Nero: The Man Behind the Myth


This book rescues the man from the myth, to show that he was a man and not a monster.
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This book rescues the man from the myth, to show that he was a man and not a monster.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A biography that attempts to see and psychoanalyze the notorious emperor through forgiving eyes. British journalist Holland shows that while Nero (a.d. 37—68) didn't actually fiddle while Rome burned—in fact, he heroically organized the city to combat the fire—the anecdote still rings essentially true, as the young, artistically inclined emperor did refuse to stop playing a musical instrument in a crowded coliseum during an earthquake. Though this decadent ignorance of common sense led to Nero's murder, Holland argues that assassins were likely to strike the emperor regardless of his behavior, given the power politics of the day. To assume the throne in a.d. 54, Nero used the same tactics as Claudius before him: when his predecessor was assassinated, he obtained the support of the army and executed everyone else who had claim, hereditary or otherwise, to his position. From then on it was only a matter of time before he made enough enemies to be killed himself. Holland devotes a chapter to each major issue of Nero's reign: his domineering mother, the near-disaster of rebellion in Britain, the Great Fire, and his persecution of Christians, whom he used as scapegoats to draw attention from his music and versifying, occupations considered beneath the emperor's station. Throughout, the biographer uses an anachronistically modern lens:"Social life in first-century Rome was, indeed, very different from that of our own in the twenty-first century, but not so different as several generations of Hollywood directors have tended to make out." This perspective raises eyebrows, as when Holland asserts that Nero was a masochist. Perhaps hewas,but21st-century armchair psychology is a shaky tool to employ in analyzing a society that considered its leaders to be gods. Holland also intersperses the text with unconvincing analogies between Nero and Jesus. Scholars will find fault, but general readers seeking the blood and gore of ancient times should be pleased.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780750928762
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/15/2003
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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