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Sporus was a young man who may have been a puer delicatus, whom the Roman Emperor Nero allegedly favored, had castrated, and married.[1][2][3][4] The Roman historian Cassius Dio identifies Sporus as a freedman, a formerly enslaved person who had been released from slavery.[2][3]

After Nero's death, Sporus was taken to the care of Nymphidius Sabinus, who was a Praetorian prefect. Nymphidius treated Sporus as a wife and called him "Poppaea". Nymphidius tried to make himself emperor but was killed by his own guardsmen.[5][6]

Afterwards, Sporus became involved with Otho, the second of a rapid and violent succession of four emperors who vied for power during the chaos that followed Nero's death. (Otho had once been married to Poppaea, until Nero had forced their divorce.)

Following the death of Otho, His successor Vitellius intended to use Sporus as a victim in a public entertainment; a fatal "re-enactment" of the Rape of Proserpina at a gladiator show. Sporus avoided this public humiliation by committing suicide.[4][5]


  1. Ancient History Sourcebook: Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum—Nero, c. 110 C.E.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cassius Dio Roman History: LXII, 28 – LXIII, 12–13
  3. 3.0 3.1 Champlin, 2005, p.145
  4. 4.0 4.1 Smith, 1849, p.897
  5. 5.0 5.1 Champlin, 2005, p.146
  6. Champlin, 2005, p.108-109

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