Nero's Role In The Great Fire Of Rome

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The Great Fire of Rome was a devastating urban blaze that began on the 19th of July in 64AD, consuming over half the city and was not contained until six days later. The controversy surrounding this infamous event stems from historical claims that the fire was initiated at the command of Emperor Nero, who “fiddled” while his great city burned. Some contradictory sources such as Tacitus, however, have reasoned that Nero did not torch Rome, a judgement which is shared by several significant modern scholars.
Regardless of his role in the fire of Rome, Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus was undoubtedly a ruthless historical figure, with his years ascending to the Emperor being almost as tumultuous and deceptive as those in office. Nero was born of
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It was not long until Nero was exercising this status with the death of his step-father Claudius in 54AD from unknown causes, though it is implicated that Agrippina poisoned the emperor. By some accounts Nero’s initial years of governance under the guidance of the Praetorian Guard Burrus and philosopher Seneca brought social reforms including the elimination of capital punishment and laws which protected slaves from mistreatment. Agrippina now had little political standing and sought to remove her son from office. Upon discovering these plots, Nero had his mother assassinated in 59AD. It was not until the death of Burrus and the retirement of Seneca in 62AD, however, that Nero became truly renowned …show more content…
Suetonius was one such historian who chronicled Nero’s life in The Twelve Caesars, claiming that “pretending to be disgusted with the drab old buildings and narrow, winding streets of Rome, [the emperor] brazenly set fire to the city.” To support this dubious claim Suetonius referenced several former consuls had caught Nero’s party in the incendiary act. Cassius Dio formed the same conclusion, alleging “he secretly sent out men who pretended to be drunk… and had them begin by setting fire to… several buildings.” Cassius elaborated, stating that Nero ascended to the roof of the Palatium to sing the Capture of Troy while looking out upon Rome, an accentuation Suetonius’ account. In Roman folklore the outlandishness of this myth is furthered by claims that Domitius played the lyre, thus cementing him as the ruler who fiddled while Rome burned. Although there was a lack of evidence supporting these allegations of arson, Tacitus provided a possible motive for the crime, stating “it seemed that Nero was aiming at the glory of founding a new city and calling it by his name.” This motive of founding a new city seems even more likely considering the Caesar’s swift rebuilding of the city with a precise grid design, wide streets and a new extravagant palace, the Domus

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