Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the fifth emperor of Rome who ruled the country from 37 AD up until 68 AD. He was quite popular among his Praetorian guards and lower-class commoners but was resented by the Roman aristocracy. They described him as a tyrant. His senate eventually overthrew him. But this is the least interesting information of the said emperor. What happened after the death of his wife Poppaea, and who is Sporus?
After the death of Poppaea, Nero was having a hard time moving on. He took in a young boy that looked like his wife. He married him, castrated him, and forced him to wear his late wife’s clothing whenever they were out in public.
The Life of Sporus
There is little information on Sporus’ life before Nero. All that is known is he was the young man Nero took a liking to because of the similarities he had with his late wife, Poppaea. Nero had Sporus castrated to preserve his youthful qualities. It is said that Sporus was classified as a puer delicatus. (Source: Rictor Norton)
What is the Puer Delicatus?
The puer delicatus is the phrase used to describe a dainty child-slave chosen explicitly by a master for his beauty. They are also referred to as delights or sweets. These boys were morally and physically in a vulnerable position. Compared to the freeborn greek, they were abused and even castrated to maintain their youthful looks. (Source: Rictor Norton)
Sporus’ Marriage to Nero
Nero’s wife Poppaea Sabina passed away in 65 AD. It was supposedly due to childbirth, but rumors say that Nero kicked her to death. By 66 AD, Nero married Statilia Messalina. In 67 AD, he met Sporus and married him, as he looked remarkably close to Poppaea.
Nero had Sporus castrated, and in the duration of their marriage, he had him wear his late wive’s regalia that was customary for Roman empresses. He played the role of Nero’s wife.
It was not uncommon to have a polygamous relationship, especially when you were a royal. Nero also married a freedman, Pythagoras, who played the role of Nero’s husband. They were married in a public ceremony, and Nero gladly took the part of the bride.
Sporus was only one of the four companions Nero had during the last years. Sporus influenced Nero to start ritual lamentation before eventually taking his own life. (Source: Rictor Norton)
What Happend to Sporus?
Sporus went under the care of Nymphidus Sabinus, who had persuaded a Praetorian Guard to desert Nero. Nymphidus treated Sporus as his wife and renamed him Poppaea. He tried to make himself an emperor but was betrayed and killed by his own guard.
By 69 AD, Sporus entered a relationship with Otho, one of the four emperors who vied for power after Nero’s death. Otho used to be married to Poppaea before Nero forced their separation. Ortho ruled as emperor for about three months before he committed suicide. After Otho’s death, Sporus was held captive by Vitellius and intended him to be part of a fatal re-enactment of the Rape of Proserpina at a gladiator show. To save himself from public humiliation, Sporus committed suicide. (Source: Rictor Norton)