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In Nero's last days, rebellions and uprisings from the legions threaten his hold on power. The revolt led by the governor, Gaius Julius Vindex, and supported by another governor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, is the catalyst for Nero's final doom. Both governors despised Nero's burdensome and draconian tax policies. Despite these threats to his rule, Nero seems unconcerned about raising a proper army to stem the revolts.

When news comes that (despite Vindex's death) the rebels want to proclaim Galba Caesar, Nero panics. Even his own soldiers want Galba as Emperor, and they have deserted him in his palace. His freedmen, Phaon, Sporus, and Epaphroditus are the only ones still with him, and they plead with the egotistical madman to run. At this point, Nero still thinks that he can convince the people to spare him an ignominious death. Only after declaring to Nero that they too will desert him if he refuses to flee, does Nero consent to go to Phaon's villa. On the way, a messenger announces that the Senate has declared Nero guilty of parricide and that he is to be executed according to the ancient custom. Basically, Nero will be flogged and drowned in the River Tiber. Read about the Roman punishment for parricide, poena cullei.

When Nero hears what the messenger says, he takes out his knife and puts it to his neck. However, he is too cowardly to push the knife in, and Epaphroditus does the honors. Nero dies, and is cremated the next day.

Read the study guide:
Quo Vadis

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