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Monday, November 20 2017
The Roman Emperors: Otho
"He is said to have been of moderate height, splay-footed and bandy-legged, but almost feminine in his care of his person"
Otho was the seventh Roman emperor after Julius Caesar. He reigned for only 3 months, in 69 A.D., before he committed suicide after losing the Battle of Bedriacum (with a loss of 40,000 of Otho's troops) to Vitellius, who succeeded Otho as Emperor. That year, 69 AD on the Roman calendar, became known as the "Year of the Four Emperors": Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian (as we will get to in this series, Vespasian destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, exactly as prophesied by Jesus Christ nearly 40 years earlier).
Otho began his association with the Roman Emperors as an aide to Nero, however when Otho's wife, Poppaea Sabina, became a mistress of Nero, she had Nero banish her husband Otho to what was then one of the most remote frontiers of the Roman Empire - Spain.
Historians of the time describe Poppaea Sabina as extremely beautiful, in physical appearance, but "ambitious and ruthless" in her desire to become the Empress of Rome.
The irony is that she sought to achieve her goal with psychotic Nero - who beat her to death, while pregnant with Nero's child, in a fit of rage (after she reportedly complained to him that he was spending too much time at the chariot races). Her actual husband, Otho, later became Emperor after Nero's own death.
Tragically, as it turned out, if she had remained where she already was, she would have become Empress, while her leaving Otho only got her, and her unborn child, murdered by Nero. But nevertheless, either way, she would have been Empress for only a brief time, whether because of her being killed by Nero, or by Otho killing himself.
Otho's own vanity was subject to widespread speculation in his time. Juvenal, in a volume of his Satire, describes Otho's vanity, how he would admire himself in a mirror, including just before going into battle. Juvenal also wrote that Otho also wore "makeup," including "covering his face" with powder in order to look good.
The Roman historian Suetonius, in his The Lives of the Caesars, also recorded Otho's "vanity."
"He is said to have been of moderate height, splay-footed and bandy-legged, but almost feminine in his care of his person. He had the hair of his body plucked out, and because of the thinness of his locks wore a wig so carefully fashioned and fitted to his head, that no one suspected it. Moreover, they say that he used to shave every day and smear his face with moist bread, beginning the practice with the appearance of the first down, so as never to have a beard."
As is common however, whether in ancient times or the present, people will see whatever they want to see in the behavior of others in order to protect their own vanity. Otho, rather than going down in history as a bungling leader who committed suicide after a disastrous military defeat, became a "hero" who "sacrificed himself for the glory of the nation."
The "vain" Roman poet Martial wrote and published just such a fantasy memorial about Otho in one of his Epigrams.
"Although the goddess of civil warfare was still in doubt,
Fact Finder: Why is vanity so self-destructive?
This Day In History, November 20
1272: Edward I became King of England.
1541: John Calvin, 32, established a religious government at Geneva, creating a center for growing Protestantism in Europe.
1759: In the Battle of Quiberon Bay during the Seven Years War, the British fleet with 23 warships under Admiral Hawke destroyed the French invasion fleet of 21 warships under Admiral Conflans.
1780: Britain declared war on the Netherlands after the Dutch had supplied French and Spanish arms to U.S. rebels (the Dutch were the colonial rulers of the colonies before Britain took them and renamed them "New England," while France and Spain both had colonies throughout North America, that they tolerated no independence for, while they at the same time supported the revolt of the English colonies against Britain).
1820: An 80-ton whale reportedly "attacked" the Essex - a whale-killer ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts. The peaceful whale (and members of its family) was actually the one being attacked by the whaling ship, thrashing about in great pain after being harpooned. The falsely-reported event was later used as the basis for the 1851 fictional novel Moby Dick (see also The Origin Of Moby Dick).
1873: In Hungary, the rival cities of Buda and Pest were joined to form the national capital - Budapest (see also The Assassination That Triggered Two World Wars).
1910: Francisco Madero issued the Plan de San Luis Potosi that called for revolution against President Porfirio Diaz, thereby starting the Mexican Revolution.
1917: During the First World War (1914-1918), 324 British tanks struck at the German lines in the Battle of Cambrai, France, the first major battle involving tanks. By the end of the battle, no gains had been made and the British lost 43,000 men.
1922: In Switzerland, the Lausanne Conference began to resolve differences between the allied powers after the First World War.
1923: During the inflation crisis in Germany, the Rentenmark replaced the Papiermark as the official currency. It had an initial exchange rate of one Rentenmark to one trillion Papiermarks.
1945: The war crime trials of 24 Nazi leaders began at Nuremberg, Germany. On the same day, the Allied Control Commission approved the transfer of 6,000,000 ethnic-Germans from Austria, Hungary and Poland back to West Germany.
1947: Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) married Philip Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh, in Westminster Abbey.
1967: Lester Pearson, a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1957) and Prime Minister of Canada (1963-1968) was presented with the Medallion of Valour of the State of Israel for his efforts on behalf of Israel at the United Nations.
1980: Jiang Qing, widow of Mao Zedong, went on trial in China on charges of treason.
1985: Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released.
1992: A fire that burned for 15 hours before being brought under control severely damaged part of Windsor Castle in London.
1992: 20 paintings by Adolf Hitler (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) went unsold at an auction after they failed to receive a single bid.
1998: A Taliban court in Afghanistan declared terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to be "a man without a sin."
1998: The first module of the International Space Station was launched on a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.