"What an artist dies with me!" (Attributed to Nero just before his suicide)
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' Legends of the Ancient World series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of antiquity's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
Throughout the annals of history, there have been few figures as reviled as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known as Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, or more simply, Nero. Even today, he remains one of the Roman Empire's most famous - or notorious - figures, a villain whose impact on popular culture is so vast that his name crops up consistently, to this day, in literature, film, TV, and mediums as unlikely as video games and anime.
Nero ranks among the very worst of the caesars, alongside the likes of mad Caligula, slothful Commodus, and paranoid Domitian. He is a figure so hated that in many ancient Christian traditions, he is literally - without hyperbole - considered the Antichrist; according to a notable Biblical scholar, the coming of the beast and the number 666 in the book of Revelation are references to Nero. He was the man who famously "fiddled while Rome burned". Nero was an inveterate lecher, a murderous tyrant who showed little compunction in murdering his mother, and he liked to use Christian martyrs as sources of illumination by burning them alive at night. His economic policies, according to many historians, virtually bankrupted Rome.