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Social Studies Biographies
|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 7 to 9|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||8.16|
By Vickie Chao
1 It seems that throughout history, every country has had its fair share of bad rulers. In the case of ancient Rome, one emperor by the name of Nero really stands out from the pack. His notorious behavior not only made his subjects miserable but also nearly brought the great empire to its knees!
2 Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in Antium (today's Anzio), Italy, on December 15, 37 A.D. Both of his parents came from very prominent families. On his father's side, he was the great great-grandson of Mark Antony. On his mother's side, he was the nephew of Emperor Caligula (also known as Emperor Gaius) as well as the great great-grandson of Augustus.
3 When Lucius was about two years old, his mother, Agrippina, was at the center of a scandal. According to the rumor, after her younger sister, Drusilla, died, Agrippina and her youngest sister (Livilla) got together with Drusilla's husband (Lepidus.) The three conspired a plot to overthrow Caligula. Unfortunately, word got out beforehand, and the plan folded. Furious by the betrayal, Caligula promptly had Lepidus executed and exiled the sisters. Just when it seemed things could not get worse for Lucius, another tragedy struck. This time, it was his father who suddenly fell ill and died. At the age of three, Lucius had no parent to care for him. He had to live with his uncle, Caligula, whose behavior was growing more erratic and deranged day by day. Unknown to him, this living arrangement would turn out to be temporary.
4 On January 24, 41 A.D., a group of officers from the Praetorian Guard murdered Caligula. They hailed Claudius, Caligula's uncle, as the new emperor. Upon ascending the throne, Claudius recalled his nieces from exile. After her return to Rome, Agrippina married a wealthy nobleman, Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus. Several years later, she allegedly poisoned him and became a rich woman overnight.
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