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Nero: the benefits Dr David W.J. Gill University of Wales Swansea.

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Presentation on theme: "Nero: the benefits Dr David W.J. Gill University of Wales Swansea."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nero: the benefits Dr David W.J. Gill University of Wales Swansea

2 Introduction l Restrain excesses l Links with the Senate l Domestic policy l Foreign policy

3 The ‘quinquennium’ l A golden age for the first five years l Trajan perceived it as a golden age of good government (Aur. Victor, Epitome 5)

4 Nero’s first speech to the Senate l Suetonius, Nero 10 –to rule according to Augustan precedent l Tacitus, Ann –renunciation of the abuses of the Claudian regime –‘From my house, bribery and favouritism will be excluded’ –‘these promises were implemented’

5 Accession speech l ‘Italy and the public provinces could apply to the tribunals of the consuls, who would give access to the senate’ –this led to: l e.g. 58 people and council of Puteoli making mutual accusations l Syracuse: increase the pairs of gladiators in their games l 59: riot between Nuceria and Pompeii

6 Nero and the senate l appearance of ‘ex s c’ on coinage (‘in accordance with senatorial decree’) –for first ten years

7 Aspects of the Golden Age l Nero refused portrait statues of himself (Tac. Ann. 13) l Allowed his co-consul not to swear an oath of allegiance to him as emperor –praised by the Senate (Tac. Ann. 13) l Noted for clemency

8 Nero and popular support l provided entertainment: Suet. Ner. 11. l fair judge: Suet. Ner. 15 l limits on private expenditure: Suet. Ner. 16 –sumptuary law l checks on forgery: Suet. Ner. 16 l some governors charged with corruption l outlawed illegal taxes ‘invented’ by publicani (Tac. Ann )

9 Food supply l series of food shortages at Rome –AD 51: bad harvest and subsequent food crisis l Claudius pelted in the forum –AD 62: old grain disposed off at Rome (Tac. Ann ) l price of grain not raised l 200 grain ships lost at Ostia due to storm l 100 grain ships lost at Rome due to a fire

10 Further food shortages l AD 64: Great Fire at Rome –city left without grain stocks –essential food brought up from Ostia –Nero imposed a maximum price of 3 HS / modius –governor of Moesia (Lower Danube) l the first who ‘brought relief to the food supply of the Roman people by sending a great quantity of wheat from that province’

11 Faenius Rufus l appointed prefect of the grain supply AD 55–62 –according to Tacitus (Ann ) he did not profit from the post in the usual way l e.g. withhold grain to push up prices

12 Harbour facilities l Nero completed Claudius’ plans for the harbour at Ostia –secured corn supply –coins issued with new harbour l ‘the Emperor’s Ostia harbour’ l harbours and jetties

13 Coin issues l theme of Ceres and Annona –Annona as personification of the corn supply

14 Generosity to the plebs l coins showing the congiarium –distributions to the plebs l Minerva and her owl l Liberalitas holding tray l Nero handing coins to a man and small child l Suet. Nero. 10 –‘he presented the plebs with 40 gold pieces each’

15 Fair judge l Suet. Ner. 10 l ‘never missed an opportunity of being generous or merciful, or of showing what a good companion he was’ l Suet. Ner. 15 l ‘When he judged a case he preferred to defer his judgement until the following day, and then give it in writing...’ l ‘[he] mulled over documents in private, [and] came to his own conclusion...’

16 Reduction of taxes l Suet. Ner. 10 –‘he lowered, if he could not abolish, some of the heavier taxes; and reduced by three-quarters the fee for denouncing evasions of the Papian Law, which obliged noblemen to marry’

17 Ending administrative abuses in Egypt l Edict of 68: Ti. Julius Alexander [LR ii.295–98] l reaction to requirements under Nero

18 Building projects l new style of architecture introduced: Suet. Ner. 16 l considered extending the city wall to Ostia: Suet. Ner. 16 l considered building a canal to Rome: Suet. Ner. 16

19 Trouble in Armenia l Tacitus, Ann. 13 l Parthians plundering l people wondered if Nero would react l Nero mobilised troops l Client kings (Agrippa II & Antiochus Epiphanes IV of Commagene) urged to raise armies l Parthians evacuated Armenia

20 Securing Armenia l Cn. Domitius Corbulo secured Armenia –appointment on merit l Hostages handed over

21 Further war with Armenia l Tac. Ann –Corbulo encouraging troops

22 Crowning of Tiridates l Cassius Dio –5.4 [LR ii.34–35]

23 Expansion of empire l Suet. Ner. 18 –Nero probably felt no ambition to extend the Roman Empire –considered withdrawal from Britain –addition: l kingdom of Pontus, ceded to him by Polemon l Cottian Alps reverted to Rome


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