One of my favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movies is Catch Me If
Nero is one of the most infamous of the Roman emperors: well known as insane and bloodthirsty, odd stories about the emperor abound. Just how far does the insanity go? Read on to find out, but not if you’re faint of heart.
1. Nero was, in fact, a very bloodthirsty and violent man. As a child, he liked to put on a disguise and then kill people who argued with him. When he got older, he liked to engage in the games at the coliseum by dressing up in animal skins and attacking the people bound to stakes there. In specific, he liked to bite off their genitals.
2. One particularly disturbing punishment he enacted was on a serial killer named Locusta. He trained a giraffe to have sex with her, and once he had done that he tossed her to wild animals to be torn apart.
3. Nero’s full name was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.
4. Despite popular stories, Nero did not actually fiddle while Rome burned. He was most likely not even in Rome at the time, and most sources suggest that if he did make music, he was singing, possibly as a lament.
5. For the first five years of his reign, Nero was actually quite mild. He reduced taxes and gave the Senate additional authority. He even banned capital punishment. The problem was when he started to quarrel with his mother, Agrippina, who had murdered the previous emperor and tried to use Nero as a pawn. He had his mother killed in order to maintain power, and it was all downhill from there.
6. One of Nero’s lasting legacies is his persecution of Christians. After Rome burned, he needed someone to pin it on, so he went after the Christians, a smallish cult at the time who were already highly unpopular and technically treasonous. Of course despite the logic of blaming it on the Christians, Nero did go a bit overboard in his persecution of them, with some stories saying that he used them as human torches during one of his dinner parties. Sometimes he’d use them to reenact the deaths of Roman gods and heroes.
7. Nero had three wives. His first was Claudio Octavia, his stepsister. He divorced her for barrenness and married his mistress, Poppaea Sabina, instead. Together they had a daughter, Claudia Augusta, but he supposedly killed her while she was pregnant with their second child. His third wife, Statilia Messalina actually survived her husband.
8. Nero died at the age of 30 thanks to assisted suicide. His popularity had dwindled to nothing and he was trying to escape the city of Nymphidus. Instead, he stabbed himself in the neck.
9. One of the best influences in Nero’s life was the philosopher Seneca, who tutored him as a young man and is largely held responsible for the first five, peaceful years of his reign.