What Events Did Nero Add To The Olympics?

Gold, silver, and bronze medals.

The original Olympic Games were not the only ancient Greek games that were held every four years. There were also the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian Games. The last two are combined to form the “Major Panathenaea” games each year. 

The Isthmian Games were similar to today’s World Championships outdoor track and field event. They featured footraces, throwing contests, boxing matches, and equestrian events for both men and women competitors.

Nero was born in 37 CE near Rome during the reign of his father Claudius to Agrippina Major (Agrippina Minor’s sister). Nero was never really involved in politics, but he always enjoyed entertaining people. 

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He wrote poetry and music and played the lyre for people. He also took part in chariot races, driving a chariot he built himself. He wone many of the chariot races that he entered. However, Nero is remembered most for his four-year reign as Emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 CE .

Here are some points discussed about The Events Did Nero Add To The Olympics

1. Olympic Games in Ancient Rome

The Olympics were established in 776 BCE as part of the greater Panhellenic Games. In ancient Rome, they were called the Ludi Circenses , and they had 150 days of celebrations every four years. 

The games were so popular that people had holidays built around them. When the emperor wanted to celebrate an event or show his power, he added events to the list of Olympic sports.

Nero played a lyre, a kind of harp, at the Olympic Games. He was never much of a sportsman, so he did not travel to Greece to take part in them directly. 

However, he loved both music and chariot racing and wrote very popular poems about each one. He was proud to have been the first emperor to have won a victory at the Olympics in sportsmanship.

2. Nero’s Horse Races

The four-year cycle of Roman games was broken by Nero four times, once each year during his reign. He added chariot races and horse races to honor Rome’s military power and will. Two other emperors, Caligula and Domitian, also added events to the Olympics. 

The horse race track at Olympia even has a lap named after Domitian, who competed in the games in 80 CE . Julius Caesar’s nephew was another charioteer hero of the Olympic Games who won three times at Olympia between 59 CE and 61 CE .

3. Nero’s Poems

In the first year of Nero’s reign, in 55 CE , he persuaded the judges to award his lyre playing an Olympic victory even though he had arrived late to the competition. Nero wanted to see his name in the winner’s list so badly that he paid another player named Apollophanes for a favor, telling him to “lose” the contest. 

This was one of the many ways that Nero used money and power to get what he wanted. Egyptians were famous for their lyre music, so winning this event made Nero a hero among people in Rome who enjoyed this kind of music.

Nero also renamed the lyre, calling it a “Cithara Neronis” or “Nero’s Lyre.” When Nero won his second victory at Olympia in 56 CE , he wrote an epic poem, the Cithara Neronis, which was four hundred lines long and was dedicated to the lyre. 

The third time Nero added an event to the Olympic Games, in 58 CE , he wrote and sang an ode to Apollo that lasted for three hundred lines.

4. Running Race

In 59 CE , Nero added a running race called the stadion to honor himself during his fourth celebration of four years as Emperor of Rome. 

The stadion was seven hundred meters long and involved ten runners from the same age group and race each lap, with the goal being to prevent another runner from passing them.

Nero also added a discus competition in 60 CE , his fifth celebration of four years as Emperor of Rome. This event added more prestige to the games because Nero was now becoming known as a champion athlete at Olympia. He had been swimming in a lake near Olympia when he heard that a discus contest was on its way from Corinth, Greece. Nero had not competed in this event before, but he quickly took the prize for it.

The last two additions made by Nero were two chariot races in 62 CE and 64 CE, his fifth celebration of four years as Emperor of Rome. This event added more prestige to the games because Nero was now becoming known as a champion athlete at Olympia. 


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