Ne"ro(n"r), prop. n. A Roman emperor notorious for debauchery and barbarous cruelty; hence, any profligate and cruel ruler or merciless tyrant. -- Ne*ro"ni*an (n*r"n*n), a.
Nero (originally Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, later Nero Claudius Csar Drusus Germanicus). Born at Antium, Italy, Dec. 15, 37
a. d.: committed suicide near Rome, June 9, 68. Roman emperor 54-68, son of Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina (daughter of Germanicus).
He was adopted by his stepfather, the emperor Claudius, in 50, and in 53 married Octavia, the daughter of Claudius by Messalina. In 54 Claudius was poisoned by Agrippina, who caused her son to be proclaimed to the exclusion of Britannicus, the son of Claudius. His former tutors, the philosopher Seneca and Burrus, commander of the pretorian guards, were placed at the head of the government, and the early years of his reign were marked, on the whole, by clemency and justice. He caused his rival Britannicus to be removed by poison in 55. In 59 he procured the assassination of his mother, of whose control he had become impatient. Burrus died in 62, whereupon Seneca retired from public life. Freed from the restraint of his former advisers, he gave free rein to a naturally tyrannical and cruel disposition. He divorced Octavia in order to marry Poppa, and shortly afterward put Octavia to death (62). Poppa ultimately died from the effects of a kick administered by her brutal husband. Having been accused of kindling the fire which in 64 destroyed a large part of Rome, he sought to divert attention from himself by ordering a persecution of the Christians, whom he accused of having caused the Conflagration. He put Seneca to death in 65, and 66-68 visited Greece, where he competed for the prizes as a musician and charioteer in the religious festivals. He was overthrown by a revolt under Galba, and stabbed himself to death with the assistance of his secretary.
But the imperial Reign of Terror was limited to a comparatively small number of families in Rome. The provinces ware undoubtedly better governed than in the later days of the Republic, and even in Rome itself the common people strewed flowers on the grave of Nero.
Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, I. 6.
[Century Dict. 1906]
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