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Roman Emperor Nero Lesson for Kids: Facts, Biography & History

Instructor: Kristin Pia Hayman

Kristin taught for over 10 years in the elementary classroom. She holds a B.A. in Journalism as well as a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Nero was a famous emperor of Ancient Rome. His rule was positive at first, but he slowly became dangerous to both the people of Rome and himself. This lesson will tell the story of his life and what he did to make him so memorable.

Emperors & Empires

The Roman civilization was a strong society in the ancient world. At first it was ruled by kings. However, many years later Rome transformed into an empire, which is a government ruled by one person who holds all of the power and controls the government and military. The main ruler of an empire is called an emperor, and Ancient Rome had its fair share of emperors. Some were fair and kind leaders who wanted the best for their citizens, but some were greedy, mean, and just plain dangerous.

Who Was Nero?

Nero was born in Ancient Rome in the year 37. His birth name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. At first, he was the nephew of the emperor Claudius, but when Nero's father died and his mother married his uncle, this left Nero as the next in line to be emperor. He was young when this happened, and became emperor at just 17 years old. As emperor, he took the name Nero Claudius Caesar. He ruled Rome until his death 14 years later.

An ancient statue of Nero
Nero

His Rule Begins

At first, the Roman citizens liked Nero because he was always doing fun things, like racing chariots, singing, reciting poetry to crowds, and playing music. He was also a good ruler in the beginning, building trade routes, supporting athletics, and promoting the arts.

Nero is one of the most famous emperors of Ancient Rome, but not because he was always a great leader. It was quite the opposite: Nero became famous because of the crazy and mean things that he eventually did. Nero wasn't so cruel when he became emperor, but he slowly became insane, or what some people may call 'crazy.'

The Great Fire

During Nero's rule, a great fire raged for ten days in Rome and destroyed 75% of the city! It is said that Nero played music and sang on a hilltop while his city was burning, not paying much attention to the fire. Some people even think that he may have started the fire himself, although there is no proof of that. Either way, he put blame on a group of people practicing a new religion called Christianity.

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