Year 2, Week 13

Week 13

41.  Emperor Claudius sends troops to conquer Britian, 43 A.D.

History Channel Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire, Episode 5, Invasion of Britain — This is not appropriate for little guys.  It is difficult to find a non-violent documentary of Roman Emperors.

  • Claudius had been made emperor by the Praetorian Guard.  See Card 13.  The Praetorian Guard had become so powerful that it faced no consequences for murdering Caligula and appointing Claudius.

42.  Emperor Nero, 37 – 68 A.D.

Nero was as wicked as imaginable.  When he came to power at the age of 17, he boasted of a transparent government.  Claudius and Caligula had made lists of Romans who had disagreed with them or had conspired against them.  The lists were expansive.  They included details about each person and specific comments they had made against the emperor.  When Caludius or Caligula wanted to destroy a person they would use the lists as evidence.  Nero made great show out of burning the lists in public when he became emperor. The people of Rome celebrated because the lists had been a heavy reminder that the emperor could kill or take from anyone at anytime.   In just a few short years, however, the people realized that Nero was worse than his predecessors.  Not only had he made copies of the lists before burning them, but he used them against the people far more than the emperors before him.

Agrippina’s influence over Nero

Grace Glanowski

November 10, 2014

“Until the year 59, Nero was described as a generous and reasonable leader. He eliminated capital punishment, lowered taxes and allowed slaves to bring complaints against their masters. He supported the arts and athletics above gladiator entertainment and gave aid to other cities in crisis. Although he was known for his nighttime frolicking, his actions were good-natured, if irresponsible and self-indulgent.”

From the very beginning of Nero’s life, he was treated with neglect and scorn. His father Ahenobarbus, a powerful and callous man, knew from the second he was born who his son would become. He stated “ nothing but what is detestable could come from Agrippina and I.” Nero lived up to this statement later on in his life but Ahenobarbus would not live to see his prophecy be fulfilled. He died when Nero was three years old. His mother was more jubilant than melancholy at her husbands passing, she had been hardened from a loveless marriage, and childhood.

After Nero’s father had died, the emperor, Caligula had his mother banished from Rome to the Pontian Islands because of her close connections to Marcus Lepidus a conspirator against Caligula. Nero did not accompany his traitorous mother to exile, but stayed with a distant aunt named Lepida. His aunt cared little for the young near-orphaned child and treated him like a shadow.

He spent the rest of his childhood in a poverty stricken neighborhood with no education. Nero was only given the care of a barber and dancing master. The dancing master, being one of the few influences in his life, taught Nero to love all things theatrical a different stand than from the popular gladiator fights. Nero lived as irresponsibly as he wanted, no rules, no guidance, he could do what ever he wanted and his aunt didn’t even bat an eyelash. ( Re-right last paragraph then split into two paragraphs)

Soon after Caligula was murdered, Claudius, Nero’s Uncle was chosen for the throne. Because of his death, Agrippina had her rights restored as a Roman citizen and returned to her homeland.   Agrippina craved power, with her husband gone and the high restrictions on women’s power Agrippina needed to re-marry into the throne line. She chose the highest title she could, empress. She married her uncle Claudius and secured her titles once again.

However, Agrippina wasn’t done yet. Her next step toward domination was convincing Claudius to make Nero his successor to the throne upon his death. To do this he would have to renounce his own son as his heir, but Agrippina held a tight reign on her uncle and soon she had her wish. Britannicus would no longer be king.

It is later stated by Suetonius a historian, that belonged to the equestrian order that   “for even if he was not the instigator of the emperor’s death, he was at least privy to it, as he openly admitted; for he used afterwards to laud mushrooms, the vehicle in which the poison was administered to Claudius, as “the food of the gods,” as the Greek proverb has it. At any rate, after Claudius’ death he vented on him every kind of insult, in act and word, charging him now with folly and now with cruelty; for it was a favorite joke of his to say that Claudius had ceased “to play the fool among mortals, lengthening the first syllable of the word morari, and he disregarded many of his decrees and acts as the work of a madman and a dotard. Finally, he neglected to enclose the place where his body was burned except with a low and mean wall.”

Agrippina knew that if she wished to rule from the sidelines she needed her son Nero to be loved by the Roman people. Her next strategy was to insure his fame was known through out Rome. When he turned 14 years old Agrippina created an edict, so her son Nero could advance into manhood early. Her next step was to create a large and expensive public event to show the young princes generosity, and love for the people. To tie it all together, she gave a large sum of money to the empirical armies treasury and to the citizens of Rome in Nero’s name.

Agrippina couldn’t do all the work though; she was not skilled in the areas of education. She was forced to therefore hire a tutor for the future emperor. Lucius Annaeus Seneca was hired because of his high reputation as a philosopher and scholar. His name was held high in Rome and it would add more status to Nero’s name. Nero then studied the things a prince should know from the cradle, but because he had not been properly trained as a child, Seneca tutored him as a young adult. Nero was taught in the classical tradition of Rome, learning Greek, philosophy and rhetoric. Nero and Seneca were growing closer and Seneca grew to have more influence over his life than Agrippina does. She knew this could be a relationship that might possibly endanger her plans so after Seneca had taught Nero enough to be considered educated in the ruling class she ended the sessions.

When Nero had come to the age of 17, Agrippina decided to move her plans to the next step. It is widely assumed by most historians that Agrippina’s next step was to poison her second husband. Rome did not weep for its lost emperor beyond what was expected. Claudius had not been a kind or loving ruler. To keep the Julio Claudian Dynasty together the people of Rome accepted Nero as their new emperor. His handsome, light blonde hair, standard weight and height were liked, Agrippina once again got what she wished for, she had one of Rome’s most popular Emperors in the palm of her hand.

Nero’s early rein went unquestioned; the people of Rome were relieved they finally had a decent emperor, even if he was still a young adult. Nero only had one rival, his younger cousin Britannicus rightful heir by birth. However, Britannicus had not spent years building up his status and plotting to overthrow every obstacle in his way. Agrippina had. When Britannicus tried to gain some hold over the people at a festival Nero would need to beat him in the games. Agrippina could no longer plot Nero’s every move; this was up to him to hold up his reputation. When, after several games, Nero beat his younger cousin and became even more wildly popular It is said that Agrippina’s heart was filled with pride and pleasure at his accomplishments.

To seal the popularity of Nero he hosted the Centennial games. These games were made up of three days of sacrifices, spectacles, athletic games, and military and gladiatorial shows. On one of these days, young boys of rich and highly ranked families would ride on horses in a ring. In the ring, they would perform fights and trick riding for the tens of thousands of spectators.

Nero had gained popularity in every sect of Rome accept the aristocrats. They believed he was not the slave freeing kindhearted man he pretended to be but they were out numbered. “ The people were filled with admiration of Nero, and they applauded his performance with the utmost enthusiasm. He was for a time a subject of conversation in every circle throughout the city, and many tales were told of his history and his doings.”

Nero’s popularity soon faltered and plummeted toward the middle of his reign. Soon after most likely having his cousin, killed Nero became uncontrollable. It’s assumed that Nero had his cousin Britticanius poisoned just like his father but Nero claimed he died from a seizure. It is also a possibility that his mother, Agrippina, helped him plot the death of Britticanius to secure the throne to stay in Nero’s hands.

Nero had learned from his mother’s cleverness and deceptiveness. He became responsible for the deaths of innocent people, and killed to keep his insecurity levels safe, even the smallest of insults could result in instant, painful death. Nero now took the center stage and had to remove the behind the scenes actress, his mother.

Nero needed a way to create an accident. He built a magnificent boat built for a queen as lavish as his mother. Soon after setting sail, the mighty vessel broke, drowning all who couldn’t swim. This attempt on Agrippina’s life did not kill her. Instead, she swam to shore in an infuriated rage. Nero was slightly put off by his mothers will to live, but didn’t feel it was worth another lavish expense to illuminate his mother. Instead, he just told her she had to either kill herself, or the soldiers who had delivered the message would be obliged to kill her.

With Agrippina dead, Nero no longer had the rudder to his ship.  He went spinning out of control and soon became unstoppable. He acted in public plays, behaved like a commoner, killed for pleasure and spent the wealth of Rome on himself. He quickly became just like all others in the Julian Claudian Dynasty. When the people could no longer take Nero’s abuse, they had him killed. Not only ending Nero, but the Dynasty of Claudian’s as well.
43.  Faith Without Works, James 2 [c. early to mid 40’s AD]

This is a great discussion card for you and your children.  What are works?  Does this mean being super saccharine sweet?

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