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Pythagoras, a freedman of the Roman emperor Nero, was married in a public ceremony in which the emperor took the role of bride.[1][2][3][4]

Known forMarriage to Nero
TitleWine steward



Little is known about Pythagoras' background except that he was a freedman who accompanied Nero and was called "one of that filthy herd" (uni ex illo contaminatorum grege).

Marriage to NeroEdit

In the year 64, during the Saturnalia, Tigellinus offered a series of banquets to Nero, after a few days of which Nero performed a marriage to Pythagoras:[5]

...he stooped to marry himself to one of that filthy herd, by name Pythagoras, with all the forms of regular wedlock. The bridal veil was put over the emperor; people saw the witnesses of the ceremony, the wedding dower, the couch and the nuptial torches; everything in a word was plainly visible, which, even when a woman weds darkness hides.


Suetonius tells the story of Nero's being the bride to a freedman named "Doryphorus". Both Tacitus and Dio Cassius mention only "Pythagoras". According to Champlin, it is improbable that a second such scandalous wedding occurred without being noted, and the simplest solution is that Suetonius mistook the name.[6] Doryphorus, one of the wealthiest and most powerful of Nero's freedmen, died in the year 62 before the banquets of Tigellinus,[6] where Nero, covered with skins of wild animals, was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women bound to stakes, after which he was dispatched by his freedman "Doryphorus".[7] As "doryphoros" means "spear bearer"[8] (Δορυφόρος) like the statue, it may be that the latinized word had just capitalized the Greek word.[9]


  • Suetonius. Nero. 29
  • Champlin, Edward (2005). Nero. Harvard University Press. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-674-01822-8.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ancient History Sourcebook: Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum--Nero, c. 110 C.E.
  2. ^ Cassius Dio Roman History: LXII, 28 - LXIII, 12-13
  3. ^ Frier, Bruce W. (2004). "Roman Same-Sex Weddings from the Legal Perspective". Classical Studies Newsletter, Volume X. University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  4. ^ Champlin, 2005, p.146
  5. ^ Tacitus, Annals, XV, 38
  6. ^ a b Champlin, 2005, p.161
  7. ^ Champlin, 2005, p.169
  8. ^ Champlin, 2005, p.166
  9. ^ Champlin, 2005, p.313