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Nero or Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the last representative of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero reigned the Roman Empire from 54 up to 68. He paid much attention to the cultural, political and economic development of the Roman Empire. He joined the Bosporan Kingdom to the Roman Empire, starting the First Roman-Juwish War. In the year 64, many parts of Rome were destroyed by the Great Fire. In those days, many citizens of Rome considered that Nero was guilty of burning the city as he needed some territory in order to build a new palace, known as the Domus Aurea. In 68, Nero committed suicide. He was the first Roman Emperor who did this. The reign of Nero is usually characterized as a period of tyranny, cruelty, extravagance and numerous killings. This paper will focus on the life and reign of Nero.
Early Years and the Beginning of Nero’s Reign
Nero was born on the 15-th of December, in 37, in the city of Antium. Nero was the only son in the family of Agrippina the Younger and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. It is worth mentioning that Agrippina was a sister of Caligula, the Roman Emperor. Nero’s father died when he was two years old. In some time, his mother became the wife of Claudius who adopted Nero. In such a way, Nero became the successor and heir of the Roman Empire (Tacitus).
In the year 54, Nero was appointed proconsul and entered the Senate. He got used to appearing with Claudius in public. In the year 53, he married Claudia Octavia who was his stepsister. After the death of his stepfather, Nero was proclaimed as Emperor of the Roman Empire. It should be noted that Nero had been the youngest emperor of the Roman Empire by the year 69, he was just seventeen (Tacitus).
The Roman Empire under Nero
Nero eliminated everyone who was standing on his way, while ruling the Roman Empire. He was believed to poison his stepbrother Britannicus as well as his mother. Many Roman sophisticated politicians and generals were accused of different crimes, sent in exile or simply killed (Tacitus).
Nero did his best in order to consolidate power in his hands only. While promising to restore powers of the Senate, which it had had under the rule of the Republicans, Nero usurped all its authority. By the year 65, representatives of the Senate had no influence as well as power left. The following fact resulted in the conspiracy organized by Gaius Calpurnius Piso (Tacitus).
During his reign, Nero put some restrictions on the amount of various fines. The tax policies of the Empire were changed as well. Many officials were accused of corruption and embezzlement. As to the cultural development, Nero managed to build many theaters, palaces and gymnasiums, and magnificent shows of gladiators’ fights took place not only in Rome but though out the whole Empire. Enormous amounts of money were spent on various entertainments for Nero and his people.
In the year 64, Rome burnt. Tacitus stated that the city was in fire for more than five days. Three districts were totally destroyed and seven were very badly damaged. Great funds were needed in order to rebuild the city, but the empire treasury was empty (Tacitus). It was the first time in the history of the Roman Empire that its currency was devaluated.
The End of Nero’s Reign and his Death
In 68, the Roman governor in Gallia, Gaius Julius Vindex, organized a rebel against tax policies introduced by Nero. Some of his governors were dissatisfied with Nero’s ruling and did not want to obey him.
Nero was declared to be a public enemy and was sentenced to death by the Senate. Having got such a news, Nero committed suicide on the 9-th of June, in 68. Nero ended the reign period of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
Nero was the last representative of the Julio-Claudian dynasty who left his trace in the history of the Roman Empire. There are many debatable questions concerning Nero and some facts of his life that have been discussed by scholars for many centuries.