Home About Network of subjects Linked subjects heatmap Book indices included Search by subject Search by reference Browse subjects Browse texts

Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10518
Suetonius, Nero, 38


nanBut he showed no greater mercy to the people or the walls of his capital. When someone in a general conversation said: "When I am dead, be earth consumed by fire," he rejoined "Nay, rather while I live," and his action was wholly in accord. For under cover of displeasure at the ugliness of the old buildings and the narrow, crooked streets, he set fire to the city so openly that several ex-consuls did not venture to lay hands on his chamberlains although they caught them on their estates with tow and fire-brands, while some granaries near the Golden House, whose room he particularly desired, were demolished by engines of war and then set on fire, because their walls were of stone.,For six days and seven nights destruction raged, while the people were driven for shelter to monuments and tombs. At that time, besides an immense number of dwellings, the houses of leaders of old were burned, still adorned with trophies of victory, and the temples of the gods vowed and dedicated by the kings and later in the Punic and Gallic wars, and whatever else interesting and noteworthy had survived from antiquity. Viewing the conflagration from the tower of Maecenas and exulting, as he said, in "the beauty of the flames," he sang the whole of the "Sack of Ilium," in his regular stage costume.,Furthermore, to gain from this calamity too all the spoil and booty possible, while promising the removal of the debris and dead bodies free of cost he allowed no one to approach the ruins of his own property; and from the contributions which he not only received, but even demanded, he nearly bankrupted the provinces and exhausted the resources of individuals.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

7 results
1. Livy, History, 6.1.2 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. New Testament, Acts, 11.26 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

11.26. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. It happened, that even for a whole year they were gathered together with the assembly, and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
3. Suetonius, Nero, 16.2, 21.3, 38.2 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

4. Tacitus, Annals, 15.38-15.44, 15.40.2, 15.41.1, 15.44.1 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

15.38.  There followed a disaster, whether due to chance or to the malice of the sovereign is uncertain — for each version has its sponsors — but graver and more terrible than any other which has befallen this city by the ravages of fire. It took its rise in the part of the Circus touching the Palatine and Caelian Hills; where, among the shops packed with inflammable goods, the conflagration broke out, gathered strength in the same moment, and, impelled by the wind, swept the full length of the Circus: for there were neither mansions screened by boundary walls, nor temples surrounded by stone enclosures, nor obstructions of any description, to bar its progress. The flames, which in full career overran the level districts first, then shot up to the heights, and sank again to harry the lower parts, kept ahead of all remedial measures, the mischief travelling fast, and the town being an easy prey owing to the narrow, twisting lanes and formless streets typical of old Rome. In addition, shrieking and terrified women; fugitives stricken or immature in years; men consulting their own safety or the safety of others, as they dragged the infirm along or paused to wait for them, combined by their dilatoriness or their haste to impede everything. often, while they glanced back to the rear, they were attacked on the flanks or in front; or, if they had made their escape into a neighbouring quarter, that also was involved in the flames, and even districts which they had believed remote from danger were found to be in the same plight. At last, irresolute what to avoid or what to seek, they crowded into the roads or threw themselves down in the fields: some who had lost the whole of their means — their daily bread included — chose to die, though the way of escape was open, and were followed by others, through love for the relatives whom they had proved unable to rescue. None ventured to combat the fire, as there were reiterated threats from a large number of persons who forbade extinction, and others were openly throwing firebrands and shouting that "they had their authority" — possibly in order to have a freer hand in looting, possibly from orders received. 15.39.  Nero, who at the time was staying in Antium, did not return to the capital until the fire was nearing the house by which he had connected the Palatine with the Gardens of Maecenas. It proved impossible, however, to stop it from engulfing both the Palatine and the house and all their surroundings. Still, as a relief to the homeless and fugitive populace, he opened the Campus Martius, the buildings of Agrippa, even his own Gardens, and threw up a number of extemporized shelters to accommodate the helpless multitude. The necessities of life were brought up from Ostia and the neighbouring municipalities, and the price of grain was lowered to three sesterces. Yet his measures, popular as their character might be, failed of their effect; for the report had spread that, at the very moment when Rome was aflame, he had mounted his private stage, and typifying the ills of the present by the calamities of the past, had sung the destruction of Troy. 15.40.  Only on the sixth day, was the conflagration brought to an end at the foot of the Esquiline, by demolishing the buildings over a vast area and opposing to the unabated fury of the flames a clear tract of ground and an open horizon. But fear had not yet been laid aside, nor had hope yet returned to the people, when the fire resumed its ravages; in the less congested parts of the city, however; so that, while the toll of human life was not so great, the destruction of temples and of porticoes dedicated to pleasure was on a wider scale. The second fire produced the greater scandal of the two, as it had broken out on Aemilian property of Tigellinus and appearances suggested that Nero was seeking the glory of founding a new capital and endowing it with his own name. Rome, in fact, is divided into fourteen regions, of which four remained intact, while three were laid level with the ground: in the other seven nothing survived but a few dilapidated and half-burned relics of houses. 15.41.  It would not be easy to attempt an estimate of the private dwellings, tenement-blocks, and temples, which were lost; but the flames consumed, in their old-world sanctity, the temple dedicated to Luna by Servius Tullius, the great altar and chapel of the Arcadian Evander to the Present Hercules, the shrine of Jupiter Stator vowed by Romulus, the Palace of Numa, and the holy place of Vesta with the Penates of the Roman people. To these must be added the precious trophies won upon so many fields, the glories of Greek art, and yet again the primitive and uncorrupted memorials of literary genius; so that, despite the striking beauty of the rearisen city, the older generation recollects much that it proved impossible to replace. There were those who noted that the first outbreak of the fire took place on the nineteenth of July, the anniversary of the capture and burning of Rome by the Senones: others have pushed their researches so far as to resolve the interval between the two fires into equal numbers of years, of months, and of days. 15.41.1.  It would not be easy to attempt an estimate of the private dwellings, tenement-blocks, and temples, which were lost; but the flames consumed, in their old-world sanctity, the temple dedicated to Luna by Servius Tullius, the great altar and chapel of the Arcadian Evander to the Present Hercules, the shrine of Jupiter Stator vowed by Romulus, the Palace of Numa, and the holy place of Vesta with the Penates of the Roman people. To these must be added the precious trophies won upon so many fields, the glories of Greek art, and yet again the primitive and uncorrupted memorials of literary genius; so that, despite the striking beauty of the rearisen city, the older generation recollects much that it proved impossible to replace. There were those who noted that the first outbreak of the fire took place on the nineteenth of July, the anniversary of the capture and burning of Rome by the Senones: others have pushed their researches so far as to resolve the interval between the two fires into equal numbers of years, of months, and of days. 15.42.  However, Nero turned to account the ruins of his fatherland by building a palace, the marvels of which were to consist not so much in gems and gold, materials long familiar and vulgarized by luxury, as in fields and lakes and the air of solitude given by wooded ground alternating with clear tracts and open landscapes. The architects and engineers were Severus and Celer, who had the ingenuity and the courage to try the force of art even against the veto of nature and to fritter away the resources of a Caesar. They had undertaken to sink a navigable canal running from Lake Avernus to the mouths of the Tiber along a desolate shore or through intervening hills; for the one district along the route moist enough to yield a supply of water is the Pomptine Marsh; the rest being cliff and sand, which could be cut through, if at all, only by intolerable exertions for which no sufficient motive existed. None the less, Nero, with his passion for the incredible, made an effort to tunnel the height nearest the Avernus, and some evidences of that futile ambition survive. 15.43.  In the capital, however, the districts spared by the palace were rebuilt, not, as after the Gallic fire, indiscriminately and piecemeal, but in measured lines of streets, with broad thoroughfares, buildings of restricted height, and open spaces, while colonnades were added as a protection to the front of the tenement-blocks. These colonnades Nero offered to erect at his own expense, and also to hand over the building-sites, clear of rubbish, to the owners. He made a further offer of rewards, proportioned to the rank and resources of the various claimants, and fixed a term within which houses or blocks of tenement must be completed, if the bounty was to be secured. As the receptacle of the refuse he settled upon the Ostian Marshes, and gave orders that vessels which had carried grain up the Tiber must run down-stream laden with débris. The buildings themselves, to an extent definitely specified, were to be solid, untimbered structures of Gabine or Alban stone, that particular stone being proof against fire. Again, there was to be a guard to ensure that the water-supply — intercepted by private lawlessness — should be available for public purposes in greater quantities and at more points; appliances for checking fire were to be kept by everyone in the open; there were to be no joint partitions between buildings, but each was to be surrounded by its own walls. These reforms, welcomed for their utility, were also beneficial to the appearance of the new capital. Still, there were those who held that the old form had been the more salubrious, as the narrow streets and high-built houses were not so easily penetrated by the rays of the sun; while now the broad expanses, with no protecting shadows, glowed under a more oppressive heat. 15.44.  So far, the precautions taken were suggested by human prudence: now means were sought for appeasing deity, and application was made to the Sibylline books; at the injunction of which public prayers were offered to Vulcan, Ceres, and Proserpine, while Juno was propitiated by the matrons, first in the Capitol, then at the nearest point of the sea-shore, where water was drawn for sprinkling the temple and image of the goddess. Ritual banquets and all-night vigils were celebrated by women in the married state. But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, nor all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man. 15.44.1.  So far, the precautions taken were suggested by human prudence: now means were sought for appeasing deity, and application was made to the Sibylline books; at the injunction of which public prayers were offered to Vulcan, Ceres, and Proserpine, while Juno was propitiated by the matrons, first in the Capitol, then at the nearest point of the sea-shore, where water was drawn for sprinkling the temple and image of the goddess. Ritual banquets and all-night vigils were celebrated by women in the married state. But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, nor all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.
5. Tacitus, Histories, 3.71 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

3.71.  Martialis had hardly returned to the Capitol when the soldiers arrived in fury. They had no leader; each directed his own movements. Rushing through the Forum and past the temples that rise above it, they advanced in column up the hill, as far as the first gates of the Capitoline citadel. There were then some old colonnades on the right as you go up the slopes; the defenders came out on the roofs of these and showered stones and tiles on their assailants. The latter had no arms except their swords, and they thought that it would cost too much time to send for artillery and missiles; consequently they threw firebrands on a projecting colonnade, and then followed in the path of the flames; they actually burned the gates of the Capitol and would have forced their way through, if Sabinus had not torn down all the statues, memorials to the glory of our ancestors, and piled them up across the entrance as a barricade. Then the assailants tried different approaches to the Capitol, one by the grove of the asylum and another by the hundred steps that lead up to the Tarpeian Rock. Both attacks were unexpected; but the one by the asylum was closer and more threatening. Moreover, the defenders were unable to stop those who climbed through neighbouring houses, which, built high in time of peace, reached the level of the Capitol. It is a question here whether it was the besiegers or the besieged who threw fire on the roofs. The more common tradition says this was done by the latter in their attempts to repel their assailants, who were climbing up or had reached the top. From the houses the fire spread to the colonnades adjoining the temple; then the "eagles" which supported the roof, being of old wood, caught and fed the flames. So the Capitol burned with its doors closed; none defended it, none pillaged it.
6. Cassius Dio, Roman History, 62.16 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

62.16. 1.  After this Nero set his heart on accomplishing what had doubtless always been his desire, namely to make an end of the whole city and realm during his lifetime.,2.  At all events, he, like others before him, used to call Priam wonderfully fortunate in that he had seen his country and his throne destroyed together. Accordingly he secretly sent out men who pretended to be drunk or engaged in other kinds of mischief, and caused them at first to set fire to one or two or even several buildings in different parts of the city, so that people were at their wits' end, not being able to find any beginning of the trouble nor to put an end to it, though they constantly were aware of many strange sights and sounds.,3.  For there was naught to be seen but many fires, as in a camp, and naught to be heard from the talk of the people except such exclamations as "This or that is afire," "Where?" "How did it happen?" "Who kindled it?" "Help?" Extraordinary excitement laid hold on all the citizens in all parts of the city, and they ran about, some in one direction and some in another, as if distracted.,4.  Here men while assisting their neighbours would learn that their own premises were afire; there others, before 20 reached them that their own houses had caught fire, would be told that they were destroyed. Those who were inside their houses would run out into the narrow streets thinking that they could save them from the outside, while people in the streets would rush into the dwellings in the hope of accomplishing something inside.,5.  There was shouting and wailing without end, of children, women, men, and the aged all together, so that no one could see thing or understand what was said by reason of the smoke and the shouting; and for this reason some might be seen standing speechless, as if they were dumb.,6.  Meanwhile many who were carrying out their goods and many, too, who were stealing the property of others, kept running into one another and falling over their burdens. It was not possible to go forward nor yet to stand still, but people pushed and were pushed in turn, upset others and were themselves upset.,7.  Many were suffocated, many were trampled underfoot; in a word, no evil that can possibly happen to people in such a crisis failed to befall to them. They could not even escape anywhere easily; and if anybody did save himself from the immediate danger, he would fall into another and perish.
7. Justinian, Digest, 47.9.9 (5th cent. CE - 6th cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
actors Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
agamemnon Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
amphitheatre Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
antioch Heemstra, The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways (2010) 89
archives Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
audience Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
author Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
babylon, babylonians Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
burning alive Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
capitol Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
cassius dio Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
civil war Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
clytemnestra Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
death Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
disaster Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
epic Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
fear Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
fire (as purification) Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
games Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
hippolytus Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
identity Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
intertexts Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
judgment day Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
law of the twelve tables Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
masks Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
matricide Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
myth Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
narrative, of a disaster Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
nero Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41; Heemstra, The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways (2010) 89; Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
orestes Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
persecution of christians Heemstra, The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways (2010) 89
phaedra Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
pompey Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
praetexta Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
recitation Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
rome Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
sack of rome Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
sin Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
sodom Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
spectacle Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
suetonius Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 370
superstitio' Heemstra, The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways (2010) 89
tablets Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
temple destruction Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
theatre Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 257
theatres Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
triumph Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41
troy Harrison, Brill's Companion to Roman Tragedy (2015) 41