- "What an artist is perishing with me!"
- —Nero's famous last words
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus (b. December 15, 37 d. June 9, 68), birth name Lucius Domitrius Ahenobarbus, commonly known as Nero, was a Roman Emperor who reigned from 54-68 AD. He is well-known for burning Rome in 64 AD and framing the fire on the growing number of Roman Christians, and began to have them persecuted by burning them, feeding them to animals, and crucifying them. He also made people sit through his performances, in which he would sing and perform for hours on end, behaving lewdly and disgracefully.
According to legend, he "played the fiddle while Rome was burning." In actuality, he played a lyre, and some modern historians believed he was lamenting the destruction of the city rather than basking in the fire's "beauty." He murdered his own mother, whose ambitions had facilitated his rise to power in the first place (and whom, according to some, he had an incestuous relationship with) and two wives, though the murder of his second wife was admittedly an act he came to regret. Christians had to practice their religion secretly, until he was finally deposed in 68 AD. Fleeing the city, Nero committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD when he was informed that the Senate had declared him a criminal and had planned an excrutiatingly painful method of execution for him. He was the last of the Augustan Dynasty, as he had systematically murdered all of his relatives prior to his death.
To this day, he is considered by many Christians to be the Antichrist, and the fabled passage in the Book of Revelations that discussed "the Number of the Beast" has been believed to be attributed to him. There are also suggestions that he may have been the bastard son of his maternal uncle, the psychotic emperor Caligula, which may have been true, since Caligula did rape his sisters a number of times, one of whom was Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger.