Sporus (2009)

Abstract The purpose of this paper is to propose a new understanding of the relationshipbetween Nero and the young freedman Sporus whom he apparently 'married' sometime during his tour of Greece in AD 66-67. Dio claims that Nero treated Sporus as he did because of his resemblance to his wife Poppaea Sabina whom he had accidentallykilled in AD 65.I conclude that the marriage of Nero to Sporus had nothing to do with love, and probably little to do with lust either. It was not some form of prototype 'gay marriage'. It had been intended simply to humiliate a potential rival for thethrone through the use of sexual violence against him. Nero seems to have come to believe that Sporus was of illegitimate imperial descent, and represented a potential threat to his position; and who deserved to be humiliated and prevented from furthering his illegitimate line, if not eventually killed also.
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David Woods

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David Woods
University College Cork
Total Publications: 30