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Sherstnyev E. E. Marcus Salvius Otho: the young years of the future Princeps. Ancient World and Archaeology, 2021, vol. 20, iss. 20, pp. 162-186. DOI:, EDN: ECOQPO

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94(37)|00|+929 Марк Сальвий Отон

Marcus Salvius Otho: the young years of the future Princeps

Sherstnyev Evgeniy Evgen’evich, independent researcher

The article examines information from sources about the biography of M. Salvius Otho before he entered the struggle for power. His origin and family ties are traced, it is shown that his family, which was not distinguished by nobility, rose thanks to the patronage of Livia, Tiberius, and then Claudius. Otho himself, in his youth, was a participant in Nero’s entertainment, which later gave rise to stories about his dissolute behavior. The article substantiates the conclu­sion that Otho, despite his penchant for a hedonistic lifestyle, was not as dep­ra­ved as sources describe him. However, his friendship with the Princeps gave him considerable influence, which he used to his advantage. Otho’s court life ended after Nero forced him to divorce his wife, Poppea Sabina, and married her himself. The article examines the existing interpretations of this incident and concludes that Otho himself did not seek to bring his wife to the emperor; when it happened, his reaction was negative, but both he and the emperor preferred not to bring the matter to an open scandal. As a result, Otho turned out to be the governor of the province of Lusitania, where he spent ten years and showed another side of his character – the talent of an administrator and the ability to get along with local elites. It was there that Otho began to turn into a serious politician who was destined to gain imperial power, albeit for a very short time.


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