Nero 1.JPG
Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign13 October 54 – 9 June 68
(13 years and 8 months)
BornLucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
15 December 37 AD
Antium, Italia
Died9 June 68 AD (aged 30)
Outside Rome by assisted suicide
Mausoleum of the Domitii Ahenobarbi, Pincian Hill, Rome
IssueClaudia Augusta
Regnal name
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
HouseJulio-Claudian dynasty
MotherAgrippina the Younger
ReligionRoman paganism
Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus27 BC – AD 14
TiberiusAD 14–37
CaligulaAD 37–41
ClaudiusAD 41–54
NeroAD 54–68
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors

Nero (/; Latin: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus;[i] 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.[1][2] He was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius and became Claudius' heir and successor.[1] Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, was likely implicated in Claudius' death and Nero's nomination as emperor. She dominated Nero's early life and decisions until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered.[1]

During the early years of his reign, Nero was content to be guided by his mother, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and his Praetorian prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus. As time passed, he started to play a more active and independent role in government and foreign policy. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire. His general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a major revolt in Britain, led by the Iceni Queen Boudica. The Bosporan Kingdom was briefly annexed to the empire, and the First Jewish–Roman War began.[3] Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade and the cultural life of the empire, ordering theatres built and promoting athletic games. He made public appearances as an actor, poet, musician and charioteer. In the eyes of traditionalists, this undermined the dignity and authority of his person, status, and office. His extravagant, empire-wide program of public and private works was funded by a rise in taxes that was much resented by the upper classes. In contrast, his populist style of rule remained very popular among the lower classes of Rome and the provinces until his death and beyond. Various plots against his life were revealed; the ringleaders, most of them Nero's own courtiers, were executed.

In 68 AD Vindex, governor of the Gaulish territory Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled. He was supported by Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. Vindex's revolt failed in its immediate aim, but Nero fled Rome when Rome's discontented civil and military authorities chose Galba as emperor. He committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD, when he learned that he had been tried in absentia and condemned to death as a public enemy, making him the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide.[4][5] His death ended the Julio-Claudian dynasty, sparking a brief period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Nero's rule is usually associated with tyranny and extravagance.[6][7] Most Roman sources, such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio, offer overwhelmingly negative assessments of his personality and reign; Tacitus claims that the Roman people thought him compulsive and corrupt. Suetonius tells that many Romans believed that the Great Fire of Rome was instigated by Nero to clear the way for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea.[8] According to Tacitus he was said to have seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive, seemingly motivated not by public justice but by personal cruelty.[9] Some modern historians question the reliability of the ancient sources on Nero's tyrannical acts.[10] A few sources paint Nero in a more favorable light. There is evidence of his popularity among the Roman commoners, especially in the eastern provinces of the Empire, where a popular legend arose that Nero had not died and would return. At least three leaders of short-lived, failed rebellions presented themselves as "Nero reborn" to enlist popular support.

Early life

Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus on 15 December 37 AD in Antium.[11][12]:87 He was the only son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger. His maternal grandparents were Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder; his mother, Caligula's sister.[13]:5 He was Augustus' great-great grandson, descended from the first Emperor's only daughter, Julia.[14]:2

The ancient biographer Suetonius, who was critical of Nero's ancestors, wrote that Augustus had reproached Nero's grandfather for his unseemly enjoyment of violent gladiator games. According to Jürgen Malitz, Suetonius tells that Nero's father was known to be "irascible and brutal", and that both "enjoyed chariot races and theater performances to a degree not befitting their position."[14]:3

Nero's father, Domitius, died in 40. A few years before his death, Domitius had been involved in a political scandal that, according to Malitz, "could have cost him his life if Tiberius had not died in the year 37."[14]:3 In the previous year, Nero's mother Agrippina had been caught up in a scandal of her own. Caligula's beloved sister Drusilla had recently died and Caligula began to feel threatened by his brother-in-law Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Agrippina, suspected of adultery with her brother-in-law, was forced to carry the funerary urn after Lepidus' execution. Caligula then banished his two surviving sisters, Agrippina and Julia Livilla, to a remote island in the Mediterranean Sea.[14]:4 According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Agrippina was exiled for plotting to overthrow Caligula.[11] Nero's inheritance was taken from him and he was sent to live with his paternal aunt Domitia Lepida, the mother of Claudius' third wife Valeria Messalina.[15]:11

Caligula's reign lasted from 37 until 41 .[15]:11 He died from multiple stab wounds in January of 41 after being ambushed by his own Praetorian Guard on the Palatine Hill.[16] Claudius succeeded Caligula as Emperor.[16] Agrippina married Claudius in 49 AD and became his fourth wife.[ii][11] By February 49, she had persuaded Claudius to adopt her son Nero.[iii] After Nero's adoption, "Claudius" became part of his name: Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus.[iv][17] Claudius had gold coins issued to mark the adoption.[18]:119 Classics professor Josiah Osgood has written that "the coins, through their distribution and imagery alike, showed that a new Leader was in the making."[19]:231 David Shotter noted that, despite events in Rome, Nero's step-brother Britannicus was more prominent in provincial coinages during the early 50s.[17]:52

Nero officially formally entered public life as an adult in 51 AD—he was around 14 years old.[17]:51 When he turned 16, Nero married Claudius' daughter (his own step-sister), Claudia Octavia. Between the years 51 AD and 53 AD, he gave several speeches on behalf of various communities including the Ilians; the Apameans, requesting a five-year tax reprieve after an earthquake; and the northern colony of Bologna, after their settlement suffered a devastating fire.[19]:231

An aureus of Nero and his mother, Agrippina, c. 54. Caption: NERONIS CAES MATER AGRIPP. AVG. DIVI CLAVD. / NERONI CLAVD. DIVI F. CAES. AVG. GERM. IMP. TR. P. - EX SC
Coin issued under Claudius celebrating young Nero as the future emperor, c. 50. Caption: ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟΥ ΚAICΑΡΟC CΕΒΑCTOY / ΝΕΡΩΝΟC ΚΑΙCΑΡΟC ΓΕΡΜΑΝΙΚΟΥ

Claudius died in 54 AD; many ancient historians claim that he was poisoned by Agrippina.[20] Shotter has written that "Claudius' death in 54 AD has usually been regarded as an event hastened by Agrippina because of signs that Claudius was showing a renewed affection for his natural son," but he notes that among ancient sources Josephus was uniquely reserved in describing the poisoning as a rumor.[17]:53 Contemporary sources differ in their accounts. Tacitus says that Locusta prepared the poison, which was served to the Emperor by his food taster Halotus. Tacitus also writes that Agrippina arranged for Claudius' doctor Xenophon to administer poison, in the event that the Emperor survived.[17]:53 Suetonius differs in some details, but also implicates Halotus and Agrippina.[v] Like Tacitus, Cassius Dio writes that the poison was prepared by Locusta, but in Dio's account it is administered by Agrippina instead of Halotus. In Apocolocyntosis, Seneca the Younger does not mention mushrooms at all.[17]:54 Agrippina's involvement in Claudius' death is not accepted by all modern scholars.[22]:589

Before Claudius' death, Agrippina had maneuvered to remove Britannicus' tutors and replace them with tutors that she had selected. She was also able to convince Claudius to replace with a single commander, Burrus, two prefects of the Praetorian guard who were suspected of supporting Brittanicus.[15]:13 Since Agrippina had replaced the guard officers with men loyal to her, Nero was able to assume power without incident.[11][23]:417

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Nero
Alemannisch: Nero
العربية: نيرون
aragonés: Nerón
asturianu: Nerón
azərbaycanca: Neron
تۆرکجه: نرون
বাংলা: নিরো
Bân-lâm-gú: Nero
беларуская: Нерон
български: Нерон
bosanski: Neron
brezhoneg: Neron
català: Neró
Чӑвашла: Нерон
Cebuano: Néron
čeština: Nero
Cymraeg: Nero
dansk: Nero
Deutsch: Nero
eesti: Nero
Ελληνικά: Νέρων
español: Nerón
Esperanto: Nerono
estremeñu: Nerón
euskara: Neron
فارسی: نرون
føroyskt: Nero
français: Néron
Frysk: Nearo
Gaeilge: Nearó
galego: Nerón
한국어: 네로
հայերեն: Ներոն
हिन्दी: नीरो
hrvatski: Neron
Ido: Nero
Bahasa Indonesia: Nero
íslenska: Neró
italiano: Nerone
Jawa: Néro
ქართული: ნერონი
қазақша: Нерон
Kiswahili: Kaisari Nero
Kongo: Nero
Кыргызча: Нерон
latviešu: Nerons
lietuvių: Neronas
македонски: Нерон
Malagasy: Néron
मराठी: नीरो
مصرى: نيرون
Bahasa Melayu: Nero
မြန်မာဘာသာ: နီရိုး
Nederlands: Nero (keizer)
日本語: ネロ
norsk: Nero
norsk nynorsk: Nero av Romarriket
occitan: Neron
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Neron Klavdiy Sezar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਨੀਰੋ
پنجابی: نیرو
Piemontèis: Neron
polski: Neron
português: Nero
română: Nero
русский: Нерон
Scots: Nero
shqip: Neroni
sicilianu: Niruni
Simple English: Nero
slovenčina: Nero
slovenščina: Neron
ślůnski: Nerůn
српски / srpski: Нерон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Neron
suomi: Nero
svenska: Nero
Tagalog: Nero
தமிழ்: நீரோ
татарча/tatarça: Нерон
తెలుగు: నీరో
Türkçe: Neron
українська: Нерон
اردو: نیرو
vèneto: Neron
Tiếng Việt: Nero
文言: 尼祿
West-Vlams: Nero (keizer)
Winaray: Nero
吴语: 尼禄
Yorùbá: Nero
粵語: 尼祿
Zazaki: Neron
中文: 尼禄