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This article is about the man with the nickname. For the volcano, see The Beast.

We are better. We are stronger. We will build a glorious new world. But these nonsense-spewing trees stand in our way, Meg. Like any invasive weeds, they must be burned. And the only way to do that is with a true conflagration—flames stoked by blood. Let us do this together, and not involve the Beast, shall we?

–Nero to Meg McCaffrey about burning the Grove of Dodona in The Hidden Oracle.

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as simply Nero, was one of the most infamous emperors in Roman history. He was the main antagonist of The Hidden Oracle and The Tower of Nero, and a supporting antagonist in the rest of the series. He was a descendant of the god Apollo. Nero was made a god-emperor by his followers, and was one of the three leaders of the infamous Triumvirate Holdings along with Commodus and Caligula. He was given the nickname, "The Beast". He was killed during the assault on his tower when Apollo revoked his immortality upon the destruction of his fasces.


Early Life

Nero was born on 15 December 37 AD in Antium, the only son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger (Emperor Caligula’s sister). At the age of 16, Nero succeeded Claudius as emperor when the latter fell ill and died in the early hours of 13 October 54 AD, allegedly poisoned by Agrippina. However, Agrippina was domineering and Nero eventually had her killed in the fifth year of his reign (62 AD) by Anicetus, Agrippina's death raised Nero's popularity. He was married three times and became a widower as many times, his first wife, Octavia, being put to death by him on false charges of adultery.

Reign as Emperor

On the 18th of July, 64 AD, a disaster followed; it is uncertain whether it were by chance or by a plot of the emperor (for each side has its believers), but it was graver and more destructive than any which had previously come upon the city with the ravages of fire. Its beginnings were in the part wherein the Circus stood, which was in proximity to the Palatine and Caelian hills. Thence, it sprung forth amongst the shops that held many goods whereby flame was easily sustained, and, carried by the wind, it swiftly passed along the length of the Circus, for neither houses ringed by barriers nor temples girthed by walls were there to hinder the fire.[1]

At that time, Nero, who was in Antium, did not return to the city until the fire was approaching his house. Nor could it be halted, even when Palatine hill, his house, and everything in that region was burned up. After the fire finally stopped, instead of rebuilding the houses on Palatine Hill, he would use this cleared land to make space for his palace complex, the Domus Aurea (“House of Gold”). It contained his own lake, three hundred rooms, frescoes of gold, and mosaics done in pearls and diamonds. He also placed a one hundred-foot-tall bronze statue of himself, representative of the sun-god Sol, in his front lawn, called the Colossus Neronis (“Colossus of Nero”).

Afterwards he blamed the Great Fire on the Christians and persecuted them endlessly, throwing hundreds to the lions and burning them alive on crosses at his parties if not for the sake of his own amusement, which is what Apollo noticed when he attended one of his garden parties. He believed they were out to undermine traditional roman values.

End of Reign and Suicide

When construction expenses forced him to raise taxes and pillage religious treasures, support for Nero crumbled until Gaius Julius Vindex, governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, ultimately rebelled and declared himself emperor.[2] Nero was soon declared a public enemy (hostis ublicus) by the Senate, and in the midst of the chaos, he decided to commit suicide, stabbing himself in the throat with a dagger on the 9th of June 68 AD; supposedly, his final words were “Too late! This is fidelity!”[3] Soon after, Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, took advantage of the situation and obtained the throne through military support, beginning the Year of the Four Emperors. However, commoners rioted and rebelled refusing to believe that Nero was dead, but in fact reborn. The Colossus Neronis was placed near the Flavian Amphitheater (built by Emperors Vespasian and Titus between 72 AD and 80 AD), with the building later being referred to as the Colosseum.

Becoming Immortal

Nero became a god-emperor but he didn't really like it all that much. During the Middle Ages, his name was almost forgotten and he was little more than a mirage. But then came the Renaissance, when the Roman classical greatness was remembered. What helped Nero more after that was the Internet, as this way he could not fade completely.[4]

In the Series

Nero has moved to a tall building with a penthouse in Manhattan and (together with the fellow god-emperors Caligula and Commodus) influenced many events in history via Triumvirate Holdings. He used the company to supply funding to both Luke Castellan (during the Second Titan War) and Octavian (during the Second Demigod Civil War).

At an unknown point in time, Nero killed Meg McCaffrey's father, and proceeded to take in and raise her as his own daughter, an act he did with many other demigods. Through his sophisticated manipulation over the years, Nero has lead her to believe that he and "The Beast" were two separate people.

The Heroes of Olympus

The House of Hades

Hazel Levesque reveals that the nuns at St. Agnes Academy for Colored Children and Indians taught her about Nero, along with Caligula and Diocletian, and how they were total villains.

When Rachel Elizabeth Dare says that she is the Oracle of Delphi, Octavian doesn't believe her, and sarcastically says that he is the Emperor Nero. This makes Grover Underwood mutter that at least Nero could play music.

The Trials of Apollo

The Hidden Oracle

Meg McCaffrey, his step-daughter.

Nero first appears to Apollo in a dream in which he is falling down on the sun chariot in the shape of a bus. Nero tells Apollo he is his descendant. However, Apollo does not recognize him. Nero also appears in person in Delphi talking to Python about finding the Grove of Dodona. Apollo and Meg stumble onto the conversation. There, Meg refers to Nero as the Beast.

When Apollo and Meg arrive at the Grove of Dodona, Nero shows up with his two Germani guards. He explains how he is alive after many centuries and how it was easy to call back his men from Erebos. Nero has kidnapped the campers Cecil Markowitz, Ellis Wakefield, Miranda Gardiner, Austin Lake and Kayla Knowles as well as a Palikos named Paulie and threatened to burn them all in order to get Apollo and Meg to open the gate to the grove. He says that he intends to burn the grove alive and states that he wants to be diplomatic on the approach. Apollo refuses to cooperate and attempts to tell Meg how evil Nero is, Nero himself denies everything from burning Rome to killing people for fun. When Meg orders Apollo to open the doors, Nero immediately orders Apollo sustained and attempts to burn the captives. However, Apollo defeats the two Germani guards. Nero escapes after pouring Greek fire on the ground and setting it on fire. Then he orders his playmate, the Colossus Neronis, to destroy Camp Half-Blood in order to make it his new front lawn.

The Dark Prophecy

Nero frequently appears in Apollo's dreams while he is going to Indianapolis. In Apollo's dream Nero orders Meg to capture Apollo and to make sure there would be no difficulties like last time. She would be accompanied by a Germanus guard and a man named Marcus to prevent any mistakes. Nevertheless, Meg manages to escape them later on. He also took away her Karpoi, "Peaches", because he felt she didn't deserve a pet.

The Burning Maze

Apollo almost mentions Nero to Meg when talking about the fate of Aeithales. He later appears in a dream with Python to discuss the situation. Apollo mentions Nero when talking about the things they have not done: ”Caligula is marching north, Python still controls Delphi and Nero is still out there. We have encountered three emperors and defeated none of them.”

The Tyrant's Tomb

Commodus and Caligula talk about Nero as they sail to the San Francisco Bay Area. After the deaths of his co-emperors during the Battle of San Francisco Bay, Nero becomes the sole head of Triumvirate Holdings.

The Tower of Nero

Knowing Apollo and Meg will head to New York City, he uses the Oracle of Delphi to find out when they will arrive and has his minions scout out every port and station in the city to find them. After Luguselwa returns to him on a stretcher, he addresses eleven of his adoptive demigod child to be ready to burn New York in forty-eight hours.

When Apollo and Meg surrender, he reveals he knows of Lu’s treachery and has his guards restrain them and throw Lu to the ground. Nero reveals he is still going to burn the city and have his twelve adoptive children replace the Olympians, as well as knowing of Camp Half-Blood’s attack. He orders one of his adoptive sons, Cassius, to take the daughter of Demeter’s rings and has him chop off Lu’s hands. Afterwards he has Lu and Apollo placed in a holding cell and for Meg to be “re-educated”. When Meg is locked in her room, he visits the daughter of Demeter and manipulates her into thinking she is responsible for Apollo’s imprisonment and Lu’s double amputation.

When the forces of Camp Half-Blood attack his tower and his Greek Fire filtration system is disabled, he moves his favorite and most loyal followers to the throne room as he readies to pump the lower levels was Sassanid Gas, a deadly gas’s used by the Persians in ancient times. When Apollo reaches Meg’s room, the god-emperor informs him through video chat where the daughter of Demeter is and informs him of his plan. He gives Apollo fifteen minutes to come up before he starts gassing the building. He lets Apollo into the throne room and has him surrender his weapons. He has the daughter of Demeter brought out and about he taunts the mortal god by explaining to him all the good he has done, such as taking in orphans and employing others, while telling him he only brings death and destruction wherever he goes. He gives the option to gas the tower to Meg and, after she says she can’t, he says he understands and has the dryads in the room attack Apollo. They play fight at first, but he burns one of them to get them to actually attack Apollo. However, Meg unleashes her power and strengthens the plants, and extinguishes the flames. After the dryads flee she runs over to Apollo and stands up to him, calling out his abusive behavior. Just then Nico di Angelo uses a dead forest bull to break down the door at attack Nero. Most of the germani and his children keep the bull at bay while he has a germani called Vericorix search for the remote for the gas, who finds it and gives it to him.

After finding the remote given to him was not the right one, he ordered Vericorix to find the correct remote. The rest of Nero's guards were trying to take down the forest bull who is heading towards Nero. Meanwhile, Meg fights against her sibling, Aemillia, hoping to disarm her while Apollo tries to shoot the stepchildren attacking him. Nero's guards eventually take down the forest bull and the two stepchildren take off to hide, so Apollo turns his attention to Nero. While he aims, one of the stepchildren, Lucius, stabs Apollo on the side which misses his vital organs. He kicks Lucius in the face and tries to kill Nero. Looking at Nero, the god-emperor apparently finds the remote only to see that it isn't the right one. He goes looking for the correct remote. Meg had disarmed Aemillia, but more of her foster siblings encircled her, trying to take her down while Nico fought against the Germani. He knocked out Lucius and fired at one of the demigods fighting Meg. Trying to take down Nero, he soon finds Nero is invulnerable to arrows, so he focuses on the remotes. Nero finally gets down to the last remote, but Apollo finds he has only one arrow left beside the Arrow of Dodona. Nico however, was about to be killed, so Apollo shoots at that Germani, disintegrating it. Much to their horror, Nero has activated the last remote and gloats at Apollo and his friends.

Surprisingly, Will shows up accompanied by Screech-Bling, Luguselwa, who now has daggers instead of silverware, and Rachel Elizabeth Dare who is holding the fasces of Nero. Screech-Bling announces the gas traps are disabled, and Luguselwa explains she traded her immortality for Nero's fasces from the leontocephaline. After a failed attempt at negotiation, he orders his guards to kill Apollo. Meg convinces her siblings to throw down their weapons and stop fighting. The troglodytes defend Apollo who tries to destroy the fasces while Rachel and Luguselwa act as the last line of defense to Apollo. Nero loses his patience and starts to glow and barge his way to Apollo. In return, Apollo glows back and Nero tries to take his fasces. Much to their mutual surprise, their strength is equal, so they engage in a tug-of-war and glow brighter as they try to kill each other. Apollo announces that he revokes Nero's divinity and the fasces breaks releasing a firestorm that engulfs the floor, blasting Nero across the room and leaving his skin mottled with burns while Apollo is unharmed. Mortally burned, Nero disintegrates and his power is absorbed by Python. With his last words, Nero warns Apollo and his allies that they have given Python victory.


Nero is exceptionally malevolent, ruthless, and bloodthirsty. He is known as one of the evilest and infamous emperors in all of Roman history (as well as one of the most evil people of all time). Nero is infamous for his tyranny and overindulgence in wealth and luxury with little regard to his subjects. He orchestrated the death of his own mother (despite her having helped him obtain the throne), had his stepbrother poisoned and his stepsister's husband exiled and later executed, along with his first wife. He refused to help the common citizens during the fire of Rome and selfishly prospered from it. He also killed numerous Christians during his reign (including Saint Peter), crucifying and burning many of them alive. He also has some charisma.

Nero is as intelligent and cunning as he is evil. He has been able to stay in the shadows for centuries with his mysterious organization Triumvirate Holdings. He has also successfully manipulated his young and impressionable stepdaughter Meg McCaffrey into giving unquestionable loyalty to him.

Nero is also shown to treated his other 11 stepchildren the same way that resulted in them possessing several emotional and psychological issues. According to Apollo a few of them had even begun copying his behavior.


In The Hidden Oracle, Nero appears to be no more than 30 years old, but it is "a hard 30" (according to Apollo). Nero's face is haggard. His belly is distended from too much partying. Nero's mouth is fixed in a permanent sneer. His curly hair is extended into a wraparound neck beard. His chin is quite weak.

Nero tries to make up for his weak chin and his general ugliness with an expensive Italian suit of purple wool. He keeps his gray shirt open to display golden chains. He wears shoes made of hand-tooled leather. Even Apollo admits to somewhat admiring Nero's expensive, albeit somewhat impractical tastes.


As a God-Emperor, Nero can be assumed to be considerably powerful. He is limited however, as he was unable to locate Meg McCaffrey, thereby implying that he is a lesser power when compared to the true gods. He also has to work through Meg, implying that his powers are not freely manipulated like a god. This may be due to his lack of a domain which often dictates a deity's powers. Apollo describes him as the most minor of minor gods, and states that he still had divine strength.

  • Expert Orator: Nero is an extremely intelligent and skilled public speaker. He manages to quickly and effectively use words to achieve his goals. Even Apollo himself is impressed and admits to being unable to out-talk an orator as eloquent as Nero. In The Hidden Oracle, Apollo tries hard to persuade Meg McCaffrey to turn away from Nero by mentioning all the egregious atrocities he has committed in the past. Yet Nero easily side-steps those accusations by using clever language. In fact, he is able to further motivate his stepdaughter to do his bidding and stay by his side. As an orator, Nero is considerably less discreetly insulting, instead skillfully feigning respect. At the same time, he is more sly, composed, and persuasive with his words. It can be argued that Nero is a better and more sophisticated orator than even Octavian had once been.
  • Master Manipulator: Nero is an extremely skilled manipulator. He was able to successfully brainwash his stepdaughter Meg McCaffrey into becoming unquestionably loyal to him even though he murdered her father. Nero even manipulated her into believing an illogical argument: that Nero and "the Beast" are two separate people. Indeed, Nero's brainwashing was so successful, that Meg ultimately followed her stepfather's orders, despite her guilt and Apollo's best attempts to convince her of Nero's malevolence. Meg left with Nero, betraying Apollo and the campers.
  • Immortality: Nero gained Immortality after he became a God-Emperor. Though his immortality is greatly limited as unlike the Gods who can live without worship to some degree, Nero was unable to live in anything more than a weak, near-death state during the time when he was forgotten, in the Middle Ages. When his fasces is destroyed, Nero is struck by the firestorm that its breaking unleashes which proves to enough to destroy him, causing Nero to crumble to dust moments later.
  • Resurrection (Limited): As a god-emperor, Nero has shown a limited power of resurrection, calling his followers back to the land of the living to serve him aided by their souls escaping from Erebos.
  • Hypnokinesis (Limited): When Nero first appears, it is in a dream of Apollo's. This is a testament of Nero's dream manipulation powers, as he was able to spy on the conversation between a former god, Apollo, and a Titan, Rhea, and to then alter that dream into a nightmare. He also frequently appeared in Apollo's dreams in The Dark Prophecy.
  • Superhuman Strength:: During a tug-of-war over his fasces, Nero demonstrated superhuman strength equal to that of Apollo during his burst of godly power. He managed to backhand Nico twenty feet with a single blow. However, Apollo eventually won out and broke the weapon, showing that he was ultimately the stronger of the two.
  • Power Granting (Limited): Nero is shown to have granted his Germani followers a form of immortality, although it was limited as they could still be killed and would crumble to dust like a monster. After Nero's death, the Germani lost this immortality and were left to live out the rest of their lives as regular mortals.



  • Nero was referred to as "The Beast" (an important figure in the Book of Revelation[5]) by the Christians, many of whom he had burned alive during his tyrannical reign.
  • Many Biblical scholars believe that the number of the beast in Revelation 13:18 (Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666) is a numerical reference to Emperor Nero, whose name in Greek when transliterated into Hebrew, retains the value of 666.
  • His Latin name however when transliterated into Hebrew, is 616, In 2005, a fragment of papyrus 115 (which is a fragmented manuscript of the New Testament written in Greek on papyrus) was revealed, containing the earliest known version of that part of the Book of Revelation discussing the Number of the Beast. It gave the number as 616, suggesting that this may have been the original number of the Beast.
  • Nero is the second major villain in the three Camp Half-Blood series to be a legacy of Apollo and a skilled orator, the first being Octavian. It should be noted that while Octavian was straightforward and discreetly insulting, Nero is far more sly, composed and persuasive with his words. Therefore, it can be argued that Nero is the better orator of the two.
  • Nero is often claimed to have "fiddled while Rome burned." Nero himself denies this in The Hidden Oracle, stating it is impossible because fiddles did not yet exist in Ancient Rome. (This was most likely in reference to another instrument, such as the harp or lyre).[6]
  • To make his own interpretation of Nero, Rick Riordan drew on ancient accounts (including Tacitus, Seutonius, Cassius Dio), Dynasty: Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar by Tom Hollad, and Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm.[7]


  1. Tacitus, Annales, xv. 38
  2. Apollo's Least Favorite Roman Emperors; Companion to The Dark Prophecy
  4. The Hidden Oracle, P.277
  6. "Don't say it," Nero warned. "If you say 'who fiddled while Rome burned,' I will have Vince and Gary flay you for a set of hide armor. You know as well as I do, Apollo, we didn't have fiddles back then."
    The Hidden Oracle, P.280
The Trials of Apollo
Core Series: The Hidden Oracle | The Dark Prophecy | The Burning Maze | The Tyrant's Tomb | The Tower of Nero
Main Characters: Apollo/Lester Papadopolous | Meg McCaffrey | Peaches | Leo Valdez | Calypso | Grover Underwood | Piper McLean | Jason Grace | Reyna Ramírez-Arellano | Frank Zhang | Hazel Levesque | Nico di Angelo | Will Solace | Rachel Elizabeth Dare
Secondary Characters: Percy Jackson | Chiron | Austin Lake | Kayla Knowles | Hemithea | Josephine | Georgina | Lityerses | Trophonius | Gleeson Hedge | Mellie | Chuck Hedge | Medea | Jason Grace | Herophile | Crest | Lavinia Asimov | Don | Tyson | Ella | Tarquin | Luguselwa | Claudia | Janice | Blaise
Minor Characters: Sally Jackson | Thalia Grace | Mrs. O'Leary | Festus | Cade | Mikey | Harley | Connor Stoll | Miranda Gardiner | Cecil Markowitz | Ellis Wakefield | Sherman Yang | Damien White | Malcolm Pace | Paolo Montes | Valentina Diaz | Germani | Agamethus | Olujime | Phillip McCaffrey | Hunter Kowalski | Sssssarah | Prickly Pear | Aloe Vera | Joshua | Naevius Sutorius Macro | Incitatus | Tristan McLean | Bombilo | Aurum | Argentum | Julia | Jacob | Poison Oak | Screech-Bling | Annabeth Chase | Elon | Mamurius Veturius | Mimi
Olympian Gods (Greek & Roman): Zeus/Jupiter | Hera/Juno | Poseidon/Neptune | Demeter/Ceres | Ares/Mars | Athena/Minerva | Apollo/Apollo (Roman) | Artemis/Diana | Hephaestus/Vulcan | Aphrodite/Venus | Hermes/Mercury | Dionysus/Bacchus | Hades/Pluto
Minor Gods: Nero | Commodus | Caligula | Iris | Britomartis | Styx | Terminus | Lupa | Terpsichore | Harpocrates | Cardea
Titans: Rhea | Leto | Mnemosyne | Helios
Monsters and Magical Creatures: Python | Nosoi | Karpoi | Palikos | Myrmekes | Colossus Neronis | Blemmyae | Gryphon | Carthaginian Serpent | Scythian Dracaena | Cynocephali | Centaur | Cyclops | Yale | Satyr/Faun | Strix | Dryad | Dragon | Pandai | Eurynomos | Skeleton Warriors | Zombie | Raven | Amphisbaena | Troglodyte | Tauri Sylvestres
Related Content: Rick Riordan | Percy Jackson and the Olympians | The Heroes of Olympus | Demigods & Magicians | Camp Half-Blood Confidential | Camp Jupiter Classified: A Probatio's Journal | Percy Jackson Demigod Collection | Un Natale Mezzosangue