Talk:Great Fire of Rome

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Another theory missing[edit]

It doesn't mention the widespread theory that Nero burned down the city, not because he was mad, but to replace the cluttered and chaotic streets with new, streamlined, standardised structure (As supplied by his 'generous' post-fire relief and rebuilding program). A city planning/infrastructure move, if you will. Makes more sense to me. -Brent

We are taught that theory in school, not to mention, it is mentioned in MacGyver.--24.171.0.229 (talk) 06:11, 15 February 2009 (UTC)


Elder[edit]

Nero fiddled? You mean he played the violin? No, that is an anachronism. The word "fiddle" refers to "engaging in frivolous activity,". The violin was invented centuries later. ChimpanseeWithTypewriter 14:41, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

removed:

Some researchers now believe that the fire may have indeed been started by Christian Doomsday Cultists and that Nero may have believed himself justified in his persecution of them. It was during this era that the book of Revelations was written and there is evidence to support that other prophesies concerning the burning of Rome were widespread throughout the Empire. June 18 was one of the suggested dates for the beginning of the Apocalypse and the fire may have been started by the Christian Sect as a means of bringing about the Day of Judgment.

questions:

  1. Who are these researchers? Where did they publish this theory?
  2. The Book of Revelation is usually dated to the reign of Domitian, not the mid-60s.
  3. What evidence is there for these "other prophecies concerning the burning of Rome"?
  4. Who suggested June 18 as a possible date for the beginning of the apocalypse?

Furthermore, most Christians of the early 1st century were convinced that Jesus was coming back RSN, so why would any of them think they needed to take measures to hasten the apocalypse? —No-One Jones (m) 15:11, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Okay, this seems to be based on the work of one Prof. Gerhard Baudy. I couldn't find him in any (English) journals of classical studies, but he published this theory back in 1991 in a book entitled Die Brände Roms : Ein apokalyptisches Motiv in der antiken Historiographie. His thesis does not appear to have gained much currency among classical scholars (this mailing list post is the only opinion I could find), but I would see no problem with putting it in the article if it were properly contextualized and attributed. —No-One Jones (m) 21:23, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

There was recently a new found interest in this theory and PBS has hosted documentary on the subject. I also can't find anything more about the academics of this theory but suggest that it be included in the article as many scholars aren't really sure who started the fire. The theory is compelling, maybe an article on Gerhard Baudy is in order? JoeHenzi 19:54, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Page Has been vandalized[edit]

THis page has been vandalized. I would fix it but I don't know how to revert to an earlier version.


"Who are these researchers? Where did they publish this theory?"

It was some time ago but this theory was postulated on an episode of "Secrets of the Dead". I'm looking into finding it elsewhere now.

"The Book of Revelation is usually dated to the reign of Domitian, not the mid-60s."

True. But there are other Apocryphal books similar to Revelations and doomsday type literature was popular among the Christians at the time of the Great Fire. Again this was featured on "Secrets of the Dead".

"What evidence is there for these "other prophecies concerning the burning of Rome"?"

Many instances of Apocalyptic type pamphlets have been found over much of the old Roman Empire. It would almost seem to be the junk mail of the time.

"Who suggested June 18 as a possible date for the beginning of the apocalypse?"

Many dates were mentioned, usually in conjuntion with some type of stellar phenomena. I would think that people read into these what they wanted to similar to our own Y2K scare and other recent "End of the World" scenarios.

"Furthermore, most Christians of the early 1st century were convinced that Jesus was coming back RSN, so why would any of them think they needed to take measures to hasten the apocalypse?"

Who knows? Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time.

James McCleary

related?[edit]

On August 30th 2005 as every major news organization in America was covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Bush made a trip to California to promote his prescription drug plan for senior citizens and to give a speech to American troops at a Navy base outside San Diego.

At the Navy base country singer Mark Wills presented a guitar to Bush who proceeded to strumming the instrument. [1]

No, it's not related. Rhobite 02:45, 19 October 2005 (UTC)


Copyright violation[edit]

I sure don't see the claimed copyright violation from [2] -- the text overall is substantially different, except for a few isolated phrases. CarbonCopy 14:51, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Potential Article Rewrite, New Information Provided[edit]

This article is sadly lacking in some key issues, such as any mention of Nero's relief measures during the Great Fire and his efforts to rebuild Rome thereafter. Further information is provided in a short Great Fire essay that I wrote last month. I request that anyone to comment and digest the information provided into the main article. I'd suggest replace this current article with the essay altogether as it touches on all the same issues and then some, but at the moment input may be needed. I added subtitles inside the essay body for purposes of Wikipedia for suggested subsections.

Obviously, linking is going to need to be added.


Introduction

Rome was, at the time, largely built out of cement and wood. One of its most numerous buildings were its apartment flats, which housed entire families in cramped rooms whose upper floors were made entirely of wood, and whose alleys were lined by wooden shops. Among these fire was common and expected, especially in the summer heat. Every citizen was aware of the danger, and fire brigades were organized to quell the fires that broke out in Rome almost every day.

On July 19th 64 AD, a fire started in or near the Circus Maximus -- a large stadium for chariot games and foot races that was lined by nearby flats and shops. It spread and consumed the nearby buildings, quickly growing out of control and beyond the ability of the fire brigade. According to Tacitus, "...the conflagration both broke out and instantly became so fierce and so rapid from the wind that it seized in its grasp the entire length of the circus. For here there were no houses fenced in by solid masonry, or temples surrounded by walls, or any other obstacle to interpose delay." (Annuls XV, 38) As the fire swelled, it did not stop when it reached the richer districts of Rome built of of stone and concrete rather than wood. It burned at an estimated 1100+ degrees, and its widespread ruin extended inside the great stone temples and the rich's concrete dwellings, consuming first the furnishings.

Tacitus writes that for five days Rome burned until it subsided, only to reignite and burn for another four. In the end, three districts were destroyed completely and seven damaged severely. Only a third of Rome remained untouched. He mentions that among the loses were irreplaceable Greek relics, temples of the Roman gods, a great number of public buildings, and emperor Nero's own palace (Annuls XV, 40-41).

Nero was away at Antium at the time and had not returned until the fire begun to threaten his palace, which was eventually consumed altogether. He began a rather large relief measure; he shacked citizens in the remaining public buildings and his own gardens, built temporary shelters, imported food and water, and lowered the price of food for the time being. However, by this time rumors were already beginning, and he could do little in relief that would stop the suspicions that he started the fire himself.

Nero and the Great Fire

Nero was an unpopular emperor -- he was said to be violent, often out of control, and reputedly enjoyed singing and did so, quite to the dismay of the invited, among guests. A rumor spread that had him singing of the burning of Troy as Rome was on fire. The facts of this myth are inconsistent: Tacitus had reported that the rumor was started during the Great Fire itself and that Nero was accordingly singing in his private theater, despite being in Antium at the time. Suetonius says he was watching from the Tower of Maecenas, and another source puts it at the roof of his palace. Still, these rumors quickly worked against Nero, and, along with other facts, made a wide margin of his citizens come to believe that the fire was ordered by himself for political intent or mere amusement.

Similarly, most of our generation associate the Great Fire with the image of Nero merrily playing his fiddle as Rome burns, obviously inspired out of the ancient anecdote that Nero 'fiddled while rome burned'. In truth, this is an idiom. The musical instrument was invented many centuries later; to fiddle at that time merely meant to squander needlessly away the time in vain, as is still a popular use of the word today.

Curiously, though, Nero did have motive for the destruction of Rome. A young ambitious emperor, he looked at the city that emperors centuries before him had built and wished to make the city in his own image. The senate disapproved of his plans to rebuilt Rome. He possibly burned Rome down to render these verdicts inconsequential. Either way, he capitalized greatly off of the ordeal -- his building projects to come would be more extensive than when Augustus built Rome to be a city worthy of being the world's capital.

To ease suspicions against him Nero he gave banquets for his people and made tributes to the gods, but eventually opted to use a scapegoat when other measures did not work.

Persectution of the Christians

An unpopular obscure Jewish sect at the time, the Christians, became the target for the blame. Consequentially, state-supported Christian persecution first began in Rome. In a famous and widely quoted passage, partially for being the first instance a non-Christian author has ever mentioned the origins of Christianity, Tacitus recites (Annals XV, 44):

Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Tacitus seemed convinced that the Christians were innocent of starting the fire, but guilty of 'hating the human race', as was a popular notion at the time. Christians have been around for less than 40 years with the death of their Christ dated around 33 AD, and many Romans thought that their symbolism and methods were odd and unorthodox, which is probably why their blame partially worked. Oddly, though, no other writer afterward mentioned Christians as being blamed for the Great Fire, though they knew Nero as a persecutor. Suggested in Nero: Reality and Legend (125), for a people who often defended their faith against such extreme examples and would often celebrate the martyrdom of men who died under these conditions, there is a curious lack of Christian documents referring to this. Most scholars, still, do not doubt that Tacitus' account is accurate. The church has now widely accepted the event, and in fact adjusted the biblical chronology of some martyr's deaths to coincide with new evidence it presented.

However, that the Christians started the Great Fire is not either without motive. An Egyptian prophecy had it that on the day of Sirius, the dog star, an evil city would burn and fall. Christians, tired of the oppression of Rome, from this were vengefully spreading word that a fire was going to consume it. "In all of these oracles, the destruction of Rome by fire is prophesied. That is the constant theme: Rome must burn. This was the long-desired objective of all the people who felt subjugated by Rome," a researcher Professor Gerhard Baudy explains (The Great Fire of Rome). Cirius rose the same day that the fire started: July 19th 64 AD.

New Evidence in the Physics of Fire

What had actually caused the fire is still debated. Many, especially at the time, believed it was arson, but new evidence suggest the very real possibility it was merely accidental. Tacitus observed that the fire spread against the wind, which was popularly considered evidence for arson up until this century. He also observed that it spread right through the less flammable temples and the concrete dwellings of the rich, which he felt was unnatural and probably evidence for arson as well. New studies show that as a large fire consumes the oxygen around it, it will spread outward to seek more oxygen, even against the wind. Experts also now know that even in a building made entirely out of inflammable materials, furnature may just as easily catch on fire if embers come through a window. This may lead to the entire building being consumed. Roman buildings were particularly open to this threat because their windows were not shielded and the buildings were well ventilated.

Nero Rebuilds Rome

In any case, Nero did fair justice rebuilding Rome. As Martial wrote, "What is worse than Nero? What is better than Nero's baths?" (Nero: Reality and Legend, 128) And as such he made many public buildings, and rebuilt all buildings under strict fire codes to make sure that Rome would never burn again. Most extravagant was his new palace, the Domus Aurea (or, Golden House), whose entrance was so large it fit a monumental statue of himself 120 feet high, and it was so long that it had a triple portico a mile long. Later, the statue, due largely to Nero's unpopularity, was dismembered by his successor, Vespasian, and its head was replaced by the sun god's head.

Conclusion

Identifying an arsonist from two thousand years ago is virtually impossible, and its cause will probably never be solved conclusively. Many now think that it was just an accident; fires in Rome were numerous, and they were always a threat at that time of year. This notion has especially become popular since it was proven that the Great Fire could have burned without aid, which was widely thought impossible in the ancient world. Still, the idea of a malicious ruler playing a fiddle as his city burns is one that will never completely go away.

Works Cited:

Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art Across Time I. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2002.

Conte, Ronald L. Jr. The Martyrdom of James the Less and Mark the Evangelist. 2003. 5 November 2005. <http://www.biblicalchronology.com/martyrs.htm>

ESC. "Fiddling While Rome Burns." Online posting. 13 Dec. 1999. Phrases, Sayings and Idioms at The Phrase Finder. 5 November 2005. <http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/1/messages/2950.html>

Tacitus, Publius Cornelius. Annals XV. Trans. Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. 1942. 5 November 2005. <http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/tacitus/TacitusAnnals15.html>

Uhl, John. The Great Fire of Rome. 2002. 5 November 2005. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/case_rome/index.html>

Warmington, H. B. Nero: Reality and Legend. Ed. M. I. Finley. New York: W W Norton & Company, Inc., 1969.

Post-script and comments on sources:

My original source was The Great Fire of Rome, which is a summation of a PBS special on pbs.org which has a lot of good information, though none of it was well elaborated on. My process in finding further sources was to take information from The Great Fire of Rome PBS source and try to find sources that would elaborate on it further. I found Nero: Reality and Legend, which turned out to be a very useful resource, and it had quoted much from Tacitus' Annals, which were themselves easy to find on the Internet. Tacitus' accounts were invariably my greatest resource, as I'm sure was the case for any number of these other resources.

What had originally inspired me to do this piece was its mention in my Art Across Time I book, which I also cite as it gave me some information on the building materials and particular building types of Rome. It also provided me with the eventual fate of Nero's statue in his Domus Aurea.

The Martyrdom of James the Less and Mark the Evangelist and Fiddling While Rome Burns were two minor resources that I picked out for small notes, neither of which may be desired for scholarly citation provided within the article itself, depending on protocol. The former was used to decern the church's recent attitude of the Christian prosecution, and the latter for information on the 'Nero fiddling while rome burns' idiom. I could unfortunately not find a more scholarly source for this than a discussion group, of which I found many, but I chose to add this particular one to the works cited because it actually references printed material, a book called Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, by Gregory Y. Titelman, which I could not locate myself. There was one more site that also elaborated slightly on the cramped living conditions mentioned in the first paragraph, however I have lost the url at this time.

I had tried to order the paragraphs by subject. First the event, second Nero's response to it, and third the resulting accusations and consiquences. The third to the last paragraph was hardest to place, though I eventually opted to put it close to the end.

The section Nero Rebuilds Rome section needs to be much more expansive and I encourage researchers to help with that, especially if it does not have its own wikipedia article altogether.

--SA (User:216.171.188.121)

The material above is sourced and a clear improvement on the present text. I shall add it to the article without deleting anything that's there now. --Wetman 06:12, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

In his badly edited book,"James, the Brother of Jesus", scholar Robert Eisenman seems to claim that the Romans made no distinction between "Christians" and "Jews" at this date, and could not; and that James' (to us, Christian) Church was really the mainstream (popular, not Roman puppet) Judaism involved in the rebellion, led by James. This would make the fire more to do with Jewish unrest, which is undoubted, than Pauline doctrine. He may be wrong about much, but he does create real doubt that there was such a general distinction between Jews and Christians at the time. Such an act of terror would be very consistent with what we know, but nothing to do with what we now call Christianity (although according to him Christianity retroactively claimed the martyrs for its fold.) --RJ and HS

Subjective statement without citation moved to talk page[edit]

"it is also unlikely that Christians in Rome would be concerned with fulfilling a prophecy of such pagan Egyptian origin." The Christians did not want to show a bad example, therefore it is not likley they started the fire.




MarkBuckles 05:24, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Revelations[edit]

I have not gone through and read all the info on this talk page, although I see it does mention revelations. For the time being, the last sentence of this paragraph is quite confusing.

"A minority view that has not established itself among Classical scholars was promoted by Gerhard Baudy. In his Die Brände Roms: Ein apokalyptisches Motiv in der antiken Historiographie, he suggested that Christians set the fire in order to fulfill an Egyptian prophecy. This prophecy stated that the day Sirius (the dog star) first rises would mark the fall of the great evil city. By setting fire to Rome on this day, the Christians would have suggested that Rome was both evil, and falling (in addition to the obvious physical damage caused by the fire). Most scholars, however, date the Book of Revelation to the reign of Domitian, not Nero." The christians are not the victims of this fire.

We were talking about an Egyptian Prophecy and then suddenly we're talking about dating the Book of Revelations. This will probably be fixed with the rewrite but if you want to clean it up a tad for now since the article is linked from wikipedia's main page, that would be helpful. Thank you. MarkBuckles 05:28, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Map[edit]

A map showing which areas of Rome are believed to have been destroyed during the fire would be a great addition to the article. - Gobeirne 18:55, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Heartfelt excursus on Revelations[edit]

Whose interpretation is this? --Wetman 22:37, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

OR and fact tag[edit]

Just to clarify why I added these tags: Tacitus does not anywhere in his account state that the Christians caused the fire ... only that Nero shifted the blame to them. The phrase about some Christian confessions is ambiguous: pleaded guilty of arson or of being Christian? Now that doesn't mean that noone thinks the Christians guilty BUT we need a proper scholarly book (i.e. a secondary source) to support this claim. Str1977 (smile back) 18:26, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

The article says that "At least five separate stories circulated regarding Nero and fire." That it, we have, at least, five different accounts. Tacitus may not blame the Christians, but it is quite clear that a story was circulating that they did. The claim was cited to Tacitus properly.Hoshidoshi 20:50, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
If you take it in such a general way I agree, though the crediting could be better. However, the "who confessed" bit must go, as it is not clear what they confessed of and including it misquotes Tacitus who does not say that Christians caused the fire and confessed to it. Rather that they were accused of causing the fire (therefore someone else must have made such claims). In any case, splitting up into different sections is both overkill (a section of one line?) and dissociates the claim from the source. I will try to fix this. Str1977 (smile back) 08:59, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

This is an interesting, well-written article, but the entire New evidence... section is out of place. In such a well-sourced article, the lack of sources for this bit stands out a mile, and it reads like original research. If it can't be sourced, it probably ought to go. EyeSereneTALK 18:09, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. Using a scientific extrapolation of a secondary source's account is pretty much OR. Its been a year a no citation has been provided.Hoshidoshi (talk) 22:12, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Who is a chode?? Nero was insane and the christians didn;'t start the fire.!!!!!!!!!!

Rome was his chicken?[edit]

I heard/read somewhere that Nero had a pet chicken called 'Rome', and when they came to him and told him "Rome is on fire!" he was very upset for a bit, until he found out they actually meant the city... Any truth in this? Guessing not? But, where does this come from? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 79.73.65.85 (talk) 00:03, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

This story appears to be about the emperor Honorius.  :)
-- Joren (talk) 06:13, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Christian blamed[edit]

Nero was a confused and insane man who hated christians. now nero wanted to rebuild rome but he had to destroy old Rome first. He secretly set out men to burn Rome. When the people found out that Nero had started the fire they started a riot he thought Quick. he decided he would blame the christian. he said that they were trying to over throw Rome. They were punished for this terrible crime by burrning, being thrown into the coloseum with wild animals, and they were some times thrown into the ring with trained gladiators. Not only men were killed but women, children, and even babies. Later the romans felt sympothy for the christians and the persucution stoped. today christians are still blamed by romans for the fire of rome. But none are percecuted like they were during neros reign. So please consider that the christians were treated unjustly for hundres of years. they are not to blame.--99.6.147.213 (talk) 21:20, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

What does this have to do with the article? The article makes mention of more than one account of what happened based on several writings of the time. Some of them blame Nero directly, others say that Nero actually helped the people of Rome in their time of need. Claiming that Nero himself was some kind of insane person for hating Christians is ridiculous. Keep in mind that Christianity wasn't fully adopted by the Roman Empire until around 310CE which was several hundred years after Nero. Before Nero, many cults and pagan worshipers were killed for their "abominations", and to the Romans, Christans were just another group of pagans. Hundreds of years before Nero and hundreds of years after Nero, pagans and Christans alike were slain for who they were. The fact that Nero blamed their group is not all that surprising. --Poet  Talk  02:25, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
The whole thing sounds dubious to me anyway. It was only 30 years after the death of Jesus, and honestly was there enough time for 1) the schism between the Jews and Christians to become developed enough for Pagans to differentiate them, and 2) for even a miniscule Christian community to develop in Rome in order to be blamed. I seriously doubt it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 101.113.244.98 (talk) 15:41, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Christians and Christianity Didn't Exist as such at the Time of the Fire of Rome, in 64 AD[edit]

Paul never used the name "Christians" in all his epistles even once. The Acts of the Apostles, written way later, anytime during the 80-130 AD period, mentions the name "Christians" only twice. The last page of the Acts (28:17-31) has Paul living in his house in Rome, having assembled the leading Jews of the city and simply announcing that "Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” (28:28). While in Rome, Paul "proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ". No mention of "Christians" or "Christianity". Even more bizarre, no mention of the fire of Rome, and no mention of any resulting persecution.

Same thing with Josephus, living in Rome after 70 AD, and writing his "Jewish War" (75 AD) and "Antiquities of the Jews" (94 AD): he never mentioned the fire or persecutions resulting from it.

Back in 64 AD, Christianity didn't exist then. The term didn't even exist. The followers of Christ were not distinct from the Jews. They were not singled out as a separate cult. They only followed and worshipped the Jew Jesus Christ and believed that he was bringing salvation and redemption. The name "Christian" was not yet used nor known. It spread only once the Acts started circulating around the turn of the century. Pliny writing his famous letter to Trajan (X, 96) around 110-112 AD used the name of "Christians", but was not sure what it amounted to.

It is utterly unlikely that Christians were known at the time of the Great fire, in 64 AD, as a separate cult from the Jews. They were considered a sect with a new message, as evidenced by Paul, by the Jews themselves. But outsiders, Gentiles, made no distinction, and had no special name for them.

By the time of Tacitus's writing, around 117 AD, the name of "Christians" was being circulated and used, and this is why Tacitus is using it, as Pliny did, and retrojecting the name into the period of Nero. But in 64 AD, we have no contemporary sources showing that "Christians" were known as such, and that "Christianity" existed as such.

The story (myth?) of Nero's blaming the Christians for the fire was given world-wide circulation by the novel "Quo Vadis?" (1895) written by Catholic Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, and further reinforced by the five movies made on the "Quo Vadis" fiction. The book and the movies also propagated the legend of Romans throwing Christians to the lions. Ordinary uneducated people have just swallowed the fiction, and remain thoroughly uninformed about the historical issues.

Even the three sources we do have, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, do not tell us exactly the same story. And none had "Christians thrown to the lions". In addition, Sulpitius Severus (363-425 AD), rewriting the story around 403 AD (Chronica, II, 29) gives another slight variation. Only historians care to go back and look up the three basic texts. Everybody else goes with the exciting imagery of "Quo Vadis?", especially the 1951 super-production of Hollywood by Mervyn LeRoy (with Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov), not to be missed, even if it shamelessly garbles history. --ROO BOOKAROO (talk) 20:17, 13 June 2012 (UTC)


You are quite right in that Tacitus used a term to describe the "sect" that was current in his time. But I've read the tale of Nero's persecution in Gibbon, who as well as quoting Tacitus mentions it being listed as the first persecution by Church histories. He was writing more than a century before Quo Vadis. So this comment is exaggerated even if it is the book, and particularly the film that made it such a part of popular consciousness. I would also point out that Tacitus was writing much closer to the time of the events than Suetonius and particularly Cassius Dio, and he is normally considered to be the most reliable of the historians of the First Century. As for Josephus, he was writing a history of the Great Revolt and another one detailing the early history of his people. He did not even mention the Fire, even though we know it happened and it was a true calamity and the enormous cost of Nero's rebuilding schemes led to massive hikes in taxation. So why would we expect a massive work detailing the travails of Christians? He was not writing about contemporary Roman events, but his own part of the world. Someone writing a history of India in the mid-20th century would perhaps make passing reference to the War, but would be more concerned with Ghandi, Neru, the various Vice Roy's, and would likely not mention the Final Solution, as it did not impact on developments in India at the time. It does not, however, mean it did not happen, but it is not the subject of the work. It seems unlikely Tacitus would want to make up the story to make Nero look bad. More likely the other historians did not think a few dead Christians worthy of comment, since they were being executed for sedition in their times as well.

Rome was the crossroads of the world, and St Paul certainly wrote letters to his various outposts there. The would have made a scapegoat not so much because of there numbers, which would have been very small, but what was believed of them. Plus the Pauline mission of deliberately trying to convert non-Jews made them guilty of trying to break Romans from their traditions, which was the worst of offences to a Roman. Even rumours of such a sect would have been deeply offensive to the Romans, and a plausible suspect for trying to destroy Rome itself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.7.110.142 (talk) 10:54, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

"confessed to being Christians"[edit]

There's a line in the article to the effect that it's unclear whether Christians being tortured confessed to setting the fire or confessed to being Christian -- it appears to be related to a discussion above on this page from a couple of years ago. However, this doesn't really make sense, because as far as I know Christianity wasn't illegal until after the Great Fire -- it was the rumor/excuse that caused Nero to make Christianity illegal in the first place. --Jfruh (talk) 01:17, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

Christianity didn't exist then. The term didn't even exist.. The followers of Christ were not distinct from the Jews. They were not singled out as a separate cult. There was no edict of Nero making any sect of Jews "illegal". The previous poster is inventing freely. ROO BOOKAROO (talk) 19:33, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

something weird and NPOV is going on in this article i think[edit]

Hi everyone, I'm no roman scholar or anything, but the wording of the section "Modern scholarship" caught my eye:

"Modern scholars, whose neutrality is suspect, tend to agree with Tacitus ..."

Um, if their neutrality is suspect, then why are they cited here? Why is their neutrality suspect? What angle did this editor have in phrasing it this way? It just seems weird and not very wikipedia-like. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.92.189.206 (talk) 03:36, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Yep, caught my eye also. Remove? Adondai (talk) 05:28, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

The Modern scholarship section is a joke[edit]

Every one of the arguments are very flimsy or outright fallacious. There has got to be an opposing viewpoint. On top of that, the heading does not match the content.63.225.249.166 (talk) 17:08, 5 July 2014 (UTC)