Nero Took Imperial Sexual Depravity to New Levels
The Roman emperor Nero (37 – 68 AD) was one of history’s oddest rulers. He became emperor as a teenager in 54 and was dominated by his mother, who reportedly controlled him with incest. As contemporaries described it: “whenever he rode in a litter with his mother, he had incestuous relations with her, which were betrayed by stains in his clothing“. That kind of upbringing sheds light on how Nero ended up so depraved. When he tried to assert his independence as he grew older, Nero’s mother refused to give up her power, and kept meddling in government. So he decided to murder her, resorting to elaborate means to make it look accidental. She survived each attempted “accidental death”, so Nero finally had his henchmen club her to death.
With his mother out of the way, Nero finally started living life his way. He fancied himself an avant garde artiste, and delighted in shocking public sensibilities. Public displays of deviant sexual practices were the easiest way to do that. So Nero reportedly “defiled every single part of his body“, and when he tired of run of the mill perversions, “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, and when he had sated his mad lust, was dispatched by his freedman Doryphorus.”
At some point, Nero fell in love with a youth named Sporus, and married him in a public ceremony intended to shock: “He castrated the boy Sporus and actually tried to make a woman of him; and he married him with all the usual ceremonies, including a dowry and a bridal veil, took him to his house attended by a great throng, and treated him as his wife.”
Nero put a lot of thought into his perversions and liked to organize and preplan them. So much that he set up sex rest stops in advance of his route during vacations. As described by contemporaries: “Whenever he drifted down the Tiber to Ostia, or sailed about the Gulf of Baiae, booths were set up at intervals along the banks and shores, fitted out for debauchery, while bartering matrons played the part of inn-keepers and from every hand solicited him to come ashore“.
Nero dedicated himself to his pleasures, and spent lavishly on gratifying his desires. In the meantime, he neglected the Roman Empire and entrusted its governance to corrupt subordinates, who wrecked it. Finally, in 68 AD, various generals and provincial governors rebelled, the Senate declared Nero a public enemy, and his Praetorian Guard abandoned him. Nero contemplated throwing himself upon the public’s mercy and begging forgiveness but changed his mind upon being informed that he would probably be torn apart by the first mob that came across him. So he had had a freedman stab him to death, and cried out with his dying breath: “Oh, what an artist dies in me!”