Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome

Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome

Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome

Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome


Propelled to power by the age of 17 by an ambitious mother, self-indulgent to the point of criminality, inadequate, paranoid and the perpetrator of heinous crimes including matricide and fratricide, and deposed and killed by 31, Nero is one of Rome's most infamous Emperors.

But has history treated him fairly? Or is the popular view of Nero as a capricious and depraved individual a travesty of the truth and a gross injustice to Rome's fifth emperor?

This new biography will look at Nero's life with fresh eyes. While showing the man 'warts and all', it also caste a critical eye on the 'libels' which were perpetrated on him, such as claiming he was a madman, many of which were most probably made up to suit the needs of the Flavians, who had overthrown his dynasty.


If there is one Roman Emperor about whom some knowledge has passed into general circulation, it must surely be Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus, who succeeded his adoptive father, Claudius, as Emperor on 13 October AD 54 at the age of nearly seventeen. Fourteen years later, on 9 June AD 68, Nero committed suicide, deserted by many of Rome’s nobility, declared a public enemy by the Senate, and facing a military coup d’état that aimed to replace him with Servius Sulpicius Galba, the Governor of one of the Spanish provinces (Tarraconensis).

That fourteen-year reign was marked by dramatic events, such as Nero’s murder of his mother, the Younger Agrippina, in AD 59, the murder of his wife, Octavia, three years later, the Fire of Rome in AD 64, and the merciless attack on the Christian community in Rome in the aftermath of the Fire. These events are the ones likely to be most familiar to a modern lay audience. However, a principal purpose of this book is to put these events into the broader context of Nero’s fourteen-year reign.

As we shall see, surviving Classical writers are mostly critical of Nero, even abrasively hostile towards him; they reflect the disappointment, even +2019s Principate: most of these were writing early in the reign, when it seemed to many, for a while at least, that a new ‘golden age’ had been born with the accession of an Emperor with youth and physical attractiveness on his side. For them, Nero appeared to be the antithesis of the dour Tiberius, the excessive Caligula, and the uncharmingly eccentric Claudius.

Despite some dire deeds on Nero’s part, mostly concerned with the insecurity he felt about his position, for some this initial sense of optimism . . .

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