On this day in the year 68, the Roman emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus committed suicide in Rome. His was a life of extremes and debaucheries. Nero gained the imperial throne as a teenager thanks to the manipulations of his mother, Agrippina, who is said to have achieved this coup by poisoning Claudius, the incumbent emperor, whom she had married.
In the early years of his reign, Nero banned capital punishment, reduced taxes, and allowed slaves to bring civil complaints against unjust masters. But his later scandalous behavior, excesses, and indecorous stage acting shocked even jaded Romans. It did not help that he had his mother assassinated and his wife, Octavia, executed. Rome’s great fire in 64 was blamed on Nero. He ignored rebellions in the provinces that sprung up during the decline of the Roman Empire, and the Senate condemned him to death by flogging. Upon learning of this, he committed suicide.
Life is not about how you start, but how you finish. And one thing all of us share in common, if we are able to read this, is the opportunity to still finish strong.