Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
The future Emperor Nero received at birth, 15th December, 37, the names Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. His father was Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul, a.d. 32), on the mother’s side grandnephew of the Emperor Augustus, and his mother was Iulia Agrippina, daughter of Germanicus (died a.d. 59) and great-granddaughter of Augustus. Both were persons of ungovernable temper and immoral character, and from the first their son had little chance of leading a noble life. Gnaeus died in the year 40 when his son was barely three years old, and Agrippina, possessed by limitless ambition, schemed soon after for a second marriage, with no less a person than the reigning Claudius himself (Emperor a.d. 41-54; see under Claudius), in spite of the fact that he was her uncle. Agrippina became the fourth wife of Claudius in a.d. 49, such marriages having been legalized by the Senate (Tac. Ann. xii. 5-6). She procured the recall of the philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca and made him instructor of her son. At the same time he was betrothed to Claudius’ daughter Octavia. In the year 50 Claudius adopted Domitius, who thus became Tiberius Claudius Drusus Germanicus Caesar (according to another view, Lucius Claudius Nero). Next year the young man assumed the dress of manhood and was given the consulship. At the same time Afranius Burrus, his military instructor, was made prefect of the praetorian guards. In a.d. 53 the marriage with Octavia took place. Claudius’ own son Britannicus (born 12th Feb. 41), who had been steadily pushed further and further into the background, happened to have to leave Rome through illness in the year 54. This gave Agrippina her opportunity, and with the help of two professional poisoners Claudius was put to death on 13th October. Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, or, as he is later called, Imperator Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, was saluted Imperator by the soldiers, and their acclamation was ratified by the Senate. Among his private relationships during his reign may be mentioned his passion for his Greek mistress Acte, his marriage in a.d. 62 with Poppaea Sabina, wife of M. Saluius Otho (one of his successors in the Empire), and the banishment and murder of his first wife Octavia at her instance. In a.d. 63 a daughter was born to Nero and Poppaea, but the child died shortly afterwards. His marriage with the male Pythagoras took place in a.d. 64, and in 65 the death of Poppaea. In 55 Nero had Britannicus poisoned and in 59 his mother was put to death by his order. She had committed every sin for his advancement, but had become intolerable. Nero died by his own hand or that of a slave on 9th June, 68, leaving no descendant behind him. With him the Caesarian race, weakened by intermarriage, debauchery, and madness, came to an end.
A brief summary of the chief events of Nero’s reign may now be given. It has become customary to repeat that his first five years were a model period of government. There was some difficulty in holding this view, considering what the historians have to tell us. But J. G. C. Anderson and F. Haverfield have recently pointed out (see under Literature) that this opinion, put into the mouth of the Emperor Trajan by the late compiler Aurelius Victor (Liber de Caesaribus, ch. 5), does not refer to the first five years, does not perhaps refer to any specific five years, but if it does, refers rather to the last five years, and in any case touches only Nero’s building operations. His reign is best divided into two periods-the first from 54 to 62, when the State was under the joint administration of Seneca and Burrus, and the second from 62 to 68, when it was under the Emperor’s sole rule. Neither period was undistinguished for good, and indeed the machinery of government was so perfected by Augustus that the mad behaviour of an Emperor scandalized only the inhabitants of Rome, and had no effect on the provinces, in which the real life of the Roman Empire lay. The administration of Seneca and Burrus led to the strengthening of the power of the Senate. It also led to the overthrow of Agrippina’s influence, which had been most powerful at the first. Nero’s policy seems at first to have been one of laissez faire. He was very young and fond of pleasure, and gratified his tastes to the full. The historians are occupied with details of his doings, and tell us little about Italian or Roman affairs.
In the year 58 the Emperor proposed to establish ‘free trade.’ The object of this proposal was to relieve the people and to get rid of a method of taxation attended with much injustice. The producers and capitalists, on whom extra burdens would thus have been imposed, were able to strangle the scheme at birth. The Imperial purse, depleted through extravagance, was replenished by confiscation. About 61 or 62 began the depreciation of the gold and silver coinage, from which Rome never completely recovered. Nero also deprived the Senate of the right to issue copper coinage. This was a serious blow, as the exchange value of the copper always exceeded the value of the metal, and the Senate could thus coin credit-money to any amount. On 19th July, a.d. 64, the great fire in Rome broke out; it lasted for a week, and destroyed an immense area of property. The occasion was used to build broader streets and finer buildings. The reign of Nero is conspicuous for the lives of prominent Stoics, particularly Paetus Thrasea, men of courage and virtue among the noblest the world has ever seen. They stood for the old republican regime, and were particularly in evidence in the Senate. These, as well as rich men in no way connected with them, were victims of a policy of wholesale murder associated with the last six years or so of Nero’s reign. It was not surprising that, while the generality of the Senate were paralyzed with terror, a powerful conspiracy should have arisen against the maniac on the throne. The leader chosen was C. Calpurnius Piso, and the plot had been brewing since 62. In 65 all the arrangements were complete, but at the eleventh hour the Emperor was informed, and Piso, Seneca the philosopher, Lucan, the author of the rhetorical epic De Bello Civili (often, but wrongly, called Pharsalia), and others, met their death. Nero’s own fall was the result of the revolt of C. Iulius Vindex, governor of Gallia Lugudunensis, with whom Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, allied himself. Vindex was defeated by Verginius Rufus, governor of Southern Germany, but Galba became Emperor.
External affairs during Nero’s reign bulk more largely than internal. Two provinces were added to the Roman Empire-Pontus Polemoniacus in Northern Asia Minor, by the gift of Polemo, and the Alpes Cottiae, on the death of Cottius (Suet. Nero, 18). But it was in the extreme east on the one hand, and the extreme west on the other, that the most important events took place-in Armenia and in Britain. Britain had been made a province in 43, but pacification was impossible without hard and exhausting warfare. Real progress was made under the governorship of Suetonius Paulinus, who in 61 captured Mona (Anglesey). There followed a great rising of the Iceni (under Boudicca) and the Trinouantes. Camalodunum (Colchester), the Roman colonia, was burnt, and Londinium and Verulamium (St. Albans) were captured by the insurgents. A great slaughter of the Romans and their allies was followed by the victory of Paulinus and the suicide of Boudicca.
The Eastern campaigns of Nero’s reign are imperishably connected with Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, one of the greatest generals of the Roman Empire. There had been for some time a struggle between the Romans and the Parthians, their hereditary enemies, for the possession of Armenia. Rival pretenders to the throne of that country were supported, one by Rome, the other by Parthia. When Nero came to the throne, a Parthian prince, Tiridates, was ruling over Armenia. Corbulo’s troops at first were insufficient and many of them were unfit for service. Much time was lost in training them and in parleying with Tiridates. Artaxata was captured in 58. The surrender of Tigranocerta resulted in the defeat of Tiridates and the establishment of a new king in 60, but circumstances led to an arrangement with Parthia by which Tiridates was permitted to return in the next year. This arrangement was not ratified by the home government, and Armenia had to be conquered again. The new governor of Cappadocia, Lucius Caesennius Paetus, proved incompetent, and his army had to capitulate. Corbulo declined to interfere. Paetus was recalled, and Corbulo undertook the government of Cappadocia. The result was that Tiridates had to go to Rome and receive his crown from Nero as a suppliant (a.d. 66). Corbulo’s success throughout seems to have been due in part to his skilful subordinate, Vettius Bolanus (Statius, Siluae, v. ii. 31-47), but it did not prevent his suicide by Nero’s command in Greece (a.d. 67). The severe discipline and hardship of these Oriental campaigns provide a contrast to the Imperial excesses at Rome. The spread of Christianity to Western Europe presents another.
The latter part of St. Paul’s missionary activity coincides with Nero’s reign. It was to Nero’s tribunal that St. Paul appealed ( Acts 25:11); it was also among the slaves and freedmen of his household that he found many of his fellow-Christians in Rome ( Philippians 4:22; cf. Romans 16). It was on a capital charge that St. Paul had been arraigned, and in such cases a Roman citizen could appeal from the court of a procurator to the Emperor himself. There are inconsistencies in the Acts narrative (cf. Mommsen’s article mentioned below, pp. 92, 93 = p. 443) of the preliminaries, but we need have no doubt that St. Paul did as a matter of fact appear before the Emperor in Rome. Whether acquittal or condemnation was the result, and whether in the former case St. Paul had to stand a second trial, which resulted in condemnation, are questions which lie outside the scope of the present article. Whatever be the truth in this matter, there is a consensus of opinion that Nero was the first Emperor to persecute the Christians. The Church always believed this (cf. Ambrosiaster, writing in Rome about 375, in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 : ‘mysterium iniquitatis a Nerone cceptum est, qui zelo idolorum et apostolos interfecit,’ etc.), and, according to a very early interpretation of the number of the Best in the Apocalypse (13:18), Neron Ḳesar is there referred to (confirmed by a Western variant, 616, which means the Latin form Nero, as against the Greek form Neron, 666-616 being = 50, represented in Greek by v [n]). The narrative of Tacitus (Ann. xv. 44) connects the evil treatment of the Christians with the great fire of the year 64. The Emperor’s behaviour on that occasion was in many ways to be commended, but the story that he sat on the roof of his palace playing the harp during the conflagration (add Augustine, Sermons, ccxcvi. 7, to the authorities usually quoted) makes the narrative of the horrible death of the Christians, condemned for incendiarism, quite credible. The first Christians met their death in Rome as scapegoats, not because it was illegal to be a Christian. That stage is later; how much later is debated.
Some summing up of Nero’s character may be attempted, though it seems hardly fair to judge a man who was only thirty-one at his death, and was undoubtedly afflicted with madness. There is perhaps less good that can be said of him than of any other Roman Emperor. That he was prodigal and licentious to an astounding degree cannot be denied. All the savings of the Emperor Claudius were dispersed by his wastefulness, as were those of Tiberius by his successor Gains (Caligula). It may also be truly said that he had no conception of the Imperial dignity. He had much of the mountebank about him, and his musical and other performances on the public stage made him ridiculous. He was childish enough to enter into poetic rivalry with his subject Lucan. Though lazy by contrast with his class in governmental duty, he might have attained some eminence in the arts, and in these only, under other circumstances.
Literature.-The chief ancient authorities are Tacitus, Ab Excessu Diui Augusti, bks. xiii.-xvi.; Suetonius, Life of Nero. The best modern book is B. W. Henderson, The Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero, London, 1903 (particularly good on Corbulo’s campaigns); J. B. Bury, A History of the Roman Empire, do., 1893, chs. xvi., xvii., xviii. On the quinquennium Neronis, see the epoch-making article‘Trajan on the Quinquennium Neronis,’ by J. G. C. Anderson (with note by F. Haverfield), in JRS[Note: RS Journal of Roman Studies.]i.  173-179. On the Neronian household, see J. B. Lightfoot’s excursus in the Epistle to the Philippians 4, London, 1878; on St. Paul’s legal position under Nero, see Mommsen’s article‘Die Rechtsverhältnisse des Apostels Paulus,’ in ZNTW[Note: NTW Zeitschrift für die neutest. Wissenschaft.]ii.  81-96=Gesammelte Schriften, iii. [Berlin, 1907] 431-446; on Nero as persecutor of Christians, cf. C. F. Arnold, Die Neronische Christenverfolgung, Leipzig, 1888; W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire3, London, 1894, ch. xi.; E. G. Hardy, Studies in Roman History, do., 1906, ch. iv.; on Nero and Lucan, W. B. Anderson, in Queen’s Quarterly, xiv. [1906-07] 196-214.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
NERO is not mentioned by name in the NT, but his connexion with St. Paul’s trial ( Acts 25:1-27; Acts 26:1-32; Acts 27:1-44; Acts 28:1-31 , where ‘CÃ¦sar’ is Nero), the mention of his household ( Philippians 4:22 ), and the general consensus of opinion that the number of the Beast 666 ( Revelation 13:18 ) is a cypher indicating Nero Kesar (the Gr. way of pronouncing the Emperor’s name), are sufficient reasons for including him here. Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, son of Gnaens Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul 32 (died 40) a.d.) and Iulia Agrippina, daughter of Germanicus (the adopted son of the Emperor Tiberius), who became wife of the Emperor Claudius in 48 a.d., was born on 15 Dec. in the year 37 a.d. On adoption by his step-father on 25 Feb. 50 he received new names, by one of which, Nero, he has since been known. On the murder of Claudius his sole rule began in 54, and during it he was officially known as Imperator Nero Claudius CÃ¦sar Augustus Germanicus. His death took place on 9 June, 68, in his thirty-first year.
Nero inherited evil qualities from his father and mother, which for the first five years of his reign, when he was a mere youth, were kept in check by his two tutors, Burrus an experienced soldier, and Seneca the distinguished philosopher. His mother, a woman of very strong will, who had successfully schemed for his advancement, had no good influence on him, and, when of age to throw off all restraints, he plunged into follies and excesses which suggest that madness had unhinged his mind. His defects, however, seem to have done little more than scandalize and amuse Rome: the prosperity of the provinces, thanks to the excellence of the bureaucratic machine, continued. Space permits only a reference to some important events in his reign.
The question of the Eastern frontier, which was a problem ever present to the Emperors, demanded settlement from Nero. The safety of this frontier could he secured only if Armenia were under the suzerainty of Rome. It was therefore the object of their perpetual rivals, the Parthians, to obtain this suzerainty. The Romans dared not annex Armenia, because it would inevitably become necessary to annex also the whole of the country on the west of the Tigris. At the opening of Nero’s reign, Tiridates, a Parthian, had established himself securely on the throne of Armenia, and the possession of Armenia by the Romans was thus seriously threatened. The ultimate intention of Rome was to offer Armenia to Tiridates as a gift, but as a necessary preliminary to this they made the most vigorous preparations for war. Cn. Domitius Corbulo, one of the ablest generals of the 1st cent., was appointed by Nero to conduct the campaign, and the governor of Syria and the other officials and client-princes in the neighbourhood of Armenia were instructed to co-operate with him. The condition of the Eastern troops caused a delay of two and a half years. After a terrible winter passed in tents in the uplying plain of Armenia, Corbulo was ready to strike in spring 58, and as the result of this first campaign Tiridates asked for terms. He was offered his kingdom as a gift from Rome, but refused to accept it, and in the second campaign (59) the Roman general marched upon Tiridates’ capital Artaxata, which surrendered, and proceeded thence by a long and difficult march to Tigranocerta, the second capital, in the extreme south, which in its turn surrendered. In the year 60, which was occupied in pacification, Tigranes, who was educated in Rome, was placed on the throne by Nero. The folly of this king and the cowardice and incompetence of the Roman general PÃ¦tus threatened to undo all that Corbulo had achieved; but Corbulo, as supreme commander-in-chief for the whole Eastern frontier, retrieved the loss in the year 63 and following on this successful campaign Tiridates received the crown as the gift of Rome. The long peace with Armenia which followed is to the credit of Corbulo’s consummate generalship and Nero’s skilful diplomacy. The Roman hold on Britain, which his predecessor Claudius had obtained, was further strengthened under Nero. It was in his reign that the justly aroused rebellion under Boudicca (better known by the incorrect form Boadicea) in East Anglia was crushed, after terrible massacres by the Britons, by the governor Suetonius Paulinus (60). There was henceforth, for a considerable time, peace in Britain. The Germany and Danube frontiers also engaged attention in Nero’s time.
In the city Nero exercised a wise care for the corn and water supplies. He also increased the power of the Senate, and may be said to have constituted an Imperial Cabinet. He was fond of the arts, especially music and poetry, but he never attained more than a respectable standard in either. On 19 July, 64, fire broke out in Rome, and raged for nine days in all, leaving great parts of the city in ashes. On the evidence Nero must be acquitted of all connexion with the fire, which was due to chance. The populace, however, suspected the Emperor, and were anxious to bring retribution on the originators of the fire. Nero selected the Christians as scapegoats, and he may have believed them guilty, as some of them were understood to have confessed their guilt. They were subjected to every imaginable variety of cruel death. These punishments did not remove suspicion from Nero, and, as the populace soon became sated, other charges had to be brought against them. Of these charges, hostility to civilized society was the chief. At a later stage in history we find evidence to justify the conclusion that the name ‘Christian’ was held to be a sufficient charge in Itself. A conspiracy against the Emperor’s life, in which some of the chief men in the State were implicated, failed of its purpose through treachery in 65; the effect on the Emperor’s mind issued in a reign of terror, and a number of the noblest persons, particularly Stoics, were put to death. The later days of Nero saw the rise of the Jewish insurrection against the Roman power, which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the massacre of countless Jews in a.d. 70. Two years before that, however, the revolt of Gaul under Vindex had been the prelude to Nero’s death. His life of ease and luxury had weakened a nature never inured to hardship, and when the hour of danger came he sought a refuge in suicide. Not long after his death there arose a curious rumour in the East, that he had come to life again, or had not really died. The East had seen nothing but his best side, and this rumour, born of a desire to see him emperor again, seriously endangered the peace of the Empire, as more than one person came forward claiming to be Nero.
Of the trial or trials of St. Paul we know nothing certain. It is highly probable that his appeal was heard either before a committee of the Emperor’s privy council, or before the Emperor’s deputy, the prefect of the city.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
The Emperor Nero is not named in Scripture; but he is indicated by his title of emperor, and by his surname Caesar. To him St. Paul appealed after his imprisonment by Felix, and his examination by Festus, who was swayed by the Jews. St. Paul was therefore carried to Rome, where he arrived A.D. 61. Here he continued two years, preaching the Gospel with freedom, till he became famous even in the emperor's court, in which were many Christians; for he salutes the Philippians in the name of the brethren who were of the household of Caesar, that is, of Nero's court, Php_1:12-13; Php_4:22 . We have no particular information how he cleared himself from the accusations of the Jews, whether by answering before Nero, or whether his enemies dropped their prosecutions, which seems probable, Acts 28:21 . However, it appears that he was liberated in the year 63. Nero is reckoned the first persecutor of the Christian church: his persecution was A.D. 64. Nero, the most cruel and savage of all men, and also the most wicked and depraved, began his persecution against the Christian church, A.D. 64, on pretence of the burning of Rome, of which some have thought himself to be the author. He endeavoured to throw all the odium on the Christians: those were seized first that were known publicly as such, and by their means many others were discovered. They were condemned to death, and were even insulted in their sufferings. Some were sewed up in skins of beasts, and then exposed to dogs to be torn in pieces; some were nailed to crosses; others perished by fire. The latter were sewed up in pitched coverings, which, being set on fire, served as torches to the people, and were lighted up in the night. Nero gave leave to use his own gardens, as the scene of all these cruelties. From this time edicts were published against the Christians, and many martyrs suffered, especially in Italy. St. Peter and St. Paul are thought to have suffered martyrdom, consequent on this persecution, A.D. 65. The revolt of the Jews from the Romans happened about A.D. 65 and 66, in the twelfth and thirteenth of Nero. The city of Jerusalem making an insurrection, A.D. 66, Florus there slew three thousand six hundred persons, and thus began the war. A little while afterward, those of Jerusalem killed the Roman garrison. Cestius on this came to Jerusalem to suppress the sedition; but he was forced to retire, after having besieged it about six weeks, and was routed in his retreat, A.D. 66. About the end of the same year, Nero gave Vespasian the command of his troops against the Jews. This general carried on the war in Galilee and Judea during A.D. 67 and 68, the thirteenth and fourteenth of Nero. But Nero killing himself in the fourteenth year of his reign, Jerusalem was not besieged till after his death, A.D. 70, the first and second of Vespasian.
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Nero became emperor in A.D. 57 at the age of thirteen. He succeeded his stepfather, Claudius, who was probably murdered at the behest of Agrippina, Nero's mother.
For the first years of his reign, Nero was content to be dominated by his mother and his two mentors, Burrus and Seneca. The latter was a leading Stoic philosopher who was able, for a time, to moderate Nero's more excessive tendencies.
As he grew older, Nero threw off these moderating influences and took control. To remove opposition, he probably was involved in the death of his half brother, Britannicus, and he had his mother murdered.
Nero was a complex personality. He could be extremely cruel, and his life was marked with debauchery and excess. Yet he was also a poet, an actor, a musician, and an athlete. He attempted to turn the crowds of Rome away from the brutal gladitorial contests to an appreciation of the Greek-style Olympic games and other forms of cultural competition.
During Nero's rule the Great Fire broke out in Rome (A.D. 64). Much of the city was destroyed including Nero's palace. The story, probably true in part, goes that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
Nero took measures to provide relief for those affected by the fire. Still he could not dispell the rumor that he had the fire set. People knew that he planned to build a much larger palace for himself and they reasoned that he used the fire to clear off the land. Nero felt the need to divert suspicion to another group. He selected the Christians as his scapegoats. He claimed that they had set the fire. A systematic persecution of the Christians followed. Because of his life-style and the persecution, many Christians viewed him as the antichrist.
Nero neglected the army. This proved to be his downfall. He lost the loyalty of large segments of the army. Finally, several frontier armies revolted. Nero's support at home melted away. Realizing that the end was inevitable and near, he committed suicide by stabbing himself in A.D. 68. See Rome.
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Nero ( Nç'Ro ). L. Domitius Nero succeeded Claudius as emperor of Rome, 54 a.d., and killed himself to avoid a public execution, 68. In his reign that war commenced between the Jews and Romans which terminated later in the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the overthrow of the Jewish polity. It was under Nero, too, that a fierce persecution of the Christians began, about 61 a.d., which lasted till his death. Paul suffered martyrdom in it at Rome. So great were this monarch's cruelties that his name has ever since served specially to distinguish a tyrant. He to frequently indicated as Caesar in the New Testament, Acts 25:18; Acts 25:10-12; Acts 25:21; Acts 26:32; Acts 28:19; Philippians 4:22, and as Augustus, Acts 25:21; Acts 25:25; but his name Nero does not occur. See Cæsar.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Nero was the emperor before whom Paul was brought on his first imprisonment at Rome, and the apostle is supposed to have suffered martyrdom during this persecution. He is repeatedly alluded to in Scripture ( Acts 25:11; Philippians 1:12,13; 4:22 ). He died A.D. 68.
Webster's Dictionary 
(n.) A Roman emperor notorius for debauchery and barbarous cruelty; hence, any profligate and cruel ruler or merciless tyrant.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
nē´rō ( Νέρων , Nérōn ):
I. Name , Parentage And Early Training
II. Agrippina 'S Ambition For Nero
Her Nine Measures for Bringing Him to the Throne
III. Nero 'S Reign
1. Quinquennium Nerohis
2. Poppea Sabina (58 AD)
3. Poppea and Tigellinus
4. Great Fire (July, 64)
5. Persecution of Christians
6. Conspiracy of Piso (65 AD)
7. Nero in Greece (66 AD)
8. Death of Nero
IV. Downfall And Character
1. Seven Causes of Downfall
V. "NERO Redivivus "
VI. Nero And Christianity
1. Nero and the New Testament
2. Neronian Policy and Christianity
The fifth Roman emperor, born at Antium December 15,37 AD, began to reign October 13,54, died June 9,68.
I. Name, Parentage and Early Training.
His name was originally Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus but after his adoption into the Claudian gens by the emperor Claudius, he became Nero Claudius Caesar Germanicus. His father was Enaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus ("Brazen-beard"), a man sprung from an illustrious family and of vicious character. His mother was Agrippina the younger, the daughter of Germanicus and the elder Agrippina, sister of the emperor Caius (Caligula) and niece of the emperor Claudius. On the birth of the child, his father predicted, amid the congratulations of his friends, that any offspring of himself and Agrippina could only prove abominable and disastrous for the public (Suet. Nero vi: detestabile et malo publico ). At the age of three the young Domitius lost his father and was robbed of his estates by the rapacity of Caius. In 39 his mother was banished for supposed complicity in a plot against Caius. Nero was thus deprived of his mother and at the same time left almost penniless. His aunt, Domitia Lepida, now undertook the care of the boy and placed him with two tutors, a dancer and a barber (Suetonius vi). On the accession of Claudius, Agrippina was recalled, and Nero was restored to his mother and his patrimony (41 AD).
II. Agrippina's Ambition for Nero.
She cared little for her son's moral education, but began immediately to train him for high position. She aimed at nothing less than securing the empire for Nero. With a view to this she must gain influence over her uncle, the emperor Clandius, who was very susceptible to female charms. At first the path was by no means easy, while the licentious empress, Messalina, was in power. But on the fall and death of Messalina (48 AD) - for which Agrippina may have intrigued - the way seemed opened. With the assistance of the emperor's freedman, Pallas, Agrippina proved the successful candidate for Claudius' affections. She how felt secure to carry out the plans for the elevation of her son:
Her Nine Measures for Bringing Him to the Throne
(1) She secured his betrothal to Octavia, the daughter of Claudius, having previously, by the villainy of Vitellius, broken off the engagement between Octavia and Lucius Silanus (ibid., xlviii). Later, Nero married this unfortunate lady. (2) Vitellius again obliged by securing a modification of Roman law so as to permit a marriage with a brother's (not sister's) daughter, and in 49 Agrippina became empress. (3) In the meantime she had caused Seneca to be recalled from banishment and had entrusted to him the education of Nero for imperial purposes. (4) The adoption of her son by Claudius (50 AD). (5) She next secured early honors and titles for Nero in order to mark him out as Clandins' successor. (6) She caused Britannicus, Claudius' son, to be kept in the background and treated as a mere child, removing by exile or death suspected supporters of Britannicus. (7) Agrippina was farsighted and anticipated a later secret of Roman imperialism - the influence of the armies in the nomination of emperors. For this cause she took an active interest in military affairs and gave her name to a new colony on the Rhine (modern Cologne). But she did not forget the importance of securing the praetorian guard and Burrus the prefect. (8) She persuaded Clandins to make a will in favor of her son. All was now ready. But Claudius did not like the idea of excluding his son Britannicus from power, and murmurs were heard among the senate and people. Delay might prove fatal to Agrippina's plans, so (9) Claudius must die. The notorious Locusta administered poison in a dish of mushrooms, and Xenophon, Agrippina's physician, thrust a poisoned feather down Claudius' throat on the pretense of helping him to vomit. Burrus then took Nero forth and caused him to be proclaimed imperator by the praetorians.
III. Nero's Reign.
1. Quinquennium Neronis:
Nero's reign falls into three periods, the first of which is the celebrated quinquennium , or first 5 years, characterized by good government at home and in the provinces and popularity with both senate and people. Agrippina, having seated her son on the throne, did not purpose to relinquish power herself; she intended to rule along with him. And at first Nero was very devoted to her and had given as watchword to the guard, "the best of mothers" (Tacitus, Annals xiii. 2; Suetonius ix). This caused a sharp conflict with Seneca and Burrus, who could not tolerate Agrippina's arrogance and unbounded influence over her son. In order to detach him from his mother they encouraged him in an amour with a Greek freedwoman, Acre (Tac. Ann. xiii. 12). This first blow to Agrippina's influence was soon followed by the dismissal from court of her chief protector Pallas. She now threatened to bring forth Britannicus and present him as the rightful heir to the throne. This cost Britannicus his life, for Nero, feeling insecure while a son of Claudius lived, compassed his death at a banquet. A hot wine cup was offered Britannicus, and to cool it to taste, cold water was added which had been adulterated with a virulent poison. The victim succumbed immediately. All eyes fastened on Nero in suspicion, but he boldly asserted that the death was due to a fit of epilepsy - a disease to which Britannicus had been subject from childhood. Such was the fate of Agrippina's first protege. She next took up the cause of the despised and ill-treated Octavia, which so incensed her son that he deprived her of her guards and caused her to remove from the palace. Agrippina now disappears for the next few years to come into brief and tragic prominence later. Seneca and Burrus undertook the management of affairs, with results that justified the favorable impression which the first 5 years of Nero's reign made upon the Roman people. Many reforms were initiated, financial, social and legislative. These ministers treated Nero to counsels of moderation and justice, dictating a policy which left considerable activity to the senate. But perceiving the bent of his evil nature, they allowed him to indulge in low pleasures and excesses with the most profligate companions, thinking, perhaps, either that the young ruler would in this way prove less harmful to the public, or that, after sowing his wild oats, he would return to the serious business of government. But in both ways they were sorely disappointed, for Nero, having surrendered himself to the basest appetites, continued to go from excess to excess. He surrounded himself with the most dissolute companions, conspicuous among whom were Salvius Otho and Claudius Senecio.
2. Poppea Sabina (58 AD):
The former had a wife as ambitious as she was unprincipled, and endowed, according to Tacitus, with every gift of nature except an "honorable mind." Already divorced before marrying Otho, she was minded to employ Otho merely as a tool to enable her to become Nero's consort. With the appearance of Poppea Sabina, for such was her name, opens the second period of Nero's reign. She proved his evil star. Under her influence he shook off all restraints, turned a deaf ear to is best advisers and plunged deeper into immorality and crime. She allowed, if not persuaded, Nero to give her husband a commission in the distant province of Lusitania. Her jealousy could tolerate no possible rival. She plotted the death of Agrippina to which she easily persuaded Nero to consent. This foul crime was planned and carried out with the greatest cunning. Anicetus, admiral of the fleet, undertook to construct a vessel that would sink to order. Nero invited his mother to his villa at Baiae at the Quinquatrus celebration. After the banquet she was persuaded to return to Bauli by the vessel prepared. But the plan did not succeed, and Agrippina saved herself by swimming ashore. She pretended to treat the matter as an accident, sending a freedman to Nero to inform him of her escape. Anicetus, however, relieved Nero of the awkward position by pretending that Agrippina's freedman had dropped a dagger which was considered proof enough of her guilt. Deserted by her friends and slaves except one freedman, she was quickly dispatched by her murderers. Nero gave out that she died by suicide (Suetonius xxxiv; Tacitus, Annals cxli-cxlviii).
3. Poppea and Tigellinus:
Nero no longer made any secret of taking Poppea as his mistress, and, under her influence, bid defiance to the best Roman traditions and plunged deeper into dissipation. In 62 Ad matters grew much worse by the death of the praetorian prefect, Burrus. Seneca lost in him a powerful ally, and Poppea gained in one of the new prefects, Sofonius Tigellinus, a powerful ally. She succeeded in causing Seneca to retire from the court. Next she determined to remove Octavia. A charge of adultery was first tried, but as the evidence proved too leaky, Nero simply divorced her because of barrenness. Then Anicetus was persuaded to confess adultery with her, and the innocent Octavia was banished to the island of Pandateria, where a little later she was executed at Poppea's orders and her head brought to her rival (62 AD). Poppea was now empress, and the next year bore a daughter to Nero, but the child died when only three months old. Two years later Poppea herself died during pregnancy, of a cruel kick inflicted by Nero in a fit of rage (65 AD). He pronounced a eulogy over her and took a third wife, Statilia Messalina, of whom he had no issue.
Nero, having by his extravagance exhausted the well-filled treasury of Claudius (as Caius did that of Tiberius), was driven to fill his coffers by confiscations of the estates of rich nobles against whom his creature Tigellinus could trump the slightest plausible charge. But even this did not prevent a financial crisis - the beginning of the bankruptcy of the later Rein empire. The provinces which at first enjoyed good government were now plundered; new and heavy taxes were imposed. Worst of all, the gold and silver coinage was depreciated, and the senate was deprived of the right of copper coinage.
4. Great Fire (July, 64):
This difficulty was much increased by the great fire which was not only destructive to both private and state property, but also necessitated the providing thousands of homeless with shelter, and lowering the price of corn. On July 18,64, this great conflagration broke out in Circus Maximus. A high wind caused it to spread rapidly over a large portion of the city, sweeping before it ill-built streets of wooden houses. At the end of six days it seemed to be exhausted for lack of material, when another conflagration started in a different quarter of the city. Various exaggerated accounts of the destruction are found in Roman historians: of the 14 city regions 7 were said to have been totally destroyed and 4 partially. Nero was at Antium at the time. He hastened back to the city and apparently took every means of arresting the spread of the flames. He superintended in person the work of the fire brigades, often exposing himself to danger. After the fire he threw open his own gardens to the homeless. The catastrophe caused great consternation, and, for whatever reasons, suspicion seemed to fix upon Nerio. Rumor had it that on hearing the Greek verse, "When I am dead let the earth be wrapped in fire," he interrupted, "Nay rather, while I live" (Suetonius xxxviii); that he had often deplored the ugliness of the city and wished an opportunity to rebuild it; that he purposely set it on fire in order to find room for his magnificent Domus Aurea ("Golden House"); that when the city was burning he gazed upon it from the tower of Maecenas delighted with what he termed "the beauty of the conflagration"; that he recited in actor's costume the sack of Troy (Suetonius xxxviii; Tacitus, Annals xv. 38ff). In spite of all these reports Nero must be absolved of the guilt of incendiarism.
5. Persecution of Christians:
Such public calamities were generally attributed to the wrath of the gods. In the present case everything was done to appease the offended deity. Yet, in spite of all, suspicion still clung to Nero "Wherefore in order to allay the rumor he put forward as guilty ( subdidit reos ), and afflicted with the most exquisite punishments those who were hated for their abominations ( flagitia ) and called 'Christians' by the populace. Christus, from whom the name was derived, was punished by the procurator Pontius Pilatus in the reign of Tiberius. This noxious form of religion ( exitiabilis superstitio ), checked for a time, broke out again not only in Judea its original home, but also throughout the city (Rome) where all abominations meet and find devotees. Therefore first of all those who confessed (i.e. to being Christians) were arrested, and then as a result of their information a large number ( multitude ingens ) were implicated (reading coniuncti , not convicti ), not so much on the charge of incendiarism as for hatred of the human race. They died by methods of mockery; some were covered with the skins of wild beasts and then torn by dogs, some were crucified, some were burned as torches to give light at night ... whence (after scenes of extreme cruelty) commiseration was stirred for them, although guilty and deserving the worst penalties, for men felt that their destruction was not on account of the public welfare but to gratify the cruelty of one (Nero)" (Tacitus, Annals xv. 44). Such is the earliest account of the first heathen persecution (as well as the first record of the crucifixion by a heathen writer). Tacitus here clearly implies that the Christians were innocent ( subdidit reos ), and that Nero employed them simply as scapegoats. Some regard the conclusion of the paragraph as a contradiction to this - "though guilty and deserving the severest punishment" ( adversus sontes et novissima exempla meritos ). But Tacitus means by sontes that the Christians were "guilty" from the point of view of the populace, and that they merited extreme punishment also from his own standpoint for other causes, but not for arson. Fatebantur does not mean that they confessed to incendiarism, but to being Christians, and qui fatebantur means there were some who boldly confessed, while others tried to conceal or perhaps even denied their faith.
But why were the Christians selected as scapegoats? Why not the Jews, who were both numerous and had already offended the Roman government and had been banished in great numbers? Or why not the many followers of the oriental religions, which had proved more than once obnoxious? (1) Poppea was favorable to Judaism and had certainly enough influence over Nero to protect the Jews; she was regarded by them as a proselyte and is termed by Josephus ( Ant. , XX, viii, 11) θεοσεβής , theosebḗs , "god-fearing." When the populace and Nero were seeking victims for revenge, the Jews may have been glad of the opportunity of putting forward the Christians and may have been encouraged in this by Poppea. Farrar ( Early Days of Christianity , I, chapter iv) sees "in the proselytism of Poppea, guided by Jewish malice, the only adequate explanation of the first Christian persecution." (2) Closely connected with this was doubtless the observation by the Roman government that Christianity was an independent faith from Judaism. This may first have been brought home to the authorities by the trial of Paul before Nero, as suggested by Ramsay ( Expositor , July, 1893). Judaism was a recognized and tolerated religion, a religio licita , and Christianity when divorced from Judaism became a religio illicita and punishable by the state, for Christianity first rose "under the shadow of licensed Judaism" ( sub umbraculo licitae Judeorum religionis : Tertullian, Apol., xxi). (3) As Christianity formed a society apart from Roman society, all kinds of crimes were attributed to its followers, Thyestean feasts, nightly orgies, hostility to temples and images. These flagitia seemed summed up in odium humani generis , "hatred for the human race." (4) They were easily selected as being so numerous and making most progress in a line opposed to Roman spirit; compare ingens multitudo (Tacitus, Annals xv. 44; Clemens Rom., Cor Romans 1:6 , πολὺ πλῆθος , polú plḗthos ; compare also "great multitude" of Revelation 7:9; Revelation 19:1 ). (5) No doubt, too, early Christian enthusiasm was unequivocal in its expressions, especially in its belief of a final conflagration of the world and its serene faith amid the despair of others.
6. Conspiracy of Piso (65 AD):
In the meantime Tigellinus' tyranny and confiscations to meet Nero's expenses caused deep discontent among the nobles, which culminated in the famous conspiracy at the head of which was C. Calpurnius Piso. The plot was prematurely betrayed by Milichus. An inquisition followed in which the most illustrious victims who perished were Seneca the philosopher, Lucan the poet, Lucan's mother, and later Annaeus Mela, brother of Seneca and father of Lucan, T. Petronius Arbiter, "the glass of fashion." Finally, "Nero having butchered so many illustrious men, at last desired to exterminate virtue itself by the death of Thrasea Paetus and Barea Soranus" (Tacitus, Annals xvi. 21 f).
7. Visit to Greece (66 AD):
Having cleared every suspected person out of the way, he abandoned the government in Rome to a freedman Helius, and started on a long visit to Greece (66-68 AD), where he took part in musical contests and games, himself winning prizes from the obsequious Greeks, in return for which Nero bestowed upon them "freedom." Nero was so un-Roman that he was perfectly at home in Greece, where alone he said he was appreciated by cultured people. In the meantime the revolt of Vindex in Gaul commenced (68 AD), but it was soon quelled by Verginius Rufus on account of its national Gaulic character. Galba of Hither Spain next declared himself legatus of the senate and the Roman people. Nero was persuaded to return to Rome by Helius; he confiscated Galba's property, but his weakness and hesitancy greatly helped the cause of the latter.
8. Death of Nero:
Nymphidius Sabinus, one of the prefects, won over the guard for Galba, by persuading the irresolute emperor to withdraw from Rome and then told the praetorians that Nero had deserted them. Nero was a coward, both in life and in death. While he had the means of easily crushing Galba, he was revolving plans of despair in his Servilian gardens, whether he should surrender himself to the mercies of the Parthians or to those of Galba; whether Galba would allow him the province of Egypt; whether the public would forgive his past if he showed penitence enough. In his distraction a comforter asked him in the words of Virgil, "Is it then so wretched to die?" He could not summon the courage for suicide, nor could he find one to inflict the blow for him: "Have I then neither friend nor foe?" Phaon a freedman offered him the shelter of his villa a few miles from Rome. Here he prepared for suicide, but with great cowardice. He kept exclaiming, "What an artist I am to perish!" ( Qualis artifex pereo , Suet. xlix). On learning that he was condemned to a cruel death by the senate, he put the weapon to his throat and was assisted in the fatal blow by Epaphroditus his secretary. A centurion entered pretending he had come to help: "Too late - this is fidelity," were Nero's last words. His remains were laid in the family vault of the Domitii by his two nurses Ecloge and Alexandria and his concubine Acte (Suetonius L). Thus perished on July 9,68 Ad the last of the line of Julius Caesar in his 31st year and in the 14th of his reign.
IV. Downfall and Character.
1. Seven Causes of Downfall:
The causes of his downfall were briefly: (1) his lavish expenditure leading to burdensome taxation and financial insecurity; (2) tyranny and cruelty of his favorites; (3) the great fire which brought dissatisfaction to fasten suspicion on Nero and the consequent enlargement of his private abode at the expense of the city - especially the Golden House; (4) the unpopular measure of the extension of Roman franchise to Greece and favored foreigners; (5) the security engendered by the success with which the conspiracy of Piso was crushed; (6) the discovery of another "secret of empire," that an emperor could be created elsewhere than at Rome, that the succession of emperors was not hereditary but rested with the great armies, and (7) the cowardice and weakness which Nero displayed in the revolt which led to his death.
His reign is memorable for the activity of Seneca, the great fire, the persecution of Christians, the beginning of the bankruptcy of the later Roman empire, the Armenian disaster of Paetus (62 AD) retrieved by Corbulo and the humiliation of Parthia, the outbreak of the insurrection in Judea (66 AD), which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Nero ranks with Gaius for folly and vice, while his cruelties recall the worst years of Tiberius. Very effeminate in his tastes, particular about the arrangement of his hair and proud of his voice, his greatest fault was inordinate vanity which courted applause for performances on non-Roman lines. He neglected his high office and degraded Roman gravitas by zeal for secondary pursuits. Nero, like his three predecessors, was very susceptible to female charms. He was licentious in the extreme, even to guilt of that nameless vice of antiquity - love of a male favorite. His cruelty, both directly and through his instruments, made the latter part of his reign as detestable as the quinquennium had been golden. He loved the extravagant and luxurious in every exaggerated form. He was a weakling and a coward in his life, and especially in his death. Of his personal appearance we are told his features were regular and good; the expression of his countenance, however, was somewhat repelling. His frame was ill proportioned - slender legs and big stomach. In later years his face was covered with pimples.
V. "Nero Redivivus."
It seems as if there was something lovable even about this monster, which led a freedman to remain faithful to the last, and his two old nurses and cast-off concubine to care affectionately for his remains, and for a long time there were not wanting hands to strew his grave with spring and autumn flowers and to display his effigy (Suet. lvii). But, whether from the strange circumstances of his death, or the subsequent terrible confusion in the Roman world, or from whatever cause, there soon arose a belief that Nero had not really died, but was living somewhere in retirement or had fled among the Parthians, and that he was destined in a short time to return and bring great calamity upon his enemies or the world ( quasi viventis et brevi magno inimicorum malo reversuri : Suetonius lvii). This belief was a force among the Parthians who were ready to take up arms at the report of a pseudo-Nero (Tacitus, History i. 2). In the confusion of the year of the four emperors, Greece and Asia were disturbed by the report of the advent of Nero (Tac. Hist. ii. 8), and the historian promises to mention the fortune and attempts of other pseudo-Neros. This belief was taken up by the Jews and amalgamated with their legend of Antichrist. In Ascension of Isaiah 4:1-6 (1st century AD), the Antichrist is clearly identified with Nero: "Belial shall appear in the shape of a man, the king of wickedness, the matricide." It occurs again and again in both the Jewish and Christian sections of the Sib Or (3:66 ff; 4:117 f, 135 ff; 5:100 f, 136 f, 216 f). How far Nero was regarded by the Christians as the historical personage of Antichrist is a disputed point. That the common belief of the revival or advent of Nero should influence contemporary Christian thought in days of social and political turmoil is highly probable. Bousset ( Commentary ) regards the beast of Rev 13 as Rome, and the smitten head whose "deathstroke was healed" as Nero, and some scholars take Revelation 17:10 f as referring to Nero. The "scarlet-colored beast" of Revelation 17:3 may be intended either for the Roman government in general or for Nero in particular. That the number 666 ( Revelation 13:18 ) represents in Hebrew letters the numerical equivalent of Neron Kesar is significant, for the Jewish Christians would be familiar with gēmaṭrı̄yā' (the numerical equivalent of names). See Number . Compare Farrar, Early Days , chapter xxviii,. section 5. In later times the idea of a twofold Antichrist seems to have arisen - one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles; compare especially Commodian, Carm . Apol . (926): "to us Nero became Antichrist, to the Jews the other" ( nobis Nero factus Antichristus, ille Judaeis ). There was an alternate theory that Nero had really been killed, but that he would rise again (Sib Or 5:216 f; Augustine, De Civ . Dei , xx.19: unde nonnulli ipsum resurrecturum et futurum Antichristum suspicantur ).
VI. Nero and Christianity.
1. Nero and the New Testament:
The name Nero does not occur in the New Testament, but he was the Caesar to whom Paul appealed ( Acts 25:11 ) and at whose tribunal Paul was tried after his first imprisonment. It is quite likely that Nero heard Paul's case in person, for the emperor showed much interest in provincial cases. It was during the earlier "golden quinquennium " of Nero's reign that Paul addressed his epistle to the Christians at Rome, and probably in the last year of Nero's reign (68 AD) Paul suffered death near the city, though Harnack ( Chronologie ) places his death in the first Neronian persecution of 64. Although the New Testament gives no hint of a possible visit or sojourn of Peter in Rome, such a sojourn and subsequent martyrdom are highly probable and almost certain from the early persistent tradition, especially in Clement of Rome, Ignatius and Papias, and later in Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and the Liber Pontificalis (catalogue of popes). His execution at Rome under Nero is practically certain.
2. Neronian Policy and Christianity:
The first persecution to which Christianity was subjected came from the Jews: the first heathen persecution took place under Nero. Up to this time the Roman government had been on friendly terms with Christianity, as Christianity was either not prominent enough to cause any disturbance of society or was confounded by the Romans with Judaism ( sub umbraculo licitae Judeorum religionis : Tertullian, Apol., xxi). Paul, writing to the Christians of the capital, urged them to "be in subjection to the higher powers" as "ordained of God" ( Romans 13:1 ff), and his high estimation of the Roman government as power for the good of society was probably enhanced by his mild captivity at Rome which permitted him to carry on the work of preaching and was terminated by an acquittal on the first trial (accepting the view of a first acquittal and subsequent activity before condemnation at a second trial). But soon, whether because of the trial of Paul, a Roman citizen, at Rome (about 63), or the growing hostility of the Jews, or the increasing numbers and alarming progress of the new religion, the distinction between Christianity and Judaism became apparent to the Roman authorities. If it had not yet been proscribed as a religio illicita ("'unlicensed religion"), neither had it been admitted as a religio licita . Christianity was not in itself as yet a crime; its adherents were not liable to persecution "for the name." According to one view the Neronian persecution was a spasmodic act and an isolated incident in imperial policy: the Christians were on this occasion put forward merely to remove suspicion from Nero. They were not persecuted either as Christians or as incendiaries, but on account of flagitia and odium humani generis , i.e. Thyestean feasts, Oedipodean incest and nightly orgies were attributed to them, and their withdrawal from society and exclusive manners caused the charge of "hatred for society." The evidence of Tacitus ( Ann . xv. 44) would bear out this view of the Neronian persecution as accidental, isolated, to satisfy the revenge of the mob, confined to Rome and of brief duration. The other view is, however, preferable, as represented by Ramsay ( Church in the Roman Empire , chapter xi) and E. G. Hardy ( Studies in Roman History , chapter iv). Suetonius speaks of the persecution of Christians as a permanent police regulation in a list of other seemingly permanent measures (Nero xvi: afflicti suppliciis Christiani genus hominum superstitionis novae ac maleficae ), which is not inconsistent with the account of Tacitus - who gives the initial step and Suetonius the permanent result. The Christians by these trials, though not convicted of incendiarism, were brought into considerable prominence; their unsocial and exclusive manners, their withdrawal from the duties of state, their active proselytism, together with the charges of immorality, established them in Roman eyes as the enemies of society. Christianity thus became a crime and was banned by the police authorities. Suetonius gives a "brief statement of the permanent administrative principle into which Nero's action ultimately resolved itself" (Ramsay, op. cit., 232). No formal law needed to be passed, the matter could be left with the prefect of the city. A trial must be held and the flagitia proved before an order for execution, according to Ramsay, but Hardy holds that henceforth the name itself - nomen ipsum - was proscribed. A precedent was now established of great importance in the policy of the imperial government toward Christianity (see, further, Roman Empire; Christianity ). There ls no reason to suppose that the Neronian persecution of 64 Ad extended beyond Rome to the provinces, though no doubt the attitude of the home government must have had considerable influence with provincial officers. Paul seems to have gone undisturbed, or at least with no unusual obstacles, in his evangelization after his acquittal. The authorities for a general Neronian persecution and formal Neronian laws against Christianity are late; compare Orosius ( History vii. 7, "(Nero) was the first to put to death Christians at Rome and gave orders that they should be subjected to the same persecution throughout all the provinces ").
Tacitus Annals xii-xvi; Suetonius Nero ; Dio Cassius in Epit . of Xiphilinus 61 ff; Zonaras xi.
Hermann Schiller, Geschichte des rom. Kaiserreichs unter der Regierung des Neron (Berlin, 1872); Merivale, Hist of the Romans under the Empire ; Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire and The Expositor , 1893; E.G. Hardy, Christianity and the Roman Government and Studies in Roman History ; Mommsen, " Der Religionsfrevel nach rom. Recht ," Histor . Zeitschr ., 1890; C. F. Arnold, Die Neronische Christenverfolgung; Farrar, Early Days of Christianity ; Baring-Gould, Tragedy of the Caesars : G.H. Lewes, " Was Nero a Monster ?" in Cornhill Magazine, July, 1863; B.W. Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero , with important bibliography of ancient and modern authorities (London, 1903); Lehmann, Claudius u . Nero .
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
Roman emperor from A.D. 54 to 68, born at Antium, son of Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus and of Agrippina, daughter of Germanicus; after the murder of Claudius, instigated by Agrippina, who 4 years previously had become the emperor's wife, Nero seized the throne, excluding Britannicus, the rightful heir; during the first 5 years of his reign his old tutors, Seneca and Burrus, were his advisers in a wise and temperate policy, but gradually his innate tendency to vice broke through all restraint, and hurried him into a course of profligacy and crime; Britannicus was put to death, his mother and wife, Octavia, were subsequent victims, and in 64 numbers of Christians suffered death, with every refinement of torture, on a trumped-up charge of having caused the great burning of Rome, suspicion of which rested on Nero himself; a year later Seneca and the poet Lucan were executed as conspirators, and, having kicked to death his wife Poppæa, then far advanced in pregnancy, he offered his hand to Octavia, daughter of Claudius, and because she declined his suit ordered her death; these and many other similar crimes brought on inevitable rebellion; Spain and Gaul declared in favour of Galba; the Prætorian Guards followed suit; Nero fled from Rome, and sought refuge in suicide (37-68).
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Nero'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/nero.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
- ↑ Nero from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- ↑ Nero from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Nero from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- ↑ Nero from Holman Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Nero from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Nero from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Nero from Webster's Dictionary
- ↑ Nero from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- ↑ Nero from The Nuttall Encyclopedia
- ↑ Nero from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature