Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2020

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Liberal Studies


Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

Department Chair or Program Director

Romero, Joseph

First Advisor

Houghtalin, Liane

Second Advisor

Romero, Joseph

Third Advisor

Pitts, Angela

Major or Concentration



This paper follows the life of Emperor Nero from Ancient Rome. When he first became emperor, he hosted lavish celebrations and parties, even participating in performances and was praised by his people and the senate. However, he quickly turned into a tyrannical and murderous emperor, plagued with paranoia and delusion, and began murdering his family and citizens. This paper attempts to sort through Nero’s life and to match his experiences and actions with those of someone undergoing psychosis, a mental disorder where the victim loses sight of reason and the difference between right and wrong, often leading to delusion and hallucination when left untreated. Nero meets many of these qualifications and although it is impossible to diagnose conclusively someone with a mental disorder post mortem, such a diagnosis would explain many of his odd behaviors and criminal behavior. After discussing his psychotic development throughout his life, this paper concludes that in an advanced stage of psychosis, Nero may have devolved into a delusional state where he took on, in real life, the roles of the characters that he played on stage, including their actions and reactions to their crimes, later causing him to advance into a further state of delirium, ending in his suicide.

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