Emperor Nero: Monster or Myth?

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 30 Jun 2021

Even if you know very little of ancient Rome, Nero is probably one of the Emperors that you have heard something about.  Described as a tyrannical monster by the historians who came after him, he stands accused of horrific murders, incest, setting fire to Rome to make space for his lavish new palace and living a life of debauchery and excess.  When Claudius died in AD 54, Nero became Emperor at just 16 but, by the age of 30, he was so unpopular in Rome that he fled the city and took his own life, leaving behind a state of civil war.

This year, London's British Museum is staging an exhibition entitled Nero - The Man behind the Myth. It argues that Nero's reputation may have been blackened and misrepresented by writers such as Suetonius and that he was, in fact, a more enlightened ruler than historians have led us to believe. Bringing together more than 200 stunning exhibits, including sculptures and architectural fragments, coins and jewels, frescoes and writing tablets, the show attempts to demonstrate that there may have been another side to the gruesome stories of this most infamous of Rome's rulers.  Visitors are invited to decide for themselves...

The exhibition runs until 24th October and you can find out more on the British Museum website.  If you would like to know more there is an interesting free podcast with Dan Snow on the subject of Nero as he talks to Roman historian Shusma Malik.