ON THIS DAY: 9 June 68 AD

Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide at the age of 30. 

Nero was adopted at the age of three by his great-uncle, Emperor Claudius, who had married his mother, Agrippina. Nero ascended to the throne at the age of 17 in AD 54 following Claudius’s death (caused by a dish of mushrooms poisoned by Agrippina). Initially, he was advised by Agrippina, but during his reign, Nero murdered her, as well as his stepbrother, two of his wives, and countless Christians. He also, allegedly, orchestrated the Great Fire of Rome.

Nero gained a reputation for being compulsive, tyrannical, and debauched, especially for his sex parties held at the coastal spa resort of Baiae, near Naples. He scandalised his contemporaries by appearing in public as an actor, poet, musician, and charioteer. Allegedly, Nero kicked his second wife, Poppaea, to death before she could give birth to their second child. Two years later, he married a young boy whom Nero believed looked like Poppaea. He had the boy castrated to become his wife.

Nero’s thirteen-year reign was turbulent. The Roman Senate ultimately turned against him, causing the young emperor to flee and kill himself, thus ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty.