Sporus: The bride of Emperor Nero

Transsexualism, in the form of HSTS or, as the DSM-V has it, ‘Early Onset Gender Dysphoria’ has been around for a very long time. However, it was not until recently that we have begun to know something of the lives of HSTS. In antiquity, many were known of but few had their lives documented or recorded. Indeed the only one we are aware of was a slave called Sporus, who became the wife of the Roman Emperor Nero.

Sporus was what was known as a ‘puer delicatus’ or ‘pretty boy’. In Rome, these were almost always slaves, because the sexual role they played, of recipient in anal sex, was considered taboo for a Free man. It was normal for these boys to be castrated in order to preserve their feminine appearance longer. This was probably what is now called an ‘orchiectomy’ or ‘orchidectomy’, which involves the removal of the testes but not the penis.

Sporus had caught the attention of Nero because he closely resembled the Emperor’s wife. After Nero killed the poor woman in a fit of temper, he selected Sporus as her replacement. She was duly castrated and formally married. Nero paraded her around the city as Rome’s First Lady.

Unfortunately for Sporus, Nero was deposed and killed and his successor took her as his wife, as a part of his spoils. Calamity followed calamity when this husband was also killed and the new Emperor again took Sporus to wife; but this one had no intention of feting her. Rather, in order to humiliate her and thereby to humiliate the memory of his late predecessors, her former husbands, he planned for her to be gang-raped and then torn apart in the Circus as a treat for the people.

Sporus killed herself. Hers was a sad life, but one that should be remembered.

Although there are records of transgender individuals appearing in the pages of history between Sporus’ time and ours, these are rare and most appear to relate to autogynephilic transvestites rather than HSTS. One such, for example, the Chevalier d’Eon, lived ‘half his life as a man and half as a woman’. Clearly he was a classic Western AGP.

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