Nero was the last emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and he died on this day in A.D. 68. While Claudius, his immediate predecessor, brought stability and sanity back to the empire, and Julius Caeser himself made the empire great, Nero’s rule was not distinguished.
He was a lacklustre leader, and a persecutor of Christians. He would burn Christians in his private gardens — for light.
During his reign, The Great Fire of Rome consumed ten of the 14 districts of the city. While historians have more or less settled the questions that Nero did not “fiddle” while Rome burned — he was in another city at the time — and that he did not start the fire himself, the fact that less than a year later he built a golden palace for himself on the site of the most burned out sections of the city must have given many Romans good cause to wonder if he did set the fire.
Four years after the fire, Nero committed suicide. No one is entirely sure why. Perhaps the mountain of disapproval heaping upon him was too much to bear.
He was thirty years old.
Rome would never again see a strong family line of leaders. Leadership would be disjointed and ineffective for nearly thirty years of strife and civil war before a strong leader would restore order once more.
It was an ignoble end to perhaps the most famous dynasty of Rome.