Jamie’s thoughts on Emperor Nero


Was he a monster or a misguided (slightly dramatic) fool?

He has intrigued me since we completed our 6th episode on him. At first, I saw links to Oedipus, the ill-fated Greek king who destroyed his own eyes in penance for knowing his mother well… really well.  It was only after finishing the episode that I believed this was, perhaps, misrepresentedby contemporary propaganda.

Nero grew up as a lover of the theatre; watching and performing. This allowed him to be the centre of attention and expand his love of role-play and living an alternate reality.


Was his past a traumatic memory he wished to hide or forget?

He brought this love into his political life to the disgust of the Senate and noblemen throughout Rome. He would spend hours on stage acting out past events and portray heroic Greek adventurers. In one account, he forbade his crowd to leave. Rather than risk the wrath of an angry, dramatic emperor, a woman supposedly gave birth whilst other men feigned death.

Oh dear.

Agrippina, his overbearing, power-hungry, mother was subject to Nero’s dramatic tendencies.


Instead of a simple, stabby-stabby death, Nero, with the help of others, concocted a range of unique and absurd ways to forever terminate his mother’s existence.

  1. Poison (fail)
  2. Collapsible ceiling (fail)
  3. Fall apart boat (fail)
  4. Stabby Stabby (success!)

After four attempts, Agrippina was successfully killed. I have always thought that this sums up Nero perfectly.

Don’t go for the ordinary: go for the effect.

Don’t forget his statue that was 4 blue whales tall.Or his palace. Or his revolving rooms. Or the perfume sprays that quite possibly injured guests. (I hear sharp shouts of “My eyes!”)

The image of Nero dressed as a bride to get married makes me smile; as Rob said, it seems as though he was just playing a role that day; it was fun.

It was also a spectacle.