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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 967 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SOPHONIUS TIGELLINUS, minister and favourite of the emperor Nero, was a native of Agrigentum, of humble origin and possibly of Greek descent. During the reign of Caligula he was banished (A.D. 39) for adultery with the emperor's sisters, but recalled by Claudius (41). Having inherited a fortune, he bought land in Apulia and Calabria and devoted himself to breeding race-horses. In this manner he gained the favour of Nero, whom he aided and abetted in his vices and cruelties. In 62 he was promoted to the prefecture of the praetorian guards. In 64 he made himself notorious for the orgies arranged by him in the Basin of Agrippa, and was suspected of incendiarism in connexion with the great fire, which, after having subsided, broke out afresh in his Aemilian gardens. In 65, during the investigation into the abortive conspiracy of Piso, he and Poppaea formed a kind of imperial privy council. In 67 he accompanied Nero on his tour in Greece. When the emperor's downfall appeared imminent, Tigellinus deserted him, and with Nymphidius Sabinus brought about the defection of the praetorians. Under Galba he was obliged to give up his command, but managed to save his life by lavishing presents upon Vinius, the favourite of Galba, and his daughter. Otho on his accession (69) deter-mined to remove one so universally detested by the people. While in the baths at Sinuessa, Tigellinus received the news that he must die, and, having vainly endeavoured to gain a respite, cut his throat. See Tacitus, Annals, xiv., xv., xvi.; Hist. i. 72; Dio Cassius lix. 23, lxii. 13, 15, 27, lxiii. 12, 21, lxiv. 3; Suetonius, Galba, 15; Plutarch, Galba, Otho; ancient authorities quoted by Mayor on Juvenal, i. 155; B. W. Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero (1903).

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