Nero and Agrippina

Agrippina Runs Things – For Awhile. Nero was a confident leader who was very interested in Roman arts and education. When he was young the control of the empire was in the hands of his mother, Agrippina. In fact on the first day that he began to rule he gave the tribune of the guard the watchword "The best of mothers" and she was authorized to handle all of the business of the empire for Nero. Burrus, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and his tutor, Seneca were his trusted advisors. During this time and under their direction Rome prospered, but this did not last. Nero both loved and hated his mother, who had been continually trying to dominate him. Slowly as Nero became older and more independent, his mother began to lose power. note: On Roman coins Nero and Agrippina faced each other and on the back was Agrippina's name showing she was more important. Slowly as Nero became older and more independent, his mother began to lose power. The coins showed Nero and his mother facing the same direction and his name was on the back. Relations between Nero and his mother were at their worst. Nero tried to bestow honor on her in several ways, but she scorned him, and made him feel indebted to her for everything. She finally moved out of the palace in 55 A.D. to her own mansion, which was a sure sign that she was losing power. Agrippina suddenly began to show favor toward Britannicus (Nero’s brother) and so Nero ordered his execution. By 59 A.D. Nero was fed up with her schemes and ordered her death. This had been the first time and the last time that a woman had ruled Rome. After Agrippina had left the palace Burrus and Seneca successfully ran the empire. Three years later in 62 A.D. both Burrus and Seneca vanished from the political scene. Burrus apparently died from throat cancer, and Seneca resigned and later committed suicide. Nero appointed two Praetorian Prefects (Faenius Rufus and Gaius Ofonius Tigellinus). Tigellinus was previously exiled by Caligula and Nero called him back to make use of his renowned intelligence skills. With the help of Tigellinus, Nero divorced Octavia and married Poppaea. Tigellinus framed Octavia on an immorality charge and she was exiled to an island and later executed. 62-63 A.D. marked the beginning of the degeneration of Nero's rule.

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