From 4 Enoch: The Online Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 - 68 CE) was the fifth and last Emperor of the Julio-Claudian Dinasty, from 54 to 68 CE.
- This page is edited by Samuele Rocca, Israel
Nero was born in Antium, near Rome in 37 CE as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. He was the only son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger, sister of Gaius Caesar. In 49 CE, after that Claudius married Agrippina, Lucius Domitius was officially adopted in 50 CE and renamed Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus. As Nero was older than his step-brother, Britannicus, he became heir to the throne. Nero was proclaimed an adult in 51 CE. He was then appointed proconsul. In 53 CE, he married his step-sister Claudia Octavia.
Nero succeeded to Claudius in 54 CE. The ancient tradition presents Nero first five years of rule as excellent, the quinquennium neronianum. In this period the young Nero was assisted by his mother Agrippina, Burrus, the praefectus praetorius, and his tutor, Seneca the philosopher. In 55 CE, Nero had his step-brother Britannicus poisoned. From then onwards, Nero resisted the influence of his mother, and her advisors. In the same year, he removed Marcus Antonius Pallas, an ally of Agrippina, from his position in the treasury. Finally in 59 CE, Nero had his mother executed. He also divorced and later executed Octavia to marry Poppaea Sabina. With the sudden death of Burrus in 62 C.E., and the retirement of Seneca, Nero was to rule alone. Afterwards, surrounded by new advisors, the rule of Nero assumed the characters of a Hellenistic monarchy. In the last years of rule, Nero was assisted by the new praetorian praefectus Ofonius Tigellinus. Nero showed much sympathy to Greek culture. In 60 C.E., he introduced in Rome, public games in the Greek fashion, the Neronia, and in 66 C.E., Nero left for Greece to perform at the various Greek games. By then, Nero’s rule had become quite unpopular with the Senate. Nero executed various people between 62 and 63 CE, including Pallas, Gaius Rubellius Plautus, Faustus Sulla and Doryphorus. Nero’s difficulties with the Senate resulted in the Pisonian conspiracy in 65 C.E. However the conspiracy was unsuccesful in consequence of a delation. Its members, including Seneca, Lucanus, Petronius Arbiter, were either executed or committed suicide. On the other side Nero was much popular with the lower classes, which were protected with various laws. In 64 CE, a huge fire devastated the city of Rome. Nero, after the great fire of Rome, erected a huge palace in the center of Rome, the Domus Aurea. Other building projects were the draining of the Ostia marshes, and an attempt to have a canal dug at the Isthmus of Corinth. Nero foreign policy was much successful. In the West in Britannia the revolt of Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, was repressed in 61 C.E. by the governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. In the East Armenia was brought from Parthian vassalage to Roman influence. In 55 CE, the kingdom of Armenia overthrew the pro-Roman ruler Rhadamistus, replacing him with the Parthian prince Tiridates. Nero sent in his general Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, who defeated the Parthians. Once more in 58 CE, the Parthian king Vologases I invaded Armenia. Corbulo defeated the invaders and Tiridates had to retreat. Nero crowned as King of Armenia Tigranes, as the new ruler of Armenia. Corbulo was appointed governor of Syria. As Nero nominee in 62 CE, invaded Parthia. The war lasted till 63 CE. In 66 C.E. Tiridates, a member of the Parthian royal family came to Rome to receive the diadem of Armenia from Nero’s himself. Nero rule was overthrown in 68 C.E. by a series of rebellions in the West. Betyween 67-68 CE, Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled against Nero. Vindex asked the support of Galba, the governor of Hispania Citerior. However Virginius Rufus, the governor of Germania Superior, defeated Vindex's forces who committed suicide. Yet, by June of 68 CE, the senate voted Galba as emperor and declared Nero a public enemy. In the same year Nero committed suicide.
Nero, the Jews and Judaea
It seems that the Jews living in Rome fared well under Nero’s rule. A Jewish actor, Alityros (Aliturus), lived at his court (Josephus, Vita 3). His second wife, Poppaea, according to Josephus, showed some sympathy for the Jews. However it is unclear the relationship between the Jews and the Christian community in Rome during Nero’s rule. According to Tacitus, Nero had the Christians accused of the great fire in 64 CE and probably persecuted. It is usually contended that the number 666 of the evil beast in Revelation (13:17-18) is a code for Nero. Both Peter and Paul are believed to have been executed in Rome at that time. As the episode recorded happened after Paul’ coming to Rome, it is possible that by then the Jewish and the Christian communities were already separated entities, that the “parting of the ways” was by then consumed. This can explain why the persecution of 64 CE is not referred by Josephus, and why Tacitus clearly defines the Christians and not the Judaeo-Christians as the targets of the persecution.
Herod Agrippa II remained in Rome at least till 52 CE, and possibly till 56 CE, therefore well after the accession of Nero. During this period, Agrippa II was instrumental in helping two Jewish delegations meeting the Emperor. In 55 CE, Nero added to the territories of his kingdom, which from 48 CE, included Chalcis, and from 53 CE, instead of it, the tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias, the cities of Tiberias and Taricheae in Galilee, and Julias, with fourteen villages near it, in Peraea. In Judaea, proper, however, Nero was quite unsuccessful. As governor of Judaea, he first confirmed Antonius Felix (appointed by Claudius in 52 CE), then replaced him with Porcius Festus (58-62), Clodius Albinus (62-64), and Gessius Florus (64-66). None of them took any effective decision to mitigate the situation. Clodius Albinus, who, corrupted by the Gentile of Caesarea Maritima, in 60-62 CE asked from Nero to revoke the isopoliteia of the Jews living there. This was, according to Josephus, the first step in the Jewish War. In 66 CE the population of Jerusalem rebelled against the governor Gessius Florus, who appealed to Cestius Gallus, governor of Syria. However his army was defeated at the Battle of Beth Horon. Nero reacted decisively only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 66, by appointing Vespasian commander-in-chief of the army in Judaea.
Nero in ancient sources
- Nero (sources) -- survey of ancient sources
Nero in literature & the arts
Quo Vadis and The Sign of the Cross have made Nero one of the most malicious and unforgettable villains of the history of literature and cinema.
- See Nero (arts) -- survey of fictional works
Nero in scholarship
- See Nero (research) -- survey of scholarly works
Pages in category "Nero (subject)"
The following 44 pages are in this category, out of 44 total.