Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder was a Roman author and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, friend of emperor Vespasian. Spending most of his spare time studying and investigating natural and geographic phenomena in the field, Pliny wrote the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia, which became an editorial model for encyclopedias, his nephew, Pliny the Younger, wrote of him in a letter to the historian Tacitus: For my part I deem those blessed to whom, by favour of the gods, it has been granted either to do what is worth writing of, or to write what is worth reading. In the latter number will be my uncle, of your compositions. Pliny the Younger refers to Tacitus’s reliance upon his uncle's book, the History of the German Wars. Pliny the Elder died in AD 79 in Stabiae while attempting the rescue of a friend and his family by ship from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which had destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum; the wind caused by the sixth and largest pyroclastic surge of the volcano’s eruption did not allow his ship to leave port, Pliny died during that event.
Pliny's dates are pinned to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 and a statement of his nephew that he died in his 56th year, which would put his birth in AD 23 or 24. Pliny was the son of an equestrian, Gaius Plinius Celer, his wife, Marcella. Neither the younger nor the elder Pliny mention the names, their ultimate source is a fragmentary inscription found in a field in Verona and recorded by the 16th-century Augustinian monk Onofrio Panvinio at Verona. The form is an elegy; the most accepted reconstruction is PLINIVS SECVNDVS AVGV. LERI. PATRI. MATRI. MARCELLAE. TESTAMENTO FIERI IVSSOThe Vs represent Us, it should say "Plinius Secundus augur ordered this to be made as a testament to his father ler and his mother Marcella"The actual words are fragmentary. The reading of the inscription depends on the reconstruction, but in all cases the names come through. Whether he was an augur and whether she was named Grania Marcella are less certain. Jean Hardouin presents a statement from an unknown source that he claims was ancient, that Pliny was from Verona and that his parents were Celer and Marcella.
Hardouin cites the conterraneity of Catullus. How the inscription got to Verona is unknown, but it could have arrived by dispersal of property from Pliny the Younger's Tuscan estate at Colle Plinio, north of Città di Castello, identified for certain by his initials in the roof tiles, he kept statues of his ancestors there. Pliny the Elder was born at Como, not at Verona: it is only as a native of old Gallia Transpadana that he calls Catullus of Verona his conterraneus, or fellow-countryman, not his municeps, or fellow-townsman. A statue of Pliny on the façade of the Duomo of Como celebrates him as a native son, he had a sister, who married into the Caecilii and was the mother of his nephew, Pliny the Younger, whose letters describe his work and study regimen in detail. In one of his letters to Tacitus, Pliny the Younger details how his uncle's breakfasts would be light and simple following the customs of our forefathers; this shows that Pliny the Younger wanted it to be conveyed that Pliny the Elder was a "good Roman", which means that he maintained the customs of the great Roman forefathers.
This statement would have pleased Tacitus. Two inscriptions identifying the hometown of Pliny the Younger as Como take precedence over the Verona theory. One commemorates the younger's career as the imperial magistrate and details his considerable charitable and municipal expenses on behalf of the people of Como. Another identifies his father Lucius' village as Fecchio near Como. Therefore, Plinia was a local girl and Pliny the Elder, her brother, was from Como. Gaius was a member of the Plinia gens: the insubric root Plina still persists, with rhotacism, in the local surname "Prina", he did not take his father's cognomen, but assumed his own, Secundus. As his adopted son took the same cognomen, Pliny founded the Plinii Secundi; the family was prosperous. No earlier instances of the Plinii are known. In 59 BC, only about 82 years before Pliny's birth, Julius Caesar founded Novum Comum as a colonia to secure the region against the Alpine tribes, whom he had been unable to defeat, he imported a population of 4,500 from other provinces to be placed in Comasco and 500 aristocratic Greeks to found Novum Comum itself.
The community was thus multi-ethnic and the Plinies could have come from anywhere. No record of any ethnic distinctions in Pliny's time is apparent; the population prided themselves on being Roman citizens. Pliny the Elder had no children. In his will, he adopted his nephew; the adoption is called a "testamental adoption" by writers on the topic, who assert that it applied to the name change only, but Roman jurisprudence recognizes no such category. Pliny the Younger thus became the adopted son of Pliny the Elder after the latter's death. Fo
Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history; the reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession. Augustus was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, Octavius was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. Along with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators.
The Triumvirate was torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC. After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Augustus restored the outward façade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, the executive magistrates, the legislative assemblies. In reality, however, he retained his autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command, those of tribune and censor, it took several years for Augustus to develop the framework within which a formally republican state could be led under his sole rule. He rejected monarchical titles, instead called himself Princeps Civitatis; the resulting constitutional framework became known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire. Augustus enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Pannonia and Raetia, expanding possessions in Africa, completing the conquest of Hispania, but suffered a major setback in Germania.
Beyond the frontiers, he secured the Empire with a buffer region of client states and made peace with the Parthian Empire through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, rebuilt much of the city during his reign. Augustus died in AD 14 at the age of 75 from natural causes. However, there were unconfirmed rumors, he was succeeded as emperor by his adopted son Tiberius. As a consequence of Roman customs and personal preference, Augustus was known by many names throughout his life: Gaius Octavius Thurinus: He received his birth name, after his biological father, in 63 BC. "Gaius" was his praenomen, "Octavius" was his nomen, "Thurinus" was his cognomen. His rival Mark Antony used the name "Thurinus" as an insult, to which Augustus replied, surprised that "using his old name was thought to be an insult".
Gaius Julius Caesar: After he was adopted by Julius Caesar, he adopted Caesar's name in accordance with Roman naming conventions. While he dropped all references to the gens Octavia, people colloquially added the epithet Octavianus to his legal name, either to differentiate him from his adoptive father or to highlight his more modest origins. Modern historians refer to him using the anglicized form "Octavian" between 44 BC and 27 BC. Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius: Two years after his adoption, he founded the Temple of Caesar additionally adding the title Divi Filius to his name in attempt to strengthen his political ties to Caesar's former soldiers, following the deification of Caesar. Imperator Caesar Divi Filius: From 38 BC, Octavian opted to use Imperator, the title by which troops hailed their leader after military success, his name is translated as "Commander Caesar, Son of the Divine". Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus: Following his 31 BC defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra on his own insistence, the Roman Senate granted him the additional name, "Augustus", which he added to his previous names thereafter.
Historians use this name to refer to him from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. While his paternal family was from the town of Velletri 40 kilometres from Rome, Augustus was born in the city of Rome on 23 September 63 BC, he was born at Ox Head, a small property on the Palatine Hill close to the Roman Forum. He was given the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus, his cognomen commemorating his father's victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves. Suetonius wrote: "There are many indications that the Octavian family was in days of old a distinguished one at Velitrae; this man was leader in a war with a neighbouring town..." Due to the crowded nature of Rome at the time, Octavius was taken to his father's home village at Velletri to be raised. Octavius mentions his father's equestrian family only in his memoirs, his paternal great-grandfather Gaius Octavius was a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War. His grandfather had served in several lo
Pompeia Paulina was the wife of the statesman and orator Lucius Annaeus Seneca, she was part of a circle of educated Romans who sought to lead a principled life under the emperor Nero. She was the daughter of Pompeius Paulinus, an eques from Arelate in Gaul. Seneca was the emperor's tutor and became his political adviser and minister. In 65 CE Nero demanded that Seneca commit suicide, having accused Seneca of taking part in the Pisonian conspiracy against him. Paulina survived the suicide attempt. Most of what is known about Paulina comes from Tacitus' account of Seneca's suicide described in his Annals. Seneca mentions her by name in his Letters. In an early work Seneca mentions his infant son who had died, in a work he mentions how his wife understands his nightly meditations. In neither case is it certain whether he had an earlier marriage. Pliny the Elder mentions in his Natural History that the family Pompeii Paulini came from Arelate in Gaul. Sometime between 48 and 55 CE, Seneca wrote his dialogue De Brevitate Vitae addressed to a Paulinus.
This Paulinus was the official who superintended the grain supply of Rome. He was an eques called Pompeius Paulinus, it is thought that he was the father of Paulina. Another member of the family, Aulus Pompeius Paulinus, served as legate in Lower Germany around 55 CE and is thought to have been her brother; the one significant mention of Paulina in Seneca's works is in Letter 104 dating to 64 CE. Seneca wrote the epistle just after he had travelled to his Nomentum villa from Rome where he had been feeling unwell: Although Paulina held me back I insisted on leaving. I had on my lips that comment of milord Gallio: when he began to feel fever in Achaea he embarked on shipboard, protesting that this sickness came not from his body but the place itself; this is. For knowing her life depends on mine, I begin to consider my own needs. Although old age has made me more resolute in face of many challenges, I have lost this gift of my age, since I am reminded that in the case of this old man there is a young woman to be spared.
So since I cannot persuade her to love me more resolutely, she persuades me to love myself more carefully.... For what is more pleasant than to be so dear to your wife that you become dearer to yourself on this account? So my dear Paulina can hold me in her debt not only for my own. In the aftermath of the Pisonian conspiracy, Nero ordered Seneca as his former advisor and tutor to kill himself and sent soldiers to see that the deed was done. Tacitus reports that Pompeia wanted to die, she did plan to kill herself. Seneca cut veins in his arms and legs, Pompeia slit her wrists, much to Seneca's dismay, though he did not disapprove. Upon learning that she was trying to kill herself, Nero ordered that Pompeia not die, more to save face than to save her life, he sent several soldiers to ensure that her freedmen bandaged her. Servants made a tourniquet, her arms were wrapped, she survived. After much reconsideration, she decided to follow her dead husband's advice and continue with life, served as caretaker to her husband's memory.
However, after the suicide attempt, she was said to have been frail, with an unusually pale face. She never remarried, died a few years later. Paulina has been depicted alongside her husband in paintings of his suicide in French art; this includes Noël Hallé's La Mort de Sénèque of 1750. In 1773 the Académie Royale used Seneca's death as the theme for its Grand Prix. First prize went to Pierre Peyron. Jacques-Louis David's La Mort de Sénèque was exhibited. Both paintings featured Paulina prominently David's. Jean-Joseph Taillasson's 1791 painting Pauline, femme de Sénèque, rappelée à la vie is unique in focusing on Paulina to the exclusion of Seneca, it depicts a Roman soldier entering the room, ordering her bleeding to be stopped. Pompeia Paulina is one of the 106 famous women described by Giovanni Boccaccio in his De mulieribus claris as biography 94, she was one of three Roman women eulogised by Michel de Montaigne in his Essais 2.35 "De trois bonne femmes": To which Paulina, having a little recovered her spirits, warmed the magnanimity of her courage with a most generous affection, replied—"No, Seneca,” said she, “I am not a woman to suffer you to go alone in such a necessity: I will not have you think that the virtuous examples of your life have not taught me how to die.
Tacitus, Annales xv.60–61, 63–64 Fantham, Seneca. Selected Letters, Oxford World's Classics, ISBN 0199533210 Media related to Pompeia Paulina at Wikimedia Commons
De Vita Beata
De Vita Beata is a dialogue written by Seneca the Younger around the year 58 AD. It was intended for his older brother Gallio, to whom Seneca dedicated his dialogue entitled De Ira, it is divided into 28 chapters. Seneca explains that the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reason – reason meant not only using logic, but understanding the processes of nature; the dialogue has the full title ad Gallionem de Vita Beata. It was written in early 58 or a little earlier. From incidental remarks made in the work, it is thought Seneca wrote it when he was in a position of power near the beginning of Nero's reign between 54 and 59. Furthermore, Tacitus tells us that Publius Suillius Rufus had made a series of public attacks concerning Seneca's wealth in 58, De Vita Beata contains a defense of wealth which may be a response to this or similar criticisms made around this time; the work ends rather abruptly and is followed in the manuscripts by Seneca's De Otio, missing its beginning. The earliest surviving manuscript is from the Codex Ambrosianus, a Milan Codex, from the 11th century and other copies are derived from this archetype.
The work can be divided into two parts. In the first part Seneca discusses how it can be achieved; this part disputes Epicurean doctrines. In the second part Seneca discusses the relationship of philosophical teachings with one's personal life. Part of this is devoted to answering objections against the possession of wealth. Seneca, in agreement with Stoic doctrine, argues that Nature is Reason and that people must use their powers of reason to live in harmony with nature and thus achieve happiness. In his words, "rerum naturae adsentior. Seneca proposes to follow a logical sequence in this approach, starting with the definition of the objectives that the person wants to obtain. In decision-making he scorns the ways of the masses since people are "more willing to trust another than to judge for themselves" and "a mistake, passed on from hand to hand involves us and works our destruction."In a certain sense he identifies Nature with God, which he states several times requires our obedience ("We were born into this kingdom and to obey to God is freedom", he writes "when you rage against heaven I do not say,'You are committing sacrilege,' but'You are wasting your time.'"Seneca presents a morality based on contempt for the pleasures and fortune.
But he admits that there are acceptable pleasures "calm, moderate listless and subdued, scarcely noticeable" linked to the conduct of the wise person. The attainment of happiness, therefore, is only possible by following Virtue who "like a good soldier will submit to wounds, count her scars, pierced by darts as she dies, will yet adore the general for whom she falls", because "no one can live cheerfully without living honourably." Thus, Seneca distinguishes between virtues hard or difficult and virtues soft or easier to practice, because "there is no virtue without effort". Among the difficult are patience and perseverance, among the easy are liberality and meekness; as far as wealth is concerned, Seneca does not consider it good or bad in itself, but acknowledges that it is "useful and brings great comfort to life", so the wise person prefers them but is not subordinate to them. In this sense, wealth must be an instrument of virtue, using it to give to others, because "I shall proffer my bounty to some, shall forcibly thrust it upon others".
Mutschler, Fritz-Heiner, "De Beata Vitae", in Heil, Andreas. Seneca: Hardship and Happiness. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226748332 Aubrey Stewart: Works related to Of a Happy Life at Wikisource De Vita Beata – Latin text at The Latin Library
Caligula was Roman emperor from AD 37 to AD 41. The son of the popular Roman general Germanicus and Augustus' granddaughter Agrippina the Elder, Caligula was born into the first ruling family of the Roman Empire, conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Germanicus' uncle and adoptive father, succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome in AD 14. Although he was born Gaius Caesar, after Julius Caesar, he acquired the nickname "Caligula" from his father's soldiers during their campaign in Germania; when Germanicus died at Antioch in AD 19, Agrippina returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. The conflict led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. Untouched by the deadly intrigues, Caligula accepted an invitation in AD 31 to join the emperor on the island of Capri, where Tiberius had withdrawn five years earlier. Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded his adoptive grandfather as emperor in AD 37.
There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor, as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate, he directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself, initiated the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire annexed the client kingdom of Mauretania as a province. In early AD 41, Caligula was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by officers of the Praetorian Guard and courtiers; the conspirators' attempt to use the opportunity to restore the Roman Republic was thwarted, however.
On the day of the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorians declared Caligula's uncle, the next Roman emperor. Although the Julio-Claudian dynasty continued to rule the empire until the fall of his nephew Nero in AD 68, Caligula's death marked the official end of the Julii Caesares in the male line. See Julio-Claudian family tree. Gaius Julius Caesar was born in Antium on 31 August 12 AD, the third of six surviving children born to Germanicus and his second cousin Agrippina the Elder. Gaius had two older brothers and Drusus, as well as three younger sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Julia Drusilla and Julia Livilla, he was a nephew of Claudius, Germanicus' younger brother and the future emperor. Agrippina the Elder was the daughter of Julia the Elder, she was a granddaughter of Scribonia on her mother's side. Through Agrippina, Augustus was the maternal great-grandfather of Gaius; as a boy of just two or three, Gaius accompanied his father, Germanicus, on campaigns in the north of Germania. The soldiers were amused that Gaius was dressed in a miniature soldier's outfit, including boots and armour.
He was soon given his nickname Caligula, meaning "little boot" in Latin, after the small boots he wore. Gaius, though grew to dislike this nickname. Suetonius claims that Germanicus was poisoned in Syria by an agent of Tiberius, who viewed Germanicus as a political rival. After the death of his father, Caligula lived with his mother until her relations with Tiberius deteriorated. Tiberius would not allow Agrippina to remarry for fear her husband would be a rival. Agrippina and Caligula's brother, were banished in 29 AD on charges of treason; the adolescent Caligula was sent to live with his great-grandmother Livia. After her death, he was sent to live with his grandmother Antonia Minor. In 30 AD, his brother, Drusus Caesar, was imprisoned on charges of treason and his brother Nero died in exile from either starvation or suicide. Suetonius writes that after the banishment of his mother and brothers and his sisters were nothing more than prisoners of Tiberius under the close watch of soldiers. In 31 AD, Caligula was remanded to the personal care of Tiberius on Capri, where he lived for six years.
To the surprise of many, Caligula was spared by Tiberius. According to historians, Caligula was an excellent natural actor and, recognizing danger, hid all his resentment towards Tiberius. An observer said of Caligula, "Never was there a better servant or a worse master!"Caligula claimed to have planned to kill Tiberius with a dagger in order to avenge his mother and brother: however, having brought the weapon into Tiberius's bedroom he did not kill the Emperor but instead threw the dagger down on the floor. Tiberius knew of this but never dared to do anything about it. Suetonius claims that Caligula was cruel and vicious: he writes that, when Tiberius brought Caligula to Capri, his purpose was to allow Caligula to live in order that he "... prove the ruin of himself and of all men, that he was rearing a viper for the Roman people and a Phaethon for the world."In 33 AD, Tiberius gave Caligula an honorary quaestorship, a position he held until his rise to emperor. Meanwhile, both Caligula's mother and his brother Drusus died in prison.
Caligula was married to Junia Claudilla, in 33, though she died in childbirth the following year. Caligula spent time befriending Naevius Sutorius Macro, an important ally. Macro spoke well of Caligula to Tiberius, attempting to quell any
De Ira is a Latin work by Seneca. The work defines and explains anger within the context of Stoic philosophy, offers therapeutic advice on how to prevent and control anger; the Stoic philosopher Posidonius is considered the main source for Seneca. Other influences may have included works On Passions by the Stoics Chrysippus and Antipater of Tarsus, Seneca may have known works written by the Peripatetic philosopher Theophrastus and the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus; the exact date of the writing of the work is unknown, apart from an earliest date, deduced from repeated references by Seneca to the episodic anger of Caligula, who died 24 January 41 AD. Seneca refers to his brother by his native name, rather than his adoptive one, which he bore by 52/53 AD, suggesting the work may date from the mid 40s AD. Book III begins with its own introduction on the horrors of anger, can be read on its own, which has led to suggestions that it was devised either as a appendix to the work, or that it was a separate treatise in its own right.
Ira is defined as anger, rage, passion, indignation - to be angry. De Ira consists of three books, it is part of Seneca's series of Dialogi. The essay is addressed to Lucius Annaeus Novatus; the works first sentence reads: You have asked me Novatus to write on how anger can be mitigated Although split into three books, De Ira is divided into two parts. The first part deals with theoretical questions; the first part begins with a preamble on the horrors of anger, followed by definitions of anger. It continues with questions such as whether anger is natural, whether it can be moderate, whether it is involuntary, whether it can be erased altogether; the second part begins with advice on how the avoidance of bad temper can be taught to both children and adults. This is followed by numerous snippets of advice on how anger can be forestalled or extinguished, many anecdotes are given of examples to be imitated or avoided; the work concludes with a few tips on mollifying other people, followed by Seneca's summing-up.
De Ira is written within the context of Stoicism, which sought to guide people out of a life enslaved to the vices, to the freedom of a life characterised by virtue. This is achievable by the development of an understanding of how to control the passions, anger being classified as a passion, to make these subject to reason; as a Stoic, Seneca believed the relationship of the passions to reason are that the passions arise in a rational mind as a result of a mis-perceiving or misunderstanding of reality. A passion is a defective belief, they occur. Seneca states that his therapy has two main aims: one is that we do not become angry, the other is that we do no wrong when we are angry. Much of the advice is devoted to the first aim of preventing anger. Seneca does offer some practical advice on restraining anger although after this he resumes his theme of preventing anger. For the Stoics anger was contrary to human nature, vengeance considered an evil, which explains Seneca's emphasis on anger prevention.
The fact that he offers advice on restraining anger shows an awareness that his audience is one of male Roman aristocrats for whom anger was a part of everyday routine. The work survives due to being a part of the Codex Ambrosianus manuscript which dates from the 11th century. Belief John M. Cooper, J. F. Procope. Seneca: Moral and Political Essays. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521348188 Robert A. Kaster, Martha C. Nussbaum. Seneca: Anger, Revenge. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226748421 Works related to Of Anger at Wikisource University of Minnesota, Morris - Selections from De Ira - Full text of "Moral essays. With an English translation by J. W. Basore
Nero was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He became Claudius' heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, was implicated in Claudius' death and Nero's nomination as emperor, she dominated Nero's early life and decisions. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered. During the early years of his reign, Nero was content to be guided by his mother, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca and his Praetorian prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus; as time passed, he started to play a more active and independent role in government and foreign policy. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire, his general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a major revolt in Britain, led by the Iceni Queen Boudica. The Bosporan Kingdom was annexed to the empire, the First Jewish–Roman War began. Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy and the cultural life of the empire, ordering theatres built and promoting athletic games.
He made public appearances as an actor, poet and charioteer. In the eyes of traditionalists, this undermined the dignity and authority of his person and office, his extravagant, empire-wide program of public and private works was funded by a rise in taxes, much resented by the middle and upper classes. Various plots against his life were revealed. In 68 AD Vindex, governor of the Gaulish territory Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled, he was supported by the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. Vindex's revolt failed in its immediate aim, but Nero fled Rome when Rome's discontented civil and military authorities chose Galba as emperor, he committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD, when he learned that he had been tried in absentia and condemned to death as a public enemy, making him the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide. 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 associated with tyranny and extravagance. Most Roman sources, such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio, offer overwhelmingly negative assessments of his personality and reign.
Suetonius tells that many Romans believed that the Great Fire of Rome was instigated by Nero to clear the way for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. According to Tacitus he was said to have seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive motivated not by public justice but by personal cruelty; some modern historians question the reliability of the ancient sources on Nero's tyrannical acts. A few sources paint Nero in a more favorable light. There is evidence of his popularity among the Roman commoners in the eastern provinces of the Empire, where a popular legend arose that Nero had not died and would return. At least three leaders of short-lived, failed rebellions presented themselves as "Nero reborn" to enlist popular support. Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus on 15 December 37 AD in Antium, he was the only son of Agrippina the Younger. His maternal grandparents were Agrippina the Elder, he was Augustus' great-great grandson, descended from the first Emperor's only daughter, Julia.
The ancient biographer Suetonius, critical of Nero's ancestors, wrote that Augustus had reproached Nero's grandfather for his unseemly enjoyment of violent gladiator games. According to Jürgen Malitz, Suetonius tells that Nero's father was known to be "irascible and brutal", that both "enjoyed chariot races and theater performances to a degree not befitting their position."Nero's father, died in 40. A few years before his death, Domitius had been involved in a political scandal that, according to Malitz, "could have cost him his life if Tiberius had not died in the year 37." In the previous year, Nero's mother Agrippina had been caught up in a scandal of her own. Caligula's beloved sister Drusilla had died and Caligula began to feel threatened by his brother-in-law Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Agrippina, suspected of adultery with her brother-in-law, was forced to carry the funerary urn after Lepidus' execution. Caligula banished his two surviving sisters and Julia Livilla, to a remote island in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Agrippina was exiled for plotting to overthrow Caligula. Nero's inheritance was taken from him and he was sent to live with his paternal aunt Domitia Lepida, the mother of Claudius' third wife Valeria Messalina. Caligula's reign lasted from 37 until 41, he died from multiple stab wounds in January of 41 after being ambushed by his own Praetorian Guard on the Palatine Hill. Claudius succeeded Caligula as Emperor. Agrippina became his fourth wife. By February 49, she had persuaded Claudius to adopt her son Nero. After Nero's adoption, "Claudius" became part of his name: Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. Claudius had gold coins issued to mark the adoption. Classics professor Josiah Osgood has written that "the coins, through their distribution and imagery alike, showed that a new Leader was in the making." David Shotter noted that, despite events in Rome, Nero's step-brother Britannicus was more prominent in provincial coinages during the early 50s.
Nero formally entered public life as an adult in 51 AD—he was around 14 years old. When he turned 16, Nero married Claudius' daughter (