The first imperial dynasty was established in Rome by the heirs of Julius Caesar and Augustus. The imperial period ended with the suicide of the last ruler in AD 68. Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known as “Nero”, was the fifth Emperor of Rome. Throughout his reign, he was associated with unparalleled extravagance, bullying, immorality, and countless murders. It is said that Roman citizens saw him as the Antichrist. Here are 10 interesting facts about Nero, the iconic and hated leader of Rome.
1. He was 17 years old when he became emperor
In AD 54, Claudius was poisoned by his wife, Agrippina. At this time, Nero was older than Britannicus, the legitimate son of Emperor Claudius. That was why he had a complete claim to the imperial crown. When Claudius died, Britannicus was less than 14 years old, so he was not of legal age to rule. Therefore, his 17-year-old half-brother Nero took the throne. Britannicus died suspiciously the day before his adult birthday, after drinking wine prepared for him at a festive dinner. Thus, Nero and his mother controlled the largest empire in the world.
2. He killed his mother
Agrippina poisoned two of her husbands to achieve her place of glory. He didn’t want to give up the power he had over his son after putting in so much effort. He is even depicted face to face with him on early coins. After a while, Nero got tired of his mother’s meddling. With influence over her son waning, Agrippina struggled desperately to stay in control. She wanted to continue to interfere in her son’s decisions. When she finally objected to Nero’s relationship with Poppaea Sabina, the emperor decided to kill his mother. He invited her to Baiae and put him on a boat. This boat was destined to sink in the Gulf of Naples, but Agrippina managed to swim to the shore. He was eventually murdered in his home on Nero’s orders in AD 59.
3. Both wives fell victim to Nero’s persecution
Nero’s marriage to both Claudia Octavia and later Poppaea Sabina ended in great tragedy. According to Tacitus, Claudia Octavia may have been the most suitable companion for Nero. He called the young woman “a noble and virtuous wife.” However, Nero soon became bored with his wife and began to hate the empress. After several attempts to strangle her, Nero divorces Octavia, claiming she is sterile. Twelve days after the divorce, Popeye married Sabina.
The banishment of the former empress by Nero and Poppaea provoked a reaction in Rome. This angered the capricious Nero even more. People wanted Octavia to be empress again. Then Nero ordered the death of his ex-wife. After Octavia was beheaded, she was sent to Poppaea.
Despite Nero’s eight-year marriage to Claudia Octavia, the Roman empress bore no children. So, when Nero’s mistress Poppaea Sabina became pregnant, Nero used this as an opportunity to divorce his first wife and marry Sabina. Sabina gave birth to Nero’s only daughter, Claudia Augusta, in AD 63. Unfortunately, the baby died after only four months.
Sabina was stronger and more ruthless than Nero’s first wife. She looked like a good wife to the Emperor. However, a deadly struggle broke out between the two soon after. They had a heated argument about the money Nero spent on racing. After that, the evil emperor killed his new wife while she was pregnant with their second child. During one of their arguments, he violently kicked her in the stomach. After that, Nero entered a long period of mourning and organized a state funeral for his murdered wife.
4. He was very popular in the early years of his reign
Despite his bad reputation, Nero knew how to take steps to please the Roman people. He lowered taxes after giving several public concert performances. He quickly became a crowd favorite, even convincing the Parthian king to attend a lavish ball.
Nero was so popular that more than three decades after his death, three different impostors attempted to drum up support by imitating his appearance. One of them was so successful that it almost led to a civil war.
5. Accused of organizing the Great Fire of Rome
The Great Fire of Rome occurred on the night of July 18-19, 64 AD. The fire started on the slope of the Aventine and ravaged the city for more than six days. It is known that Nero was not in Rome at that time. Most modern writers blame Nero for the fire. Tacitus, who provides information on the event, is the only ancient source to say that Nero did not start the fire; But he also said he was “not sure”.
6. Persecute Christians
Nero wanted to distract attention after the great fire that destroyed the city. He believed that this could be achieved by persecuting people. Then he ordered the Christians to be gathered and killed. Christian citizens whom he accused of setting fire were cut down with dogs, and many were burned alive.
7. The “Golden Palace” was built
Nero certainly benefited from the destruction of the city. So much so that he built a magnificent palace in one of the places that was destroyed by fire. This palace later came to be called the Domus Aurea, or “Golden Palace”. It was said that there was a 37-meter-tall column and its statue at the entrance to the palace.
The palace was completed before Nero’s death in AD 68. In fact, the construction phase of such a large project took a very short time. Unfortunately, very few of this outstanding architectural achievement have survived to this day.
8. A eunuch who married a former male slave
In AD 67, Nero ordered the castration of his former slave, Sporus. Then I married him. The famous historian Cassius Dio claims that Sporus married Nero because of his resemblance to his deceased wife.
She competed at the IX Olympic Games in Rome
After his mother’s death, Nero turned to artistic endeavors. He sang and performed with harp accompaniment on private occasions, and then began performing in public to increase his popularity. He tried out all kinds of roles and trained to be an athlete in the folk dances he organized every five years.
At the Games, Nero raced a ten-horse chariot. He also participated in competitions as an actor and singer. Even though he did badly, he still won because he was the emperor 😂 Then he had a procession in Rome with the crowns he won.
10. After his death, people feared that he would come back to life as the Antichrist.
MS vs. Nero. The revolutions that began in 67 and 68 led to a series of civil wars that for a time threatened the very existence of the Roman Empire. Nero’s death marked the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which began ruling the Roman Empire under Augustus in 27 BC.
The turbulent period after his death initially caused Nero to miss out. However, over time, it began to be said that he was a crazy, cruel and heartless ruler. Nero caused people to fear that a rumor spread among Christians: Nero is not dead and will somehow return to the Antichrist.
You may be interested in:
Rome’s Notorious Emperor: What You Need to Know About Nero Claudius Caesar
Ancient Civilizations with Rich Geography: 7 Important African Empires Little Known in History
12 of the most important gods and goddesses in ancient Roman mythology
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