Nero Journal for Latin 2 11/8/2005
What I Learned
Nero is the emperor which almost everybody has heard about. However, most people know him for his bad deed, not his good deeds. For the first few years of his rule, Nero was pretty good. However, I think a few screws fell out of his head, and he changed for the worse.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born on December 15, 37 C.E, I learned. He was married to Claudius’s wife, Octavia and was also adopted by Claudius. Nero became emperor at age 16.
Nero started, as all emperors did, by handing out a hefty bonus to the Praetorian Guard. Next he expanded to power to the Senate. Later on, he grew to despise the Senate, because they keep trying to kill him. Nero also murdered his mother because she was growing too powerful.
Around this time, Nero was getting a bit weird, I learned. He started sharing his bed with other men and was crazy about the lyre. He hired a master to teach him how to play and then put on performances that people had to come to. Also, during his performances at the games (which had been moved a year earlier for him), Nero did permit anyone to leave till he won (which he always did.)
Nero married Poppaea after dumping and exiling his former wife, Octavia. However, he later kicked his wife to death in an argument.
Ofonius Tigellinus became a fearsome Praetorian Guard commander. He started the treason courts and confiscated rich Roman’s property. This combined with Nero’s fear of being killed, angered the upper class of Rome.
Next came the great fire and the Golden House. These are the two most known parts of Nero’s rule. Much of the city was destroyed in the great fire of 64 C.E. Many believe that Nero was the one who ordered the great fire to make room for his Golden House. He later blamed the Christians and used them as human torches as punishment.
Nero was one of the few rulers in the world who angered most of a class of people. This is similar to King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. All the poor people hated King Louis XVI and disposed of him, leaving mostly anarchy in their path. The same happened to Nero, leaving the Year of 4 Emperors behind. However, with Nero, most of the poor people supported him, but the nobility hated him. This is exactly otherwise from the French Revolution and King Louis XVI.
Why is Nero portrayed as the greatest crazy emperor? Tiberius tried to elect a horse to counsel and built a bridge of ships four miles across the sea. Why are most emperors crazy? What does absolute power do to them in their later years? Why do they become very extravagant? Power corrupts, I guess. If you had the chance to have everything, you would probably get it. You would believe that you were a god and the country was your income source. This idea remained up until the Enlightenment, about 1500 years later.