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Nero Claudius Caesar, originally Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (37-68)

Son of Domitius Enobarbus and of Agrippina Minor, who, after having married Claudius, managed to have the young Nero adopted by him, ensuring his succession as emperor (54). Finely educated, in the first years of his reign Nero was closely controlled by his mother, by his tutor Seneca and by the Praefectum Pretorii Afranius Burrus. Later his despotic and authoritarian character surfaced and his dictatorial tendencies prevailed, supported by the plebe, who adored him because of his liberality.

Nero got rid of his brother Britannicus in 55, of his mother in 59, of his first wife Octavia (later on he married Poppea and Messalina), of Burrus in 62. After Rome’s fire in 64, he rebuilt the city and his own mansion, the Domus Aurea. When he was accused of having caused the fire, he retorted the blame on the Christians and persecuted them. Hated by the Senators, in 65 Nero ferociously repressed a conspiracy to kill him, organized by Lucius Calpurnius Piso and other prominent citizens. Seneca and the poet Lucanus died in the ferocious repression, among many others. A war campaign against the Parthians - led by Gneus Domitius Corbulo - regained Rome’s control over Armenia; his popularity had by now reached a peak. In Corinth, Nero solemnly proclaimed Greece's liberty, granting fiscal immunities to many cities and showing his favour for the eastern provinces of the empire. Revolts in Judea, Gallia, Africa and Spain - where Galba was crowned emperor by the Senate and by the Praetorians - caused his downfall. When Nero realized that everything was lost, he ordered a slave to kill him.