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A remarkable freedwoman who conspired against Nero in 65 CE

Dr Siobhan Chomse on Epicharis: fighting for freedom and defying expectations

  • Date30 September 2021

Epicharis was a key participant in the doomed Pisonian Conspiracy of 65 CE that sought to assassinate the Emperor Nero. Dr Siobhan Chomse has written an article that explores what little we know of this remarkable woman, whose integrity defied expectations of gender and class.

Epicharis 17th cent. tapestry – Chomse Classics (credit Chris Helier-Alamy Stock Photo via engelsbergideas.com).jpg

A 17th-century tapestry depicting the arrest of Epicharis. (Credit: Chris Hellier/Alamy Stock Photo via engelsbergideas.com)

The Pisonian Conspiracy ended in failure, but Epicharis has been celebrated as a shining example of honour, determination and resistance amongst the shameful and cowardly betrayals of her elite male comrades. Little is known of Epicharis beyond the vivid portrait included by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Annals, which offered a source of inspiration for authors, playwrights and artists in her rich afterlife. Find out more about Epicharis' fascinating story in Dr Chomse's article, which is available to read here for free on the Engelsberg Ideas website.

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