The Roman Emperor Nero, renowned for playing the fiddle whilst Rome burned, was infamous for cruelty, incest and murder.
Nero (Latin: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 — 9 June 68) was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius’ death.
During his reign, Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade, and enhancing the cultural life of the Empire. He ordered theaters built and promoted athletic games. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire. His general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a revolt in Britain. Nero annexed the Bosporan Kingdom to the Empire and began the First Roman–Jewish War.
In 64 AD, most of Rome was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome, which many Romans believed Nero himself had started in order to clear land for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. In 68, the rebellion of Vindex in Gaul and later the acclamation of Galba in Hispania drove Nero from the throne. Facing assassination, he committed suicide on 9 June 68 (the first Roman emperor to do so) His death ended the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, sparking a brief period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Nero’s rule is often associated with tyranny and extravagance. He is known for many executions, including that of his mother, and the probable murder by poison of his stepbrother Britannicus.
He is infamously known as the Emperor who “fiddled while Rome burned” and as an early persecutor of Christians. He was known for having captured Christians to burn them in his garden at night for a source of light. This view is based on the writings of Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, the main surviving sources for Nero’s reign. Few surviving sources paint Nero in a favorable light. Some sources, though, including some mentioned above, portray him as an emperor who was popular with the common Roman people, especially in the East. Some modern historians question the reliability of ancient sources when reporting on Nero’s tyrannical acts.
The Ascension of Isaiah is the first text to suggest that Nero was the Antichrist.[clarification needed][improper synthesis?] It claims that a “lawless king, the slayer of his mother…will come and there will come with him all the powers of this world, and they will hearken unto him in all that he desires.”
The Sibylline Oracles, Book 5 and 8, written in the 2nd century, speak of Nero returning and bringing destruction. Within Christian communities, these writings, along with others, fueled the belief that Nero would return as the Antichrist. In 310, Lactantius wrote that Nero suddenly disappeared, and even the burial-place of that noxious wild beast was nowhere to be seen. This has led some persons of extravagant imagination to suppose that, having been conveyed to a distant region, he is still reserved alive; and to him they apply the Sibylline verses.