emperor, 54–68 CE;
after a reign that began with moderation, Nero became increasingly brutal and irresponsible. In 64 there was a serious fire in a largely residential area; it was where Nero then built himself a palace, and in order to scotch rumours that he had himself caused the fire, he laid the blame on Christians, some of whom were executed by crucifixion or burning or by wild beasts in the circus. Tacitus remarks that this cruelty won wide sympathy amongst the populace for the Christians.
It is probable that Peter and Paul were among the victims, and possible that a reference to Nero may be behind the number of the beast, 666, in Rev. 13: 18.