54 - 68 CE
Nero's mother, Agrippina, was very power-hungry and poisoned Claudius to make way for him. As time passed and he became more and more intoxicated with his power and started to suspect that his mother had hidden, ulterior motives. He invited her to meet him at his seaside resort. When Agrippina left to sail home, he sent assassins after her. The attempt failed, however, and she was able to swim to the bank to be taken in by her supporters.
Nero became frustrated and foolishly sent soldiers to openly complete the job. He claimed that she was conspiring against him, but the citizens were not fooled. Rome was appalled. Matricide, the murder of one's own mother, was among the worst possible crimes.
This marked the beginning of Nero's neurotic reign of chaos. He murdered his own mother without remorse. He barely acknowledged the Roman people's horror at his actions.
The Burning of Rome
The Great Fire of Rome lasted for six days and seven nights. It destroyed or damaged 10 of Rome's 14 districts and many homes, shops and temples. Many Romans were angry at Nero because they heard that he was singing and dancing while the city was burning. They blamed him for the desolation of their city.
The Great Fire of Rome is the most memorable occurrence during Nero's reign. His nonchalant reaction to the destruction angered the people and further cemented in their minds that he was unfit for his position.
Nero was desperate to regain favor with his people. He accused the small cult of Christians of causing the fire and started a cruel campaign of persecution against them. In order to divert attention away from himself and his singing, he told the people that the fire started because of the Christians. He ordered some to be thrown to the lions and some to be burned alive. Many others were crucified.
Nero began to realize that he was losing his grip on the throne. His indictment of the Christians was just one of the many desperate grabs he made to regain it. This event was the beginning of the end for Nero's reign as emperor.