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Nero was the Emperor of Rome from 54-68 AD. In the year 64 AD, Rome burned and there are rumors that Nero, disgusted with the condition of the city, is the one who set the fire. Other legends state that he played his lyre and made merry while the city burned and casualties mounted. To appease his unhappy people, he built theaters and sport arenas for entertainment, and persecuted Christians. He sometimes lit his garden by burning Christians alive. He may have been the man responsible for the executions of the apostles Peter and Paul. Nero is also known to have executed his mother and poisoned his wife. At the age of 30, he comitted suicide.
Popular Culture Depictions
In popular culture, particularly in comics, Nero is almost always depicted as a fat, pale, sweaty man with no hair, but a toga and a laurel wreath around his head. He is usually depicted as a coward, who delights in the deaths of others. Nero is frequently depicted throwing Christians and other prisoners into arenas with lions, although there is no direct evidence that he executed Christians in this manner (that is not to say it was an unlikely scenario, given that he is known to have had them torn apart by dogs).
Golden Age Comic Appearances
- Clue Comics #10: Nero finds a doorway to the 20th century, but is convinced to return to his own time, after nearly being run over by a train.
- Popular Comics #33: Text story describing Nero sending Christians to fight lions for his amusement.
- Pirates Comics #3: Nero watches Alpha the Slave Pirate do battle in the Arena.
- Headline Comics #4: The time traveling Tom Morgan saves a Christian girl from Nero's lions.
- Smash Comics #52: Nero confuses the time traveling hero, Midnight for a wizard, because of his knowledge of Nero's life (as a history buff). Midnight is forced to save his friends from the arena, and escape.
- Boy Comics #24: Nero encounters the time traveling Yankee Longago.
- Jumbo Comics #54: Nero sends the time traveler Stuart Taylor into the arena to fight lions and tigers for his amusement. Taylor convinces the people to rise up against him, leading to Nero's suicide.
- Pep Comics #41: Captain Commando and the Boy Soldiers may or may not have traveled back in time and battled Nero and his legions (it is unclear if it was a dream).
- Whiz Comics #43: The Devil summons the tortured soul of Nero from Hades.
- Airboy Comics vol. 3 #6 : Nero sits on a jury of infamous villains summoned by the Devil to judge Skywolf.
- Zip Comics #40: Hades freezes over when Nero refuses to play his fiddle to keep the fires burning.
- Jackpot Comics #3, 6: A murderer named Ford summons Nero using the Black Book of Sorcery. Nero attempts to escape the spirit world in a flying chariot pulled by a dragon. However, Ford, Nero and the dragon are defeated in battle by Mr. Justice, before they can leave the spirit world.
- Master Comics #73: Captain Marvel Jr. encounters the ghost of Nero and others.
- Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics #9: The Purple Zombie and Kim Hale travel back in time to 64 A.D. during the reign of Nero.
Public Domain Silver Age Appearances
- Charlton Premiere Vol.2 #1: A time-traveling Spookman meets the Emperor Nero. After defeating the Nero's best gladiator, Spookman trades the emperor a lighter in exchange for a statue for the museum he curates. The lighter is hinted as being the cause of the burning of Rome.