Nero 54 – 68 AD
Emperor Nero, born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, on December 15, 37 AD, in Antium near Rome. He was the only son of Agrippina the Younger (Emperor Augustus’s great-granddaughter and the sister of the third Roman emperor Caligula) and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, a descendant of a distinguished Roman aristocratic family.
Nero’s birth father died when he was three, and his mother married her uncle, the Emperor Claudius.
Nero had no biological siblings, but when his mother married her uncle, Emperor Claudius, Nero became the stepbrother of Britannicus, Claudius’s son, effectively putting Nero in the line of succession before Claudius’s own son, Britannicus.
In 54 AD, Claudius died under suspicious circumstances, which many historians believe involved poison administered by Agrippina. Nero, then only 16 years old, was named emperor.
Nero’s rise to power came primarily through the machinations of his ambitious mother.
Nero’s rule began promisingly enough, with the young emperor guided by his advisers, Burrus and the philosopher Seneca. However, Nero’s administration became marked by extravagance, paranoia, and cruelty over time. He is particularly remembered for his persecutions of Christians and for allegedly “fiddling while Rome burned” during the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, a charge that historians still dispute.
Nero’s popularity waned as his behavior grew increasingly erratic. He was accused of matricide, as it is believed he orchestrated his mother’s death in 59 AD. Nero also allegedly kicked his pregnant wife, Poppaea Sabina, to death. Furthermore, his lavish spending and grandiose building projects drained the Roman treasury. His poor relationship with the Roman Senate also contributed to his downfall.
The final years of Nero’s reign were marred by uprisings, notably the Pisonian conspiracy of 65 AD and the rebellion of Vindex and Galba in 68 AD. As support for Nero eroded, the Senate declared him a public enemy. Facing execution and abandonment by his bodyguards, Nero chose to commit suicide on June 9, 68 AD, reputedly uttering the last words, “What an artist dies in me.” His death marked the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and sparked a brief period of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors.
Obverse: IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right.
Reverse: IVPPITER CVSTOS, Jupiter seated left, holding thunderbolt in right hand, scepter in left.
Diameter: 18 mm
Material: 24k Gold plated lead-free