The “madness” of the emperors: Nero IV Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in Roman culture

As we wrote before, Nero also killed his two wives, Octavia and Poppaea. Octavia had a dark life and away from active life, she lived out oof Rome. Poppea -the new caprice of the Emperor- demanded to share the throne with Nero, but obviously, the Empress interfered in Nero’s tasks. Nero was crazy for Poppea. She was a splendid redhead (she was considered one of the most beautiful women in Rome), the fate of Octavia was written. At first, Nero tried to divorce his first wife, but the reasons required by law were not very clear. It was then when he decided to take the final step, although killing her would not be easy, as people were with her, and the few times she went through the streets people cheered her with the affection of the masses. However, Poppaea was still urging , and Nero called again to the unconditional services of Anicetus, who repeated the crime (before he had killed Agrippina) and forced Octavia to open her veins and bleed to death.

Octavia quickly found death, virtually untouched by marriage, she had been banished to the island of Pandataria, and right there would be sacrificed. Her body was decapitated and her head carried by Anicetus as a trophy to the victorious Poppaea, who boasted. Once removed all the obstacles, Nero and Poppea began what appeared to be a stage of kindness that would never end.

Nero and Poppea were attending to absolutely all kinds of festivities and joys, draining every last drop of happiness’ nectar. Their festivals and orgies took them to wish to look like two splendid gods for which (it was an open secret) they consumed in extraordinary quantities all kinds of cosmetics and perfumes, consumed continuously and immediately replenished by suppliers. But the reign of Poppaea would not last very long, and ultimately would end up as its predecessor’s.

This feeling towards his new wife erupted after the death of the heir (Augustus), who died when he was few months old. However, Poppaea, became pregnant again, and the emperor went mad with joy, his parent-child feelings were reborn. But one night after returning from one of his interminable banquets, Nero was drunk and kicked the already bulging belly of Poppea, which caused an almost immediate death. Given these terrible events, the idea that everything had been a premeditated plan to eliminate Poppaea from his life was spread. However, many historians are inclined to think about a fatal crash with a result of an unexpected and accidental death, both the baby still inside and the Empress.

The long list of victims would continue. For example, his aunt Lepida, whom he visited in her bed wishing her a quick recovery, after that he ordered the doctor in confidence to kill her. In turn, Nero stole her will immediately, and seized all her possessions.

He also ordered the killing of a daughter of Claudius, Antonia, because he had promised to make her his wife but she had refused the Emperor’s wishes. Although in these cases Nero still suffered from conscience problems. However, very soon the monster would arise, the one that his father had prophesied.

Realizing his own statements, Nero ordered to eliminate Atticus Vestinus to marry his widow, Estatilia Messalina. Even getting to absurd extremes, he killed his stepson Rufus Crispitio because someone told Nero that the boy was having fun in his play calling himself  “the Emperor”, which for the abnormal mind of Nero meant that the boy would steal the throne one day.

Freed from the bonds his family’s presence, Nero began to live surrounded by courtesans and buffoons and organizing big parties and new games for the people and for himself. Considering that he considered himself a great versatile artist, no one questioned the authenticity of the art of the Emperor, if somebody dared to refuse it he would end up dead, as Petronius, the author of Satyricon.

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