By the final years of his Nero’s rule, the Roman Empire was under great strain. Reconstruction costs in Rome, revolts in Britain and Judea, conflicts with Parthia and rebuilding expenses in the capital forced him to devalue the imperial currency, lowering the silver content of the denarius by 10 percent. In 65 a high-level conspiracy to assassinate the emperor emerged, leading Nero to order the deaths of a prefect and several senators and officers. The emperor’s old advisor Seneca was caught up in the affair and forced to commit suicide.
With things falling apart at home, Nero took an extended tour of Greece, where he gave himself to music and theatrical performance, drove a chariot in the Olympic games, announced pro-Hellenic political reforms and launched an expensive and futile project to dig a canal across the Isthmus of Corinth.
Upon his return to Rome in 68, Nero failed to respond decisively to a revolt in Gaul, prompting further unrest in Africa and in Spain, where the governor Galba declared himself legate of the Senate and Roman People. Soon the Praetorian Guard declared allegiance to Galba, and the Senate followed suit, declaring Nero an enemy of the people.
Nero attempted to flee, but upon learning that his arrest and execution were imminent, he took his own life. Fifty years later, the historian Suetonius reported Nero’s final lament: “What an artist dies in me!”