Like the dark clouds over the Roman Empire, Nero’s reign is shrouded in the darkness of cruelty and madness. The fifth emperor of Rome, who ruled from 54 to 86 A.D., was famous for his cruelty and sadism, sending many of his relatives and loved ones to the grave.
However, one of the worst aspects of his reign was the persecution of the early Christians. Sources testify that Nero sadistically mocked this exotic sect, which rejected polytheism and proclaimed one Lord. He sewed them up in animal skins, poisoned them with dogs, crucified them on crosses, and even set them on fire, thus illuminating the gardens near his palace. Although some of these horrors are not documented, all historians agree that Nero was the first persecutor of Christianity as a religion. It was under his rule that the apostles Peter and Paul suffered.
Modern scholars still argue about the role of Nero in the history of the Roman Empire. Some argue that he is undeservedly accused of “authorship” of the Great Fire of Rome, which destroyed most of the city. However, other researchers note the emperor’s extraordinary popularity among the common people of Rome. Nero sought to fight government corruption and supported the emancipation of slaves when the issue of allowing patrons to imprison them arose in the Senate. He also limited some taxes, which had a positive effect on the lives of Romans.
Despite all his cruelty, Nero left a mark on the history of Rome. His reign was a period of controversy and extreme actions that still cause wonder and horror. He was a despot, a persecutor of Christians and at the same time a reformer who sought to improve the lives of his subjects.