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Ancient History Quote of the Day: "Meanwhile, the men on horseback arrived and so he committed suicide, uttering that famous remark 'Jupiter, what an artist perishes with me!'" (Dio 63.29.2).


Image: Nero and Agrippina, from the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias
On this day - 9 June - in AD 68, the Emperor Nero "last of the descendants of Aeneas and of Augustus" took his own life, in the face of provincial rebellion and senatorial enmity, uttering his famous last remark "Qualis artifex pereo!"
Nero had panicked in the face of the rebellion in Gaul under Gaius Julius Vindex, although this rebellion in itself came to little, as it was defeated at Vesontio by Verginius Rufus with the legions of upper Germany.
This should have settled the matter for Nero, but his lack of determined action left the way clear for Servius Sulpicius Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis who had seen Vindex's rebellion as something of an opportunity.
Galba was equally heartened by the fact that the Senate now chose to officially endorse him and declared Nero a public enemy (Dio 63.27.2b), doubtless exploiting the popularity of Vindex’s rebellion and the deep popular resentment of Nero (Suetonius, Nero 45) as justification.
This official sanction rang the death knell for Nero who, stripped of all support, elected to flee. Dio presents this final moment in a suitably theatrical manner, with Nero assuming a “tragic role” (63.28.5) while joy reigned supreme in Rome (63.29.1).

Image: RIC Nero 66
Thus Nero passes into history, his image and legacy to be written by those who followed, colouring our view of him to this day.

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