Death of Otho. A.R. 819

WAG 7739


This is one a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. One of the inscriptions on the margin, November No. 10, seems to refer to the month in a calendar for which Burney created this frontispiece drawing. He executed many headpieces of this kind for pocket calendars and memorandum books between 1796 to 1829. [See correspondence between Patricia Crown and Edward Morris, in the docket file] Otho (32 CE - 69 CE) was a Roman emperor who succeeded Galba (who he had assassinated). Otho reigned for just three months. He was the second emperor of the Year of the Four Emperors between 68 CE and 69 CE. During his short reign, Otho tried to placate the Praetorian Guard and Nero's army who were disgruntled by the lack of financial reward due to them from Otho's predecessor, Galba. The regions in Germania had already designated Vitellius as their emperor after Galba's assassination, and being aware of the split and confusion within the Othonian camp, Vitellius declared a war on Otho's reign - the Battle of Bedriacum. Awaiting the verdict of the battle which was hastened by his own impatience, Otho delivered a farewell speech to his troops before retiring to rest: "It is far more just to perish one for all, than many for one." His attendant found Otho dying when he entered his tent.