General Overview of the Domus Aurea Tour

Emperor Nero

Nero was the fifth and last emperor of the Julio-Claudia dynasty, started in 27 BC by Augustus, and continued by the emperors Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero himself, whose real name was actually Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, son of Gnaeus Ahenobarbus and the notorious Julia Agrippina. In a complicated turn of events, Gnaeus dies and Agrippina marries in a second incestuous marriage her uncle, and incidentally the living emperor, Claudius, who in turn adopts Agrippina's son Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Following this second marriage, the young Lucius changes his name in Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. Agrippina's plan was likely that of slowly taken the power into her hands by pushing her son Nero, and such an audacious plan seems to actually take shape when Nero first marries her own adoptive sister Ottavia, daugther of the emperor, his adoptive father, and then, on the next year, Claudius dies allegedly poisoned by Agrippina herself with mushroom. Nero, locked the actual son of the emperorBritannicus in the imperial palace, showed himself to the crowds and promised 15,000 sesterce to every soldier. Nero was acclaimed emperor and crowned by the senate. Britannicus, his adoptive brother and the heir-designated of the empire since his birth, was just six month away from reaching the manhood by the Roman legal system: a clue, if not an hard evidence, that Claudius' death was part of Agrippina's plot to favor Nero's election. On the next year, in 55 AD, Nero got read of his step-brother. Nevertheless, the Roman citizens were enthusiastic about Nero, as the poet Lucan testifies in his book The Civil War.

Quod si non aliam uenturo fata Neroni / inuenere uiam [...] / iam nihil, o superi, querimur; scelera ipsa nefasque / hac mercede placent... (Lucan, The Civil War, Book I)
Still, if Fate could fine no other way to prepare the advent of Nero, let us complain no more against the gods, because even such crimes and wrongdoing are not too high a price to pay.

Nero's brother, Britannicus, suddenly died during a banquet. And it looks like his mother Agrippina was not particularly happy about Nero's way of handling it, because Britannicus was more useful alive to her, as she intended to resort to him in case Nero — as he was starting to show after his election — became more and more unwilling to being maneuvered. Soon after the proclamation, Nero started to take distance from Agrippina. He sent her away from the imperial palace, and to give ear, instead, to his teachers and mentors, Burro and the famous orator and philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Meanwhile, Nero started developing an growing interest for the art, especially acting and singing. Activities that were not considered particularly masculine or Roman enough for an emperor. In fact, not only Nero had an immoderate crack for art, but especially for the Greek culture. During his empire, for the first time, the Roman emperor starts behave more as an Hellenistic sovrane rather than a Roman emperor: we should not forget that very word emperor originally defined a military office. Furthermore Nero is not particularly interested in concealing his love for art, music, poetry, acting, and singing. Nero's mother, Agrippina becomes more and more disappointed with his son's behavior and her progressive loss of power. To get read of the psychological pressure coming from her, a Nero plans to have her ship be sunk in the middle of the ocean during a sailing. Agrippina however miraculously survives, and Nero has her killed by sword. He thus dedicates himself to cultivate his artistic talent. One of his mentor Burro dies, he divorces from Octavia and even Seneca starts taking distance from him. By the year 62 AD Nero, who had been elected with the favor of the Senate, starts having the senatorial class and many important figures in the political body against him for his extravaganza and his behaviour. Nero seeks approval in the common people and the actors and artists whom he wanted to be part of. In 64 he for the first time perform

The Saeculum Neronianum

Since his election, Nero's policy has been that of showing respect for the senate and his political has been filo-senatorial at least in his initial intentions and first years. At his election a great enthusiasm pervaded all the groups and his inauguration discourse was printed on golden slabs to be solemnly read for the election of the consuls. The new course was defined a returned to the golden age by senators and men of letters. Initially he shared the rules, de facto, with Seneca and

The Birth of the Great Hellenistic Villas in Rome (Augusto, Tiberio, Domiziano, Nero's Domus Transitoria)

The Great Fire and The Domus Aurea: A House as Big as a City

Artists of the Domus Aurea: Famulus, Zenodoro, and the Architect Celere

Visiting the Domus Aurea Today

Damnation Memoriae: Abbandono e riscoperta

From the Colossus to the Colosseum

Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Important Info About This Tour