The best books on Roman Emperor Nero, the man and the myth

Who am I?

The deeper I looked into Nero’s history the more references I found to astrology about which I knew nothing except that it was a “pseudo science”. Then an idea hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt. It didn’t matter that astrology was mere superstition. All that mattered was that Nero and his contemporaries believed in it. Nero’s birthday and time are known so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising his imperial client on perhaps a daily basis.


I wrote...

The Nero Prediction

By Humphry Knipe,

Book cover of The Nero Prediction

What is my book about?

Nero is widely regarded as the most despicable Roman emperor who “fiddled” while Rome burnt. In fact Nero was a man of considerable generosity, talent, great ingenuity and boundless energy intent on making his life a work of art, dreaming of an age in which music, not military force, is power. What’s missing here?

Astrology, the seductive mixture of astronomy and superstition which in Nero’s time exceeded every religion in power and influence. So ardent was the belief that horoscopes were roadmaps to the future that believers tailored their actions to match astrological predictions. Meet the self fulfilling prophecy. When Nero’s horoscope became widely known it bedeviled his reign because it predicted when he would be fortunate and when he would be vulnerable, invaluable information for his enemies in the aristocratic class who believed that he was dishonoring the imperial throne by performing in public. All this seen through the eyes of the ex-slave who rose to the position of Nero’s right hand man but who also had a star-crossed destiny hanging over his head.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Nero

Humphry Knipe Why did I love this book?

After reading the ancient histories about Nero which support the legend that he was a lazy sadistic tyrant it was refreshing to find a book written by a leading academic (Champlin is professor of classics at Princeton University) which portrays him the way I see him, as an energetic, talented dreamer set on making his life a work of art. 

By Edward Champlin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Roman emperor Nero is remembered by history as the vain and immoral monster who fiddled while Rome burned. Edward Champlin reinterprets Nero's enormities on their own terms, as the self-conscious performances of an imperial actor with a formidable grasp of Roman history and mythology and a canny sense of his audience.

Nero murdered his younger brother and rival to the throne, probably at his mother's prompting. He then murdered his mother, with whom he may have slept. He killed his pregnant wife in a fit of rage, then castrated and married a young freedman because he resembled her. He…


Book cover of Classical Scientific Astrology

Humphry Knipe Why did I love this book?

Early on in my research on Neronian astrology I had the good fortune to discover this book and visit its author, a real live astrologer. When he showed me the chart he had done for me I felt a  shiver of excitement, convinced that I was the first person to pay an astrologer to cast Nero’s horoscope in 2,000 years. Dr. Noonan’s book is an excellent introduction to astrology as it was practiced in the ancient world. 

By George C. Noonan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Classical Scientific Astrology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Classical Scientific Astrology focuses on the astrology of the Classicists, including Ptolemy and Al-Biruni, and its everyday use in determining the future of individuals, the national economy, the outcome of business and military ventures, the quality of national leadership and more. Included are: Historical persepctive of astrology from its earliest beginnings The houses and branches of astrology The signs, including their nature, and body parts, diseases, flora, fauna and places indicated by the signs; degrees of the signs and decanates The planets, including their nature, rulershp, terms, face and sect The aspects, including their power, applying and separating, orientality and…


Book cover of Nero: The Man Behind the Myth

Humphry Knipe Why did I love this book?

Written by a veteran London Times journalist this exciting book reads like a fast paced thriller. What I found most interesting is his detailed description of Nero’s most notorious action, the murder of his mother. He writes “It is in the realm of abnormal psychology that an explanation may lie.” He is clearly unaware that what best explains the spooky full moon melodrama played out on a cosmic stage was the blind faith both Nero and his mother had in astrology (see Nero's astrology chart here). 

By Richard Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard Holland's biography looks at Nero from a different perspective and encourages readers to see the man rather than the monster.


Book cover of Nero: Emperor In Revolt

Humphry Knipe Why did I love this book?

A magisterial, affectionate portrait of Nero and his times, this book is full of delightful touches of humor. Grant writes that although Nero enjoyed giving feasts, “we are not told if he was amused by the famous contemporary glutton Arpocras, who ate four tablecloths at a time, and broken glass as well.”

By Michael Grant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bound in the publisher's original cloth covered boards, spine and cover stamped in gilt. Dust jacket rubbed at the edges, small closed tears at the extremities.


Book cover of Renan's Antichrist

Humphry Knipe Why did I love this book?

This book by the renowned nineteenth-century biblical scholar is a great read because it epitomizes the traditional anti-Nero bias to the point of parody. Renan writes that “Nero’s actions float between the black wickedness of a cruel dunce and the irony of a cynic. He did not possess an idea that was not puerile. The sham world of art in which he dwelt had made the veriest fool of him.”

By Joseph-Ernest Renan, William G. Hutchison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renan's Antichrist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Is A New Release Of The Original 1899 Edition.


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Book cover of Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

Michael Ruse Author Of Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

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Who am I?

Author Teacher (professor) Author Darwin specialist Charles Dickens fanatic

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What is my book about?

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Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

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What is this book about?

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