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-11. NERO

He was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in AD 37, but he has come down through history as Nero, the last Roman emperor descended from Julius Caesar. He also won the reputation of being a tyrant the ruler who "fiddled while Rome burned" and who instigated the first persecution of Christians; however, Nero's unsavoury reputation is almost wholly undeserved. He was certainly hot the bloody dictator that Roman and Christian historians have depicted. Nero was born in the Mediterranean seaport of Antium. He was brought up by his mother Agrippina, a great-granddaughter of the emperor Augustus. She is noted for her relentless scheming to secure the fortunes of her son, killing those who stood in her way — including her uncle and third husband, the emperor Claudius. Agrippina's brother was the mad emperor Caligula. Nero became emperor in 54, and for the first five years his reign was exemplary. He stopped contests in the circus that involved bloodshed, banned capital punishment, reduced taxes, increased the independence of the Roman Senate and gave permission for slaves to bring complaints against their masters. He promoted competitions in poetry, theatre and athletics. In everything, he seemed to be pursuing the goal his teacher Seneca thought impossible — to remain innocent of all crime. The emergence of brutality and derangement in Nero occurred in 59, when he had his mother put to death. Her insanity and fury at him led him to this act. Three years later he had his wife Octavia killed. He also developed extraordinary pretensions as a poet, musician and actor, and became preoccupied with the mystery religions of Greece and the Middle East. In 66 he left Rome for 15 months of travel, in Greece to further his religious quest. Nero's religious obsessions and his artistic pretensions alienated many, including senators and the military. Yet he took little vengeance on his opponents. He was not in Rome when the city burned in 64 nor did he inaugurate a persecution of Christians because of the fire. The army became dissatisfied with his lack of attention to government, and he was soon deserted by all. He is believed to have killed himself in Rome in 68. For years afterward he was honoured, by the people, but later emperors destroyed his works and despised his memory.

According to the passage, Nero became cruel and mad upon ......... .

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