Pythagoras (freedman)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Roman freedman. For other uses, see Pythagoras (disambiguation). For the sculpture, see Doryphorus.
Nationality Roman
Occupation Freedmen
Known for Marriage to Nero
Title Wine steward

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


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 Nero[edit]

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 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]


See also[edit]


  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. 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