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What did Nero do when Rome was burning?


I heard that he did something not nice. What was it?

3502 day(s) ago

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bjones
In the year A.D. 64, a great fire burned for a full week in Rome, destroying over 70% of the city. Only 4 of the 14 districts of Rome were untouched by the flames. 500,000 of Rome’s million-person population were left homeless. It was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the city. Much of what we know about the fire comes from Senator Tacitus, a prolific writer and historian of the time, whose works on the Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero are considered essential reading to anyone studying Roman history.

Everyone in Rome was looking for someone to blame for the fire. Rumors began to spread that Emperor Nero himself started the fire. The common story we hear today is that Nero played a fiddle or violin while Rome burned and did nothing to help his fellow Romans. This story is the subject of debate among historians. The first, and most obvious, argument against Nero fiddling as Rome burned is the fact that the violin/fiddle was not invented until the middle of the 16th century, about 1500 years after the incident. The second argument has to do with the fact that Nero did not help the people. He simply played his fiddle, unfazed by the fire as it burned everything around him. Eyewitness accounts tell us that Nero immediately rushed to the city from his palace and began efforts to fight the blaze. He personally organized the firefighters and opened public buildings and his personal gardens to shelter the newly homeless.

Some historians persist that the fiddling story is, at least, partially true. These historians say that the only error in the story is that the instrument was not a fiddle. Nero was known to be fond of a harp-like instrument called a lyre or cithara, and it was this instrument that Nero played as Rome burned. Tacitus himself claims that Nero playing and singing while Rome burned was only a rumor and this is the considered to be the most accurate explanation today. A small group of historians says that the whole thing was always meant to be a metaphor for ineffectual leadership.


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