Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar) (nēr´ō), AD 37–AD 68, Roman emperor (AD 54–AD 68). He was originally named Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and was the son of Cnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul in AD 32) and of Agrippina the Younger, who was the great-granddaughter of Augustus. Agrippina married (AD 49) Claudius I and persuaded him to adopt Nero. In AD 55, Agrippina saw the bonds of her domination of Nero loosening and intrigued in favor of Claudius' son, Britannicus, but Nero poisoned the boy. Poppaea Sabina, the wife of his friend Otho, became his mistress; according to rumor she was to blame for the worst of Nero's behavior. In AD 59 he murdered his mother and in AD 62, his wife Octavia. He later married Poppaea. When half of Rome was burned in a fire (AD 64), Nero accused the Christians of starting it and began the first Roman persecution. In AD 65 there was a plot to make Caius Calpurnius Piso emperor. The detection of this plot began a string of violent deaths, e.g., of Seneca, Lucan, and Thrasea Paetus. Nero had ambitions to be a poet and artist. In AD 68 a series of revolts, including one by his own Praetorian Guard, caused him to commit suicide. Among his last words were, "What an artist the world is losing in me!" His memory was publicly execrated.

See biography by M. Griffin, Nero: The End of a Dynasty (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Nero: Selected full-text books and articles

Nero By David Shotter Routledge, 2004 (2nd edition)
Nero: The End of a Dynasty By Miriam T. Griffin Routledge, 2000
FREE! Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius By Samuel Dill MacMillan, 1905 (2nd edition)
From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68 By H. H. Scullard University Paperbacks, 1963 (2nd edition)
FREE! Characters and Events of Roman History: From Caesar to Nero By Guglielmo Ferrero; Frances Lance Ferrero Chautauqua Press, 1917
The Golden House of Nero: Some Aspects of Roman Architecture By Axel Boëthius University of Michigan Press, 1960
The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody By Will Cuppy; Fred Feldkamp; William Steig Henry Holt, 1950
Librarian's tip: Includes a chapter on Nero
The Twelve Caesars By Suetonius; Robert Graves Penguin Books, 1957
Librarian's tip: Includes a chapter on Nero
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
A History and Description of Roman Political Institutions By Frank Frost Abbott Biblo and Tannen, 1963 (3rd edition)
Librarian's tip: Includes "From Tiberius to Nero"
Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean By Charles Freeman Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Includes a section on Nero
Seneca: A Philosopher in Politics By Miriam T. Griffin Clarendon Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: Includes "The 'Minister' of Nero"
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