Sunday, 30 May 2021

Emperor Nero

Nero is among the most famous of all Roman emperors – but not for good reasons. During his reign, from 54 to 68 CE, Nero had few accomplishments and many failures. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, (Caligula's sister) dominated Nero's early life until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered. Nero's rule is usually thought that of a tyrant and most Romans thought him corrupt.

Silver denarius of 55/56
He was suspected of starting the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD in order to clear the way for his new palace complex, the Domus Aurea. It caused widespread devastation and countless mansions, homes and temples were destroyed. The fire is reported to have burned for over a week. Nero seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive.
Nero was famous for devaluing Roman currency for the first time in the Empire's history. He reduced the weight of the denarius from 3.85 grams to 3.35 grams. He also reduced the silver purity from 99.5% to 93.5%—the silver weight dropping from 3.83 grams to 3.4 grams. He also reduced the weight of the aureus from 8 grams to 7.2 grams.
In 65 a conspiracy against Nero failed after being discovered. In March 68, Gaius Julius Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled against Nero's tax policies. The discontent of the legions of Germany and the continued opposition of the popular Galba in Spain, despite his being officially declared a public enemy were Nero's undoing. The prefect of the Praetorian Guard abandoned his allegiance to the Emperor. When the Senate declared Nero a public enemy it was the end. Nero could not bring himself to take his own life but instead forced his private secretary to perform the task. He died on 9 June 68.
In 2017 excavations at Mount Zion in Jerusalem for the first time discovered a gold coin bearing the likeness of Roman Emperor Nero. The coin had been struck in either 56 and 57 AD. The gold coin (aureus) bears the bare-headed portrait of the younger Nero as Caesar. The coin would have been minted before the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The archaeologists hypothesized that the gold coin was part of a Jewish store of wealth, amassed before their mansions were razed – along with the rest of the city – by Titus and the Roman legions. The coin was likely hidden prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and overlooked by looting Roman soldiers.
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War. The destruction of both the first and second temples is still mourned annually as the Jewish fast Tisha B'Av. The Arch of Titus, celebrating the Roman sack of Jerusalem and the Temple, still stands in Rome.

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