The Eunuch Who Was Loved By The Most Depraved Emperor Of All Time
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The Eunuch Who Was Loved By The Most Depraved Emperor Of All Time

What's on The Eunuch Who Was Loved By The Most Depraved Emperor Of All Time

After Emperor Nero beat his wife to death, he fell for Sporus, a boy-slave who had an uncanny resemblance to her, and made him his spouse.

I’ve always thought that people are always remembered for one action they did in their life. Think about historical characters, and you’ll see that they’re basically attached to one of their deeds or traits, either good or bad. Now, let’s focus on the historical period our character lived in: Ancient Rome. Most of the Emperors passed to history mainly for something they did during their government, and in most cases they didn’t become the intriguing figures they were for being particularly benevolent. On the contrary, most of the famous Roman Emperors had a particular way of seeing life that makes us grateful for not having lived during that period. Perhaps the one that’s known as the most ruthless and cruel emperor of all is Nero, blamed for starting the great fire of Rome in 64 AD. Later, he blamed the Christians for starting the fire, and so he caused the first massive persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire.

The life of Nero is filled with terrible violent episodes, like murdering his mother just five years after he became emperor. Now, this could be seen just as a consequence of her asphyxiating attempts to control him, but still, it’s just the beginning of a long list of victims of his power and cruel manners. He basically did whatever he felt like doing, and anyone meddling with his plans was in danger of suffering the worst fate. That’s the case of Sporus, a young boy who was designated to be a puer delicatus, or basically a child slave. These were chosen to become slaves of important Roman citizens because of their beauty. The story says that when Nero saw him, he fell immediately in love with him due to his uncanny resemblance to his late wife, Poppaea Sabina, who, by the way, was beaten to death by Nero himself when she was pregnant. Some records of the time state that, more than love, this was Nero’s sick way of dealing with his wife's murder.

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He “freed” Sporus, married him, and named him after his former wife. However, in order to do so, he had him castrated, as it was customary with puer delicatus, so that his boyish looks wouldn’t change. Sporus became emperor Nero’s formal wife in the eyes of everyone, and he had to be addressed as “empress.” He would wear all the luxurious attires worthy of the Roman aristocracy and had an entourage of servants at his disposal. Although this might sound quite nice, this was far from being something to envy. Despite the fact he was treated as the legitimate wife of the emperor, the role of these young men was that of absolute servitude, meaning that their owners could do whatever they wanted with them.

Despite his terrible life next to the most depraved emperor in history, he would soon find that this episode would be the happiest he'd experience. He never loved Nero back. In fact, when he died, he gave the body a ring with a motif of the Rape of Proserpina, the goddess who was forced by Pluto, god of the Underworld, to lived with him as his wife. Naturally, Sporus saw himself as the defenseless Proserpina under the claws of his raptor. But as I said, I guess Sporus would later yearn for his master and husband, since, from this moment on, his life became a living hell, even worse than what he had already experienced.

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Following Nero’s death, he was taken by Nymphidius Sabinus, a member of the emperor’s guard, who wanted a taste of the late emperor’s life. He took Sporus as his wife and even made him keep the name he was given by Nero. Nymphidius himself had great aspirations to become the next emperor of Rome, and taking Sporus as his wife was only the first step in his scheme. However, all his plans were shattered, since there was already a candidate to take the job. He insisted and planned on usurping the throne, but his own guards weren’t happy with being used for such a treacherous act and decided to kill him even before he could get out of his house.

Sporus was then taken by Poppaea Sabina’s first husband, Otho, who became emperor of the Roman Empire. Now, there are many theories on why Sporus looked so much like the late empress, and one of them says that her father had had an affair with Sporus's mother. This was never proven. However, it could be said that this resemblance became his curse. Otho took Sporus as his wife as well, but this marriage didn’t last for long, since he committed suicide just after three months of government due to a terrible defeat. It was then when the most terrible episode in Sporus life begun.

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When Otho died, Vitellius, the one who had defeated Otho, took the role of emperor, and so, all the former emperor’s possessions including, of course, Sporus. However, unlike his predecessors, he had no interest in making the young slave his wife nor anything similar. On the contrary, he saw how Sporus had been a sort of treasure for them and decided that the best way to show his power and mightiness to the people was by using this young man to set an example. He wanted to ridicule him in public and all he represented, the past depraved emperors (although he was far from being a benevolent and righteous being). To do so, he planned on making him reenact the episode of Proserpina’s abduction during a gladiator show, and naturally, this performance involved terrible violence and rape. In order to avoid that public humiliation and to end with his miserable life, young Sporus, who –according to the records– was not even 20 years old, killed himself. His life is one of those perfect examples of all the horrors people in power can commit when the laws allow them to do so.

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