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tv   Doc Film - Rethinking Nero Part 2  Deutsche Welle  August 22, 2018 3:15am-4:00am CEST

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nero murderer and despot a madman on the imperial throne. whose name is inextricably linked with one of the biggest disasters of the ancient world the great fire of raw. nero set rome alight to make room for his own building plans to fix the blame for the fire on the christians ordering the torture and execution of thousands. but scholars today question the legend of nero as the arsonist of rome and down to the initiator of policy of persecution against the christians. to date there is no archaeological evidence to support the theory that the apostle peter was ever in rome but there are mounting indications that nero's infamous crimes were ascribed
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to the emperor by later writers. nero an eccentric ruler who wanted to be an artist and preferred to live in a world of fantasy. but neither an arsonist nor persecutor of christians. was. it's july nineteenth in the years sixty four it hasn't rained for days. rome is
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home to almost a million people it's a sweltering summer night. the majority of rum citizens can't escape the heat unlike the wealthy who have long since retreated to their estates in the cooler plains of nearby latium. in just a few hours and inferno will erupt turning the city's narrow streets into a death trap. nero is also not in rome he's retreated to his summer residence in the seaside resort of an town. in rome the brothels bars and betting shops lining the circus maximus are packed on this fateful night. it is here that the catastrophe begins. the great fire of rather dramatic calamity for the city and its people comparable in the magnitude of its destruction to the earthquake infante. the blaze will rage for seven
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days thousands will die when the smoke clears three quarters of the city will lay in ruins. according to legend the apostle peter was in rome at the same time to supervise the city's fledgling christian community. later he would go down in the annals of the catholic church is the first bishop of rome. with. another natori as legend emperor nero himself started the fire as an excuse to rebuild rome to his own liking and to rename the city mirabilis and that's not all. the mad megalomaniac watched the conflagration from his palace on the palatine you know merrily singing and playing his life. in need of a scapegoat he blamed the fire on the christians so many indiscriminately and
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mercilessly crucified. because of peter was also arrested and condemned to death by crucifixion on the vatican hill. so that his death would differ from that of jesus he asked his executioner to invert the cross on which he was nailed. to stuff marshy says a protestant theologian and church historian is one of the world's leading scholars of early christian studies in nero's time the christians were a new and obscure jewish sect you should travel. when you're writing past events historical writers always tend to simplify reality somewhat for info home and the simplification of reality in nero's case turned him into a ruler who unleashed the persecution of christians out of pure criminal intent so there was no legal basis though naturally many of the incidents recorded as
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christian persecution were nothing more than the result of legal proceedings conducted according to the rule of law at the time but here we have a figure who is borderline crazy with a deeply troubled personality who murders his relatives and he is declared the author of all horus it's easy to see a myth in the making here. you should do anything you want almost everything we know about nero's era derives from the works of three ancient historians tacitus so joining us. from cassius dio. these early biographers were writing to entertain their readers and they had a poor opinion of nero their works are rich in detail but they're misleading because much of what they wrote was fictitious. scholars today take a more discerning approach to the ancient texts than their predecessors as a result they've come to question the integrity of many written accounts from
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antiquity. the apostle peter is martyrdom on the vatican hill is one of them. it marks the dramatic climax of a religious legend but as one of the most powerful stories in church tradition. some one and a half centuries later a magnificent basilica was erected on the vatican hill of the sign believed to be the very spot where peter was buried. peter's basilica is a monument to the apostle and one of the holiest catholic shrine. in the counter goes deep below the church lies an ancient roman graves a veritable city of the dead in which according to legend in jesus's first apostle simon peter was buried. fiat's adult football one of rome's grand squares in the middle ages it was
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believed to be haunted by demons and evil spirits because it harbored the remains of the most barbarous man who ever walked the earth nero. in the twelfth century anyone entering the eternal city from the via flammini or would have caught sight of the family tomb of the don't need to be near as family. and it was here that nero lived on in the imagination of the people of rome long after the fall of the empire the ravens roosting in a walnut tree on the side of his remains were said to be demon sin the service of nero. out of fear that nero him self could rise as. demon from al opus god the second had the tree cut down the tomb opened and nero sarcophagus removed then a church was built over nero's family muscly of.
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arrows remains live beneath its altar. a church to seal off neuros grave to banish him to the depths of the earth for all eternity. strong christian symbolism designed to put an end to the superstitions that plague the locals. christian tactics to counter the magic of the demon nero. evil rome banishing nero's remains to eternal obscurity seemed like a good idea nevertheless the priest at the church of santa maria. knows where nero is hidden. an ancient tunnel beneath the church leads to the place where near ozark operatives was allegedly stored. but the chamber at the end of the corridor are. these empty.
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how did the roman emperor come to be known as the anti-christ and the beast of the revelation. it all started here the circus maximus at the foot of the palatine hill the green oval of the ancient racetrack has survived to this day he marrows time an audience of possibly two hundred fifty thousand could pack into the stadium to share the emperor's delight in chariot race and. the circus maximus was the biggest entertainment complex in the ancient world. it was also the origin of the spark that ignited the great fire of rock. it's the evening of july nineteenth and the year sixty four the summer heat is stifling and the shops clustered around the circus maximus. there are hundreds of bars shops and stalls almost all of them constructed from wood with open fires burning everywhere the blaze breaks out under the racecourses wooden bleachers at
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the edge of the killing and in palatine else soon a fire storm sweeps through the narrow corridors of the complex. near always out of town realizing it is summer residence in antioch a seaside resort on the west coast frequented by wealthy functionaries and politicians it's a day's journey from rome. and here he's built a monumental waterfront palace that includes its own amphitheater where he pursues his artistic ambitions. word of the catastrophe reaches in that night and he hurries back to rome. the city is a sea of flames. when the fire eventually dies three of the city's fourteen administrative regions will
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be totally destroyed only ruins will remain in another set of. wooden houses dry as a tinderbox narrow passage ways the heat so intense not a trace is left of tens of thousands of residents. rome's water delivery system fails to provide enough water to battle the flames new fires break out the blaze rages on for days. now now i. am back in the city narrows supervises the firefighting operation he sets up a disaster fund and quickly begins reconstruction efforts introducing rome's first building codes and incentives for private rebuilding. tacitus praises the reconstruction efforts but he also. reports the suspicion that arises after a second fire breaks out on the estate of nero's police chief to goodness the writing on the wall now reads nero arsonist. rumors begin to circulate in the
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ravaged city nero set fire to rome to build a new city but he will remain after himself. and the biggest nero cliche of them all while a city was burning nero mounted his private stage and comparing modern disasters with ancient had some of the destruction of troy. was with. in the story appears to corroborate accounts of his expressive facilities as an artist and the way he presented himself at other times it's one of the many scenes that one is tempted to regard as an exaggeration of the literary sources but i'm not so sure. you can see. what tacitus noted as a rumor was recorded as a fun to tony's nero started the fire. and a century after so tony use consumers do you know road neurosurgery is hard done
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accomplishing what had doubtless always been his desire namely to make an end of the whole city and realm during his lifetime. the main problem with these accounts lies in the fact that nero's image was colored by bias and hatred. one thought it was the type tacitus plays a lousy trick with nero and the great fire because he suggests that nero was responsible for the fire without openly saying so if he had come right out and said it his claim could very easily have been identified as an anti nero representation and very quickly discredited as such but by portraying the whole thing as a rumor as something vague and repeatedly portraying nero with such ambivalence tacitus lends great. or credence to the impression that nero actually did set fire to rome more than he would have if he'd just alleged it straight out it. wasn't the
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revenge of the roman elite and an emperor who rejected what they saw as decorum. nero's biographers began painting a negative picture of the emperor as soon as he died and his odious reputation has survived into the twenty first century. you think. i'm certain that all surviving tanks same in any way connected to the famous fine referendum were tainted by all teary eyed motives it is with intensity that it escaped kind value because there is no valid primary source testimony from which one could deduce that nero actually set fire to rob and if you try to list the reasons why he may have done so after all the arguments appear very tenuous there really is no motive that one could assign to what kind would tif bussmann were tossed and credit to. even if nero played no part in starting the fire the romans blamed him none the less as pontifex maximus he was the high priest of the empire
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a mediator between the people and the gods and he seemed angry. nero was also commander of the vigilance rome's force of police and firefighters and office traditionally held by the emperor and one taken very seriously by his predecessors people expected the emperor to rush to the scene of the fire with nero couldn't he was an anti and get details didn't interest the public which felt betrayed by nero . his efforts to oversee firefighting operations were praised but they came too late. pushed him beyond orms good. or nero lost a great deal of his capital among the population. and because he was very very late arriving back in rome after hearing about the fire so look the whole thing and though he then assumed control of the rescue and reconstruction efforts people
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still felt that he had arrived too late. before and we know from the examples of other roman rulers and even a wrist kratz of the republic that when it comes to catastrophes it's always key to show up as quickly as possible nero missed that opportunity as mukesh presents to the office on. christian graves dating from the first century. early evidence of a new sect that would rise to become a world religion. x. and alpha and omega the first and last letters of the greek alphabet suggest the all encompassing nature of god. ancient writers repeatedly reference christians and christ in their accounts of the great fire. tacitus wrote nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations called christians by the populace.
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rome's establishment was incensed by the egalitarian ism of the christian community where freed men sat a long aristocrats a no go in the hierarchical class conscious society of any age group. and credits from. the traditional roman would have looked at a christian community and said and we know they did because their attacks that quote them and this is an outrageous gathering which permits fishmongers weiss to speak about religion and he ordered it and credits and so a traditional roman would have found the christian community pretty scandalous and because of the disconcerting way it removed hierarchical distinctions in this. stratification finds he won't it will be because they trust. the church of sun giovanni apollo on the kalian hill this was where the super rich lived in nero's
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day and age. three meters under the church's foundations a subterranean world allows a glimpse into the past. back in neuros day this was a light filled city palace. the owner presided over a network of twenty room is magnificently appointed with frescos. as was typical in the homes of rome's well healed the walls and ceilings were painted with fantastical creatures and mythological scenes. but the owner of these rooms was christian. the proof lies in the frescoes on the wall. the oldest surviving private chapel in run dating from a time when support for the jewish sect was not dangerous because the citizens of rome enjoyed religious freedom.
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the world of roman gods was hard to navigate every aspect of life was governed by a different deity. each god was no better than the person worshipping at its altar you could be equally cruel insidious evil or eventual the gods were immortal like super heroes but their world was as hierarchical as that of humans on earth. jupiter the supreme god wielding thunder and lightning to control the skies and striking fear into the hearts of more use. for fear of offending an important day of the romans tended to adopt the gods of conquered lands. yes adding them to their burgeoning pantheon. in nero's day dozens of sanctified for new followers but faith in the traditional collection of pagan gods dominated
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across the empire most romans unquestioningly followed the rights of their religion priests appeased the gods with sacrifices and as long as the empire prospered all was well. tombstones and inscriptions from the first century the romans to believed in an afterlife but their ideas of what it looked like differed. one thing all romans had in common was a fear of being forgotten. immortal glory was the highest achievable goal those are good for did mark their grave with a tombstone. question it's the motivation behind the passage of christians through the roman authorities probably lay in the notion that this here was an unpredictable bunch of who it was fit could start
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a revolution. and the first was. on your own or his advisors couldn't possibly have asked for a better scapegoat. with some three thousand members of the roman christian community was a minority that was viewed with suspicion reviled feared and hated by the population at large. and after the catastrophe of the fire nero new rome was clamoring for justice. like all emperors nero feared diffusely of the masses so he went on the offensive. there were no public prosecutors under the roman legal system charges were filed on the basis of accusations brought by individuals. it's not known how many christians were interrogated or arrested but it's clear only a small percentage of rome's christian community was targeted. justified or not
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the arsonists arrest was branded religious persecution at the end of the second century by the christian theologian ted too early on. in the fifth century christian monks produced copies of ancient texts and may well have intentionally falsified their accounts in the process. it's likely that tacitus is original works delivered a far less damning indictment of nero than the versions we know today. see how. if they created the impression we have today that ever since the dawn of christianity there were violent waves of persecution in which christians was systematically and indiscriminately lined up for execution if that is true of russia's persecution of christians in the twentieth century that the current situation in the middle east but not in antiquity but that's just me and. on a late summer day in the year sixty four crowns head towards the palatine hill.
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it's show time at the imperial palace where emperor nero is open the gates to his gardens the people of rome have been demanding revenge for the loss of loved ones and property in the fire. the emperor lights up the festivities with the perpetrators using their bodies as human torches. nero reportedly ordered tar pitch to be poured on christians who were crucified and set on fire to light up his garden of death by fire was common punishment for arsonists so that was nothing unusual what is strange for us today is the juxtaposition of jovial festivities and. brutal mass murder. another indication of just how strange life could be in ancient rome. as god went on the evil kinds of democracies for there was no
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systematic religious persecution of christians under nero and. the so called persecution of christians must be viewed in the context of the great fire and it's rather a caution it's the. most and says i'm hung from it all it was designed to offer the romance who had experienced great suffering if a big spectacle before namely people who were on fire. in this book and to mention . according to christian legend the apostle peter was also among those condemned to death. the story first surfaces in a second century collection of writings about peter's life. and others adopted the story as a motif. for most christians this legend has long since become historical fact. but the opulent
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tomb of the apostle in st peter's basilica is a senator and de grey. the whereabouts of st peter's bones is controversial and always ask. if the kind of but there is no valid historical evidence to support the theory that peter was ever in rome to our oldest source the late first century pistol if claimant only alludes generally to the fact that christianity has two leaders met their deaths in significant places and gives no further details. in fifteen forty five martin luther wrote i am content to be able to say since i have seen it and heard it at rome that it is unknown where in the city the bodies of st peter and paul are located or even whether. they are there at all. even the pope and the cardinals know very well that they do not know. in one nine hundred forty pope pius the twelfth authorized the search for the bones of the apostle peter beneath the
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basilica. digging was conducted in secrecy and at night so no one would hear anything above in the basilica it wasn't long before workman made a significant discovery. soon a vatican archaeologist was overseeing the operations for the find was a christian tomb and ultimately a handful of clones was on earth it was only twenty five years later that pope paul the sixth announced the remains of st peter had been found below the vatican. after the great fire nero set about reconstructing the destroyed districts two thousand years later not much of his efforts has survived the ruins of an insulating a multistory department block. in nero's days such tenements were groundbreaking both in terms of architecture and city planning as a way of providing housing for the growing population of. nero made his mark on the
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city's design and proved to be a visionary and pragmatic planner with his advisors he set out to read rome of its narrow streets and congested spaces unbearably confined in the hot summer months. instead he ordered wide avenues in colonnades to provide shade a mammoth project that nero helped finance from his own coffers tacitus praised nero's actions as wise and prudent. at last i'm going to be able to be housed like a human being that is house to tony is quote here on the completion of his new palace the domus aria or golden house. it's wall and ceiling frescoes were rediscovered at the height of the renaissance painters were abseiled down into the subterranean labyrinth of the palace to copy the works of their predecessors fermenter gritty. rome was no stranger to
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policies but the sheer size of nero's new toiling was unprecedented. romans complained one house was taking over the entire city to tony as wrote parts of the house were overlaid with gold they were dining rooms with fretted ceilings of ivory whose panels could turn and showered down flowers and were fitted with pipes for sprinkling the guests with perfume. the architectural highlight and heart of the palace was the octagonal hall of all to dome built on an octagonal basis one of the first known concrete vaults in the history of architecture. as its own has remarked the hall constantly revolved day and night. like they haven't seen. the complex consumed eighty hectors in the center of run the entire province
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complex was laid out like a stage accessible to all it included a huge artificial lake its own future villages with fields of vineyards and woodlands teeming with all kinds of tamed. even by imperial standards the golden house was nothing short of bombastic. nero commissioned a giant statue of his likeness golden and thirty meters sign for the entrance hall of his palace was all this a sign of megalomania proof of his madness. if you didn't need it one wished i was hooked but side missed it but i wouldn't describe nero as crazy not because i rule out that he was crazy but because ultimately we just know too little about nero to classify him as such. as it's
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a car to the human one by the and we need to keep in mind is that even if his contemporaries described him as crazy and they did his behavior doesn't necessarily have to have a pathological explanation wouldn't listen to your boy tick and on down to us that's all they could simply be a label for his inappropriate inexplicable and surprising conduct which people simply lacks the means to describe what i'm fucking under mukesh. trance or just concluded that it was nero's artistic streak and showmanship there were most damaging to his reputation. the biographer contemptuously recounts nero's performance of a woman giving birth. the emperor on stage as a pregnant woman playing to a capacity audience. and taking gender role reversal to the point of absurdity.
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in the flesh nero's sexual escapades were particularly open to attack because he demonstrative lee crossed the line when it came to gender and social norms and if a man doesn't it here to norms he simply can't be an adequate ruler in political terms. in the years sixty five euros enemies began plotting to assassinate him. his greek style arts festival the neuron i was coming up and many roman senators couldn't bear the prospect of their emperor once again making a fool of himself identifying roman tradition. for many of the emperors of parents on a public stage was scandalous. but not all of rumsey lead condemned nero second career. as an oft with. reactions to his performances were very mixed we know of roman aristocrats who supported nero's performances and encouraged
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them others were deeply contemptuous of what he debt and that was tessa to send particular who gave a voice to their view a horse for tots it was. a conspiracy was exposed and nearest police cracked down at least one thousand men and women were arrested you're going to go on their social status they were killed or forced to commit suicide nero's former tutor an advisor seneca it was one of the. nero put his life on public display he gave guitar of performances in poetry recitals and increasingly he appeared on stage in roles that echoed his own personal history erasing the boundary between stay. and. i think. he was clearly identifying himself with the characters he
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played. and he went so far as to specifically select roles that reflected episodes in his own life. that's most evident in the murder of pina. know what it is he repeatedly performs the role of arrest is the greatest epitome of matricide in antiquity and by doing so repeatedly reminded the public of his own mother's murder no. zero. zero zero biographers describe is increasing panic attacks and growing state of anxiety . it was at this time the communal made a fateful decision. void. he really didn't want to rule over the roman world as the princeps the emperor he wanted to recycle witchery he wanted to
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perform he wanted success as a chariot race or because he wanted to stand in front of a large audience naturally he tried to assert himself as emperor but probably only because it afforded him a heightened experience of the things that really matter to these invocation of eyes also the. nero disregarded all the warnings in place to government in the hands of his trusted freedman. in august sixty six he took his show on the road to greece he was accompanied by an entourage of six thousand people with string instruments bows and theater masks the crusade for the arts. hero ask the organizers of all four. games in a million fifty in just beyond and olympic games to reschedule their competitions within the same year so that he niro could take part.
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in the able fought in we have accounts that reveal nero suffered from severe stage fright before these events but that he still put in spirit at performances against his competitors and he has always tremendously surprised as if by coincidence he won first place and very humbly accepted the prizes and the applause. even if he'd fallen off the chariot and nearly died during the race this. year so here again we have the phenomenon that we can observe in many other areas of nero's person he was living in his own world and shaping his own reality a shuffle hot. aside from athletic competitions like chariot racing the games also featured artistic contests miro took part in all of them organizers
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displayed ingenuity as they vying for the emperor's favor they hired veteran singers who still sang well but were no longer interested in accolades nurul was celebrated as the most successful competitors since the birth of the games. the venue of olympia served him as a stage and he won every competition. it will never be known whether nero was aware of this charade but he didn't just accept the trophies that came with his victories he also pocketed the cash prizes gold that he badly needed to restock is depleted travel fund where. is certain is that nero's popularity among his subjects reached its zenith during his tour of creates.
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the corinthia canal. it connects the peloponnese with mainland greece providing a shortcut of some four hundred kilometers. it was near zero began a canal during the isness of carinthia employing thousands of slaves for the six kilometer dig but the project died with him and was only completed in the nineteenth century. rome celebrated nero like a triumphant general when he returned from greece in january sixty eight with one thousand eight hundred eight trophies. but rome's elite could no longer stomach nero's act they viewed it as
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a mockery of the imperial copped. a new conspiracy to kick. the leg it's been dicks and got joined forces in a rebellion. got a very good his legion declare him emperor. one last time nero mobilized his loyal generals and initially he even won the upper hand but then he sank into up. the ancient texts repeatedly note that in the final face and made the first signs of apostasy nero would certainly have had the chance to turn back the tide in his favor has he shown more determination. reached out and taken the necessary steps but he didn't his response was hesitant at times he didn't respond at all and merely concentrated on his artistic interests and that served to solidify the opposition and facilitate
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iran's downfall and the us. the new prefect of the praetorian guard and in future use sabinus informed nero that his loyalists had all abandoned him but this was a lie. as tacitus wrote nero was undone by rumors and vague intelligence not by force of arms. that's because on which bits you combine i think what was particular about nero was that he knew no boundaries he staged his life like a play his life was one big spectacle what if and i believe he always planned his end accordingly. and question so instantly and does this thing and it didn't play out that way because of the particular circumstances and also because he panicked too soon but in nero's life there's virtually no way of differentiating between theatre drama the stage and real life will go on forever he goes on the.
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nero fled rome. the biographers of antiquity describe his last hours as the death of a cowardly tyrant not man enough to voluntarily and his own life. bad p.r. until the very end. and yet this emperor did rack up victories even if they weren't on the battlefield. what we can determine is that under nero the latin literature really flourished amid a burst of literary activity felt the pull of the team aspect the positive side of nero's personality was certainly his enthusiasm his love of the arts and culture which had a formative influence on not just in the development of the arts but also in city planning and in entertain. and romans were familiar with greek culture but not so much with things like athletics so he was absolutely pioneering in these respects absolute nor in imposing in the course of that house that he saw himself in the
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first place as an artist and only in second place as emperor that's why i always describe nero as the emperor artist special. the ancient drama starring emperor nero ended with his words what an artist dies in me when he stabbed himself in the throat with a dagger. the script of nero's life needs a rewrite it remains unclear whether st peter was ever in rome to harden the drama of his narrative christian historians later cast nero as the anti christ. nero was no monster nor was he any more brutal than many so-called good emperors but the dead do not write their own history nero's was tainted by the passage of time. the bishop of rome became the head of the church in rome the center of christianity.
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crusades must. come to set this man's head. at that time but less expensive than. trying. to.
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