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Was Nero mad?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2003 1:25 pm
by Tiberius Dionysius Draco
Salvete Romani,

Because this question has come up several times now, I've created a separate thread where we can discuss this. The question is:

Was Nero a mad emperor or was he just misunderstood?

Post your comments here and opinions here.


PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2003 10:14 pm
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
Salve frater,

Wow, not too many responses (image of a bleak, vast desert).

UBI ESTIS, SODALES??? It's not because I'm not around much these days (and will be for the rest of October) that y'all can just sneak out on us.

My opinion: Nero was not "mad" like Caligula was. Caligula was deranged and his mental illness may well have been caused by physical illnesses (as has been suggested by many historians). Nero was more stable and seems to have exhibited many of his characteristics at earlier ages (unlike Caligula, although Suetonius suggests he did in an unconvincing way). His mother was power-mad and his father was known as an extremly violent man. With an education like that one, probably Burrus and Seneca could do little more than try to soften his rough edges.


PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 6:11 am
by Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus
From what I read (somewhere), Nero's last words were "What a great artist the world is loosing."
I think megalomania is a mental disorder. It does contain the 'mania' root word. That's why I think he was mad.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:40 pm
by Aulus Dionysius Mencius
Gnæus Dionysius Draco wrote:Salve frater,

Wow, not too many responses (image of a bleak, vast desert).

UBI ESTIS, SODALES??? It's not because I'm not around much these days (and will be for the rest of October) that y'all can just sneak out on us.

Draco, amice, rest assured that we are not leaving ships... But, like yourself, many of us have to attend certain academic duties, nonne. So do not despair.

In amicitia

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2004 11:52 am
by Quintus Pomponius Atticus

Picking up an old topic again, just to add something : apart from Nero's education, we should bear in mind that he was still very young (17) when he became emperor, just like Heliogabalus, who ascended the imperial trone when he was only 15, and who became even more insane. For people of that age, even more than for others, Lord Acton's famous adagium "all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely" definitely applies.



On Madness

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2004 4:32 am
by Aldus Marius
Salvete, Romani of the Historic Persuasion!

A Very Old Topic, indeed. In fact, it first came up back when we did all our business on the Topica e-Lists; I did a li'l pearl-diving and recovered my contribution:

Roman...and mentally ill
Marius the Wanderer Sep 02, 2002 04:56 PDT

Salvete Romani:

--- wrote:

> I think the man from whom I get my cognomen, the emperor Nero, may
> qualify as being mentally ill, as I believe he was paranoid. I
> would also put in M. Antonius and C. Marius in this category...

[snippus minimus]

As your resident mental case (Bipolar II, Axis III Major Depression, avoidant features, obsessive-compulsive traits--all under management, gratias), I have perhaps become a bit more sensitized to these things than your average bear. I could almost see the smirks and hear the snickers when this topic came up, especially with that title. I am no advocate of 'political correctness', understand; but the inaccurate use of clinical terms such as 'paranoia', and the slinging-around of pseudo-scientific jargon such as 'psycho', have probably done more to harm the cause of the mentally ill than anything since the asylum at Bedlam.

Most mental patients are, like myself, just regular people who have a chemical imbalance of the brain to consider on top of all our ordinary day-to-day worries. This imbalance influences our moods and behavior, and if untreated it can make it impossible to carry on activities of daily life. Treatment allows us to get on with as normal a life as anyone else with a chronic medical condition. We have to take our meds and keep our appointments, but so does almost everyone else.

All that having been said, I do not disagree with our Nero's inclusion of my esteemed adopted ancestor Gaius Marius on his list of ancient Romans who were probably touched by mental illness. I don't think his main problem was clinical paranoia, though. I see old Marius, six times Consul, Father of his Country and Third Founder of Rome (and having busted his tailbone, against conservative opposition, every step of the way!)...falling sharply and painfully in popular esteem, until a man he'd trained declared him an Enemy of the State and forced him into exile. I see him fleeing to North Africa, huddling naked in swamps, turned away by otherwise-kind people because of the price on his head. From Third Founder to hunted thing...I believe this did something to his mind, as any prolonged traumatic experience will. I think by the time he made it back to Rome there was nothing left in him but the Beast in the Swamp.

A tragic thing, that, and at his age, too--I think he was in his seventies. A thing for solemnity and propitiation. Not something to be dismissed with the word 'psycho'.

In amicitia et fide,

PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 5:06 am
by Anonymous
I think that Nero was corrupted by his desire by power, and lost sight of ethics and dignity, but was not mad. Or perhaps it is madness?

Of cource not,

PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 2:55 pm
by Anonymous
this is perfectly normal:

XXIX. He so prostituted his own chastity that after defiling almost every part of his body, he at last devised a kind of game, in which, covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound to stakes :shock: , and when he had sated his mad lust, was dispatched by his freedman Doryphorus; for he was even married to this man in the same way that he himself had married Sporus, going so far as to imitate the cries and lamentations of a maiden being deflowered. I have heard from some men that it was his unshaken conviction that no man was chaste or pure in any part of his body, but that most of them concealed their vices and cleverly drew a veil over them; and that therefore he pardoned all other faults in those who confessed to him their lewdness.



Of cource, this is Suetonius.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 3:58 pm
by Gnaeus Dionysius Draco
LOL, of course :).