Lucius Salvius Otho

Lucius Salvius Otho was the father of the Roman emperor Otho. He was born of a distinguished and well-connected family on his mother's side. His close friendship with Tiberius, and physical similarity to him, led to rumours that he was Tiberius's son.

Lucius Salvius Otho
Lucius Otho.jpg
Known forfather of Roman emperor Otho
Albia Terentia
Lucius Salvius Otho Titianus
Marcus Salvius Otho


Early lifeEdit

Lucius was the son of a Marcus Salvius Otho, whose father was an Etruscan. Marcus had been raised in empress Livia's home.[1] His mother's identity is unknown, although she is described as having been well connected. The appearance of the name "Titianus" in his family has led to speculation that she may have been from the gens Titia.[2][3] Potentially a daughter of Marcus Titius and his wife Fabia Paullina,[4] but possibly his sister[5] or niece[6] instead. A Titia L. f. is known from inscription to have been the wife of a Salvius. This woman died young in 23 BC. It is not certain if this woman was Otho's mother or possibly grandmother.[7][8] Regardless, Lucius was widely assumed to be emperor Tiberius's illegitimate son, due to the excessive affection Tiberius bestowed on him, as well as a strong physical resemblance.[9] This was a double edged sword for his children as it made them related to the Julio-Claudians, but also connected them to Tiberius, who was unpopular with the people of Rome.[1] Ronald Syme thought Lucius might have been born as late as 6 BC, but possibly earlier,[10] if Titia L. f was his mother then he would have to have been born in 23 BC at the latest. Tiberius would have been around 19 at this time.[11][12]


Lucius was renowned for the severity of his command in the regular offices at Rome, the proconsulate of Africa, and several special military commands. He was made consul suffectus in July 33 AD.[13] In Illyricum, in 42, some soldiers supported a rebellion against Claudius by Illyricum's governor, Lucius Arruntius Camillus Scribonianus. Afterwards, they tried to cover the revolt up by killing their officers, who were the revolt's ringleaders. Claudius promoted them for doing so, but Lucius had them executed in his presence in the principia for killing their officers.

He rebuilt his reputation at court by forcing the slaves of an unnamed knight to betray their master's plot to kill the emperor. As a result, the Senate set up his statue in the palace, and Claudius enrolled him among the patricians, praising him in the highest terms and calling him "a man of greater loyalty than I can even pray for in my own children".

Marriage and issueEdit

Lucius is known to have had two sons and at least one daughter.

Suetonius claims that Lucius wife Albia Terentia was the mother of both of his sons, but the age difference between his older son Titianus and the emperor Otho has prompted some historians such as Ronald Syme and Charles Murison to doubt the plausibility of this and speculate that Titianus and Drusus's fiancée may have been the children of an earlier wife.[19]


  1. ^ But it has been noted that no sister is mentioned in the message Vitellius sent to Titianus threatening his family.[17]


  1. ^ a b Bittarello, Maria Beatrice (October 2009). "The Construction of Etruscan 'Otherness' in Latin Literature". Greece & Rome. Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association. 55 (2): 211–233. doi:10.1017/S0017383509990052. JSTOR 40389197.
  2. ^ Raepsaet-Charlier, Marie-Thérèse (1987). Prosopographie des femmes de l'ordre sénatorial: Ier-IIe siècles. Académie Royale de Belgique. Classe des Lettres. Fonds René Draguet. Vol. 1. Isd. p. 599. ISBN 9789068310863.
  3. ^ Heil, Matthäus; Wachtel, Klaus, eds. (2006). Prosopographia Imperii Romani Saec I, II, III. De Gruyter. pp. 51–53. ISBN 9783110193169.
  4. ^ Antiquitas: Abhandlungen zur alten Geschichte. Vol. 31. R. Habelt Verlag. 1982. p. 443.
  5. ^ Craven, Maxwell (2019). The Imperial Families of Ancient Rome. Stroud, England: Fonthill Media. ISBN 9781781557389.
  6. ^ Gens Titia stemma, Strachan
  7. ^ Adriana, Emiliozzi (1983). "Sull'epitaffio del 67 a. C. nel sepolcro dei Salvii a Ferento". Mélanges de l'école française de Rome (in Italian): 701–717 – via
  8. ^ Ottavianelli, Giovanna (2019). "Sulle tracce di un imperatore di origini ferentiensi: Marcus Salvius Otho" (PDF). (in Italian). pp. 25–29. Retrieved 2021-11-15.
  9. ^ Suetonius (1855). The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Bohn's Classical Library. Vol. 77. Translated by Thomson, Alexander; Forester, Thomas. University of California: H.G. Bohn. p. 416.
  10. ^ Syme, Ronald (1989). The Augustan Aristocracy (illustrated and revised ed.). Clarendon Press. p. 169. ISBN 9780198147312.
  11. ^ Goldsworthy, Adrian (2014). Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor. Hachette UK. ISBN 9780297864264.
  12. ^ Highet, Gilbert (2015). The Speeches in Vergil's Aeneid. Princeton University Press. p. 95. ISBN 9781400869466.
  13. ^ a b c Bowman, Alan K.; Champlin, Edward; Lintott, Andrew (1996). The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780521264303.
  14. ^ Murison, Charles L. (1993). Galba, Otho and Vitellius: Careers and Controversies. Georg Olms Verlag. p. 141. ISBN 9783487097565.
  15. ^ Ancient Society. Vol. 3–5. Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven. 172. p. 185.
  16. ^ Ash, Rhiannon, ed. (2007). Corneli Taciti Historiarum, Band 2. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge University Press. p. 223. ISBN 9780521814461.
  17. ^ Murison, Charles L. (1993). Galba, Otho and Vitellius: Careers and Controversies. Georg Olms Verlag. p. 141. ISBN 9783487097565. Diese Warnung ist gagen Otho und die gesamte domus der Salvier gerichtet, so dass man sich wundert, warum nicht auch die Schwester mit einhezogen wird.
  18. ^ Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt; Johnson, Curt; Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper encyclopedia of military biography. HarperCollins. p. 563.
  19. ^ Murison, Charles L. (1993). Galba, Otho and Vitellius: Careers and Controversies. Georg Olms Verlag. p. 142. ISBN 9783487097565.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Roman consul
July–December 33
with Gaius Octavius Laenas
Succeeded by