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The “madness” of the emperors: Nero V Posted by on Jul 12, 2012 in Roman culture

The emperor recovered the games and amusements for the people of Rome, after being banned in the previous stage of Tiberius. He gave himself fully to the attractions of the circus, without avoiding sometimes involving himself in the various games. He created a gladiator school where they trained these fighters who then fought in the sand with other gladiators or wild beasts.

It is known that under the rule of Nero there were more than 2,000 men trained and prepared perfectly to fight. Nero even imposed to senators and nobles, as kind of joke, to go down to the arena from time to time and fight against each other. These jokes ended the lives of 400 senators and a larger number of free men.

As noted in previous posts, the death of his mother made Nero even more upset, making him distrustful, and making him break any moral limits (no distinction between friends or enemies) mixing ones and others in a grim unreality. By then it was discovered the conspiracy of Gaius Piso, so carefully prepared that he had even fixed the day and month to carry it out: April 19th of year 65. But many people was aware of the plot (senators, members of the nobility, soldiers and even Nero’s tutor, the philosopher Seneca), news of what was afoot reached the ears of the Emperor, who cut the plot off immediately. The Legionnaires occupied the Temple of the Sun (chosen for revenge) preventing the action to take place. Shortly after the trial against the arrested people began, not only against them but against all the ramifications detected on the Palatine.

After this massacre, Tacitus stated that “the city was full of corpses.” In turn, this frustrated conspiracy made raise the fears of the Emperor, so he ordered the closure of the port of Ostia and closed the river Tiber, to prevent the entrance of those who wanted to destroy him. Surrounded by the only soldiers in which he trusted, the germans, Nero closed himself in the Palatine, and there he dedicated his time to all sorts of excesses, as if he felt he had little of life. Bored of common love, he met two new lovers: Sporus, a beautiful young man who had been sexually mutilated by Nero so while being dressed in female fine dresses Nero wanted to marry him publicly.

When Nero regained the will to live he decided to move to Greece, Rome had lost its charm and was no longer his city. Thus, in August 66 he launched a great caravan of artists who were bound for Brindisi and then Corinth. The mobile court accompanying Nero was formed by singers, dancers, musicians, singers and even fashion designers. In Greece, he married the young Sporus. The “outrageous love” with this beautiful young man, had its origin in its resemblance to Poppaea Sabina. When the emperor decided to end the life of his second wife, he ordered the castration of Sporus. Then he dressed him in female robes and organized the wedding ceremony. They held major celebrations in various parts of the Hellenic peninsula in honor of the couple.

The Delphic oracle warned him that on a specified date his life was in danger and was invited to be careful. The prediction caused an immediate return to Rome again unleashing all kinds of fears. Earlier, in another query to the oracle of Apollo, he interpreted the prophecy as a guarantee that would not die until the age of 73 years old. However, he brought from Greece a new show he had invented: the quinquennial Neronia, a playful mix of song, dance, music, poetry, gymnastics, horse and public speaking. Actually it was a kind of total show that the Emperor instituted to take place every five years. He, more spectator than participant, reserved the singing for him, he was convinced of being a great performer.

 

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