Saturday, November 2, 2013

Imperial Rome Part 1: Emperor Nero- The Man Who Fiddled While Rome Burned


My other blogs are:

Emperor Nero
The Man Who Fiddled While Rome Burned
Imperial Rome Part 1
 
Julia Agrippina Minor,
Nero's infamous mother
The most narcissistic emperor to ever reign was born in A.D. 37. Known fully as Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, he reigned as Roman Emperor from A.D. 54 to 68, and was the last of five Roman emperors, most of whom brought complete misery and devastation to the Romans people. Yet Nero was so much more than an emperor, as he did nothing worth noting to make a good mark on history, but instead he cared only for fame and craved attention from the people, and his history is one of the most disturbing anyone could ever read, perhaps more disturbing than Adolph Hitler in more primitive ways. Nero's is the tale of a child torn away from family and home, to be raised by a mother in isolation, as she was exiled by her brother Emperor Caligula in A.D. 39, simply losing his favor. Ironically, Nero was both the least likely successor to the throne and was the successor after all, thanks to his dear old mommy Julia Agrippina the Minor/Younger. She was best known for being commanding, violent, manipulative, ambitious, domineering, and is recorded by writer Pliny the Elder for having murdered her brother Emperor Claudius by poisoning to remove their exile and allow her son Nero the chance to ascend to the throne.
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It is still debated as to how the little duo may have ascended to the throne, but they did, and Claudius was definitely murdered somehow by Agrippina. Regardless of how, Agrippina caused Nero to take the throne. He as Emperor and she as Empress close to A.D. 50, and where Nero was only 17 at the time, he was the youngest Roman emperor to ascend to power. As any good story goes, the mother and son did not get along as the son naturally absorbed power into himself after discovering his continual manipulation by his power hungry mother. he eventually severed the relationship altogether when he started to realize that Agrippina was pulling his strings in an attempt to take the throne herself by achieving fame through Nero's role as emperor. Nero was not particularly intelligent, but he realized by advice of his group of friends how his mother was attempting to dethrone him. Over time, Nero became progressively more powerful at the expense of his mother, even freeing himself of his advisers and eliminating rivals to the throne.
The shipwreck of
Agrippina
LIKE MOTHER LIKE SON: By this point in his life, Nero's stepbrother Britannicus, son of Agrippina, was blood related to the previous Emperor Claudius who was originally murdered by Agrippina. Through Britannicus, Agrippina planned to set him up as legitimate emperor when he came of age at 17, two years down the road, however he suddenly died the day before his official day of adulthood, but you saw this one coming! This marks the official murderous power struggle between Nero and Agrippina, betwixt beloved son and mother, as they both continually made plans to assassinate the other in overly clever ways that failed. Some record that there were dozens of murder attempts in a short period of time by each of them. For example, during the Festival of Minerva in March of A.D. 59 Nero invited his dear mother for dinner on a fine cruise, however he arranged a shipwreck to drown her so he would not be implicated in a direct murder. During this "accident," Agrippina simply swam to the shore and survived. This may seem silly, but very few Romans liked the water and even fewer knew how to swim. In a typical feminine way, Agrippina continually tried poisoning Nero but somehow he always seemed to evade those specially prepared foods, though it is not known if it was by blind luck or intelligence. 

Nero murders his own mother,
staging it as a suicide
MATRICIDE AND DOMESTIC MURDERS: Many murder attempts later, their assassination attempts became more direct and obvious. Nero found his mother at last and seized the opportunity to execute her and framed it as a suicide. It was such a disturbing sight to see their emperor do such a horrid thing that no one said anything and Nero was not held accountable, as they knew Nero would assuredly kill any who stood against him. Close to this time period, Nero began to realize his true power. In his short life he had a couple wives, Octavia and Poppae Sabina. While being married to Octavia, it was around A.D. 58 that Nero developed a passion for Poppae, known to be a lady of great beauty, but she was married to a Governor named Marcus Otho. Nero became more confident that he could get away with divorcing Octavia, although this was highly uncommon, and she was exiled to Compania. Soon after she was imprisoned in A.D. 62 and Nero took Poppae for his wife. Not long after, however, Nero trumped-up some bogus charges of adultery onto Octavia and had her executed. Believe it or not, it was not long after this as well that Nero grew tired of Poppae, for in A.D. 65 Nero had a temper tantrum while Poppae was pregnant and kicked her in her stomach until she died. Immediately and suspiciously, he married Statila Messalina the following year, but then took up with their new boy Sporus because he resembled Poppaea in appearance.
Poppae, Nero's pregnant wife, was killed by Nero himself in a temper tantrum, where he kicked her repeatedly, killing his unborn child and wife. Nero is the fat sack of crap on the left.
Great fire of Rome
CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION AND GREAT FIRE OF ROME: Nero was well known for his mother's brutality and violence, and was ever more known for his dislike of the Christians living in Rome. He was absolutely evil in every way, and this sickness seemed to be directed toward the Christians for many debatable reasons. Regardless of the reasoning, Nero was most famously known for capturing Christians, covering their bodies in tar, hanging them by their ankles and lighting them on fire to be burned alive slowly, using their lit, screaming to death bodies as candlelight at his wild parties. Truly he was a sick man, for it was his direct fault that the Great Fire of Rome occurred, nearly burning down the entire city. Nero decided that he wanted to build a new "mall" or Coliseum of sorts in his name with a giant statue in his honor, there wasn't enough room in the city and the senate refused to dislocate the poor people in the old quarter for such a petty structure. Displeased with the senate's refusal, Nero set fire to some buildings in the old quarter, which blazed so out of control that the entire city was nearly destroyed in the process, and the old quarter was definitely burned down. With all those people displaced and homeless, Nero began his building construction.
Poor chubby Nero, life is so hard being the absolute tyrannical emperor of an gigantic empire
NERO THE FRUITLOOP: Nero became depressed however, and was starved for attention, as virtually his entire family was assassinated at some point, his wives killed by himself in temper tantrums, and the people of Rome hating him to a very high degree for his selfishness and tyrrany. Nero set out to win the hearts of the people in his boredom. It is said that in his new building residing where the old quarter was, he had a stage built and attempted to become a "rock" singer of sorts but was terrible. The guards and Nero's friends forced the crowds to show up and threatened them to pretend to enjoy his awful music, but this did not work out well at all. Growing more concerned for Nero, his friends gradually drifted away as Nero became quite obese in his depression. In this part of his life, Nero dealt extremely harshly to the senators and his friends as he thought he was a god. He humiliated the senators publicly and also committed incest with his sisters and may have had a homosexual relationship with his son born from his wife Statila.
END OF THE MOST EVIL EMPEROR IN HUMAN HISTORY: Nero was not loved by anyone in Rome. The peoples under governor Gaius Julius Vindex had rebelled in A.D. 68 against Nero's outlandish ta policies, but although Vindex was defeated at the Battle of Vesontio, it sent ripples of dissension among the people and the Germans against Nero, and so he fled when everyone, both friend and foe, abandoned him suspiciously in June A.D. 69. Leaving Rome as if to dramatically commit suicide in some sort of cry for attention, he planned to throw himself in the Tiber or at least pretend to, as he clearly lost his nerve or never had any real intention to do so. Prior to returning he realized no one cared he was gone, and during this brief absence the senate actually labeled him as an enemy of Rome who was to be put to death by beating. Nero did not return to Rome, naturally, instead planned to run away. Unable to fully separate himself from his lust for power, he tarried too long and ran out of time to flee. He and his 4 trusty guards knew time was up. , Wishing to die but lacking the courage, he ordered the guards to set an example and commit suicide with him, but they refused. Instead, he ordered his 4 trusty guards to dig his grave near a villa outside Rome, and lacking the nerve to do it himself and hearing a contingent of Roman officers approaching to collect him for his public execution, he ordered his guard Epaphroditos to stab him to death. He was killed by his guard and left for dead.
Nero stabbed by his trusty guard and abandoned for dead outside a villa near Rome
Nero died on that day, but regrettably that piece of trash died quickly and relatively painlessly compared to those he tortured and brutally beat to death, however the empire still celebrated his death and tore down his ugly statues. In typical Roman style, the joy was short-lived, and numerous civil wars broke out shortly thereafter as powerful aristocrats made petty attempts to seize the empty throne as there was no legitimate heir, since Nero assassinated them all. They the empire into chaos yet again. Does Rome ever learn its lesson? Read more to find out!
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To find out more on Rome and how it decayed rapidly after Nero's death, read my upcoming article called "Imperial Rome Part 2: Ostrogoths and Visigoths- The Ancient Germans and an Expanding Rome" detailing the rise of the ancient Germans and pretty much how they rampaged across Rome.
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Thanks for reading!!

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