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37 December 15 Nero is born.39 Claudius marries fourteen year old Valeria Messalina.
39 Messalina bears Claudius a daughter (Octavia).41 Messalina bears Claudius a son (Britannicus).
41 Claudius is Emperor.48 Execution of Messalina.
49 Claudius marries niece Agrippina the Younger, (daughter of Claudius's brother Germanicus).49 Seneca is appointed tutor to Nero.
50 Claudius adopts Nero (then, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus) as his own son, February 25.50 The Senate votes Agrippina the title "Augusta."
51 Claudius Consul.51 Emperor Claudius orders the exile of the Jews from Rome.
53 Nero marries Octavia, Claudius' daughter.54 Claudius poisoned.
54 Claudius dies (Agrippina probably had him poisoned)54 Nero becomes emperor at age 17.
Seneca and Burrus are his tutors.55 Britannicus, the son of Emperor Claudius dies during dinner (Nero probably had him poisoned).
58 Beginning of Roman-Parthian hostilities over Armenia.59 Agrippina the Younger is put to death for criticizing Nero’s mistress.
59 Nero begins to get out of control.60 Paul the Apostle is in Rome
60 Revolts break out in Britain against Roman rule.62 Burrus dies, and Seneca retires.
62 Nero divorces Octavia (banishes her and later kills her)62 Nero marries his mistress Poppaea.
64 The Great Fire of Rome64 First imperial 'persecution' of Christians;
65 Work begins on Nero’s 'Golden House' (Domus Aurea)65 Nero's first public stage performance leads to scandals and plots on his life.
65 In the interest of personal security, Nero kills anyone suspected of treason.65 Seneca is forced to commit suicide.
66 Nero continues to execute any suspected of treason.66 Outbreak of rebellion in Judea, the first Jewish revolt against Rome.
66 Nero goes on an extended tour of Greece, many theatrical performances67 Nero makes Judea consular imperial province
67 Nero appoints Vespasian to head campaign against Jews68 After receiving political pressure about military matters Nero returns to Rome.
68 (March) Revolt of Vindex68 (April) Galba's troops in Spain hail Galba emperor.
68 (June 9) Nero is forced to commit suicide (end of Julio-Claudian dynasty).68 The emperor Nero's assassination launches a year of civil war in Rome.
69 Year of the four emperors: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian.69 Vespasian is sole emperor until 79.
70 Siege and fall of Jerusalem under military leadership of Vespasian's son, Titus.70 Coliseum begun by Emperor Vespasian (funded by Jewish defeat).
77 Josephus publishes The War of the Jews80 The New Testament writings were completed by this time (Bible closed).
80 The Early Church completed her work (foundation laid).
Note: Paul, James and Peter were executed between 60-68 A.D.
His Birth and Youth
Senecca and Burrus
Nero Becomes Emperor
The Great Fire of Rome
The Jewish Revolt
Coins and Images
Primary Sources for the Study of the Emperor Nero are: Tacitus, Dio Cassius, Suetonius, Christian and Jewish Tradition, and Archaeology.
The 5th Emperor (Princeps) of Rome (54-68 A.D.)
The Roman Empire beyond Italy was divided into about 40 provinces
(territories), with each province having its own governor who kept order and
collected taxes for Rome. He was either appointed by the emperor or named by the
During the first century A.D. the Roman Empire was near its peak with a population of 50-60 million. This was more than 1/5 of the world's population at that time. Jesus lived and died during the period known in Roman history as the Pax Romana or the "Peace of Rome".
It was an amazing time in history when the risen Jesus empowered His church to go into all the world to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact the apostles journeyed throughout the Mediterranean world which was part of the Roman Empire. They traveled through Roman cities on Roman roads and everywhere that they traveled they came into contact with Rome.
Julius Caesar had a dream for Rome but he was assassinated before he could see it fulfilled. The big problem was who would become the next emperor after his assassination. Very few had expected the young Octavian (Augustus) to become the chief heir and new emperor after Julius Caesar, but it was Augustus who turned out to be the most important emperor in all of Roman history.
Augustus was very aware of what had happened with Julius Caesar, and desired to avoid the same problems with the Roman Senate. He wanted his stepson Tiberius to be emperor after his death and to make sure that this would happen he began to share his power with Tiberius. When Augustus died in 14 A.D. Tiberius was easily accepted as emperor. In fact this became the new way that emperors would be chosen. Each emperor would choose a successor from among his family or he would adopt someone who he thought would be fit to rule after him.
During the 200 years after the death of Augustus, four dynasties (family lines) ruled the Roman Empire. Some of the emperors in each dynasty were somewhat moral emperors and others were horribly cruel. Each of the four dynasties ended with a violent overthrow of an unfit emperor.
Augustus’ family line ended in disgrace in 68 A.D. with the Emperor Nero, who came to power when he was a young boy at the age of 17. Nero Claudius Caesar was born in December of 37 A.D. at Antium and reigned as the fifth emperor (Princeps) of Rome, from 54-68 A.D. under the political system created by Augustus after Civil War had finally put an end to the Roman Republic.
Throughout the early years of his rule Nero was directed by his tutors (including the famous writer Seneca) and there was peace throughout the Empire. The Emperor Nero loved performing in the Theatre, races and games. He was not respected by the senators or the army. He was criticized by the people of Rome for being more interested in entertaining himself than in governing the empire. However, when his main advisors had either retired, or were dead, Nero revealed his true character. It did not take long for the people to realize that Nero was a tyrant. In 59 A.D. Nero executed his mother, his wife, Claudius’s son Britannicus, and several of his advisors and anyone that opposed him was executed.
In 64 A.D. a devastating fire swept through Rome destroying everything in its path. Everyone thought that Nero had started the fire so that he could rebuild a more beautiful city, including his Golden House. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, Nero sang and played the lyre while Rome burned. When Nero felt that the rumor had turned everyone against him he found some scapegoats to bare the blame for the fire, the Christians. He punished them severely and had many of them burned alive or torn apart by wild beasts. It is believed that the apostles Paul and Peter were martyred during this persecution.
There were many who sought Nero’s death and in 68 A.D. his own army rebelled against him and various military commanders attempted to seize the throne. The Emperor Nero was forced to flee from Rome and soon afterward he committed suicide. He was the last emperor who was of the dynasty of Augustus (Julio-Claudian dynasty).
- Agrippina - Nero's dominating mother
The main people involved in the life of Nero were:
- Nero Himself - Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
- Claudius - The emperor before Nero- Octavia - Claudius' daughter and Nero's first wife
- Britannicus - Claudius' son and rightful heir to the throne- Seneca and Burrus - Nero's trusted tutors
- Poppaea - Nero's second wife- Galba - General in Spain and the next emperor of Rome
- The First Imperial 'Persecution' of Christians – 64 A.D.
Important events that happened during the life of Nero:
- The Great Fire of Rome – 64 A.D.
- The first Jewish Revolt Against Rome – 66 A.D.
- Suetonius Svetonius Tranquillus (70-140 A.D. approx.)
The main historical sources about the life of Nero were:
- Tacitus Tacitus Publius Cornelius (55-120 A.D. approx.)
- Cassius Dio Dion Cassius Cocceianus (155-235 A.D. approx.)- Jewish and Christian Tradition
- Archaeology: inscriptions, coins, written text.
Bibliography on the Emperor Nero
Chronicle of the Roman Emperors
by Scarre, 240 Pages, Pub. 2012
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