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Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

Nero coins for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins shop

Nero became emperor after his stepfather, the emperor Claudius, died (Claudius was probably poisoned by Nero's mother Agrippina II). At first Nero ruled well, guided by his mentors Seneca and Burrus, but soon his reign degenerated into the debauchery and murder for which he is infamous. He had his mother, Burrus, Britannicus, and numerous senators and members of the nobility murdered or executed. Legend says he kicked Poppaea, his pregnant wife, to death. He was the first emperor to persecute Christians, blaming them for the Great Fire in 64 A.D. Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D after generals in Africa, Gaul and Spain all rebelled, and the Praetorian Guard in Rome deserted him.

Also see: ERIC - NERO


Burnett, A., M. Amandry and P.P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992 and supplement).
Calicó, E. Xavier. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l’Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon, De Claude Ier à Vespasien (41-78 après J.-C.), et au temps de Clodius Albinus (196-197 après J.-C.). Numismatique Romaine XX. (Wetteren, 2000).
Giard, J-B. Bibliothèque National Catalogue Monnaies de L'Empire Romain II: De Tebère à Néron. (Paris, 1988).
King, C.E. Roman Quinarii from the Republic to Diocletian and the Tetrarchy. (Oxford, 2007).
Mac Dowall, D.W. The Western Coinages of Nero. ANSNNM 161. (New York, 1979).
Mattingly, H. and R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol 1: Augustus to Vitellius. (London, 1923).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H.A. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, David R. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sutherland, C.H.V. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. I, From 39 BC to AD 69. (London, 1984).

Obverse Legends:


Rarity of Denominations, Average Weights of Well Preserved Coins, Mints, and Other Information

Average well preserved denarius (young Nero) weight 3.56 grams.
Average well preserved denarius (older Nero) weight 3.21 grams, 91% silver.


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The Portraiture of Caligula (under Nero tab) www.portraitsofcaligula.com by Joe Geranio 

Nero, Caesar (under Claudius) 50 - 54, Augustus 54 - 68

By Jim Phelps

Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus was the son of Agrippina the Younger, the last wife of Claudius. He was the great-grandson of Octavian Augustus, as well as the great-grandson of Marc Antony. His mother and Claudius were wed in 48, he was adopted by Claudius on 25 February 50, and renamed Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus - the future emperor Nero. He was older than Claudius' own son Britannicus, and for some reason Claudius favored him. In 53 Nero married Claudius' daughter, Octavia. Claudius died on 13 October 54, probably having been poisoned by Agrippina. The 16-year old Nero was hailed as the new emperor the same day.

Nero's early reign was dominated by his mother, though there were the underlying tensions of a power struggle with himself (advised by Seneca and Burrus) on the other side. When Agrippina began showing attention to Britannicus in 55, he was conveniently murdered. Nero began an affair with Poppaea, the wife of his friend Otho. Otho was appointed as governor of the province of Lusitania, pushing him out of the way. Soon thereafter Agrippina was murdered on Nero's order, and his wife Octavia was divorced, exiled, and murdered. Seneca and Burrus left the scene, and Tigellinus replaced them as the main influencer of Nero.

Poppaea and Nero were married in 62, and Nero began persecuting many around him. In 64 a fire devastated a large portion of Rome, clearing the way for Nero to began a huge building program, particularly a large palace for himself. Always considering himself an artist, he began to give public performances of his singing ability and lyre playing. In 65 the Pisonian conspiracy was uncovered, a plot to replace nero with Calpurnius Piso. As a result several powerful leaders in the government were killed, including Seneca.

In 67 Nero went on a cultural tour of Greece, participating in the Olympics by chariot racing, which of course he won. Nero was very popular with the common people, who no doubt enjoyed the entertainment he both sponsored and participated him. However, the patrician class had enough of him. During his absense the governors of several provinces began revolts. Nero had returned to Rome, but faced betrayal on all sides. He fled to the port of Ostia and committed suicide on 9 June 68. His lasting popularity with the people was such that several "false" Neros sprung up over the following years, to reclaim the throne. With the death of Nero the Julian-Claudian line of rulers, the first 5 emperors, comes to an end.

  Brass Dupondius of 65
Obv:NERO CAESAR AVG GERM IMP - Head left wearing a laurel wreath.
Rev:PACE PR VBIQ PARTA IANVM CLVSIT - The Temple of Janus with a garland across the closed double doors. S C in fields.
The year 65 was cause for celebration - peace on all fronts. As was typical, the doors of the temple of Janus were left open at times of war. "World" peace, for the first time since the reign of Augustus, was cause to close the temple doors. A series of coins were issued to publicize the event. The reverse legend reads "To the peace of the Roman people, the doors of Janus are closed." (or close to that)
Van Meter 24a sim.

Dictionary of Roman Coins

Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.

  NERO.  A surname common to the Claudia family as it appears from writers on Roman affairs and inscriptions in the fasti as well as from the ancient denarii of that family.  Thus we see C CLAVDIVS NERO or TI CLAVDIVS TI F NERO and NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERManicus IMPerator.

   Nero, son of Germanicus and of Agrippina, and brother of Drusus with whom he was carefully educated by his mother.  He was born in 760 (A.D. 7), an accomplished character and of excellent qualities.  The monster Tiberius had him married at age 15 to his grand daughter Julia. He soon after employed the infamous Sejanus to entangle him in the snares of his cruelty and becoming himself his accuser, caused his exile in 784 to the Ponza isles (Pontia) where he was left to die of hunger in the course of the following year. At the beginning of his reign his brother Caligula brought back his ashes with those of their mother, Agrippina, and deposited them in the same tomb. (See Drusus).
   The coins of these two young princes (in 
second brass) are common. They are represented with the style NERO ET DRUSUS CAESARES. See Drusus Caesar.

   NERO (Claudius Domitius).  This son of Cneius Domitius Abenobarbus and of Agrippina the younger, was born at Antium in the 37th year of the Christian era. He was adopted (A.D. 50) 
and created Caesar by Claudius whose daughter. Octavia, he married. He eventually succeeded Claudius although he had no family claim or birthright to the imperial throne. But Claudius having espoused Agrippina, that unscrupulously ambitious princess persuaded him to adopt her son by Domitius and consequently to exclude Britannicus whom the Emperor had by Messalina.  From this time he took the name of Claudius Nero and received the title of Princeps Juventutis in 51. After Claudius was removed by poison, Nero succeeded in A.D. 54 at the age of 17. It is said that he possessed great and even good qualities. His preceptor Seneca certainly neglected nothing to ennoble his mind and to accomplish his education. He was fond of the fine arts, of poetry and above all of music, a passion which led him to commit a multitude of extravagances. In the first year he seemed to give promise of a happy reign. But in this he evidently was disguising the atrocity of his disposition. He soon dropped the mask of virtue.

   Nero abandoned himself to his vicious and cruel propensities. He successively put to death Britannicus his half brother (55), Agrippina his mother (59), Domitia his aunt, Octavia his wife, Claudia his sister in law. Seneca and Burrhus who had been his tutors and Corbulo his victorious general, Lucan and Petronius and his second wife Poppaea also became the victims of his murderous fury which extended to a multitude of other persons.

   In the year 64 he caused ten districts of Rome to be burnt. At the same time he falsely accused the Christians as the incendiaries and this crime being imputed to them, gave rise to the first persecution.  Among the works he caused to be constructed in Rome after this horrible conflagration was a palace for himself called the golden house on which he lavished prodigious expenses. Meanwhile, he amused himself publicly in contesting for the prize with musicians, with actors and with charioteers of the circus both in Italy and in Greece. In social life he gave himself up to such excesses of cruelty and infamy that his name afterwards became synonymous with that of monster and tyrant. At length his detestable conduct having rendered him an object of universal execration, the Gallic and Spanish provinces revolted in 68. Galba was proclaimed Emperor with the Senate confirming the election and declaring Nero an enemy of the Republic. This odious prince, abandoned by everyone, found himself compelled to plunge a dagger into his own throat. His death to the joy of all, took place in the 68th rear of the Christian era, in the 31st rear of his age and in the 14th year of his reign. He left no children by his three wives, Octavia, Poppaea and Statilia Messalina.

   His name on coins is NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS P M and NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS, etc and IMP NERO CAESAR etc. On medals struck after Christ 51 to 53, Nero is styled CAESAR PRINC IVVENT COS DES.  In 54 his titles are AUGVSTVS TR P COS DES P M IMP. The name of Drusus is dropped which he bore during the lifetime of Claudius. In 66 he is styled IMP NERO CLAVD CAES GERManicus.
   Nero established in Italy the colonies of Antium and Atina in Latium, Beneventuia in the Herpini, and reinforced with fresh veterans Vapua and Nuceria in Campania. The city of Puteoli in Campania received from him the right and title of a colony. - Vaillant, Col. i, p. 115.

   Nero's first wife was Octavia, the daughter of Claudius by adoption whom, however, he soon got rid of after that emperor's death. Poppaea was his second whose nuptials are celebrated on an Ephesian medal. Statilia Messalina was his third. - See their names.
   Nero's coins are numerous and for the most part common in each metal. Some of them represent the Emperor with his mother Agrippina the younger. "The silver pieces." says Akerman, "are generally ill struck or in bad condition. A really fine round denarius is seldom met with and will consequently bring a high price". The bronze on the other hand afford many specimens of high relief and fine workmanship. Havercamp on Morell gives numerous illustrations and descriptions of the Contorniate medals of Nero. But as the pieces so denominated are well understood not to have been struck under the princes whose portraits they bear, it is unnecessary to say more respecting them than that the most interesting of the inscriptions and types on their reverses will be noticed in this Dictionary under their proper heads.

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins

Joe Gerano's Nero Images and Information

Photo of Nero Denarius courtesy of Joe Geranio

Born in 37 A.D., he was adopted by Emperor Claudius in 50 A.D. Nero became emperor after Claudius' death, which was probably due to poisoning by Nero's mother Agrippina II. At first Nero ruled well, guided by his mentors Seneca and Burrus, but soon his reign degenerated into the debauchery and murder for which he is infamous. He had his mother, two wives, and numerous senators and members of the nobility murdered or executed. He was the first emperor to persecute Christians, blaming them for the Great Fire in 64 A.D. He committed suicide in 68 A.D after generals in Africa, Gaul and Spain all rebelled, and the Praetorian Guard in Rome deserted him.


BITHYNIA, Nicaea. Nero. AD 54-68. Æ 19mm (4.64 g). Bare head right / Altar inscribed PAT/RWN/OS in three lines. RPC I 2059; RG 43, pl. LXVI, 18.
Joe Geranio Collection- Anyone may use as long as credit is given.

Dea Roma and Nero, mirror ornaments of lead.  Koln Germany.  Photo Rien Bongers .  Joe Geranio


This is a youthful portrait of Nero from a private collection on loan to the KoLN Museum in Germany.  Rarely seen.  (Photos by Hans) Joe Geranio


Interesting New portrait of Nero Found?-  Joe Geranio

See News story at:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6255317/Mystery-head-could-be-rare-statue-of-Emperor-Nero.html#