Nero also inaugurated competitions in poetry, in the theatre, and in athletics as counterattractions to gladiatorial combats. So Nero had him castrated and took him as his bride. Nero’s father, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, died about 40 ce, and Nero was brought up by his mother, Julia Agrippina, a great-granddaughter of the emperor Augustus. As Nero's behavior became more erratic—he believed that he could sing Gaul into submission—his enemies became bolder. However, Nero’s second marriage wasn’t happy. Nero even dreamed of abandoning the throne of Rome in order to fulfill his poetical and musical gifts, though he did not act on these puerile ambitions. According to the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus and to the Nero of the Roman biographer Suetonius, Nero in response tried to shift responsibility for the fire to the Christians, who were popularly thought to engage in many wicked practices. Three ancient writers, Tacitus, Suetonius, … He saw to it that assistance was provided to cities that had suffered disaster and, at the request of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, gave aid to the Jews. She also advocated for her home town of Pompeii, and helped it gain considerable autonomy from the Empire's rule. Nero gave her a public funeral and proclaimed her virtues. He was even said to have dressed one of his enslaved males as Poppaea so he could believe she had not died. Nero married Poppaea, and Poppaea was given the title Augusta when they had a daughter, Claudia. Birthplace: Antium, Latium Location of death: Rome, Italy Cause of death: Suicide. But our most detailed images of homosexual marriages come from the descriptions of Roman emperors. Emperor Nero surveys the damage in Rome after the Great Fire of 64 A.D. One dubious story holds that he blamed, and punished, the city’s Christians for the devastating blaze. He married Poppaea in 62, but she died in 65, and he subsequently married the patrician lady Statilia Messalina. Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. Nero’s marriages and affairs also proved to be troublesome. He tried to shift the blame to the Christians, beginning the Roman persecution of that young religion. Nero was born in 37 A.D., the nephew of the emperor. After Emperor Nero allegedly kicked his second wife Sabina to death in 65 A.D., he met a slave boy named Sporus who looked like her. As Nero was older than Claudius’ natural son by a previous marriage, Britannicus, he now had a superb claim to the imperial purple. Claudia did not live long. This led the Christians to label him the Antichrist. In reality, Agrippina detested Poppaea Sabina and forced Nero to marry Octavia. In order to marry the woman whom he loved, Nero accused Octavia of adultery and exiled her. Nero, in full Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, also called (50–54 ce) Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, original name Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, (born December 15, 37 ce, Antium, Latium—died June 9, 68, Rome), fifth Roman emperor (54–68 ce), stepson and heir of the emperor Claudius. Nero burned Rome and blamed it on the Christians! Artistic pretensions and irresponsibility, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nero-Roman-emperor, JewishEncyclopedia.com - Biography of Nero, Jewish Virtual Library - Biography of Nero, Public Broadcasting Service - Biography of Nero, Nero - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Two Sides to Every Story. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. He became infamous for his personal debaucheries and extravagances and, on doubtful evidence, for his burning of Rome and persecutions of Christians. Seeing that he could do what he liked without fear of censure or retribution, Nero began to give rein to inordinate artistic pretensions. His father died when Nero was about three. She was born in early 40 at the latest, but perhaps a year or two earlier, because her younger brother Britannicus was born in February of 41. For the first time, absolute power in the Roman Empire was vested in a mere boy, who was not yet 17. Her birth year is unknown, but we know she died in 65 C.E. Cassius Dio identifies Sporus as a freedman. In 65 AD, Nero is believed to have kicked his wife Poppaea to death. Poppaea and Nero’s child died after her birth, while Pappaea’s next pregnancy ended in tr… But the Roman populace mistakenly believed that he himself had started the fire in Rome in order to indulge his aesthetic tastes in the city’s subsequent reconstruction. If the Golden House was an extravagant folly, the allegation that Nero killed his wife Poppaea by kicking her while she was pregnant is far more shocking. Nero (/ ˈ n ɪər oʊ / NEER-oh; Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the fifth Roman emperor, ruling from 54 to 68.His infamous reign is usually associated with tyranny, extravagance and debauchery. His armies put down rebellions in Britain and Judaea, he was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, and he was lenient toward his enemies. Poppaea was married first to Rufrius Crispinus of the Preaetorian Guard, and they had a son. After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina married her uncle, Emperor Claudius, in 49 AD. Imagine yourself as nine-year-old Tiberius. She hoped to control the government, but Burrus and Nero’s old tutor, the Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, though they owed their influence to Agrippina, were not content to remain her tools. For more details, see our Privacy Policy. Most of the accounts we have of Nero are hostile; ancient writers loved to … Hitherto the government had not clearly distinguished Christians from Jews. He married Poppaea in 62, but she died in 65, and he subsequently married the patrician… Rome burned while he was emperor, and the eagerness with which he rebuilt led many to believe that he was responsible for the fire. Nero divorced his wife, Octavia, who was the daughter of his predecessor, the Emperor Claudius. And he had your father executed. The Senate condemned him to death by crucifixion, and his household guard abandoned him. Shortly after Nero allegedly killed Poppaea, he remarried … In archaeological study of the city of Pompeii, where volcanic tragedy preserved the city within 15 years of Poppaea's death, scholars have found evidence that during her lifetime, she was considered a virtuous woman, with many statues in her honor. DIR Atlas (Claudia) Octavia, wife of Nero Donna Hurley Octavia, properly Claudia Octavia, was the daughter of the emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messallina. She was the daughter of the Emperor Claudius and stepsister and first wife of Emperor Nero. Nero’s rule would have its share of bloodshed in places throughout the empire. Her paternal grandfather, Poppaeus Sabinus, was a Roman Consul and a friend of several emperors. Her father was Titus Ollius. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Gender:. The opera focuses on the replacement of Nero's wife Octavia by Poppaea. Otho, Poppaea's first husband, helped in Galba's successful revolt against Nero, and made himself emperor after Galba was killed. During the fire, Nero was at his villa at Antium 35 miles (56 km) from Rome and therefore cannot be held responsible for the burning of the city. You can opt-out at any time. Poppaea is believed to have stirred Nero to attack Christians after the Fire of Rome and to have helped free Jewish priests at the request of Josephus. From that time until 62, Burrus and Seneca were the effective rulers of the empire. Agrippina—having already helped bring about the murder of Valeria Messalina, her predecessor as the wife of Claudius, in 48, and ceaselessly pursuing her intrigues to bring Nero to power—eliminated her opponents among Claudius’s palace advisers, probably had Claudius himself poisoned in 54, and completed her work with the poisoning of Britannicus in 55. His nocturnal rioting in the streets was a scandal as early as 56, but the emergence of real brutality in Nero can be fixed in the 35-month period between the putting to death of his mother at his orders in 59 and his similar treatment of his wife Octavia in June 62. Sporus became emperor Nero’s formal wife in the eyes of everyone, and he had to be addressed as “empress.” He would wear all the luxurious attires worthy of the Roman aristocracy and had an entourage of servants at his disposal. Your stepfather gleefully divorced his wife, who was pregnant, too. She being his favorite, Nero impregnated her and then married her in 63. Although this might sound quite nice, this was far from being something to envy. Your father was forced to divorce your pregnant mother, marrying your stepfather instead. But his early promise gave way to wild extravagance and murder. According to the stories told of her, Poppaea had urged Nero to kill his mother, Agrippina the Younger, and to divorce and later murder his first wife, Octavia. Nero, a depraved first-century emperor, married at least two men. Nero built a palace, the Golden House, which was apparently magnificent, but it was so resented by the public and by his successors that it was almost completely dismantled. The Jewish historian Josephus (who also died in 65 BCE) tells us that Poppaea Sabina interceded on behalf of Jews twice. At the time she was still married to Otho (a future emperor! She dies in 65 AD as a result of being kicked to death while pregnant by Nero, some claim. Nero married Poppaea, and Poppaea was given the title Augusta when they had a daughter, Claudia. Nero's death ended the almost 100-year rule of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The main source for information about Poppaea is the Roman writer Tacitus. He fancied himself not only a poet but also a charioteer and lyre player, and in 59 or 60 he began to give public performances; later he appeared on the stage, and the theatre furnished him with the pretext to assume every kind of role. Agrippina, the Empress Who Scandalized Rome, A Look at the Lives of the First 12 Roman Emperors, Five Roman Empresses You Shouldn't Invite to Dinner, Biography of Tiberius, 1st Century Roman Emperor, Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, Better Known as Quintilian, M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School. It was the fourth marriage of Claudius and he had had his previous wife Messalina executed in 48 AD. Then in 64 AD, the Great Fire of Rome broke out. He was led to the murder of Agrippina by her insanity and her fury at seeing her son slip out of her control, to the murder of Octavia by his having fallen in love with Poppaea Sabina, the young wife of the senator (and later emperor) Otho, and by his fear that his repudiated wife was fomenting disaffection at court and among the populace. Nero's bad acts are often attributed to her influence. Because Nero became emperor as a young age, he was very much influenced by his mother, his tutor (Lucius Seneca), and the Praetorian Prefect (Sextus Burrus). He wed Pythagoras in a formal same-sex wedding by first putting on a bridal veil that made Nero the "bride" and Pythagoras the "groom." He castrated a boy so he could marry him. Even still some argue that she died as a result of childbirth or miscarriage. Nero’s second wife is the beautiful Poppaea Sabina. Moreover, the daughter of Claudius was murdered soon, but Nero made it look like a suicide. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Also known as: Poppea (Italianized spelling), Poppaea Augusta Sabina, Poppaea Sabina the Younger (to differentiate from her mother). Up to the year 59, Nero’s biographers cite only acts of generosity and clemency on his account. To the Romans these antics seemed to be scandalous breaches of civic dignity and decorum. Even later Nero was capable of conceiving grandiose plans for conquests or the creation of public works, but for the most part he used his position simply to gratify his own personal pleasures. ! Nero reportedly kicked her during an argument when she was pregnant in 65 C.E., resulting in her death, possibly from the effects of the subsequent miscarriage. Little is known about Sporus' background except that he was a young man to whom Nero took a liking. If only your troubles ended there. Wikimedia Commons Emperor Nero took the young boy Sporus as his bride in 67 A.D. In Britain, in A.D. 60, the Iceni Queen Boudicca (also spelled Boudica or Boudicea) rose in rebellion after she was flogged and her daughters raped by Roman soldiers. The legend that Nero fiddled during the 64 CE fire in Rome is false because bowed stringed instruments would not reach Europe for almost another millennia. Tacitus, for instance, asserts that Poppaea engineered her marriage with Otho specifically to get closer to, and eventually marry, Nero. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? It’s true that Nero out-did his predecessors when building his palace in Rome – but outdoing his predecessors was exactly what a Roman emperor was meant to do. Nero appointed Otho to an important post as governor of Lusitai (Lusitania). Nero, Roman emperor from 54 to 68 AD, was born at Antium on the 15th of December 37. Upon his death in A.D. 59, the officials appointed by Nero ignored it, seizing Iceni land. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Nero, portrait bust; in the Roman National Museum, Rome. ), but she had only married him to get close to Nero. He may have been a puer delicatus, who were sometimes castrated in an effort to preserve their youthful qualities. After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina incestuously became the wife of her uncle, the emperor Claudius, and persuaded him to favour Nero for the succession, over the rightful claim of Claudius’s own son, Britannicus, and to marry his daughter, Octavia, to Nero. Poppaea Sabina was the mistress and second wife of the Roman emperor Nero. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). She is also reported to have persuaded Nero to kill the philosopher Seneca, who had supported Nero's previous mistress, Acte Claudia. Agrippina was the daughter of Germanicus Caesar and Vipsania Agrippina, sister of the emperor Gaius, or Caligula (reigned 37–41), and wife of the emperor Claudius (41–54). Omissions? Her body was embalmed and buried in the Mausoleum of Augustus. AKA Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. In 53 AD, Nero married Claudia Octavia, his stepsister and daughter of Claudius with Messali… Oh, young Tiberius! Her family was wealthy, and Poppaea herself owned a villa outside Pompeii. The puer delicatus generally was a child-slave chosen by his master for his beauty and sexual attractiveness. According to ancient texts, Nero killed his own mother. His next wife was Statilia Messalina, whose first husband Nero had executed. She embarked on her third marriage, to the Emperor Claudius, in AD 49, and although he already had a son, Britannicus, by another wife, manipulated him into adopting Nero as his heir. Agrippina followed in 59BC, and finally, in 62 AD, Nero murdered first wife Octavia and her elder sister. In order to marry her, he accused Octavia of adultery and exiled her, later to be murdered (but made to look like a suicide). Your stepfather is none other than Emperor Augustus, so his wish is your command. Statue in the Golden House of Nero, Rome. Brought up in this atmosphere, Nero might well have begun to behave like a monster upon his accession as emperor in 54 but, in fact, behaved quite otherwise. He had Poppaea's son by her first marriage killed. Nero divorced his wife, Octavia, who was the daughter of his predecessor, the Emperor Claudius. This caused a rift with his mother, Agrippina the Younger. Augustus forces you to marry his daug… Born as the son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger, he lost his father at an early age. In 50 AD, at the age of 13, Nero was adopted by Emperor Claudius and took the name by which he is famous, Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. In the second instance, a different delegation won Poppaea's influence in its cause to keep standing a wall at the temple that would keep the emperor from seeing the Temple's proceedings. Agrippina the Younger, as empress, removed him from his position, as he was too close to a previous empress, Messalina. After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina incestuously became the wife of her uncle, the emperor Claudius, and persuaded him to favour Nero for the succession, over the rightful claim of Claudius’s own son, Britannicus, and to marry his daughter, Octavia, to Nero. The law of treason was dormant: Claudius had put 40 senators to death, but, between the murders instigated by Agrippina in 54 and the year 62, there were no like incidents in Nero’s reign. Her mother was executed in their childhood for committing adultery, and her father remarried Agrippinna. Nero's second wife. In 66, Nero remarried. Upon the death of Claudius, she at once had Nero proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard, whose prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus, was her partisan; the Senate thus had to accept a fait accompli. Nero proclaimed her divine. He does not depict kind acts, such as those reported by Josephus, but instead depicts her as corrupt. 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