What was the impact of the Emperor Nero on the Roman Empire?


Bust of Nero from Capitoline Museum, Rome

Roman history was noted for having very many ‘bad’ emperors. One of the most notorious was Nero. He was the last of the Julian-Claudian dynasty and became infamous for his artistic pretensions, hedonism, and his great cruelty. Thereare many myths about Nero and this often obscured the reality of his reign.

Nero was a very important figure in the history of Rome. He was the last of his dynasty and his death ushered in a period of instability. His death led to a period of civil war that was the first in almost one hundred years. Nero was the first to persecute Christians and he set a precedent for that religion’s persecution that was to continue off and on for almost three centuries.

Augustus had brought peace to the Roman Empire and during his reign he amassed a range of powers. He made himself in effect the first Emperor.[1] Romans feared instability after his death and they accepted his step-son, Tiberius, as his successor.[2] This established the hereditary principle for Imperial succession and the Julian-Claudians became the de-facto royal house of the Empire. Tiberius, who is often portrayed as a depraved and bloody old man, was in fact a very capable leader. He reformed the system of governance and tax-collection and his rule was mild. By the time of his death the hereditary principle was established and his nephew Gaius (Caligula) became Emperor.[3] Caligula’s four years in power were bizarre and bloody. After his assassination, he was succeeded by Claudius. While often portrayed as something of a fool, he showed at times that he was a capable leader. He ordered the conquest of Britain and also annexed much of modern-day Morocco for his empire.[4]

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Categories: Roman History

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