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Otho

(32—69 ad) Roman emperor January–April 69


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(ad 32–69),

whose father received patrician rank from Claudius, was husband of Poppaea Sabina and friend of Nero. As Nero fell in love with his wife (afterwards divorced), he was sent to Lusitania as governor in 58 and remained there until Nero's death (68). He supported Galba and hoped to be his heir. Disappointed, he organized a conspiracy among the praetorians and was proclaimed emperor (Jan. 69). He posed as the legitimate successor of Nero. Egypt, Africa, and the legions of the Danube and the Euphrates declared for him. But the legions of the Rhine had already chosen Vitellius. By early March their advanced guard had crossed the Alps, and an Othonian expedition to southern Gaul achieved little. His generals held the line of the Po, but his armies from the Danube arrived only gradually. Though defeated in a minor engagement, the Vitellians were soon heavily reinforced: yet Otho insisted on a decisive battle before he could oppose equal strength. His troops advanced from Bedriacum, and were irretrievably defeated. He killed himself on 16 April. Otho's profligacy seems not to have impaired his energy or his interest in government. But he was a slave to the praetorians who had elevated him.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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