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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Sabina, Poppaea

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Sabina (1), Poppaea , empress, 2nd wife of Nero. Like certain members of the Flavian family, it is very highly probable, though not absolutely certain, that Poppaea was a Christian. She was almost certainly a Jewish proselyte, as the language of Josephus, Θεοσεβὴς γὰρ ἦν ( Ant. xx. 8, 11) almost implies. The fact that her body was embalmed and not burnt after the Roman custom (Tac. Ann. xvi. 6) has been urged to shew that she had embraced a foreign religion. Certainly at least twice (Jos. l.c. , and Vita , 3) she exerted her influence with Nero in favour of the Jews (see Lightfoot, Philipp. 5 note). It has even been conjectured that it was through her that the Christians and not Jews were selected as the victims to suffer for the burning of Rome. A romantic theory was put forward by M. Latour St. Ybars of a rivalry between the Jewish Poppaea and Acte the former mistress of Nero, who, on the strength of a passage in St. Chrysostom ( Hom. in Acta xlvi. in Migne, Patr. Gk. lx. 325), is conjectured to have been a Christian. Schiller, Gesch. d. röm. Kaiserreichs unter Nero , 436 n., and Aubé, Hist. des persec. 421 n. For the general history of Poppaea see Merivale, c. liii.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Sabina, Poppaea'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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