The last words of Nero

"A pity that such an artist should die." 
 -- Nero, crazed Emperor of Rome and well-known muso.  He really knew how to set a gig on fire.
The story that Nero fiddled while Rome burned is probably false, but he really was a wannabee rock star.  There's a story that once, during yet another purge of the Senate, a number of Senators were rounded up in the middle of the night by the praetorian guard.  The fearful Senators were herded to a theatre, where they were made to sit for a long time, expecting that at any moment they would be slaughtered.  Then suddenly Nero appeared on the stage.  He danced around for a while before disappearing off-stage; then the Senators were allowed to go home.

In the annals of career placement, Nero was an epic fail.   He's Roman, but I can't help mentioning him because of his lovely final words, which have a small chance of being accurate.

4 comments:

Sarah W said...

Did descriptions of his musical talent change after he died?

I could see rave reviews until a month or two after his suicide, after which he would have been posthumously panned.

Jane | @janelebak said...

Fiddles/violins weren't invented until the 1500s, so what would he have been playing if he did fiddle while Rome burned? (I don't think viols existed that early either.)

I love the story about the dancing.

RWMG said...

Nero was supposed to have played the lyre while Rome was burning.

According to Suetonius it was Caligula who summoned some Senators to the palace at night to watch him dance, a scene memorably portrayed in the BBC's "I, Claudius" with Caligula played by John Hurt.

Gary Corby said...

You're right, Robert! Woops. I should stick to Greek history. Oh well, it's still a good story.