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Nero - Basics on the Final Julio-Claudian Emperor





More Detailed Nero Profile

Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, son of the well-connected imperial woman Agrippina the Younger, was born on Dec. 15 A.D. 37, in Latium. He would become the notorious Emperor Nero. After Agrippina the Younger, sister of Caligula and niece of the Emperor Claudius, married her uncle, she persuaded Claudius to adopt her son by a previous marriage. Not only did Claudius adopt Agrippina's boy, but he seems to have given him precedence over his own flesh and blood. Thus, when Emperor Claudius died, in A.D. 54, Lucius became Emperor.

The name Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus had been changed to Nero Claudius Caesar, which showed lineage from Augustus, so as emperor, Lucius was known as Nero.

A series of treason laws in A.D. 62 and the fire in Rome of A.D. 64 helped seal Nero's reputation. Nero used the treason laws to kill anyone he considered a threat. The fire opened an opportunity for Nero to build his golden palace, the domus aurea. In the year 65, Nero appeared in public as an entertainer. The next year, a conspiracy was hatched to replace him with Calpurnius Piso. The conspiracy uncovered, Seneca, Nero's former teacher, and Lucan were among those forced to commit suicide. Unrest throughout the Roman Empire turned the tables on the emperor: Nero was obliged to commit suicide on June 9 A.D. 68 in Rome.

Nero is remembered as a licentious emperor. Despite inadequate evidence, Nero is also known for burning Rome. Nero blamed the disastrous fire on the Christians.

Persecutions of the Christians

For information on the origins of the idea that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, see "Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned," by Mary Francis Gyles. The Classical Journal Vol. 42, No. 4 (Jan. 1947), 211-217.

Nero is eternally associated with Rome's burning and so in the 21st century the name Nero is used for burning software.

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