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Emperor of the Roman Empire
Nero 1.JPG
Bust of Nero
Reign13 October, AD 54 – 9 June, AD 68
Full nameLucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
(from birth to AD 50);
Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus (from 50 to accession);
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (as emperor)
Born15 December 37(37-12-15)
Died9 June 68(68-06-09) (aged 30)
Place of deathOutside Rome
BuriedMausoleum of the Domitii Ahenobarbi, Pincian Hill, Rome
SuccessorServius Sulpicius Galba
WivesClaudia Octavia
Poppaea Sabina
Statilia Messalina
ChildrenClaudia Augusta
FatherGnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
MotherAgrippina the Younger

Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, 15 December 37 AD – 9 June 68),[1] was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Nero was the adopted son of his grand-uncle Claudius. He became emperor on 13 October 54, after Claudius died. Claudius was probably assassinated by Nero's mother Agrippina the Younger. Agrippina had motive in ensuring the succession of Nero before Britannicus (Claudius' natural son) could gain power.[2]

Nero as Emperor

Marble bust of Nero (palace of Versailles)

During his reign, Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade, and increasing the cultural capital of the empire. He ordered the building of theatres and promoted athletic games.

His reign included a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire, the suppression of a revolt in Britain, and the beginning of the First Roman–Jewish War.

In 64, most of Rome was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome. In 68, the rebellion of Vindex in Gaul and later the acclamation of Galba in Hispania (Spain) drove Nero from the throne. Facing assassination, he committed suicide on 9 June 68.[3]

Nero's rule is often associated with tyranny and extravagance.[4] He is known for a number of executions, including those of his mother[5] and stepbrother.

Nero is known as the emperor who played a fiddle while Rome burned, but actually he played the lyre and sang.[6] He also persecuted Christians. However, some ancient sources show that Nero was popular with the common people during and after his reign.


  1. born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
  2. Levick, Barbara. 1990. Claudius. Yale University Press. New Haven. p194
  3. Suetonius states that Nero committed suicide in Suetonius: The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 49; Sulpicius Severus, who possibly used Tacitus' lost fragments as a source, reports that it is uncertain whether Nero committed suicide: Sulpicius Severus, Chronica II.29, also see T.D. Barnes, "The Fragments of Tacitus' Histories", Classical Philology (1977), p. 228.
  4. Galba, during his rebellion, criticized Nero's luxuria, both his public and private excessive spending: Tacitus, Annals I.16; Kragelund, Patrick, "Nero's Luxuria, in Tacitus and in the Octavia", The Classical Quarterly, 2000, pp. 494–515.
  5. References to Nero's matricide appear in the Sibylline Oracles 5.49—520, Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Monk's Tale, and William Shakespeare's Hamlet 3.ii.
  6. Nero was not a fiddle player, but a lyre player. Suetonius claims Nero played the lyre while Rome burned, see Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 38; For a detailed explanation of this transition see M.F. Gyles "Nero Fiddled while Rome Burned", The Classical Journal (1948), p. 211-217 [1]

Main sources

Other sources