ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Emperor Nero

Updated on September 18, 2017

Nero, or Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (his name before it was changed to Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus following his adoption by Claudius), (37-68 CE), the last Juilo-Claudian ruler of Rome, has quite a reputation and there are many rumors swirling about who he was what he may have done. There is some basis in truth for some of these rumors, but there are also many which are completely fabricated.

He did have his own mother, Agrippina the Younger, executed five years into his rule, even though it is thought that she may have been a major influence in his rise to power and contributed much to how Rome was governed for the first years of his rule.

Agrippina, the sister of Caligula, was a ruthless woman, marrying her own uncle, Claudius, for power, convincing him to adopt her son, and taking measures to ensure her power, and later that of her son’s power, had little competition ( Scramuzza (1940) pp. 91–92. See also Tac. Ann. XII 6, 7; Suet. Claud. 26.; Tacitus, Annals XII.25). She managed to convince Claudius to name Nero as his heir, rather than his own son, and it was only later that he had second thoughts about it. He began to prepare his own son, Brittanicus, for the throne. It was around this time that many historical sources claim that Agrippina poisoned Claudius, making it easy for Nero to rise to power(Tacitus, Annals XII.66; Cassius Dio, Roman History LXI.34; Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Claudius 44; Josephus is less sure, Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews XX.8.1).

Nero himself preferred to promote culture, raising taxes on the middle and upper class in order to build theatres and hold athletic competitions.

He attempted to give the Apameans a tax reprieve after they suffered an earthquake, and to Bologna, a colony in the north, after a fire (Osgood, Josiah (2011). Claudius Caesar: Image and Power in the Early Roman Empire. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88181-4.).

On July 18 or 19, 64, the Great Fire of Rome began. Some believe the fire was planned so that Nero would have room to build the Domus Aurea (Suetonius • Vita Neronis". It completely destroyed three districts and severely damaged another seven of the total fourteen roman districts (Scullard, H. H (2011). From the Gracchi to Nero: a history of Rome 133 B.C. to A.D. 68. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-58488-3.;Tacitus, Annals, XV.40).

Nero blamed Christians for the start of the fire, causing many to be executed. Whether he had reasons to believe this claim or whether it was to distract from the fact that he planned it, as some claim, is still a matter of debate.

To address the claim that Nero started the fire personally, there are accounts of Nero being in Antium at the time of the fire, and if this is true (as Tacitus claims it is), would disprove at least the accusation that he himself started the fire. Admittedly, this does not absolve him of the accusation that he planned the fire, only that he started it.

The other claim was that Nero played the fiddle, or violin, as the fire burned. This could not be true, as the fiddle was not invented until the 16th century, by which time Nero had been long dead, having committed suicide in 68 CE.

After the fire, Nero did personally fund a relief effort, with some sources claiming that he personally spent time sifting through debris looking for victims of the fire. He did shelter people left homeless by the fire in his palace, and provided food to the survivors (Tacitus, Annals, XV.39)

He rebuilt the areas the fire impacted with brick and further distance between domiciles (Tacitus, Annals, XV.43). He did construct his Domus Aurea through the imposition of tributes on Roman provinces Tacitus, Annals, XV.45).

The accusations are serious and disturbing, but it begs the question, if Nero was so hated and so evil, why was he so popular among common people and the military (Tacitus, Histories I.5.)? Shouldn’t these groups have been celebrating his death along with the nobility? A belief, called the Nero Redivivus Legend, spread that Nero never actually died and people began waiting for his return (Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 57; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.19). This belief prevailed for hundreds of years, and there were at least three people claiming to be Nero reborn, who were subsequently revealed and executed.

© 2017 Heather Carlson


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)