(Marcus Salvius Otho)


Otho was a Roman noble and a companion of Nero with a reputation for riotous living. In 58 A.D, his very ambitious wife Poppaea became the mistress of Nero, and Otho was sent to Lusitania in western Spain. He governed there for ten years and then joined Galba's rebellion against Nero. He accompanied Galba to Rome, and expected to be named his successor. When the aging Galba instead named Piso, Otho formed a conspiracy to depose and murder Galba. He declared himself emperor, but reigned only two months when he heard that the legions of Germany had declared for Vitellius and were on their way over the Alps. Most of Otho's troops were in distant provinces and were not immediately available to repel the invasion. After stalling for time, he met Valens and Caecina, the lieutenants of Vitellius in northern Italy, and was defeated. Although the defeat was not a decisive one, and Otho had more troops on the way, he chose to end his own life in order to save his country from another civil war. It was far and above the most noble act of his life.

Key events during the life of Otho:

  Companion of Nero, known for riotious living, married to Poppaea.
Forced to divorce Poppaea; sent to Lusitania.
  Governed province of Lusitania in western Hispania for ten years.
Joined in Galba's revolt against Nero, and expected to inherit throne.
(Jan) Plotted to murder Galba, when he selected another successor.
(Apr) Defeated by legion of Vitellius in northern Italy. Committed suicide.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Battle of Bedriacum and the Death of Otho  in  Pictures from Roman Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Two Short Reigns  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Otho  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman

Image Links

 in Pictures from Roman Life and Story

Short Biography
Nero Fifth emperor. Murdered mother, wife, and brother. Fiddled while Rome burned.
Galba Declared emperor after Nero was deposed. Served less than a year.
Vitellius Emperor for nine months in 69 A.D. Known as an incompetent glutton.
Poppaea Wicked mistress of Nero. Urged him to kill his mother and first wife.
Valens and Caecina Commanders of legion of the lower Rhine. Supporters and advisors of Vitellius.