You’ve at least heard the saying. Maybe you’ve even said it yourself at some point when someone was fooling around in the face of an impending crisis.
“Nero fiddled while Rome burned.”
But did he?
No, not even a chance.
In the first place, fiddles as we know them weren’t even invented until the Renaissance, though other bowed and stringed instruments are mentioned at least as early as the ninth century. Instrumental technicalities aside, the accusation wasn’t that Nero played a hoe-down and “biled them cabbage down” while Rome went up in flames; it was that he donned a stage costume and sang “The Sack of Ilium” accompanied by his lyre while ten of Rome’s fourteen districts burned. But that claim was false as well. Nero was thirty-five miles away in Antium when the fire began; the most likely cause of the fire was an accident in an oil warehouse.
Watch the last twenty minutes of this video—start watching around nine minutes and eight seconds—to find out why the fire mattered and how it affected Christians in the city of Rome.
30 Days through Church History: Day 3
Congratulations! You’re already one-tenth of the way to the end!