Nero and Agrippina

Agrippina crowns her son Nero with a laurel wreath. Aphrodisias Museum

Agrippina crowns her son Nero with a laurel wreath, first century C.E. Aphrodisias Museum, Geyre, Turkey. Photograph by Carlos Delgado. 

This is a detail of the statue that shows Agrippina crowning her young son Nero with a laurel wreath after he ascended to the throne to become the Roman emperor in 54 C.E. Agrippina carries a cornucopia, which symbolizes good fortune and plenty. Nero wears the armor and cloak of a Roman commander, with a helmet on the ground at his feet. The scene would have been created before 59 C.E., when Nero had Agrippina murdered. In 64 C.E., under Nero’s rule, a fire swept through Rome that burned much of the city. Nero blamed the Christians and inhumanely punished them by throwing them to be consumed by dogs, burning them alive and crucifying them in his garden. After his death in 68 C.E., writings linking Nero to the antichrist appeared. In transliterated Hebrew, the letters of Nero’s name correspond to numerals that combine (called gematria in Judaism and isopsephism in Greek) to result in 666, or the symbol of the antichrist.