Sunday, September 7, 2008


Poppaea Sabina would have been about two years old when Jesus Christ died, though his passing would not have caused even a small ripple in the aristocratic Roman household where she grew up.

Poppaea was a famous beauty. While she was married to her second husband Otho, the Emperor Nero fell in love with her. Nero divorced his first wife Octavia, whom he subsequently murdered. Poppaea divorced Otho in order to marry Nero.

This paperback potboiler tells one version of the romance of Poppaea and Nero.

In 1643 Claudio Monteverdi wrote an opera about the same romance. The Coronation of Poppaea was staged in summer 2008 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, in modern dress. The opera concludes with a love duet between Poppaea and Nero. A happy ending.

But history seldom leaves happy endings unspoiled. Three years after the wedding and coronation (and love duet) Nero got annoyed about something or other and expressed his annoyance by murdering Poppaea.