Poppaea, Sabina°

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POPPAEA, SABINA °, second wife of Nero (62–65 c.e.). Josephus describes her as being sympathetic toward Judaism, even terming her a "god-fearing" woman (Ant., 20, 189–96). She twice interceded successfully on behalf of the Jews. When Josephus went to Rome in 64 c.e. to plead for the priests imprisoned by Felix, he was introduced to Poppaea by the Jewish actor *Aliturus. With her assistance the priests were freed and she bestowed many gifts on Josephus himself (Life, 16). On the second occasion she interceded on behalf of a delegation headed by the high priest *Ishmael b. Phabi, sent by the priests to Rome to appeal against a decision of the procurator *Festus, who had, at the request of *Agrippa ii, ordered the demolition of a wall erected by the priests to prevent the king from viewing the proceedings in the Temple. Poppaea influenced Nero to uphold the appeal and the wall was allowed to stand. Tacitus, who makes no mention of her attitude toward the Jews, pictures Poppaea as a corrupt and cruel woman.


Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19013 and 4), 579, 585, 591; 3 (19094), 64; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (19512), 26, 39, 167.

[Lea Roth]