Hardly will you lay your hand on any History past questions without coming across this notorious question: What event did emperor Nero add to the Olympics? Well, Emperor Nero added artistic competitions such as singing to the Olympics. But his reasons is quite funny. Read on to see why.
But before hitting the nail on the head, it’s important we take a look at the historical antecedent of Nero.
Emperor Nero is one of the famous and most influential rulers to have ever ruled the Roman Empire.
In 66 A.D. Nero embarked on a journey to Greece. Upon Nero’s formal request, the Greeks postponed the much anticipated Olympics game that year.
This was done just to make sure the emperor could also participate.
Origin of the Olympics
The origin of the Olympics is shrouded in mystery. Many believe that the Olympics and Pythagoras’ mathematical theorem were both invented independently. It is possible that the Games were invented in 776 BC – a date supported by records of a Games held in 776 BC at Olympia, Greece.
The ancient Greeks claimed to have invented the Games in 776 BC at Olympia, which was then claimed to be one of the oldest Olympic sites. The records of this ancient games are now lost, but it is now known that ancient records mentioned several early Olympiads between 776 BC and 393 BC.
Ancient historians also offer conflicting claims about how many times Athens hosted Games prior to 393 BC. In the fourth century BC, Dionysius of Halicarnassus wrote that the Olympic Games were held every four years from 776 BC.
Marcus Terentius Varro, a Roman historian in 140 BC, wrote: “Although in ancient times they [the Olympics] were celebrated but rarely, and it is believed that in the time of Romulus they were not celebrated for more than three hundred and forty-four years.”
Velleius Paterculus, a Roman historian writing in AD 100, wrote: “The Olympic games received their name from King Pelops of Thessaly when he dedicated them to Jupiter. The Greeks were accustomed to assemble every fifth year at the fountains of Pisa near Olympia.”
A later historian, Plutarch, wrote that the Games were founded by Heracles. However, we now know that this theory is incorrect as records show that Heracles was born around the time of the first Olympic Games which were held in 776 BC.
For many years historians disagreed on why Olympians competed naked. It was once believed that athletes competed without clothing as a sign of purity and as a sign of respect to their gods. According to Greek mythology, athletes competed naked after King Lycurgus of Arcadia was killed by an arrow before he could finish tying his sandal strings.
Nero’s Murderous Path to the Throne
Nero was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, but took his familiar name, Nero, when his great-uncle adopted him at the age of 13.
The wise emperor Claudius (Nero’s father, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, gave up the ghost when his crown prince was only 2).
Agrippina the Younger (Nero’s mother) had married Claudius Domitius Ahenobarbus. But that after she made the arrangements for the death of her second husband.
In fact, she was the leading force behind her son’s adoption. She arranged for Nero to wed Octavia, Claudius’ daughter in 53 A.D., sidelining further the emperor’s son, Britannicus.
Upon the sudden death of Claudius in 54 A.D — of course classical sources opined that Agrippina fed him poisonous mushrooms. The 17-year-old Nero was announced the new emperor.
Nero Early Years as Roman Emperor
In the early years of Nero as the Roman emperor, he gained beautiful reputation for being political generous.
He was also accorded for promoting power sharing with the Senate as well as ending closed-door trials. Even though he pursued his own personal dealings too, by leaving the ruling with three key advisers.
There is Stoic philosopher Seneca, there is prefect Burrus, and the ultimate Agrippina.
He is well known for his political murders, debaucheries, persecution, and a passion for arts. In fact, it was narrated that Nero “fiddled” while Rome was on fire in 64 A.D.
Such was the extent in which he shows his love and passion for music and arts. But nonetheless, his role as an emperor during the Greek Olympics will question one if he also like sports?
Despite all of his young ruling and commanding brutality, Nero had an artistic side of him that is often lost beneath his legacy as one hell of a brutal ruler.
According to history, the infamous Emperor Nero was not a match to any athletic activity. In fact, has was so poor in every sporting events.
But yet, he used his unquestionable political power to do anything he so desired.
With his power, Nero firstly introduced a Greek Games know as Neronia where the champions of the game had to dedicate their crowns to him being their powerful Emperor.
Nero’s Legacy as Emperor
Nero ascended the throne as the Emperor of Rome in 54 A.D. after the demise of his father, Claudius. And at the time, he was just 17 years old.
According to Historians, Nero is considered as the last Roman ruler of what is known as the Julio-Claudian ruling dynasty.
Being a young ruler with pride, he was largely known for many brutality act as a ruler. In fact, it was reported that Nero murdered his first wife, allegedly his third wife, and his own mother.
What’s more, many historians also claimed that Nero was behind the fire inferno that gutted the great Rome empire in 64 A.D.
All in an attempt to restructure part of the city to his own personal taste. And of course, this cost the Roman empire a lot of money thereby causing Roman elite to pay double of their initial taxes.
That alone contributed, greatly, to the fall of the empire. Nero eventually commit suicide in 68 A.D. Findings shows that he was turned on by his own guards and the Senate.
What event did emperor Nero add to the Olympics and why?
Obviously, Olympic game revolve around sports and sporting activities. But emperor Nero pomposity and tyrant rule made him include some other activities into the competition.
All in an attempt to accommodate himself into the competition. And remember, the Greece dynasty was still under the control and management of the Roman empire at that time.
But his love for the Greek culture is fascinating and as such, he demanded that the magnificent him, too, must participate not matter what in the Olympic games.
Though Nero was never a good singer, he added singing, to the Olympics game, because of his personal gain.
Surprisingly but expectedly, Nero would participate and win gold in every event he added and participated in all because of his status as the emperor of the kingdom.
In fact, Nero participated in a chariot race and won even though he didn’t finish the race.
The event Emperor Nero add to the Olympics
Nero is the Roman Emperor who famously set the city of Rome on fire. But what you may not know is that he also added an event to the Olympics, turning it into a twenty-four hour event.
Although Nero’s extra contribution to the Olympics has since been removed from Olympic records, it remains one of many interesting facts about ancient Rome.
The Event Emperor Nero added to the Olympics is singing and Drama
Singing: In Nero’s own words: ‘Athletic contests of all kinds will have taken place in the forenoon. In the afternoon there will be a performance of tragedies, comedies, pantomimes, and the rest of it’. So Emperor Nero added singing to the event.
Emperor Nero also went ahead to add Drama and acting to the Olympics so that he could participate. And yes, you guessed right, we won this competition too.
Nero and the Olympic Games
One of the reasons why Emperor Nero added poetry, singing, and drama into the Olympics games was has a result of his love for arts.
He equally had a keen interest in Greek culture.
He contested and won many of these games despite his unappealing skill.
As if that’s not enough, the chariot race he participated in and won a gold medal, he fell down on several occasions before he left the scene unfinished.
From the foregoing, you should be able to know what event did emperor Nero add to the Olympics and the reason why he added them.
And perhaps, the power driving Nero Claudius Caesar went on to ruled the Roman empire from 54 A.D. until he died (by committing sucide) 14 years after.