See also: Néron (homonymy), Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, Domitius Ahenobarbus
Néron (Latin: IMPERATOR•NERO•CLAVDIVS•CAESAR•AVGVSTVS•GERMANICVS), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus the December 15th 37 and dead the June 6th 68, is the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the dynasty julio-claudienne; it reigned from 54 to 68.
Néron reaches the throne the October 13rd 54, with died of its great-uncle and adoptive father Claude ( Claudius ), Empereur of Rome. In 66, he added the title Imperator to his name. He was dispossessed of his capacity in 68 and committed suicide assisted of his Epaphroditos scribe.
The historians discuss still today supposed madness of Néron.
Sources on Néron
The primary sources relating to Néron must be read with precaution. Its life was reported by the historian Suétone in his work Of vita duodecim Caesarum libri ( Life of the Twelve Césars ) and by Tacite in Annals . Suétone and Tacite had the rank of senator. Their descriptions of the events of the reign of Néron are suspect insofar as one knows that Néron persecuted the Roman senators as from years 65-66, following the discovery of two conspiracies. Certain exaltés accounts of the reign of Néron could thus be only exaggerations.
Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus : wire of Cneis Domitius Ahenobarbus Old the and of Aemilia Lepida.
Germanicus : wire of Drusus (wire of Tiberius Néron and Livie, and brother of Tibère) and of Antonia Minor (sister of Antonia Major). Germanicus is the brother of Claude; he is also the adoptive grandson of Auguste, then the adoptive son of his uncle Tibère.
Agrippine Elder the: girl of Clutched and of Julia (girl of Auguste and Scribonia).
Birth under CaligulaLucius Domitius Ahenobarbus was born the December 15th 37. It was not to then become Master of the empire. His/her maternal uncle Caligula had just started to reign the March 16th of this year, at 25 years. Its predecessors, Octave and Tibère, had lived respectively up to 76 and 79 years. If Caligula lived as a long time as they, it could hope for a succession by its own descendants.
Lucius would have drawn the attention of his/her uncle shortly after his birth, his Agrippine mother having required of her brother to choose the name of the child. That would have been a gesture of favor and would have marked the child like a possible heir to his uncle, but Caligula gave to its nephew only the name of Claude, implying that it had few chances to become an emperor, like Claude.
The relation between the brother and the sister seems to be improved very quickly. A scandal marking the beginning of the reign of Caligula was its particularly close relation with his/her three sisters Drusilla, Julia Livilla and Agrippine. All the three were represented with their brother on the coins of the time. The three women seem to have obtained her favor and undoubtedly gained influence there. The writings of Flavius Josèphe, Suétone, Dion Cassius report that they had incestueuses relations with their brother. The fast death of Drusilla in 38 made only reinforce this suspicion. One said of it that it was the favorite one of Caligula; it was buried besides with the honors due to an empress. Caligula the déifia even, making of it the first woman of the Roman history obtain this honor.
Lucius became thus the son of an influential and famous woman. But it could quickly lose the influence which it had on her brother. Caligula still did not have a child. His/her male parents closest were then his/her brothers-in-law Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (the husband of Drusilla), Marcus Vinicius (the husband of Livilla) and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (the husband of Agrippine). They were the probable heirs in the event of premature death to Caligula. However, after the death of his wife, Lepidus seemed to have lost any chance, but not any ambition, to succeed his/her brother-in-law.
ConspiraciesIn September 39, Caligula left to join its legion S in shift against the Germanic tribes. The countryside had to be pushed back at the following year because of fears of the emperor of a Conspiration against him. In the year which followed, it launched out in the pottery. Lepidus had succeeded in becoming the lover of Agrippine and Livilla, apparently in the search of their assistance to gain the throne. It for that was immediately carried out. Caligula also ordered the execution of Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, popular the Légat of Germanie higher, and its replacement by Servius Sulpicius Galba. However, it is still not known if it were related to the conspiracy of Lepidus. Agrippine and Livilla were relegated to the Îles Pontiennes. Lucius was undoubtedly separated from his/her mother at that time.
The father of Lucius died of Hydropisie in 40. Lucius was now orphan and its destiny was dubious, under the reign of increasingly odd Caligula. The chance smiles the following year to him: the January 24th 41, Caligula, its wife Cæsonia Milonia, and their daughter Julia Drusilla were assassinated by a conspiracy carried out by Cassius Chaera. The Praetorian Garde helped Claude to obtain the throne. One of its first decisions was to point out his/her nieces of exile.
Agrippine remaria quickly with the rich person Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus. Her husband died between 44 and 47, and Agrippine was suspectée to have poisoned it to inherit its immense fortune. Lucius was the only heir to its mother, who had become rich
Adoption by ClaudeLucius, at ten years, had very few chances to occupy the throne. Claude, 57 years old at that time, had undoubtedly reigned longer, and more effectively than his predecessor. Claude had already married three times. He had married Plautia Urgulanilla and Aelia Paetina when he was ordinary citizen. Emperor, it had married with Valeria Messalina. The couple had two children, Britannicus (born in 41) and Octavie (born in 40). Messaline was only 25 years old and could give him other heirs.
However, Messaline was carried out in 48, was shown conspiracy against her husband. Ambitious Agrippine quickly projected to replace his/her aunt by marriage. January 1st 49, it became the fourth woman of Claude, Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar Drusus . The marriage lasted five years.
Beginning 50, the Roman Sénat offered to Agrippine the honorary title of Augusta, that Livia (14 - 29) had been the only one to carry before it. The February 25th 50, Lucius was officially adopted by Claude under the name of Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus . Néron was older than Britannicus, his/her adoptive brother, and this adoption made of him the official heir to the throne.
Claude honoured his adoptive son several manners. Néron was émancipé in 51, at 14 years. It was named proconsul, entered to the Senate, there made its first speech, appeared publicly in company of Claude, and was represented on the coins. In 53, he married his adoptive sister, Octavie.
First years of the emperorClaude died poisoned the October 13rd 54 and Néron was quickly named emperor in his place. It was only 17 years old. The historians agree to consider that Sénèque played the part of figurehead at the beginning of its reign. The important decisions were probably left between the hands more capable of his/her mother Agrippine the Young person (who could have poisoned Claude itself), of his Sénèque tutor, and the Préfet of the court Sextus Afranius Burrus. Néron seeks as of the beginning its reign to obtain the favors of the army and the plebs by various premiums.
The first five years of the reign of Néron were known like examples of good administration, causing even the emission of a series of coins celebrating the quinquennium Neronis .
The businesses of the empire were treated with effectiveness and the Senate profited one period of influence renewed in the businesses of the State. The problems were to however emerge soon from the personal life of Néron and the race to the increasing influence between Agrippine and the two advisers. Everyone knew that Néron was disappointed of its marriage and misled Octavie. It took for mistress Claudia Acte, a former slave, into 55. Agrippine tried to intervene in favor of Octavie and required of his/her son the reference of Act. Burrus and Sénèque, for their part, chose to support protected to them.
Néron resisted the intervention of his/her mother in her personal businesses. Its influence on his/her decreasing son, Agrippine turned to a candidate to the younger throne. Britannicus, at fifteen years, was always legally minor and under the responsibility of Néron, but it approached the age of the majority. Britannicus was a possible successor of Néron and to establish its influence on him could reinforce the position of Agrippine. But the young man died brutally the February 12th 55. The proclamation of its majority had been planned for the February 13rd. The coincidence of the dates lets think that it was poisoned. Burrus is suspecté to have taken share with the murder. Néron revolted more and more against the influence of Agrippine, and it started to consider the murder of his own mother. It justified its intentions while protesting which she plotted against him. The capacity of Agrippine declined still quickly, while Burrus and Sénèque became the two most influential men of Rome.
A series of scandalsWhereas its advisers dealt with the businesses of the State, Néron was surrounded by a circle of close relations. The Roman historians report nights of vice and violence, whereas the more banal businesses of the policy were neglected. Marcus Salvius Otho was with the number of these new favorites. From all points of view, Othon was as discharged as Néron, but it became as intimate as a brother. Certain sources even consider that they were lovers. Othon would have introduced to Néron a woman who would have initially married the favorite, then the emperor. Poppée ( Poppaea Sabina ) was described like a woman of great beauty, full with charm, and intelligence. One can find in many sources (Plutarque Galba 19.2-20.2; Suétone Othon 3.1-2; Tacit two versions: Stories 1.13.3-4; Yearly 13.45-46; and Dion Cassius 61.11.2-4) rumors of a triangle in love between Néron, Othon, and Poppée.
In 58, Poppée had ensured its position of favorite of Néron. The following year (59) was revolving in the reign of Néron. Néron and/or Poppée would have organized the murder of Agrippine. Sénèque in vain tried to convince the Senate which it set up a conspiracy against her son, the reputation of the emperor was irremediably sullied by this case with matricide. Othon was soon driven out imperial entourage and envoy in Lusitanie as governor.
The following turning was the year 62, for several reasons.
The first was a change among its advisers. Burrus died and Sénèque asked for Néron the permission of withdraw public affairs. Their substitute at the stations of prefect of the court and advising was Tigellin. He had been banished in 39 by Caligula, shown of adultery with at the same time Agrippine and Livilla. He had been recalled of exile by Claude, then had succeeded in becoming a close relation of Néron (and perhaps his/her lover). With Poppée, it would have had a greater influence than Sénèque never had some on the emperor. A few months later, Tigellin married Poppée. A theory suggests that Poppée tried, during these four years (58 - 62), to move away Néron from its advisers and his/her friends; if that is true, which arrived at Burrus and Sénèque could not be the fruit of the chance. The second significant event of the year was the Divorce of the emperor. Néron, old then twenty-five years, had reigned eight years and did not have yet of heir. When Poppée fell pregnant, Néron decided to marry its mistress, but its marriage with Octavie was initially to be cancelled. It started by showing it Adultère. But Néron had already acquired the reputation to be inaccurate, whereas Octavie was known to be a paragon of virtue. One needed testimonys against it, but the torture of one of its slaves only managed to produce celebrates it declaration of Pythias, according to which the vulva of Octavie was cleaner than the mouth of Tigellinus. Néron succeeds in obtaining the divorce due to Infertilité, which enabled him to marry Poppée and to wait until it gives rise to a heir. The sudden death of Octavie, the June 9th 62 caused public riots.
One of the fast effects of the nomination of Tigellinus was the promulgation of a series of laws against treasons; many capital punishments were carried out.
During this year, Néron made carry out two of the remaining members of its family:
- Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix. He was the grandson of Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus and Antonia Major. He was also the maternal half-brother of Messaline. He had married Claudia Antonia, the only daughter of Claude and Aelia Paetina.
The large fire of RomeBeginning 63, Poppée gave rise to a girl: Claudia Augusta . Néron celebrated the event, but the child died four months later. Néron still did not have a heir.
The July 19th 64, burst the large fire of Rome. Fire began in the shops from the surroundings from the Grand Circus. Néron was then on vacation in its birthplace, Antium, but it had to return in all haste. The fire made rage during six days. The rumor circulated that Néron would have played of the Lyre and sings, at the top of the Quirinal, while the City burned. (Tacit, Ann. XV; Suétone, Néron XXXVIII; Dion Cassius, R.H. LXII).
The same accounts describe us an emperor opening his palates to offer a roof to the homeless people and organizing distributions of food to avoid the famine among the survivors. But Néron lost any chance to regild its reputation while making too quickly public its reconstruction projects of Rome in a monumental style (and less flammable).
The disorientated population sought scapegoats, and soon Rumeur S held Néron for person in charge. One lent to him for motivation the intention of immortaliser his name by re-electing Rome Neropolis . It was important for Néron to offer another object to this need to find a culprit. He chooses for target a religion which took more and more place, and of which he had fun to persecute the members of them, that of the Christian S. It ordered that the Christians are thrown to the lions in the arenas, whereas others were crucifiés in great number.
Tacite makes us the account of this episode:
human prudence had ordered all that depends on its councils: one thought soon of bending the gods, and one opened the Sibylline Livres. According to what one there lute, prayers were addressed to Vulcan, Cérès and Proserpine: Roman ladies beseeched Junon, firstly with the Capitole, then at the edge of the closest sea, where one drew water to make sprinklings on the walls of the temple and the statue of the goddess; finally the currently married women celebrated Sellisterne S and the taken care religious ones. But no human means, neither imperial generosities, nor expiatory ceremonies made conceal the public cry which showed Néron to have ordered the fire. To alleviate these rumors, it offered other culprits, and made suffer the tortures most refined with a class from men hated for their abominations and that the vulgar one called Christians. This name comes to them from Christ, which, under Tibère, was delivered to the torment by the procurator Pontius Pilatus. Repressed one moment, this execrable superstition was overflowed again, not only in the Judaea, where it had its source, but in Rome even, where all that the world locks up of infamies and horrors flows and finds partisans. One seizes initially those which acknowledged their sect; and, on their revelations, an infinity of others, which were much convinced of fire than of hatred for mankind. One made their torments an entertainment: the ones, covered with skins of animals, perished devoured by dogs; others died on crosses, or they were coated inflammable materials, and, when the day ceased shining, one burned them in place of torches. Néron lent its gardens for this spectacle, and gave at the same time plays to the Circus, where sometimes it was interfered with the people out of dress notching, and sometimes drove a tank. Also, though these men were guilty and had deserved the last rigors, the hearts opened with the compassion, by thinking that it was not with the public property, but with the cruelty of only one, that they were immolés.
According to certain partisans of the not-historicity of Jesus, this text would be a medieval forgery. They are based on the fact that even the ecclesiastical historian Eusèbe de Césarée would be unaware of this massacre.
Today still, one is unaware of the cause of this fire. Although the old sources (and well-read men) lean for Néron flamer, it should be recalled that the fires were frequent in ancient Rome. However the duration of this fire exceeded the normal. According to max Gallo, Néron would not be directly at the origin of this fire, but could very well not have intervened and not take any measurement against. Famous the Domus aurea belonged to the reconstruction project imagined by Néron.
Néron, the artist and the widowerIn 65, Néron was implied in another scandal, taken more with serious by the people of this time than it would be it nowadays. He was regarded as degrading for an Roman Emperor to seem a public entertainer, playing the comedy, singing and playing of the quadrant.
Hated by many citizens, with a list of political enemies which lengthened, Néron started to appreciate its loneliness, when in 65 he discovered the Conjuration of Rammer (of the name of Gaius Calpurnius Piso, which tried to take its place) and the implication of former friends like Sénèque in the plot. The conspirators were constrained with the suicide.
Moreover, Néron ordered that Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, a popular and valorous general, committed suicide, to make following vague suspicions of treason. This decision pushed the military commanders, in Rome and in the provinces, to consider the organization of a revolution.
In 65, Poppée died, undoubtedly of the hand of Néron itself. The emperor left in Greece, in 67, where it distracted his hosts with artistic spectacles, whereas in Rome the Préfet of the court Nymphidius Sabinus sought to obtain the support of the Praetorian guards and the senators.
Commit suicideOf return to Rome after the " tournée" , Néron found an atmosphere icy; Gaius Julius Vindex, the governor of the Lyons Gaulle, revolted, and that brought Néron to a paranoiac hunting of any possible threat. In this spirit, it ordered the elimination of any patrician with suspect ideas. Bent, its (formerly) trusty servant, governor of Hispanie (Spain), was one of these noble dangerous. It thus ordered its execution. Bent, which did not have the choice, the Jura fidelity with the Senate and the People of Rome (Senatus Populus that Romanus: SPQR), it did not recognize any more the capacity of Néron. Moreover, it started to organize a campaign to take the head of the empire.
Consequently, Lucius Clodius Macer, legate of the legion III Augusta in Africa, revolted and ceased sending corn to Rome. Nymphidius corrupted the imperial guard, which was turned over against Néron with the promise of a financial reward of Bent.
The Senate dislocated Néron, which committed suicide by stabbing with the throat the June 6th 68. With its death, the dynasty julio-claudienne ended. The senate voted its Damnatio memoriae , cursing its memory. Several civil wars followed at the time of year 69, Année of the four emperors.
Events during the reign of Néron
- in 55: Britannicus, the son of Claude, dies without it being known if its death must be allotted to Néron which wishes to perfect its base on the empire or if the cause is " the disease of the dieux" (Epilepsy).
- in 59: Néron makes assassinate his/her mother Agrippine the Young person.
- in 64: Large fire of Rome.
- 64-64: the First persecution of the Christians shown to be responsible for the fire.
- in 66: Jewish revolt in Judaea.
Historical points of view in connection with Néron
At the time modern, in Occident, Néron is put by much in symbol of all that the ancient Rome had of more monstrous. They are pressed on the texts of Suétone, frequently and gossipmonger, Tacite, increased attacks of the Christian authors (Tertullien, taken again by Eusèbe de Césarée and others), and crowned by works of fiction like Quo Vadis . The assembled “monstrosities” pins some being, in addition to the family assassinations, the fire of Rome and the persecution of the Christians. However, the real culpability of Néron in the large fire of Rome is a charge in which the historians hardly any more believe. Moreover, no law anti-Christian woman was promulgated under her reign in an official way: there was well persecution, but only located in Rome.
To the discharge of Néron, one can indicate that it was with Antium at the time of the fire of Rome into 64. One can advance this fact like proof of his innocence. Moreover the collections to which it held there burned. The persecution of the Christians was perhaps thereafter an policy option to calm the Roman Plèbe which needed culprits.
The modern historians are measured in their judgment on Néron. They also note that under its reign, the Empire is correctly managed, its monetary reform which revalorizes the sum of money benefits the mediums from business, its military campaigns are victorious, and which it gave an important impulse to the artistic evolutions in the field of architecture and decorative arts (see the Domus aurea).
Néron illustrated in modern works
Néron with the cinema
- the actor Peter Ustinov interpreted picturesque Néron in the film Quo Vadis? (1952).
- In 2004, Hans Matheson takes again the role in a mini-series: Imperium: Nerone
Néron with the theater
- the part of Jean Root, entitled Britannicus , is founded on the writings of Tacit. Root made there of the personal adaptations in order to create a more tragic context.
Néron in bookstore
the series Murena , of Jean Dufaux and Philippe Delaby, watch well rise towards the capacity of Néron after the successive assassinations of the Emperor Claude (his adoptive father), then of Britannicus (the son of Claude), then of his/her mother Agrippine.
- Néropolis , of Hubert Monteilhet, remains one of the great classics among the historical novels dedicated to Néron. A masterly work become a reference today.
- Me, Sporus, priest and whore , historical novel of Cristina Rodriguez crowned by a literary prize in 2001, us shows Néron under one day completely new through the eyes of Sporus, the famous eunuque one, which will remain with him until the last moments.
- Néron , of Eugen Cizek, is without the doubt the most serious biography of the emperor most complete and ever written.
- After being itself made build a sumptuous palate of fifty hectares, the Domus Aurea, Néron inaugurates it and exclaims; " Enfin I will be able to live a such human being "
- the Senate issues its death on June 6th 68. Néron, while committing suicide, would have exclaimed: “ Qualis artifex pereo ! ” (“What a artist perishes with me! ”)
Names and titles
- 37, is born LVCIVS•DOMITIVS•AHENOBARBVS
- 50, adoption by Claude: NERO•CLAVDIVS•CAESAR•DRVSVS•GERMANICVS
- 66, name change: IMPERATOR•NERO•CLAVDIVS•CAESAR•AVGVSTVS•GERMANICVS
Titles and magistratures
- Pontifex maximus and Lord's Prayer Patriae in 55
- Consul in 55, 57, 58, 60, 68
- Acclaimed Imperator in 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 64, 66 and 67
- Holds the power tribunician starting from 54 (renewed annually the October 13rd)
Titulature with its deathWhen it committed suicide in 68 its titulature was:
- IMPERATOR•NERO•CLAVDIVS•CAESAR•AVGVSTVS•GERMANICVS, PONTIFEX•MAXIMVS, TRIBVNICIAE•POTESTATIS•XIV, IMPERATOR•XII, CONSVL•V, LORD'S PRAYER•PATRIAE
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