Foolish Leaders (36 of 40) by Stephen Whitney
This content is part of a series.Foolish Leaders (36 of 40)
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus became the Roman Emperor at 16, the youngest emperor up until that time. He reigned for 14 years from 54 to 68. In the beginning of his reign he was influended by his mother and ruled well. Later, the day before his step-brother became of legal age to become emperor, Nero posioned him.
During his reign, he focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade, and increasing the cultural capital of the empire. He ordered the building of theaters and promoted athletic games.
Nero's rule is often associated with tyranny and extravagance.
Not only did he kill his step-brother, but he also killed his own mother because she tried to replace him as Emperor.
He is also infamously known as the emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned". The Great Fire of Rome erupted on the night of July 18th 64 AD. The fire started at the southeastern end of Rome in shops selling flammable goods.
The Roman historian Ticitus, who was nine years-old at the time, said it spread quickly and burned for over five days. It completely destroyed three of fourteen Roman districts and severely damaged seven others.
It is uncertain who or what actually caused the fire - whether accident or arson. Some historians believe Nero started the fire
so he could build a new palace complex which he later did when the area was cleared by the fire. The size of the area for this new place was between 100 to 300 acres. This new palace included lush artificial landscapes and a 30 meter statue of himself.
Popular legend claims that Nero played the fiddle at the time of the fire because he began playing and singing in public that same year.
Other historians say that Nero playing and singing was only a rumor.
The people searched for a scapegoat and rumors held Nero responsible. To deflect blame from himself, Nero targeted Christians who believed the world would end in fire. ...
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