It is the beginning of the first century A.D.Seneca, chief Roman tragic writer and philosopher in the time, who just came back from exile is summoned to the Roman emperor’s castle by the old emperor Claudius’ wife Julia Agrippina. He is assigned to tutor her son, Nero.
Nero is a spoiled little twenty-year old fat freak hungry for gladiator-ism. He hates his step- father, Claudius for he always treats him as a good for nothing child, which he is. Where-from he feels indebted to his mother who seemingly gives him full attention and has always made him feel as the future ruler of Rome. He is very nave and stupid and always dresses up as a king hoping that the costume is bringing him back the respect and fear he deserves. And now he is to be tutored by a writer with a somewhat contradictory life, who as a writer espoused stoicism, a philosophy of moderation and calm acceptance of whatever happens. In his personal life, though, he is an epicure and something of a voluptuary, enjoying the pleasures of the flesh which stoics were supposed to forgo. These extremes are going to be the schools that will nurture Nero’s empty mind, filled with selfishness and pride. In the beginning, Nero is the least interested in learning, all he wants is look wonderful and royal, so while his teacher recounts his stories, Nero looks out the window, looks himself into the mirror as if desperately trying to find a little default, or plays with a flour in his hands wondering about the days of glory where he will be the hero of the people after having saved them from the terrible enemy. Though against his will, his ear is tempted by the bloody tragedies recounted by his master and he starts to have a taste for it. His ferocity is aroused by the stories of man enjoying the pleasures of taking away from people such a precious thing as their life. Unable to inhibit his excitement, he meets with his best friend, Hadrian, to share the thrill with a person who understands. Hadrian is very much into competition and games of pride. Son of a wealthy man, he spends his time playing his money away and getting women to entertain him. He is known for his devilish nature and clever gossiping as a means to get what he wants. Nero suspects him for sleeping with his mother for he often meets with her to play, he says. As to avoid stupid accusations, Hadrian suggests that he and Nero create a small high quality contest the winner of which would get the title of the best life taker in all Rome. Each one of them would go on his own at night wearing a disguise and surprise someone and stab him to death. At first doubtful but then triggered by the idea, Nero starts thinking about the name he will give himself by the time his victory is pronounced. He sets off the game with an air of contentment as Hadrian adds more flavor to the contest by demanding a little golden star for each life he takes.
The back-story is, Nero desperately attempting to get Precia, the advisor of the emperor’s daughter in his bed. He is madly in love with her but she is in love with someone else she won’t announce for she fears for him to get killed. Precia’s confidant, Sera, who is also her slave knows everything about her and tells it all to Hadrian since she entertains him too. In exchange, he treats her like a real lady. She secretly loves him but can’t reveal her feelings for she knows it wouldn’t make a difference. Instead, she expresses her love by always doing what he wants her to do such as bringing him information about people. The poor guy in all this is Nero. He can’t permit himself to harm or blame Precia for her indifference to him. Nevertheless, as a kid deprived of his favorite gadget, he finds comfort in destruction, and now in taking away people’s lives. Days go by and while Nero works on his trophy getting more and more pleasure out of his nightly adventures, Hadrian sits back and contemplates the monster he made of the poor freak.
The killings multiply, and the people get very concerned with their security. They report it to the emperor who promises a considerable reward for the murderer’s head. Nero meets with Hadrian to tell him that he drops out of the contest. Hadrian refuses and convinces him that now is the best time to prove himself a hero by continuing to kill people for a couple of days than pretend that he discovered who the killer was and chased him out of Rome. Everyone would love him for that, but especially, he could then earn Precia’s heart. Again, Nero departs very much hopeful for a drastic change in his life. Only Hadrian calls for Sera. He tells her to go after Nero, always with a sweet leading manner, and find out about Nero’s late-night activities. She kisses him after checking her back and obeys his orders as always.
In the heart of the darkness, Nero discretely followed by Sera glances a man disappearing into the shadow of a building. He smoothly takes out his knife and runs after him. Sera, shocked but still curious keeps herself from screaming. She safely approaches and watches the scene from behind the veiling dark. Nero finishes up, looks around and takes off. Sera discovers that the person Nero had just killed is Precia’s lover, Antony. She runs off to Hadrian to inform him of the tragedy before alerting Precia. Hadrian replies that he had been suspecting Nero for a while but couldn’t get his hand on him actually doing it.
The following day, Claudius is allegedly poisoned by his wife, and it is announced that he had a natural death. Nero is named emperor. A ceremony for his throning is scheduled for the next day. That day, after the ceremony is over, Nero goes to meet Precia in the top room in the third floor of the castle where she always stays. He is afraid she had missed the ceremony because she didn’t feel al-right. Besides, he is now emperor and worthy of admiration and love. On the way up, Nero remembers that his mother retired to her room shortly before the ceremony ended. He decides to check up on her first. He goes back down to her room in the second floor. As he enters, Nero surprises Julia toasting with Hadrian to their effortless victory. He understands that all what his mother ever wanted was to rule Rome through him, the son whom she had trained to become a sweet little dog. Overwhelmed by his insecurities, he can think of nothing but run to his beloved one and ask her to hold him in her arms, be it just to comfort him. On his way up, he hears the burden of a mob on the outside of the castle fighting its way through a small window. He stops and leans to see what is happening. He sees the people cursing him and throwing rocks at him. A man walking through the crowd keeps looking at him, slightly smiling. It is Hadrian who just came out of the castle. Hadrian jumps over a chariot and calms the people. He stares at Nero, than after a moment of silence points at him screaming that he is the killer arousing the crowd’s rage against Nero. He orders them to demand his execution, smiles than disappears into the crowd again. Nero runs to Precia. As he enters the room, he finds her standing there waiting for him, her eyes pitiful and innocent. She stabs herself in the heart. Nero falls apart. He picks up the knife and stabs himself. He slides his way to the door, bleeding and rolls down the large stairs until his body runs into his mother’s foot. She smiles at him then helps him continue his way down with a gentle kick. Bibliography: