The future Roman emperor Nero was born in the year 37 AD in Antium.He was born to Agrippina the Younger and Gnaeus Domitius Anenobarbus, who was a grandson of Augstus.His birth occoured during the tyrannical reign of his uncle Gaius and ,therefore, his childhood was very unstable.In the year 39 AD, Gaius exiled Nero's entire family and stole their entire fortune which left them very poor.Soon after being exiled, Nero's father died when Nero was only three years old.After the death of his father,the young boy was raised by his mother in very poor surroundings.
Upon the death of Gaius in 41 AD, Claudius became emperor and immediately restored to Nero the property that Gaius had stolen from him and his mother. Claudius later married Agrippina when Nero was sixteen years old. Throughout his young life Nero had had a passion for the arts and literature and consitered himself quite an actor. Upon his adoption by Claudius, Nero was put under the guidance of the famous Roman philosopher, Seneca.
After the death of Claudius, Nero became the fifth emperor of the Roman Empire.He had announced his intentions of governing justly an early on was seen to have put some serious effort into his job but soon tired of it.His lack of interest did not bother Agrippina as she wanted to rule the empire herself but Nero would not allow anyone to take his place and had her killed. He also killed Claudius's son ,Britannicus, whom he feared would be a threat to his throne.The early part of Nero's reign did show some promise as his tutor, Seneca, and the praetorian prefect, Burrus, ruled for him.During this time he forbade capital punishment and gladiater fights in the arena. Also, he lowered the taxes. This good side of the emperor dissapeared when he had Burrus poisoned and Senaca killed for treason.
With no one to rival him,Nero took less care in the affairs of state and indulged more in singing and playing the harp.Nero fancied himself quite a singer and actor and he even appeared in Naples and other places on the public stage.The actions of the emperor greatly disgraced the Roman people because they believed that slaves should only take part in theatrical preformances.Because of this indulgance,Nero lost any popularity he had at the beginning of his reign.
In the year 64 AD a great fire broke out in Rome which destroyed half of the city and raged for nine days.This fire destroyed many valuable ancient Roman buildings and temples as well as many masterpieces of Greek art and literature that were brought from the east and could not be replaced.Nero was staying in Antium at the time of the fire and it is said that he watched the fire from the distance and acted out the burning of Troy as a compairison to the present disaster.
Nero did much to try and help the destitute population of Rome.He opened the Campus Martius and all other buildings built during the time of Augstus to help house the destitute.As well,he built temporary public buildings to house the homeless.Also,he had greater supplies of food brought from the harbour at Ostia and sold it at a reduced price to the populace.These humaine actions did not do Nero much good and his reputation was already ruined as rumour had spread among the people that the emperor himself had set the fire and even sang about it.To make things look even more suspicious,Nero chose to build a grand palace called the "Sun House" on the vacant land spaning the ground between the Palitine and Esquiline hills.
.Rome was not a very well planned city and it was usually quite hard to get around there.Nero used the fire to do some city planning with the bare parts of the city.He built the streets according to measurement which had wide thoroughfares.He also enforced a height restriction on the construction of new houses.Also,he offered the unclaimed space to anyone who wanted it to build on.As well he tried to eliminate the threatof future fires by regulating the fire laws and how close the buildings would be to each other.He failed to please the people,though,because many had believed the old city to be betterhealthwise than the new one.
To keep these suspicions away from himself,Nero needed a scapegoat to blame the fire on.He chose a newly formed group called the christians.What followed was the first ever Roman persecution of the Christians and they were sadistically tortured and killed by the evil emperor.He did all sorts of tortures namely crucifiction, feeding them to the loins and using them as human torches
Once again ,in his attempts to clear his name, Nero ended up making the people hate him even more.Up until Nero Christianity had been tolerated by the Romans and the only problem the pagans had with the christians is that they would not worship the emperor as a devine god which was consitered treason to the state.The Romans believed that the emperors punishment of the christians was too severe and began to pity them because they were being sacrificed for the personal curelty of one man and not for the common good of the empire.
Shortly before his fall,Nero had taken a tour of Greece which was a huge emarrasment to the Roman people.He spent his whole trip travelling around Greece and he competed in every artistic and athletic contest that took place,including the Olympic Games.Naturally he won first place in all these events because no one would dare not award the first prize to the emperor,especially one of his nature.Upon his return to Rome,Nero arranged a huge triumph in which he entered the city wearing a Laural and with his prizes all on display.
After fourteen years ,the people had enough of their cruel and embarrasing emperor and so revolted against Nero in 68 AD.Upon hearing that he had been declared a public enemy by the senate,Nero hid at the house of one of his freedmen and commited suicide there.he is believed to have said the famous lines "What an artist dies in me" as his last words.
Nero was the last of the Julio Claudians who were all ,in some way, descended of of Augstus or Livia.This dynasty had ruled Rome for almost 100 years and had included such great leaders as Augstus and Claudius to the tyrannical and sometimes crazy Gaius and Nero to the withdrawn Tiberius.Upon Nero's death,a civil war waged for one year in which there would be a total of four emperors on the thrown and would end with a bold new dynasty.