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A marble bust of Nero, Antiquarium of the Palatine

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (15 December AD 37 - 9 June AD 68), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, was Emperor of Rome from AD 54 to AD 68.


  • Vellem nescire literas.
    • Translation: I wish I could not write.
    • Variant translation: I wish I were illiterate.
    • Quoted in " De Clementia" - Chapter 1, Book 2 by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
  • Qualis artifex pereo.
    • Translation: What an artist dies in me!
    • Variant translations:
      • What an artisan I am in dying!
      • So great an artist, I die!
      • Like an artist, I die.
      • Truly... an artist is about to perish.
    • Quoted in "Nero" - Page 51 by Edward Champlin - History - 2003

Quotes about Nero

  • The people love Nero. He inspires in them both affection and respect. There is a reason for this which Tacitus omits. One can discern the reason for this popular feeling: Nero oppressed the great and never burdened the ordinary people. But Tacitus says nothing of this. He speaks of crimes. He speaks of them with passion. We, as a result, feel he is biased; he no longer inspires the same confidence. One is led to believe that he exaggerates; he explains nothing and appears satisfied with vignettes.
  • Nero wasn't worried at all when he heard the utterance of the Delphic Oracle: "Beware the age of seventy-three." Plenty of time to enjoy himself still. He's thirty. The deadline the god has given him is quite enough to cope with future dangers.
    • Constantine P. Cavafy Collected Poems By Constantine Cavafy, Edmund Keeley p.87
  • Nero came to power when his mother poisoned her husband, the Emperor. As Emperor himself, Nero indulged his tendencies to debauchery and cruelty. No one was safe from him, especially those who failed to appreciate his self-proclaimed skill as a musician and actor. His extravagances bankrupted the Empire, provoking the revolts that finally deposed him. An admirer of Greek culture, he effectively rebuilt Rome after a devastating fire.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 148
  • The arts of the magician are said to have been called into action by Nero upon occasion of the assassination of his mother, Agrippina. He was visited with occasional fits of the deepest remorse in the recollection of his enormity. Not with-standing all the ostentatious applauses and congratulations which he obtained from the senate, the army and the people, he complained that he was perpetually haunted with the ghost of his mother, and pursued by the Furies with flaming torches and whips. He therefore cased himself to be attended by magicians, who employed their arts to conjure up the shade of Agrippina and to endeavour to obtain her forgiveness for the crime perpetrated by her son. We are not informed of the success of their evocations.
  • God, save us from ourselves! We carry within us the elements of hell if we but choose to make them such. Ahaz, Judas, Nero, Borgia, Herod, all were once prattling infants in happy mother's arms.
    • Austin Phelps p. 548. (Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895))
  • Nero saw himself as an artist; his enemies thought of him as a tyrant and a buffoon. The truth is, he was all three. He certainly wasn't very good at running an empire, but then, what did Rome expect? If you put a messed-up sixteen-year-old in charge of half the known world, you're asking for trouble. Rome learned the hard way. From now on, it abandoned the Julio-Claudian line of emperors in favour of skilled administrators. But Nero did leave his mark on history. Whatever else he wasn't, he was a showman. He did everything in a big way, from building his house to killing his mother. He thought of himself as an actor, but no part he ever played on the stage could match the drama, the spectacle and the sheer theatricality of his own life.
  • Thus Nero went up and down Greece and challenged the fiddlers at their trade. Æropus, a Macedonian king, made lanterns; Harcatius, the king of Parthia, was a mole-catcher; and Biantes, the Lydian, filed needles.
    • Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living, Chapter I, Secion I, "Rides far Employing Our Time".
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