A Brief History
On July 19, 64 AD, the Roman night was interrupted by the beginning of what became known as The Great Fire of Rome.
The fire started in the Circus Maximus where Romans held chariot races. It spread and burned for 6 days before Romans could bring the blaze under control, but as often happens, the flames reignited and a larger blaze began! 3 more days of flames, and two thirds of Rome was burned to the ground.
Emperor Nero blamed the Christians, and began a program of repression against Christians, but many of his enemies and common folk blamed Nero, and the common trope of Nero playing a fiddle while Rome burned was born. Nero was eventually obliged to flee for his life and ultimately committed suicide in exile in 68 AD, perhaps the last victim of the Great Fire of Rome.
Question for students (and subscribers): What fire do you think is the most infamous in history? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Charles River Editors. The Great Fire of Rome: The Story of the Most Famous Fire in Roman History. Charles River, 2014.
Drinkwater, John. Nero: Emperor and Court. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
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