Calvia Crispinilla

Calvia Crispinilla (fl. c. 70) was a Roman Imperial courtier.

Calvia Crispinilla
DiedAfter 70
NationalityRoman Empire
Title"Mistress of the Imperial wardrobe"
Spouse(s)Sextus Traulus Montanus


Calvia Crispinilla was possibly of African origins.[1] She was a favourite of the emperor Nero, serving as "mistress of the Imperial wardrobe" at the palace. A noblewoman of unknown lineage, she was considered to have great power and influence,[2] having accompanied Nero and his third wife Statilia Messalina to Greece in 66.[1] She was seen as greedy and rapacious by her contemporaries. Tacitus called Calvia Crispinilla a "tutor in vice" (magistrate libidinum) of Nero.[1][3] When Nero married the young castrated boy Sporus[2] in 67, he made her the "mistress of wardrobe" of Sporus (epitropeia ten peri estheta).[3]

By 68–69, after changing her political associations, Crispinilla was said to be the instigator of the unsuccessful revolt of Lucius Clodius Macer in Africa. She was subsequently credited with being behind the defection of Galba from Nero.[1][2]

After Nero's death, Calvia Crispinilla was married to Sextus Traulus Montanus, a wealthy senator. During Otho's brief period as emperor there was a public outcry for her execution but Otho seems to have protected her, and she survived unscathed.[1]

... and the successive regimes of Galba, Otho and Vitellius brought her no harm. In after days she enjoyed great influence as a wealthy woman who had no heirs - for, whether times are good or bad, such qualities retain their power.

— Tacitus

Calvia Crispinilla was also active within commerce, and enjoyed success with her investments in the lucrative wine trade.[4]

Historical evidenceEdit

Several olive oil amphorae have been recovered from Poetovio in the Adriatic region, bearing stamps with her name or Calvia and Traulus Montanus together. Two of her slaves, Camulus and Quietus, are attested by a surviving inscription near Tarentum.[1]


  • Tacitus, Annals, xvi. Appendix viii
  • Dio Cassius, Roman History 62.12.3–4
  • Champlin, Edward (2005). Nero. Harvard University Press. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-674-01822-8.
  • Charles Picard, Gilbert (1965). Augustus and Nero: The Secret of the Empire. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. p. 162. WB010589.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Calvia Crispinilla". Women of History. A Bit of History. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved May 17, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c Lightman, Marjorie; Lightman, Benjamin (2000). A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women. Infobase Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8160-6710-7.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b Champlin, 2005, p.146
  4. ^ PURCELL N. (1985), Wine and Wealth in Ancient Italy, Journal of Roman Studies 75, 1-19