Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Nero and Agrippina


Images of Agrippina the Younger

In 54 A.D. Nero became emperor of Rome after the death of Claudius, who was thought to have been poisoned by his wife Agrippina, who also happened to be Nero's mother. Nero's real name was Lucius, but his mother decided that Nero Claudius Caesar was more suitable so she got him to change it. Agrippina was always plotting in the background. As a wife of a former emperor and mother to the current one, she saw herself as a new version of Livia.

Nero was only a teenager when he came to power, just seventeen years old. Having been under the influence of his mother all his life, he now saw an opportunity to do what he wanted instead. Within the first year of his reign he had made it obvious to her that she was not going to be sharing his power. When an Armenian ambassador visited Rome, Nero did not let Agrippina sit next to him to receive the guest.
During the following months, mother and son quarelled openly about his affair with an ex-slave-girl called Acte. He was already married to Octavia, daulghter of Claudius. Agrippina did not approve of this liaison and at this point started to get closer with Britannicus, Claudius's son with the unfortunate Messalina. When Nero saw this he realised this could be a threat to his reign, so he had Britannicus poisoned and forced Agrippina to move out of the palace, took her bodyguard away and slapped a lawsuit on her.

Despite her distance from Court, Agrippina did not stop trying to interfere with things. Being the daughter of Germanicus was a big deal and this ensured she was not ignored.
When Nero started an affair with Poppaea Sabina, trouble really started. Poppaea was an upper class woman who could marry Nero if he divorced Octavia. She realised that as long as Agrippina was alive, there was no way she could get Nero to marry her. At this time, it is also rumoured that mother and son entered into a sexual realtionship, the former's desperate attempt to distract him from Poppaea's influence.

However, despite Agrippina's efforts, Nero planned to get her drowned in a faulty boat, but this did not work as she swam very well and was able to get a passer by to help her out of the water. She now knew for sure that Nero was determined to have her murdered and rumours have it that it was then that she started to plan Nero's death. Nevertheless, he was one step ahead of her and finally sent some assassins to have her killed.

4 comments:

Light said...

Nero: The Ultimate Spoiled Bastard.

Light said...

*Spoilt

Peter said...

It's worth noting just how blemished Aggripina's own character was. Growing up as Caligula's sister one might expect it, but nonetheless she was a very shady character even if she had no hand in the death of Claudius. When Caligula organised his brothels, with the leading women of Rome on sale, she supposedly was delighted by the requirements it placed on her. Her megalomania was exercised through Nero - her most famous plea was "Let him kill me, only let him rule". Of course, she was to get her wish in both cases.

Alterior said...

Agrippina the Younger was by no means a nice lady. This is absolutely true.