9. Nero's Rome

Nero Corbulo Seneca NeroCoin NeroAgrippinaCoin

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, thinker, writer, dramatist, and tutor to the teenage Nero. Seneca kept the reins of power for Nero's first years as emperor and—while he was hardly snow-white in character—governed wisely withe the praetorian prefect Burrus.

Young Nero and his mother Agrippina, shown sharing power with her son. It was a position she would soon lose, along with her life, victim of Nero's hatred.

It was, perhaps, a fitting end for all her crimes, including the probable murder of her husband Claudius.


The face of Nero, last of the Julio-Claudian emperors: shaped by vice, despotism, extravagance, and eccentricity—but at times, also, a touch of care for Rome.

Octavia (top), Claudius's daughter

and Nero's first wife, was divorced by him and executed when he fell for devious Poppaea Sabina (below), wife of his ex-friend Otho, a man himself soon to be emperor…briefly.

When the great general Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo was driven to suicide, the army finally lost patience with Nero.

Where present, maps are downloadable.

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Illustrations © Oliver Frey; Maps © Roger M. Kean    © 2010–2016 Reckless Books, England