22. The Man With the Most Olympic Wreaths
Milo of Croton might have been the ancient world’s greatest athlete, but there was one man who was awarded more Olympic wreaths than him. Many more. Like blew Milo’s and any other athlete’s Olympic record out of the water. That man was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known to history as the Emperor Nero. One of Rome’s worst rulers, Nero was born in 37 AD, a nephew of Emperor Caligula, and a grand nephew of his successor, Emperor Claudius. Claudius fell in love with his niece and Nero’s mother, Agrippina. He married her, adopted Nero, and named him his heir and successor. Agrippina poisoned Claudius in 54 AD, and her teenaged son became emperor.
Agrippina dominated Nero early in his reign, and to escape his mother’s smothering embrace, he decided to murder her. He tried to make it look accidental, such as with a roof designed to collapse and crush her. The roof fell on and crushed one of her maids, instead. Next, Nero gifted his mother a pleasure barge, rigged to capsize in the middle of a lake. Before Nero’s horrified gaze as he watched from a villa with a lakeside view, his mother swam from the capsized barge to shore like an otter. At his wits’ end, and dreading an awkward confrontation, he sent some sailor to club her death with oars.