The Day Nero Died

Nero, the final emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, killed himself on 9th June AD 68. Having fled Rome to a suburban villa after being declared a ‘public enemy’ by the Senate, he stabbed himself through the throat. Probably.

Within months of his death, rumours began that Nero still lived and would return in glory to reclaim his empire. Instead, the historians of the era - albeit never averse to embellishment to make an artistic point - documented the horrors of his reign, including his forced marriage to a  slave boy and turning Christians into wax candles.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly look back on the more enlightened early days of Nero’s emperorship; consider his incestuous rise to the throne; and explain why his story, perhaps more than anything, is a warning about working with a frustrated actor… 

Content Warning: suicide, incest, torture, religious persecution.

Further Reading:

• ‘Emperor Nero: Facts, Life and Biography’ (History Extra, 2020):

• ‘On this day in AD 68: The death of the tyrannical Emperor Nero’ (Telegraph, 2017):

• ‘The Downfall of Nero's Scandalous Reign’ (Smithsonian, 2019:

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.

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