According to the legend of Nero Redivivus, Nero Caesar would return from the dead and with the assistance of the Parthians regain Rome.*
Nero Redivivus is the belief that after his death in 68 C.E. Nero would return from the dead. During the latter half of the first century, some claimed Nero never died; rather, he fled to the East to rally the Parthians to his defense.
Parthia is roughly equivalent to modern Iran.
With the passage of time as late as the fifth century, the core legend came to reflect Nero's preservation in a condition of occultation:
Augustine wrote that some believed "he now lives in concealment in the vigor of that same age which he had reached when he was believed to have perished, and will live until he is revealed in his own time and restored to his kingdom." In later forms of the legend, among many early Christians, this legend shifted to a belief that Nero was the Antichrist.*
Occultation means disappearance from view or notice. resulting from the act of blocking, hiding, or concealing. The Apostle John appears to endorse the Nero Redivivus legend by alluding to it in Revelation, an inspired book from the Christian canon. In view of its importance, following is a review of the legend from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article "Antichrist". I added paragraph breaks for clarity. The salient points are these:
1. Nero Redivivus is affirmed by inspiration.
2. Nero, past and future, is the Antichrist of Revelation.
3. Nero's spirit is preserved in occultation until he transforms Rome.
4. The Rome against which Nero battles is pagan Rome, not Christian Rome.
5. Nero is used by God as His instrument (the Lamb) to achieve this task.
6. Nero is assisted by Parthians; i.e., modern Iran (via Islam); in defeating western paganism.
7. There are primary and secondary teachings about the Antichrist. The primary teaching points to the timeless SOURCE, who is the object of our deepest searchings.
[T]his version of the idea of Antichrist, hostile to the Jews and better expressing the relation of Christianity to the Roman empire, was prevented from obtaining an absolute ascendancy in Christian tradition by the rise of the belief in the ultimate return of Nero, and by the absorption of this outcome of pagan superstition into the Jewish-Christian apocalyptic conceptions.
It is known that soon after the death of Nero rumours were current that he was not dead. This report soon took the more concrete form that he had fled to the Parthians and would return thence to take vengeance on Rome. This expectation led to the appearance of several pretenders who posed as Nero: and as late as A.D. 100 many still held the belief that Nero yet lived.
This idea of Nero's return was in the first instance taken up by the Jewish apocalyptic writers. While the Jewish author of the fourth Sibylline book (c. A.D. 80) still only refers simply to the heathen belief, the author of the [Jewish] original of the 17th chapter of the Apocalypse of St John expects the return of Nero with the Parthians to take vengeance on Rome, because she had shed the blood of the Saints [in the destruction of Jerusalem].
In the fifth Sibylline book, which, with the exception of verses 1-51, was mainly composed by a Jewish writer at the close of the first century, the return of Nero plays a great part. Three times the author recurs to this theme, 137-154; 214-227; 361-385. He sees in the coming again of Nero, whose figure he endows with supernatural and daemonic characteristics, a judgment of God, in whose hand the revivified Nero becomes a rod of chastisement.
Later, the figure of Nero redivivus became, more especially in Christian thought, entirely confused with that of Antichrist. The less it became possible, as time went on to believe that Nero yet lived and would return as a living ruler, the greater was the tendency for his figure to develop into one wholly infernal and daemonic. The relation to the Parthians is also gradually lost sight of; and from being the adversary of Rome, Nero becomes the adversary of God and of Christ. This is the version of the expectation of Nero's second coming preserved in the form given to the prophecy, under Domitian [assuming the 90's A.D. date of authorship], by the collaborator in the Apocalypse of John (xiii., xvii.). Nero is here the beast that returns from the bottomless pit, "that was, and is. not, and yet is "; the head "as it were wounded to death" that lives again; the gruesome similitude of the Lamb that was slain, and his adversary in the final struggle. The number of the Beast, 666, points certainly to Nero. . . . [I]t is said that Beliar, the king of this world, would descend from the firmament: in the human form of Nero. In the same way, in Sibyll. v. 28-34, Nero and Antichrist are absolutely identical.
Then the Nero-legend gradually fades away. But Victorious of Pettau, who wrote during the persecution under Diocletian, still knows the relation of the Apocalypse to the legend of Nero; and Commodian, whose Carmen Apologeticum was perhaps not written until the beginning of the 4th century, knows two Antichrist-figures, of which he still identifies the first with Nero redivivus.
In proportion as the figure of Nero again ceased to dominate the imagination of the faithful, the wholly unhistorical, unpolitical and anti-Jewish conception of Antichrist, which based itself more especially on 2 Thess. ii., gained the upper hand, having usually become associated with the description of the universal conflagration of the world which had also originated in the Iranian eschatology. . . . In times of political excitement, during the following centuries, men appealed again and again to the prophecy of Antichrist. Then the foreground scenery of the prophecies was shifted; special prophecies, having reference to contemporary events, are pushed to the front, but in the background remains standing, with scarcely a change, the prophecy of Antichrist that is bound up with no particular time.**
It is significant that Revelation never refers to Rome by name. The Apostle who wrote Revelation may have attempted to protect the Christian community by using the symbolic term "Babylon" to refer to its persecutors. Judgment though perhaps delayed would befall those who had shed the blood of the saints.
"BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN"
Literal Babylon fell to Medo-Persia in the sixth century B.C.E. The prophetic fall of Babylon predicts the rise of Persia, yet in so far as "Babylon" is symbolic in Revelation, its successor "Persia" likewise is symbolic. It behooves us therefore to understand the symbolic meanings of both Babylon and Persia.
Historically, the fall of literal Babylon preceded the restoration of the Jews to their historic homeland and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by order of the Persian king, Cyrus.
Cyrus the Great is a Christ-figure in biblical typology. Cyrus was the king of Persia from 559 B.C.E. to 530 B.C.E., about thirty years. He liberated the Jews from Babylon and thus became a foreshadow of Christ. In Isaiah 45:1 we read:
Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; . . .
God infused Cyrus with the messianic spirit and directed him to rebuild the Jewish Temple destroyed by Babylon. In 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23 we read:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD [spoken] by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and [put it] also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.
This is the historical backdrop behind the fall of Babylon in Revelation.
The apocalyptic book of Revelation is a tale of two symbolic cities, Babylon and Jerusalem. They are both mentioned by name; yet, Rome is not mentioned by name in Revelation, a fact peculiar when one considers that Israel was under occupation by pagan Rome. The writer chose Babylon, not Rome, as the archetype for opposition to God.
But why Babylon instead of contemporary Rome?
In Revelation 14:8 we read, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen". This fall is mentioned twice because it is two-fold. There are two Babylons in the book of Revelation, a fact not readily apparent.
Both Babylons are spiritual successors of the original, literal, historic Babylon; the first in a series of empires that dominated the Promised Land. Literal Babylon had fallen centuries before Revelation was written, never again to arise. Jeremiah prophesied that literal Babylon would be desolate forever.***
The fall of Babylon represents its defeat; it falls in submission to a conqueror.
Pagan Babylon represented the first fatal blow by successive foreign empires to Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, including the Jewish Temple on Mount Zion.
It seems peculiar to ascribe the term Babylon to Jerusalem when the Jews had fallen prey to it, yet this is what is done by the writer of Revelation. Upon the ascension of the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, this message is proclaimed:
Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.****
The symbol of Babylon is usually ascribed to Rome, not Jerusalem. After all, is not Rome the city on seven hills described in Revelation 17:9?
Perhaps few are aware that Jerusalem also rests on seven hills. It is situated in the wilderness in Revelation 17. In the Temptation Narrative in Matthew 4, Jesus is depicted variously "in the wilderness" (verse 1) and in the Holy City on the Temple Mount (verse 5).
In Revelation 17:1-9, Babylon is depicted in the guise of a woman as the SOURCE of religion used to guide and control the political beast. The Apostle John saw and admired her with great admiration. What John saw was the SOURCE, the progenitor; not the effect. He gazed into the very MYSTERY:
 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
The SOURCE was centered in Jerusalem "in the wilderness" (verse 3). She plotted commercial domination of the world from Jerusalem, which she carried out through the political institutions represented by Rome in chapter 18.
The SOURCE is the spirit behind Jerusalem and Rome and all the powers of history before and after, including Nero and Cyrus.
Nero and Rome are inseparable. The fall of Rome as another manifestation of the idolatrous Babylonian worldview is prefigured in Revelation as the outcome of centuries of judgment during which the ascendancy of monotheism gradually displaced paganism until Christianity triumphed and finally reigns supreme.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF NERO
Nero set in motion events leading to the destruction of the second Jewish Temple. He did not live to witness the tragedy. This was the same temple erected by order of Cyrus.
In the prophetic scheme, Nero is transformed from persecutor to liberator. Like Cyrus he becomes a messiah of the Jews.
The life of Nero Caesar is a study in dichotomies, achievements and failures, as chronicled by Suetonius.*****
Among his notable acts, Nero authorized the first major persecution of the Christian Church. Suetonius wrote, "Punishment was inflicted [by Nero] on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."****** The apostles Peter and Paul were reputed to have been slain by him.
Because of his moral and social excesses, Nero nearly bankrupted the Roman empire. He achieved his coveted notoriety and immortality, but mostly in the negative sense. Yet there has been a long-standing aura of mystery surrounding this troubled Caesar. His fate in life and death appears decidedly tied to the Jews and Jerusalem. According to Suetonius:
Astrologers had predicted to Nero that he would one day be repudiated, which was the occasion of that well known saying of his: 'A humble art affords us daily bread,' doubtless uttered to justify him in practising the art of lyre-playing, as an amusement while emperor, but a necessity for a private citizen. Some of them, however, had promised him the rule of the East, when he was cast off, a few expressly naming the sovereignty of Jerusalem, and several the restitution of all his former fortunes. Inclining rather to this last hope, after losing Armenia and Britain and recovering both, he began to think that he had suffered the misfortunes which fate had in store. And after consulting the oracle at Delphi and being told that he must look out for the seventy-third year, assuming that he would die only at that period, and taking no account of Galba's years, he felt so confident not only of old age, but also of unbroken and unusual good fortune, that when he had lost some articles of great value by shipwreck, he did not hesitate to say among his intimate friends that the fish would bring them back to him.*******
God chose Nero to restore the Jewish nation, in as much as he more than any other did more damage to the Jews. He set in motion the events that culminated in the destruction of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The task of restoring the Jews transcends death and accounts for the occultation of Nero.
Nero reigned from 54-68 C.E. He died by suicide in the year 68, a son of perdition.
The Apostle John foretells the resurrection of Nero in Revelation 17:10, 11.
In the place of Jesus Christ the Jews chose Caesar for their Redeemer when they said, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15).
The Talmud claims Nero converted to Judaism prior to his death.*********
The systematic pattern and overlap of events spanning centuries is evidence of God's purposeful design. Prophecy bears witness to the overlordship of God. Men do not live long enough to orchestrate prophetic fulfillments spanning centuries; hence, "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man" (2 Peter 1:21).
Evolution tends toward dissolution and chaos rather than order and intelligent design. Scientific theory cannot account for this pattern.
Grace alone explains the conversion and preservation of Nero for the sake of the Chosen People. God's love for the Jews transcends death.
*** Jeremiah 51:62.
**** Revelation 14:1, 8.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius (ca. 69/75 – after 130), was a pre-Christian Roman historian. He is mainly remembered as the author of De Vita Caesarum ("The Lives of the Caesars"), biographies of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. (Gaius, sometimes spelled Caius, was a common Roman praenomen. It is abbreviated C.).
****** Chapter 16.2. Suetonius lists the suppression of Christians among a catalogue of acts he considered either "beyond criticism", or "deserving of no slight praise" (chapter 19.3).
******* Chapter 40.2, 3, C. Suetonius Tranquillus, "The Life of Nero", from "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars" (Loeb Classical Library, 1914).
********* "At the end of 66, conflict broke out between Greeks and Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea. According to the Talmud, Nero went to Jerusalem and shot arrows in all four directions. All the arrows landed in the city. He then asked a passing child to repeat the verse he had learned that day. The child responded, 'I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel' (Ez. 25,14). Nero became terrified, believing that God wanted the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed, but would punish the one to carry it out. Nero said, 'He desires to lay waste His House and to lay the blame on me,' whereupon he fled and converted to Judaism to avoid such retribution. [Talmud, tractate Gitin 56a-b]. Vespasian was then dispatched to put down the rebellion."