Nero Biography

Nero was the last Roman emperor in the Julio-Claudian dynasty who ruled from 54 to 68 AD. This biography of Nero provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: December 15, 37

Nationality: Ancient Roman

Famous: Emperors & Kings Ancient Roman Men

Died At Age: 30

Sun Sign: Sagittarius

Also Known As: Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus

Born in: Anzio

Famous as: Emperor of Rome

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Spouse/Ex-: Claudia Octavia, Poppaea Sabina, Sporus, Statilia Messalina

father: Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus

mother: Agrippina the Younger

children: Claudia Augusta

Died on: June 9, 68

place of death: Rome

Personality: ISFP

Cause of Death: Suicide

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Nero was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 54 to 68 AD. The last emperor in the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was notorious as a brutal, tyrannical and ineffective leader. Born as the son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger, he lost his father at an early age. His mother went on to marry her own uncle Claudius who was the Roman Emperor at that time. She persuaded him to adopt her own son and proclaim him the heir to the throne. Many ancient historians state that Agrippina then poisoned Claudius to death in order to pave the way for her son to ascend to the throne. Nero became the emperor following Claudius’ death in 54. Aged just 17 at that time, he became the youngest emperor crowned so far. During the initial years of his rule, his mother’s influence was tremendous. Over time, Nero became progressively more powerful and had his own mother murdered. He became notorious for his extravagant lifestyle and deviant sexual practices. He proved to be an ineffectual ruler and Rome was in turmoil for the greater part of his reign. His tyrannical reign and cruelty made him highly despised, forcing the senate to declare him a public enemy and condemn him to death by beating. In order to escape the death sentence, he committed suicide in 68 AD.

Childhood & Early Life
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Accession & Reign
  • Claudius died in 54 AD. Many historians believe he was poisoned to death by Agrippina in order to pave the way for her son to ascend the throne. Nero became the emperor, and aged just 17, he was the youngest emperor until that time.
  • His mother was a highly ambitious and domineering woman and she tried to influence him greatly during the initial years of his reign. The other major influences in his life were his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca and the Praetorian Prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus who developed a dislike for the overbearing Agrippina.
  • For the first few years of his rule Nero proved to be a reasonable leader. He lowered taxes, was empathetic towards slaves, and eliminated capital punishment. He also strived to become a more independent leader and paid more heed to the advice of the wise Seneca than to his mother.
  • However, things started changing soon after. Tired of his mother’s interference in his public and private life, Nero had her murdered in 59 AD. His trusted advisor Burrus died in 62 AD and Seneca retired from public life. Around this time accusations of treason against Nero and the Senate began to surface, and a defensive Nero executed a number of people including his rivals Pallas, Rubellius Plautus and Faustus Sulla.
  • Over the next few years he eliminated several others of his rivals and consolidated his power. His reputation as a reasonable leader greatly diminished because of his tyrannical behavior.
  • A war between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire over control of Armenia, a vital buffer state between the two realms, had been going on since 58 AD. In spite of his young age and aversion to battles, Nero handled the situation bravely and was finally able to establish Armenia as a buffer state following a peace deal in 63 AD.
  • A great fire ravaged Rome in 64 AD, destroying a major portion of the city. The fire, which erupted on the night of 18 July 64, raged on for five days and destroyed three of the fourteen Roman districts and severely damaged seven. Even though it could not be ascertained whether the fire was accidental or arson, people widely believed that it was Nero who started the fire.
  • In the wake of the fire he implemented large scale relief efforts in order to provide succor to the victims. He used his own funds and even personally took part in the search and rescue of the victims. He is also said to have provided shelter to the homeless in his own palaces.
  • Still Nero was unpopular among the masses and had several antagonists. In 65 AD, Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a Roman statesman, plotted a conspiracy to kill Nero and take the crown for himself. However Nero learned of the conspiracy and the leading conspirators including Piso, Nero’s former mentor Seneca, and his nephew, the epic poet Lucan, were executed.
  • Hardly three years had passed when in March 68 AD, the governor Gaius Julius Vindex rebelled against Nero's tax policies. He was soon joined by another governor, Servius Sulpicius Galba. The revolt spread and people, who were already much dissatisfied with Nero, started demanding that Galba be made the emperor. Nero was reportedly declared a public enemy by the senate which condemned him to die a slave’s death: on a cross and under the whip.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He married his stepsister Claudia Octavia in 53 AD. He was, however, unhappy with her and became romantically involved with Poppaea Sabina, the wife of his friend and future emperor Otho. He divorced Octavia and married Poppaea in 62 AD. Poppaea died in 65 AD while pregnant with her second child. At that time it was widely reported that Nero had kicked her to death though modern historians postulate that Poppaea may have died because of complications of miscarriage or childbirth.
  • He became involved with a married woman, Statilia Messalina, in 65 AD. Nero drove her husband to suicide so that he could marry her. The marriage took place in 66 AD.
  • In 67, Nero ordered a young freeman, Sporus—who bore an uncanny resemblance to Poppaea Sabina—to be castrated so that he could marry him.
  • Following the rebellions against him in 68 AD, Nero lost most of his supporters--even his bodyguards left him. When he heard that the Senate had condemned him to death by beating, he panicked and decided to commit suicide. His private secretary, Epaphroditos, assisted him in killing himself. He died on 9 June 68

See the events in life of Nero in Chronological Order

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- Nero Biography
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Last Updated
- July 25, 2017

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