Nerone, also known as Nero, was born Lucio Domizio Enobarbo Nerone Claudio Cesare Augusto Germanico in the year 37. His great uncle Claudius had adopted Nerone upon marrying his mother. A series of events led to Nerone eventually ruling as Roman Emperor from the year 54-68, from the ripe old age of 17 to his death at 30 years of age.
Showing much wisdom for his years, he spent time as Emperor trying to boost the culture, trade and international relations. It was said that he was popular with the common locals and some reports say he worked towards peace, with the only battles he supported being those in the sports arenas.
Still, the First Roman-Jewish War did commence during his reign and the Great Fire of Rome in the year 64 was said to have been started Nerone himself to make room for the Domus Aurea. He also executed many who went against his rule, including his own mother. It was also said he burnt live Christians in his gardens as a form of illumination. Thus there are some conflicting reports on just how much of a humanitarian Nerone really was.
Nerone had a love life worthy of a soap opera. Firstly, his mother arranged for him to marry Claudia Octavia, the only daughter of her husband Claudius, in the year 53. When Claudius died just one year later, it is likely that Nerone played some part in the death of Clauius’ son and Octvia’s brother in order to claim the throne. As Emperor, Nerone battled much with his own mother, until he finally had her killed in 59.
Nerone is said to have found Octavia a boring wife who he came to despise. He began affairs, one of which resulted in the pregnancy of Poppaea Sabina. (Sabina had in turn been married prior to Otho, who went on to succeed Nerone as emperor.) Nerone divorced Octavia, stating her apparent barrenness as the cause, and married Sabina. The daughter that ensued was named Claudia Augusta, however she fell ill and died just three months later, with Nerone then having her declared a goddess.
Sabina passed away in the year 65. Nerone was said to have been devastated, but still took on a mistress Statilia Messalina in the same year, who he then married a year later. Messalina was already married, but her husband conveniently killed himself so she would be free to marry Nerone. The following year however, Nerone met a man named Sporus who was said to bear an exact likeness to Sabina. He ordered Sporus to be castrated so he could marry him, from which time Nerone began calling him by Sabina’s name.
In the year 68, a rebellion saw Nero lose the throne. To avoid execution, he then committed suicide. At the time, he was the first Emperor to have done so.
The following year, 69, came to be known as the Year of the Four Emperors, during which time Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian all ruled as Emperor. Otho also killed himself, with three others also doing so in the following centuries.