Unmanning an emperor: Otho and Galba in the literary tradition

Michael B Charles, Evangelina Anagnostou-Laoutides

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Otho was made out to be another Nero in the literary tradition, to the extent that his actions were assimilated with those of the last Julio-Claudian. This includes a predilection for sexual passivity, with Apollonius of Tyana even describing him, in a highly rhetorical passage, as having been Galba s boy lover. Despite numerous ancient references to Otho s ostensible effeminacy, including his supposedly overzealous care of his person, accusations of sexual excess appear to be rooted in the general view of the rhetorical tyrant typified by Nero. Otho s real-life sexual preferences are clearly unrecoverable, so this inquiry focuses instead on the way in which his sexuality was depicted by those attempting to shape his reputation as a man unworthy of imperial office. In this study, we examine contemporary social and philosophical tenets underpinning ancient criticism of his alleged behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-222
Number of pages24
JournalClassical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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