Nero is known as one of the most infamous rulers of the Roman Empire, but not many know about his role in the Greek Olympics during his reign as emperor. What events did Nero add to the Olympics?
Emperor Nero was fascinated by Greek culture and demanded that he participate in the Olympic games, as Greece was in Roman control at this time. Nero added drama, poetry, and singing into the Olympics, though he was not skilled at any of these art forms.
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Roman Emperor Nero Bust
Unsurprisingly, Nero would win gold in every event he participated in because of his status as emperor, including a chariot race that he didn’t even finish.
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Read on to learn more about Nero and the events he brought to the Greek Olympics.
Nero’s Legacy as Emperor
Nero became Emperor of Rome in 54 A.D. at the age of 17 after the death of his father, Claudius. Nero is considered the last Roman ruler of what is called the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
Nero is largely known for his brutality as a ruler. He murdered his own mother, his first wife, and allegedly his third wife.
Many also claim that he set fire to Rome in 64 A.D. to rebuild part of the city to his liking. This cost the empire a lot of money and caused him to raise taxes on the Roman elite, which contributed to his downfall.
Nero would eventually commit suicide in 68 A.D. after being turned on by the Senate and his own guards. His last words were “What an artist dies in me.”
Nero and the Olympic Games
Despite all of the young ruler’s brutality, he had an artistic side that is often lost underneath his legacy as a brutal ruler.
He enjoyed poetry, singing, and drama, and also had a deep interest in Greek culture. It should be noted that although he was incredibly invested in the arts, he was not particularly skilled in any.
In 66 A.D. Nero traveled to Greece, which was under Roman control at the time. Upon Nero’s request, the Greeks postponed the Olympics by a year just so the emperor could participate.
Knowing that he would never be able to compete in the athletic events, Nero made acting, singing, and poetry part of the Olympics.
He entered and won several of these contests, despite his lack of skill. He also participated in a chariot race and won a gold medal despite falling off and not even finishing.