The suicides of Otho and Nero in Suetonius

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Publication details

Charles, MB & Anagnostou-Laoutides, E 2012, 'The suicides of Otho and Nero in Suetonius', Akroterion, vol. 57, pp. 99-114.

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Both Otho and Nero are usually regarded as 'bad' emperors in the historical record, and their conduct is often assimilated. Yet Suetonius' treatment of their suicides, while cleverly approximating the two events, nevertheless shows clear differences. While Nero appears weak and without resolve, Otho bravely shrugs off his supposed effeminacy and dies a true Roman emperor, more so since his death was intended to preserve the lives of his fellow citizens. Suetonius deliberately composed Otho's exitus scene in such a way as to leave the reader with a positive impression of the emperor, simultaneously to the detriment of Nero.