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The great fire of Rome. Why did Nero burn Rome?

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The night of 18 to July 19, 64 AD, became legend. Rome burns, and the fire, fanned by a strong wind, is not extinguished. The city burns for nine days. Within six days, much of the town was destroyed. The Circus Maximus was dedicated to chariot racing and was the most significant sporting enclosure in the Roman world. Due to the wind, the Great City is engulfed in flames along its entire length. Undoubtedly, the fire was fuelled by goods stored in the immediate vicinity. 

The Great Fire of Rome presented a picture of chaos, a city burning nonstop for nine days. According to biblical and history scholars, in 64 AD, in Rome, there was the most significant fire any person can imagine. Nero burned Rome to the ground because of his rebellious and vengeful character. He destroyed Rome to build it to his liking and from scratch. Nero wanted to create urban nova.

Among the monuments totally or partially destroyed were: the temples of Luna, Jupiter, Apollo, and Vesta, the theatre of Marcellus, and the palaces of Tiberius and Nero. So only the Forum and part of the Capitol escaped. The destroyed monuments date some from the time of Romulus, such as the temple of Jupiter Stator. When the news of Nero’s death broke, the public rejoiced. The streets of Rome were filled with people wearing Phrygian caps, a symbol of liberation from slavery. By the Great Fire of 64 AD. The wealth accumulated over the centuries disappears.

What happened in the fire of Rome?

On the morning of June 19, 64, an explosion broke out in the shops around the Circus Maximus and quickly spread throughout the city. Over the next nine days, three of Rome’s districts were destroyed, and seven others were severely damaged. Some ancient authors placed Nero on the roof of his palace during the fire, singing from a Greek epic. Rumors soon circulated that the emperor set fire to clear the land to create a palace complex on Palatine Hill.

The fire of Rome began on July 19, 0064, and lasted for nine and a half days. The fire broke out near the Circus Maximus, an ancient period stadium in Rome, Italy, used for chariot races. It destroyed a large part of Rome, with three districts being killed and 7 of 14 severely damaged. According to Consul Dio Cassius, the fire was ordered by Emperor Nero. The fire was described by the historian Tacitus. Who refuted the idea that Nero ordered the fire.

Nero has gone down in history as one of the greatest tyrants of ancient Rome, With accounts of his persecution of Christians and the assassinations of his family members. Nero ascended the throne in 54, at the age of 17, just after Claudius had been poisoned to death by Empress Julia Agrippina, yoNero’sro’s adoptive mother.

Read also: Persecution of Christians in Rome. First martyrs of the Church of Rome

Who caused the Great Fire of Rome?

According to an encyclopedia, the fire was not that big. And also wasn’t Nero who started it. Nero was the fifth Roman emperor, reigning from 54 to 68, and the most famous because he had a corrupt and cruel reign, beginning with the Great Fire, which destroyed much of Rome so he could build a new palace. So he committed suicide to avoid being killed. So this story is almost 2,000 years old.

Fscholars’ars’ words, we know that Nero caused the Great Fire of Rome. Indeed, a rumor is saying that Nero was the one who started the fire from indium magnum Romae. Is it said that Dementia would have driven him to such a gesture to make a new city, Necropolis, also known as an urban nova? It is said that Nero ordered one of his servants to start the fire to the doom and destruction of Rome.

The fire is also said to have been probably accidental and occurred mainly in the wealthy area of Rome, the mansions and estates of the Roman elite in the Palatine and Esquiline Hills, which prospered during Nero’s rule. The rich, whose homes perished in the fire, were outraged when Nero decided not to help them with anything; they had to pay for the repairs themselves. Moreover, the emperor raised taxes to help the poor whose homes were damaged.

Who was Nero?

Indeed Roman writers such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio, and the son of Tacitus, claim that Nero killed his mother. In addition, his mother’s name was Agrippina, and because she was shown to be curious about taking the throne from her son Nero, he murdered her in cold and bitter blood. Also, established writers claim that the emperor’s half-brother was also killed by Nero, who was insane. Because Britannicus was 13 years old, he feared someone would take his place. Even so, various Roman historians, such as Josephus, claim that all the rumors about Nero are not valid.

Nero is the fifth roman emperor. He is supposed to have been adopted by his uncle, Emperor Claudius, at two years old. Who, by his power, made him the predecessor to the Roman throne. He became the Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In 54 AD, Claudius died, and Nero became emperor at the young age of 17. Rome was a hereditary monarchyNero’s time.

Besides Nero’s most feared enemy Dio Cassius accused Nero of starting the vast fire that burned all of Rome to the ground. He is the one who claimed that Nero sang while Rome was being ravaged by fire. Also, in the face of disaster, the emperor is said to have sung from the top of Meena’s tower on the Esquiline with his innate acting nature.

Read also: Emperor Titus. Was Vespasian a good emperor?

Biography of Nero

Full name:Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (NERO)
Date of birth:December 15, 0037 AD
Death day:June 9, 0068 AD
The thread of life:30 years
Place of birth:Antium, Italy
Father's name: Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
Mother's name: Gnaeus Domitius Agrippina
Spouse:Poppaea Sabina
Children:Claudia Augusta
Physical appearance:average height, body marked with spots. Light blonde hair, attractive features, big and deep blue eyes. Prominent belly.
Nationality:Italian
Summary of life:Nero was adopted by Claudius, his uncle who ceded the throne to him at 17 because of his death. Nero killed his mother and brother for fear of stealing his place on the throne and set fire to the city of Rome. To build another. And at his end, he commited suicide.
Life lessons:It's no use wanting to be a conqueror and master because you will be the one who will be defeated in the end.
Life accomplishments:He was the fifth emperor of Rome who succeeded in building an empire on the ashes of his own design.
Death cause:SUICIDE.
He committed suicide because the whole nation and empire revolted.

Places from the times of Nero

  1. Circus MaximusWas Circus a historical location?

  2. Ancient RomeWas Ancient Rome the modern-day Rome?

What did Nero do for Rome?

According to some historians, the Roman emperor delighted in burying people alive, and his victims were often temple maidens who broke their vows of chastity. It was Nero who, after raping a priestess, punished her by burying her in a cave and starving her to death. Suetonius adds that oneNero’s perverse pleasures were to dress in the skin of a wild animal and lock himself in a cage with his victims, who were tied to a stake and devoured, imitating animals. In the Roemperor’s time, the condemned were often forced to dig their pits where they would be thrown. Sometimes a stake was placed in the hole the accused were staked into.

Nero is well known to have made the ordinance of public games for Rome every five years. He wanted to build a new Rome. A Neronian city.

But after he had wreaked chaos on Rome, the emperor’s death was theatrical. He lost power in 68, following riots in the Empire, was deserted by praetorians and servants, and fled to a villa on the outskirts of Rome. Before he was captured, he chose to commit suicide, ordering someone close to him to stab him in the neck and exclaiming simultaneously: What an artist dies with me.

Read also: Saint Justin Martyr. First Apology of Justin Martyr

Christianity in the era of Nero

Christianity was a religion almost doomed to death in the early centuries of the Christian era. A series of Roman emperors unleashed persecution of Christians and wanted to eradicate the faith as dangerous to the fate of the Empire. Nero hated the Christians and wanted to get rid of them so that he could rise above God by founding a city. 

The beginnings of Christianity religion, however, were marked by violence and suffering. The era of Nero was the era of Christian martyrs. Because he accused the Christians of setting fire to Rome and a severe execution followed because of this. The Christians were crucified or burned alive on crosses. Such unfortunate events for Christians even took place in emperor gardens.

There were times when Christianity was a religious doctrine condemned to death, and its supporters were hunted down as villains. It was the case in the early centuries AD in the Roman Empire, which stretched from northern England to the Tigris and Euphrates, encompassing the civilized and known world. Many Roman emperors made an actual state policy out of the persecution of Christ-worshippers, aiming to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth. 

Quote said by Emperor Nero.

“Even though we be driven from our empire, yet this little artistic gift of ours shall support us there.”

Nero Claudius Caesar

How much of Rome was destroyed in the fire?

The robust fire is said to have awakened the emperor. He realized nothing more could be done and didn’t send his men to their deaths. But on the other hand, this is how he got the land he needed for prominent real estate projects. Legend has it that on the night of the incident, Emperor Nero was not in Rome but in Antium. The incident originated from shops selling flammable liquids. After Nero learned of the fire, he returned to Rome to organize an army to put out the fire, but the people blamed him for the fire that engulfed Rome.

Unfortunately, researchers have shown that 75% of Rome was destroyed in the Great Fire. It is because Nero, in his madness, set fire to Rome, and almost all of it was damaged.

Then from the terrace of his imperial palace, he watched the fire through an emerald, playing his lute and reciting his verses. And then, he blamed the Christians and condemned them to death.

Read also: Origin of Trinity. Tertullian Trinity

Did Nero start the fire?

The beginnings of the persecution of Christians can officially and undoubtedly be placed in the time of Emperor Nero and known from ancient accounts as a mentally unstable and bloody character. In fact, at that time, Christians were little known. They were also usually small communities throughout the Empire, with a significant accumulation in Rome. According to the Annals of Tacitus, the persecution of Christians began after Nero set fire to Rome.

In 64 AD, Emperor Nero, as another ancient author, Suetonius, claimed, did not start the fire directly. Still, Nero ordered one of his hostages to burn Rome to make way for his palace complex, the Domus Aurea. In that fire, much of Rome was turned to ashes. But Nero was not bothered; he played the harp while his city was burning to the ground.

At the time, many regarded them, but especially by the emperor, as a strange community, a sort of sect spreading a peculiar doctrine. As a result, many citizens lost their lives and possessions, and Nero was pointed at from every corner of the capital as the main responsible.

What happened to Nero when Rome burned?

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, the 5th emperor of Rome, is also known throughout history for indulging in sensual pleasures, extravagances, and persecution of Christians. On dubious evidence, he is held responsible for the burning of Rome.

While Rome was burning to the ground, Nero went mad. He went out on the balcony and played his flute. Although the fire is blamed on Nero by ancient writers, there is no evidence for this. At the time, much of Rome was built of combustible materials and was overcrowded. Nero’s reign was one during which blood was spilled throughout the Empire.

In Britain, Queen Boudicca rebelled against the emperor. After Boudicca was whipped, her daughters were raped and killed by Roman soldiers. At first, this records a series of successes, which make Nero consider abandoning the island.

the great fire of rome

The fire of Rome

What caused the fire of Rome hard to believe that the Christians burned down because many of the houses they lived in also burned down. Nero realized, of course, that he couldn’t solve as many problems as he did after the fire: the people left without a couldn’t be helped by the state. Then some bad people told of Nero playing the harp while Rome burned. So the fire was heading towards senators’ residences and the palace, and he was playing.

Some reports suggest that the fire broke out at the large wheat warehouse. Therefore large quantities of grain can catch fire spontaneously, and this has happened many times in the warehouses of grain ships. The fire cannot be put out sometimes even though the boat is on water and there are pumps. At that time, there was as much wheat in that warehouse as in dozens of ships. It was hot and windy then. Many houses were large and mainly made of wood. From there, the fire spread because of the wind. There are accounts that the fire may have broken out in other places, but these cannot be relied upon.

So it seems that Nero was more a victim of ancient historians and later Christian intellectuals. Besides the accusations, the fire was just another stain attributed to Nero.

Read also: Who was Polycarp? Martyrdom of Polycarp

What happened to Romans After Rome fell?

Nero, Emperor of Rome, was a misunderstood personality. He burned Rome to the ground, leaving the Romans without homes and possessions. In addition, that is, into the hands of the emperor. Who would then get rich and build an empire? 

After Rome fell, the Romans fled to different parts of the world and began the persecution of Christians. Then, because Nero blamed the Christians for what happened, they burned Rome. And the Romans mocked all the Christians and became tyrants who persecuted them. They mocked those who believed in Jesus and killed them right in their backyards as a joke, as entertainment.

Also, the Romans became tyrants after Rome collapsed. Nero influenced them to become the most potent barbarians and gladiators that no one could defeat. Unfortunately for Nero, everything turned against him. It’s simple, and the people are looking for someone to blame and blame Nero. So to get away with it, he blamed the Christians. But neither Nero nor the Christians are to blame for the fire.

Read also: Irenaeus of Lyon. Irenaeus Against Heresies

Primary Takeaways

  • Possibly, the fire started accidentally and spread rapidly, a root cause of the abovementioned poorly designed urban structure. As for the Christians, it seems that although they did not cause the fire, they enjoyed the sympathy of their co-religionists and started a whole anti-idolatrous campaign, insisting on the causes of the burning of Rome, basing their claims on the letter of the book of Revelation, according to which the Beast will end in torment.
  • Rome was the administrative center of the largest Empire in history, so Nero is said to have ordered a soldier to start the fire. 
  • So, possible the fire was accidental at that time. On the other hand, Rome was practically made of wooden houses, except for the homes of the rich on the Palatine and the buildings on today’s blocks, the so-called insulae, being summer, maybe it was all an accident. The image of Nero playing the harp while the city burns are late; Nero was one of the most denigrated emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, although the first five years of his reign were called the golden years.

Rome Is Burning: Nero and the Fire That Ended a Dynasty. See it on Amazon.

Conclusion

So from the accounts of the Great Fire, we are left with uncertain information about who started the fire. Emperor Nero was the last emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and was very close to the Roman people. So he is the alleged originator of Rome’s most excellent and terrible fire. And he was persecuted after the fire full of Christians. His goal was to build a new Neroan empire. He had a flair for acting and even played the harp during the great fire. It seemed comical to him that he would be rich and all of Urba Nova would be at his feet.

If you enjoyed our article, please visit the following Quiz to test your knowledge about the famous Emperor Nero and the Greatest Fire of Rome. I just wanted to thank you for your time, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us@christianityroots.com. 

Read also: Who destroyed Jerusalem? Siege of Jerusalem, 70 AD

Nero Trivia Quiz

Quizlet about Nero

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Who was Nero?

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Whom did he killed

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What did Nero do to Christians?

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How much of Rome was destroyed in the fire?

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Who was his step-father?

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In what year did he start the fire?

7 / 10

How did he die?

8 / 10

What did Nero do for Rome?

9 / 10

At what age was he adopted?

10 / 10

What age he have when he became emperor?

Your score is

The average score is 90%

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Bibliography

  • Arciniega, A. P. (201″). “Rome Is No Longer in “ome”: In Search of the Eternal City in Cinema. In Imagining Ancient Cities in Film (pp. 171-191). Routledge.
  • Frazer, R. M. (1966). Nero, the artist-criminal. The Classical Journal62(1), 17-20.
  • Gyles, M. F. (1947). Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The Classical Journal42(4), 211-217.
  • Pollini, J. (2017). 14: BURNING ROME, BURNING CHRISTIANS. The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Nero, 213.
  • Pretorius, E. J. (2002). Reading ability and academic performance in South Africa: Are we fiddling while Rome is burning? Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa33(1), 169-196