But our most detailed images of homosexual marriages come from the descriptions of Roman emperors. Nero and Poppaea were, according to some contemporaries, happy in their marriage, but Nero had a temper and became more and more erratic. Nero gave her a public funeral and proclaimed her virtues. In 56 Agrippina was forced into retirement. ! She was the daughter of the Emperor Claudius and stepsister and first wife of Emperor Nero. Your stepfather gleefully divorced his wife, who was pregnant, too. This caused a rift with his mother, Agrippina the Younger. Her mother was executed in their childhood for committing adultery, and her father remarried Agrippinna. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina incestuously became the wife of her uncle, the emperor Claudius, and persuaded him to favour Nero for the succession, over the rightful claim of Claudius’s own son, Britannicus, and to marry his daughter, Octavia, to Nero. It was then that the infamous same-sex marriage took place. Poppaea's next husband was Otho, a childhood friend of Nero. AKA Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. This caused a rift with his mother, Agrippina the Younger. Being older than his stepbrother Britannicus, Nero became heir to the throne. In Britain, in A.D. 60, the Iceni Queen Boudicca (also spelled Boudica or Boudicea) rose in rebellion after she was flogged and her daughters raped by Roman soldiers. Nero (/ ˈ n ɪər oʊ / NEER-oh; Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the fifth Roman emperor, ruling from 54 to 68.His infamous reign is usually associated with tyranny, extravagance and debauchery. He saw to it that assistance was provided to cities that had suffered disaster and, at the request of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, gave aid to the Jews. Seeing that he could do what he liked without fear of censure or retribution, Nero began to give rein to inordinate artistic pretensions. But his early promise gave way to wild extravagance and murder. It was the fourth marriage of Claudius and he had had his previous wife Messalina executed in 48 AD. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Nero, portrait bust; in the Roman National Museum, Rome. And he had your father executed. Nero, Roman emperor from 54 to 68 AD, was born at Antium on the 15th of December 37. Poppaea is believed to have stirred Nero to attack Christians after the Fire of Rome and to have helped free Jewish priests at the request of Josephus. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. According to the stories told of her, Poppaea had urged Nero to kill his mother, Agrippina the Younger, and to divorce and later murder his first wife, Octavia. Rome burned while he was emperor, and the eagerness with which he rebuilt led many to believe that he was responsible for the fire. Nero’s father, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, died about 40 ce, and Nero was brought up by his mother, Julia Agrippina, a great-granddaughter of the emperor Augustus. He does not depict kind acts, such as those reported by Josephus, but instead depicts her as corrupt. The conflagration lasted … Then Poppaea became mistress of the emperor Nero, Otho's friend, and about seven years younger than she was. An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Nero was born in 37 A.D., the nephew of the emperor. Britannica now has a site just for parents! Cassius Dio identifies Sporus as a freedman. DIR Atlas (Claudia) Octavia, wife of Nero Donna Hurley Octavia, properly Claudia Octavia, was the daughter of the emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messallina. The opera focuses on the replacement of Nero's wife Octavia by Poppaea. Emperor Nero surveys the damage in Rome after the Great Fire of 64 A.D. One dubious story holds that he blamed, and punished, the city’s Christians for the devastating blaze. Tacitus does assert that she was quite beautiful but shows how she used her beauty and sexuality as a way of gaining power and prestige. But the Roman populace mistakenly believed that he himself had started the fire in Rome in order to indulge his aesthetic tastes in the city’s subsequent reconstruction. Oh, young Tiberius! In order to marry the woman whom he loved, Nero accused Octavia of adultery and exiled her. At the time she was still married to Otho (a future emperor! He may have been a puer delicatus, who were sometimes castrated in an effort to preserve their youthful qualities. Roman Emperor, 54-68 AD. He put an end to the more odious features of the later years of Claudius’s reign, including secret trials before the emperor and the dominance of corrupt freedmen, and he accorded more independence to the Senate. She hoped to control the government, but Burrus and Nero’s old tutor, the Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, though they owed their influence to Agrippina, were not content to remain her tools. Statue in the Golden House of Nero, Rome. His armies put down rebellions in Britain and Judaea, he was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, and he was lenient toward his enemies. In 66, Nero remarried. If only your troubles ended there. As Nero was older than Claudius’ natural son by a previous marriage, Britannicus, he now had a superb claim to the imperial purple. According to the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus and to the Nero of the Roman biographer Suetonius, Nero in response tried to shift responsibility for the fire to the Christians, who were popularly thought to engage in many wicked practices. Three ancient writers, Tacitus, Suetonius, … After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina married her uncle, Emperor Claudius, in 49 AD. Her family was wealthy, and Poppaea herself owned a villa outside Pompeii. Agrippina followed in 59BC, and finally, in 62 AD, Nero murdered first wife Octavia and her elder sister. It’s true that Nero out-did his predecessors when building his palace in Rome – but outdoing his predecessors was exactly what a Roman emperor was meant to do. Her paternal grandfather, Poppaeus Sabinus, was a Roman Consul and a friend of several emperors. Nero, a depraved first-century emperor, married at least two men. If the Golden House was an extravagant folly, the allegation that Nero killed his wife Poppaea by kicking her while she was pregnant is far more shocking. You fall in love? The main source for information about Poppaea is the Roman writer Tacitus. Most of the accounts we have of Nero are hostile; ancient writers loved to … ), but she had only married him to get close to Nero. At first Nero hated signing death sentences, and the extortions of Roman tax collectors upon the populace led him in 58 to unrealistically suggest that the customs dues should be abolished. In reality, Agrippina detested Poppaea Sabina and forced Nero to marry Octavia. Nero's second wife. Her father was Titus Ollius. Upon his death in A.D. 59, the officials appointed by Nero ignored it, seizing Iceni land. Nero married Poppaea, and Poppaea was given the title Augusta when they had a daughter, Claudia. He castrated a boy so he could marry him. He had Poppaea's son by her first marriage killed. Even later Nero was capable of conceiving grandiose plans for conquests or the creation of public works, but for the most part he used his position simply to gratify his own personal pleasures. During the fire, Nero was at his villa at Antium 35 miles (56 km) from Rome and therefore cannot be held responsible for the burning of the city. Although this might sound quite nice, this was far from being something to envy. The opera was first performed in Venice in 1642. Imagine yourself as nine-year-old Tiberius. For more details, see our Privacy Policy. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Nero's death ended the almost 100-year rule of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero proclaimed her divine. He fancied himself not only a poet but also a charioteer and lyre player, and in 59 or 60 he began to give public performances; later he appeared on the stage, and the theatre furnished him with the pretext to assume every kind of role. Nero was married to Octavia, the daughter of Claudius and Messalina, but had affair with Poppaea Sabina. He became infamous for his personal debaucheries and extravagances and, on doubtful evidence, for his burning of Rome and persecutions of Christians. Otho, Poppaea's first husband, helped in Galba's successful revolt against Nero, and made himself emperor after Galba was killed. Nero’s second wife is the beautiful Poppaea Sabina. Shortly after Nero allegedly killed Poppaea, he remarried … Her birth year is unknown, but we know she died in 65 C.E. In order to marry her, he accused Octavia of adultery and exiled her, later to be murdered (but made to look like a suicide). Octavia was the daughter of the Roman Emperor Claudius and his wife Messalina. Almost by accident, Nero initiated the later Roman policy of halfhearted persecution of the Christians, in the process earning himself the reputation of Antichrist in the early Christian tradition. OCTÁVIA) (late AD 39 or early AD 40 – 8 June AD 62) was an empress of Rome. After Emperor Nero allegedly kicked his second wife Sabina to death in 65 A.D., he met a slave boy named Sporus who looked like her. Poppaea Sabina was born the daughter of a woman with the same name who committed suicide. Sensitive and handsome, Nero (37 – 68 AD / reigned 54 – 68 AD) started out well as emperor. Nero, in full Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, also called (50–54 ce) Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, original name Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, (born December 15, 37 ce, Antium, Latium—died June 9, 68, Rome), fifth Roman emperor (54–68 ce), stepson and heir of the emperor Claudius. Hitherto the government had not clearly distinguished Christians from Jews. He married Poppaea in 62, but she died in 65, and he subsequently married the patrician… Nero built a palace, the Golden House, which was apparently magnificent, but it was so resented by the public and by his successors that it was almost completely dismantled. Tacitus, for instance, asserts that Poppaea engineered her marriage with Otho specifically to get closer to, and eventually marry, Nero. She is also reported to have persuaded Nero to kill the philosopher Seneca, who had supported Nero's previous mistress, Acte Claudia. Birthplace: Antium, Latium Location of death: Rome, Italy Cause of death: Suicide. Poppaea and Nero’s child died after her birth, while Pappaea’s next pregnancy ended in tr… Gender:. Nero divorced his wife, Octavia, who was the daughter of his predecessor, the Emperor Claudius. It is widely believed that she poisoned Claudius when Nero was 16 and poisoned Claudius's son Britannicus to seal Nero's claim to the throne. Two Sides to Every Story. However, Nero’s second marriage wasn’t happy. The legend that Nero fiddled during the 64 CE fire in Rome is false because bowed stringed instruments would not reach Europe for almost another millennia. Nero appointed Otho to an important post as governor of Lusitai (Lusitania). In 52 AD, at the age of twelve, she married her step-brother Nero. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). He tried to shift the blame to the Christians, beginning the Roman persecution of that young religion. Her body was embalmed and buried in the Mausoleum of Augustus. Nero’s rule would have its share of bloodshed in places throughout the empire. Even still some argue that she died as a result of childbirth or miscarriage. She dies in 65 AD as a result of being kicked to death while pregnant by Nero, some claim. Nero divorced his wife, Octavia, who was the daughter of his predecessor, the Emperor Claudius. After poisoning her second husband, Agrippina incestuously became the wife of her uncle, the emperor Claudius, and persuaded him to favour Nero for the succession, over the rightful claim of Claudius’s own son, Britannicus, and to marry his daughter, Octavia, to Nero. While directing the government themselves, Burrus and Seneca had largely left Nero uncontrolled to pursue his own tastes and pleasures. Too bad! The testimony of contemporaries depicts Nero at this time as a handsome young man of fine presence but with soft, weak features and a restless spirit. Your father was forced to divorce your pregnant mother, marrying your stepfather instead. He was led to the murder of Agrippina by her insanity and her fury at seeing her son slip out of her control, to the murder of Octavia by his having fallen in love with Poppaea Sabina, the young wife of the senator (and later emperor) Otho, and by his fear that his repudiated wife was fomenting disaffection at court and among the populace. In Nero: Artistic pretensions and irresponsibility …having fallen in love with Poppaea Sabina, the young wife of the senator (and later emperor) Otho, and by his fear that his repudiated wife was fomenting disaffection at court and among the populace. Nero married Poppaea, and Poppaea was given the title Augusta when they had a daughter, Claudia. Taking advantage of the fire’s destruction, Nero had the city reconstructed in the Greek style and began building a prodigious palace—the Golden House—which, had it been finished, would have covered a third of Rome. Poppaea Sabina was the mistress and second wife of the Roman emperor Nero. Your stepfather is none other than Emperor Augustus, so his wish is your command. Nero was a Roman emperor who ruled from 54 to 68 AD. Nero divorced his wife, Octavia, who was the daughter of his predecessor, the Emperor Claudius. In 53 AD, Nero married Claudia Octavia, his stepsister and daughter of Claudius with Messali… Julia Agrippina, mother of the Roman emperor Nero and a powerful influence on him during the early years of his reign (54–68). Nero rode a chariot in the Greek Olympic games. Up to the year 59, Nero’s biographers cite only acts of generosity and clemency on his account. She then married her uncle, the emperor Claudius. In the second instance, a different delegation won Poppaea's influence in its cause to keep standing a wall at the temple that would keep the emperor from seeing the Temple's proceedings. He married Poppaea in 62, but she died in 65, and he subsequently married the patrician lady Statilia Messalina. Because Nero became emperor as a young age, he was very much influenced by his mother, his tutor (Lucius Seneca), and the Praetorian Prefect (Sextus Burrus). Artistic pretensions and irresponsibility, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nero-Roman-emperor, JewishEncyclopedia.com - Biography of Nero, Jewish Virtual Library - Biography of Nero, Public Broadcasting Service - Biography of Nero, Nero - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Nero was just 30 years old when he fled Rome and committed suicide. By now Seneca felt that he had lost all influence over Nero, and he retired after Burrus’s death in 62. Augustus forces you to marry his daug… His government forbade contests in the circus involving bloodshed, banned capital punishment, reduced taxes, and accorded permission to slaves to bring civil complaints against unjust masters. Nero. Agrippina—having already helped bring about the murder of Valeria Messalina, her predecessor as the wife of Claudius, in 48, and ceaselessly pursuing her intrigues to bring Nero to power—eliminated her opponents among Claudius’s palace advisers, probably had Claudius himself poisoned in 54, and completed her work with the poisoning of Britannicus in 55. After the murder of Poppaea Sabina, Nero was introduced to a male look-alike of his murdered wife named Sporus. Then in 64 AD, the Great Fire of Rome broke out. For the first time, absolute power in the Roman Empire was vested in a mere boy, who was not yet 17. Nero is considered as one of best known for the worst list of Roman emperors ever existed and also having allowed his wife and also his mother to rule for him and then stepped out from their Shadows and in the result of having them and reportedly kicking his wife to death. As Nero's behavior became more erratic—he believed that he could sing Gaul into submission—his enemies became bolder. Moreover, the daughter of Claudius was murdered soon, but Nero made it look like a suicide. Nero reportedly kicked her during an argument when she was pregnant in 65 C.E., resulting in her death, possibly from the effects of the subsequent miscarriage. wife Poppaea Sabina. Nero also inaugurated competitions in poetry, in the theatre, and in athletics as counterattractions to gladiatorial combats. The first time was to free priests; Josephus went to Rome to plead their case, meeting with Poppaea and then receiving many gifts from her. "The Coronation of Poppaea," or "L'Incoronazione di Poppea," is an opera in a prologue and three acts by Monteverdi, libretto by G. F. Busenello. Seneca urged Nero to use his autocratic powers conscientiously, but he obviously failed to harness the boy’s more generous impulses to his responsibilities. Jone Johnson Lewis is a women's history writer who has been involved with the women's movement since the late 1960s. Nero even dreamed of abandoning the throne of Rome in order to fulfill his poetical and musical gifts, though he did not act on these puerile ambitions. The great fire that ravaged Rome in 64 illustrates how low Nero’s reputation had sunk by this time. She was born in early 40 at the latest, but perhaps a year or two earlier, because her younger brother Britannicus was born in February of 41. Nero burned Rome and blamed it on the Christians! His father died when Nero was about three. This caused a rift with his mother, Agrippina the Younger. Otho would go on after Nero's death to briefly become emperor. Nero married Poppaea, and Poppaea was given the title Augusta when they had a daughter, Claudia. Also known as: Poppea (Italianized spelling), Poppaea Augusta Sabina, Poppaea Sabina the Younger (to differentiate from her mother). She embarked on her third marriage, to the Emperor Claudius, in AD 49, and although he already had a son, Britannicus, by another wife, manipulated him into adopting Nero as his heir. To the Romans these antics seemed to be scandalous breaches of civic dignity and decorum. Otho was then defeated by Vitellius' forces, and he subsequently killed himself. Agrippina was the daughter of Germanicus Caesar and Vipsania Agrippina, sister of the emperor Gaius, or Caligula (reigned 37–41), and wife of the emperor Claudius (41–54). Poppaea was married first to Rufrius Crispinus of the Preaetorian Guard, and they had a son. Nero appointed Otho to an important post as governor of Lusitai (Lusitania). This Roman historian also villified Poppaea in his writing about her. His nocturnal rioting in the streets was a scandal as early as 56, but the emergence of real brutality in Nero can be fixed in the 35-month period between the putting to death of his mother at his orders in 59 and his similar treatment of his wife Octavia in June 62. After his father’s death, his mother married his great uncle, Claudius, and persuaded him to name Nero his successor. From that time until 62, Burrus and Seneca were the effective rulers of the empire. In 65 AD, Nero is believed to have kicked his wife Poppaea to death. His next wife was Statilia Messalina, whose first husband Nero had executed. Claudia did not live long. Nero’s marriages and affairs also proved to be troublesome. Little is known about Sporus' background except that he was a young man to whom Nero took a liking. The Jewish historian Josephus (who also died in 65 BCE) tells us that Poppaea Sabina interceded on behalf of Jews twice. So Nero had him castrated and took him as his bride. He later adopted her son Nero as his political heir. Claudius proved to be a relatively successful emperor, but his greatest fatal mistake was marrying his niece Agrippina in later life, and adopting her son Nero as his own in order to secure the alliance. The last emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was notorious as a brutal, tyrannical, and ineffective leader. In 50 AD, at the age of 13, Nero was adopted by Emperor Claudius and took the name by which he is famous, Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Biographies >> Ancient Rome. Agrippina, the Empress Who Scandalized Rome, A Look at the Lives of the First 12 Roman Emperors, Five Roman Empresses You Shouldn't Invite to Dinner, Biography of Tiberius, 1st Century Roman Emperor, Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, Better Known as Quintilian, M.Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School. Occupation: Emperor of Rome Born: December 15, 37 AD in Antium, Italy Died: June 9, 68 AD outside Rome, Italy Reign: October 13, 54 AD to June 9, 68 AD Best known for: One of the worst Emperors of Rome, legend has it he played the fiddle while Rome burned Biography: Nero ruled Rome from 54 AD to 68 AD. Wikimedia Commons Emperor Nero took the young boy Sporus as his bride in 67 A.D. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Her husband, King Prasutagus, had made a deal with Claudius that would see him rule as a client-king. The puer delicatus generally was a child-slave chosen by his master for his beauty and sexual attractiveness. She also advocated for her home town of Pompeii, and helped it gain considerable autonomy from the Empire's rule. According to ancient texts, Nero killed his own mother. He was married to the very popular Octavia, the daughter of Claudius and Messalina (a marriage made at his mother’s urging) but also having an affair with the very pregnant Poppaea Sabina (his mother detested her). She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. He wed Pythagoras in a formal same-sex wedding by first putting on a bridal veil that made Nero the "bride" and Pythagoras the "groom." The Senate condemned him to death by crucifixion, and his household guard abandoned him. The law of treason was dormant: Claudius had put 40 senators to death, but, between the murders instigated by Agrippina in 54 and the year 62, there were no like incidents in Nero’s reign. Nero made it look like a suicide successful revolt against Nero, childhood! 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