What Really Happened After Nero Died?

One of the most "colorful" of the men who ruled Rome in the first few centuries A.D. was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, or just Nero, as history has come to call him. The list of crimes against humanity and crimes against Rome attributed to him — possibly falsely by his enemies, according to Britannica — is lengthy and includes, among others, the claim that he blamed Christians for the Great Fire of Rome and had them burned alive.

By the end of his life, Nero's abuses and ineptitude, real and imagined, had caught up to him, and he was facing the very real possibility of dying a prolonged and torturous death. Instead, having fled the city and with guards closing in on him, Nero (probably) took his own life. However, death was not the end of Nero, and for a while Rome had to deal with Romans who lived their lives as if he were still alive. Further still, at least four men claiming to be the reincarnated Emperor Nero turned up in the ensuing couple of decades, causing additional headaches for the empire's rulers.

The false Neros

Few, if any, politicians these days claim to be gods or immortal, and few of their constituents would believe it anyway. However, things were different in ancient Rome, and after Nero died, some within the Roman Empire were unwilling to accept it, behaving as if Nero was still living. Some went even farther, presenting themselves as the reincarnated Nero.

As History Collection notes, in the immediate aftermath of Nero's death, some Romans celebrated, and others mourned. Others simply circulated his edicts and continued to live by them, and expected others to live by them, as if he were still alive. Then came the so-called "False Neros," beginning with a possibly Greek impostor who gathered up a force and sailed to Rome with a view towards taking over as the reincarnated Nero. For his efforts, he was intercepted, beheaded, and his head put on display in the city. Three more false Neros would emerge, possibly with the backing of Rome's enemies bent on humiliating their adversaries, over the next two decades. Nothing ever came of their rebellions.