The Rise & Fall of Nero

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus whose birth name is Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus was born December 15th, 37AD and died June 9th, 68AD. Commonly identified as Nero, he ruled as Roman Emperor from 54AD until his death in 68AD. Of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the last emperor hailed.

Claudius who was Nero’s great-uncle adopted him to turn into his heir and successor. In the year of 54, Nero succeeded to the throne in the event of Claudius’s death. Even though accounts alter entirely, many historians state that Agrippina, Nero’s mother, poisoned Claudius.What isn’t known is how much that Nero knew or got involved in with his death. At the age of 16, Nero became emperor of Rome, this was the youngest up until that time. Ancient historians depict Agrippina, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and the Praetoriant Prefect Sextus Afranius Berrus, as Nero’s strongest influences in his early reign, particularly in the first year. Very early in Nero’s rule, situations occurred from competition for influence between his main two advisers, Seneca and Burrus, and also his mother, Agrippina.

In 54AD, Agrippina tried sitting next to her son Nero. This was while he met with an Armenian envoy. Yet, Seneca had her halt and prevented a disgraceful tantrum. This is due to the fact that back in those times, it was inconceivable for a woman to be in the same room as men executing official business. Personal friends of Nero suspected Agrippina and informed Nero to take caution of his mother. While still young, Nero was discontent with his marriage to Octavia and engaged into an affair with Claudia Acte. Acte was previously a slave.

A year into his rule, Agrippina unsuccessfully attempted to interfere on Octavia’s behalf and called for Nero to disregard Acte. With support of Seneca, Nero resisted the intervention of his mother when dealing in his personal affairs. With ties between Agrippina and her influence on her son destroyed, rumor has it she reportedly started pushing for Nero’s stepbrother, Britannicus, to become emperor. Tacitus states that Agrippina desired that with her support and the fact Britannicus was the blood son of Claudius, that he would be noted as true heir to the throne by state over Nero.Nevertheless, still in his youth, Britannicus all of a sudden died on February 12th, 55AD. This was the day before his annunciation as an adult was to been set. Claims came from Nero that Britannicus died from an epileptic seizure, yet ancient historians differ and believed the death was on account of poison from Nero’s behalf.

After his death/Murder, Agrippina was suspected of slandering Octavia and Nero arranged her to be out of the imperial residence. In time, Nero continued becoming more powerful in freeing himself of his advisors and did away with rivals to the throne.In 55AD, he removed Marcus Antonius Pallas, an ally of Agrippina, from his duties as treasury. Seneca was suspected of having relations with Agrippina and for embezzlement. Luckily, Seneca succeeded in having himself, acquitted. In 58AD, Nero became romantically attached to Poppaea Sabina, who was the wife of his friend and forthcoming emperor Otho. With his mother Agrippina alive, it seemed a marriage to Poppaea and a divorce from Octavia didn’t seem politically possible.

Nero figured in order for this to happen that his mother had to be murdered in 59AD. Modern historians theorize that Nero’s execution of Agrippina was commanded by her plot to set Rubellius Plautus on the throne. Another theory is that Nero tried killing his mother through an arranged shipwreck but she survived. He had her executed and made it look like a suicide. Over the run of his reign, Nero was criticized as being obsessed with being popular and often made rulings that would please the lower class.From 55AD-60AD, Nero was consul four times. This was since he took a more active role as an administrator.

Many ancient historians spoke well of him and contrast it with his later rule. Under Nero, restrictions were put on the amount bail and fines could be set to, also the lawyer fees were made limited. Imitating the Greeks and their culture, Nero built many theaters and gymnasiums. Gladiatorial shows were held and Nero set up the “quinquennial Neronia” which was a festival that included games, theater and poetry.In 64AD, there was a great fire in Rome and it burned. Nero ordained a public relief effort and also substantial reconstruction. Throughout the late reign of Nero’s, came a number of other major construction projects.

Nero put up the large Domus Aurea. In 67AD, he attempted to have a canal dug up at the Isthmus of Corinth. Ancient historians state that this projects and other idea’s of his drained the State’s budget. Between 62AD and 67AD, according to Seneca, Nero promoted an expedition to find the sources of the Nile River.From Europe, it was the first exploration of equatorial Africa in history. Nero died on June 9th, 68 AD. Nero chose to commit suicide rather than face the decree of the Senate.

They sentenced him to be flogged to death because of his atrocities and loss of power over his own armies and allies. Suetonius writes that Nero fled Rome on the Salaria road, stabbing himself with the assistance of his secretary Epaphroditos when the praetorium guard caught up to him. His last words were: “Qualis artifex pereo” which translated reads “What an artist the world loses in me.

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