- Luca Leoncini
[Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus Caesar]
(b Antium [now Anzio], 15 Dec ad 37; regad 54–68; d Rome, 9 June ad 68).
Roman emperor and patron. His influence on Roman architecture was profound, despite his premature death from suicide. In ad 59 he completed the Circus of Caligula in the valley of the Vatican, in which he introduced Greek games (the Ludi Juvenales) to Rome. The Baths of Nero (ad 62–4), built to the west of Agrippa’s Pantheon, stunned his contemporaries by their splendour. As restored by Alexander Severus (ad 227), the baths comprised a symmetrical building with an adjoining gymnasium, but it is impossible to say whether its Neronian form anticipated the great Imperial thermae (see Rome, ancient, §II, 1, (i), (d)). The Emperor was blamed for a fire that broke out during the night of 18 July ad 64 and destroyed many parts of the city, not only because of the many crimes he had committed, but also because of the grandiose works he had undertaken for the renewal of the city. Although Nero’s direct responsibility for the fire remains doubtful, the city was in fact rebuilt to his taste. New building standards were adopted to prevent the repetition of such vast fires, including the restriction of the height of buildings to 70 feet (...