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Rome’s Ancient Emperor: Nero

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Published: Wed, 03 May 2017

Nero had a rough time growing up, facing the death of his father and being risen by his mother in very poor conditions. Later when Nero was a little older, Agrippina married her uncle, Emperor Claudius. After marring Emperor Claudius, Agrippina convinced him to adopt Nero. When Nero was 17, Agrippina killed Claudius so Nero takes the throne, and from there on Nero was known as Emperor Nero. Under the guidance of his mother, his tutor Seneca, and the Praetorian Prefect Afranius Burrus, people say that the first five years of Nero’s rule was actually considered very successful. Even ordinary citizens of Rome said that first five years of Nero’s rule was the happiest and best of the royal era. A few things Nero did to please the people was reduce direct taxation, decrease many restrictive governmental rules, and ban Capital punishment.

A brawl for power grew between Agrippina and Nero’s advisors where she wanted to remain as a partner with Nero in absolute rule, and they repelled. Nero hated his wife, Octavia, and started having an affair with one of his slaves, Claudia Acte. While all of this was happening, Nero started losing interest in governing, and started having more interested in singing, arts, playing the harp and acting. He also started going to drinking parties with friends, and participated in random violence on the streets of Rome. After a while, Agrippina starting being concerned that through Nero’s wild behavior and the growing strength of Seneca and Burrus that she would lose control/power in the Roman government. She also started to favor Britannicus, Claudius’ son, as a replacement for Nero. This all backfired however, and Britannicus was killed in AD 55, most likely because of Nero.

In AD 59, Nero made the decision to get rid of his irritating mother and asked for the help from the Prefect of the Fleet at Misenum, a former tutor also known as Anicetus. Anicetus came up with a brilliant plan to bring Agrippina to a party at Baiae by ship, which the fleet would provide. This ship that will bring her to the party was constructed to collapse. However, the plan failed and when the ship collapsed Agrippina swam safety to shore and Nero had to find another method to kill her. His new plan this time was to send an assassin to her villa and kill her, and so the assassin did what Nero told him and Agrippina was officially dead.

After the murder of his mother, the rest of Nero’s reign just went downhill. This included, Nero killing his wife, Octavia, because he had too many affairs with local ladies and he “felt bad” for her, also another reason why he killed her was because she doesn’t give birth to kids and Nero really wanted a child. After Nero killed Octavia he married Poppaea Sabina, a noble roman lady, and he finally got the child that he wanted but later on she died.

Another Contributing factor why Nero was such an awful emperor was the famous Great fire of Rome in AD 64. In July of 64 AD, a fire spread near the Capena Gate, a marketplace next to the Circus Maximus, and spread like wildfire across the entire area, and later on it was completely out of control; this great fire destroyed about half of Rome. This fire lasted approximately 9 days, and when it was over everyone blamed Nero for the fire because when Nero returned and started to rebuild the city, he used a huge area between the Palatine and the Equiline hills, which had been entirely destroyed by the fire, to build his “Golden Palace”, also known as Domus Aurea. After building his Golden Palace everyone became suspicious so Nero needing a scapegoat for the fire, and he chose to blame it on the Christians. His cruelty was shown through the persecution of the Christians. There were different forms for the persecution for the Christians; some were torn to death by dogs, others were burned to death at night in order to be used as torches to light up Nero’s gardens and parties, several were crucified.

Nero’s reign began collapsing when the senate turned against him because of they were unimpressed with him and he didn’t keep his promises to the people. In AD 65 a group of these senators joined together and created the Pisonian Conspiracy, whose goal was to kill Nero and replace him with Caius Calpurnius Piso. Sooner or later they were exposed and punished harshly along with the number of executions growing every day. One of these victims was Seneca. One day in AD 68, Nero was coming back from Greece, since he was obsessed with Greece and their culture, and was often traveling there and participating in singing, games, and poetry along with parties and orgies, there were several revolts against him. One of these revolts was directed by Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugaunensis, and this encouraged many people to revolt also. The Roman citizens were all sick and tired of Nero, since he was more fascinated in his own selfish life of desire rather than in ruling one of the most powerful empires in the world.

Nero’s rule was finally over in AD 68 when he committed suicide with the help of his secretary, Epaphroditus. While he was committing suicide he was said to have mumbled before his death, “What an artist dies in me!”

On the whole, Nero was an awful emperor of Rome. First of all he was always involved in raucous behavior like; affairs, drinking parties, and was mainly interested in singing and poems rather than the government and the people. Second of all, he was a crazy man because he burned Rome just so he can build his “Golden Palace” then he blamed it on the Christians and later persecuted them. Lastly, Nero was a mass murderer. He killed his step brother, Britannicus, Agrippina, Seneca, a large amount of the senate, and much more, mainly because he was selfish.


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