The Great Fire of Rome

The Great Fire of Rome : The Fall of the Emperor Nero and His City

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Acclaimed author Stephen Dando-Collins sifts facts from myths of the great calamity that beset Rome in 64 AD, and uncovers the truth behind the legend that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. On the night of July 19, A.D. 64, a fire began beneath the stands of Rome's great stadium, the Circus Maximus. The fire would spread over the coming days to engulf much of the city of Rome. From this calamity, one of the ancient world's most devastating events, legends grew - that Nero had been responsible for the fire, and fiddled while Rome burned; and that Nero blamed the Christians of Rome, and burned them alive in punishment, making them the first recorded martyrs to the Christian faith at Rome. "The Great Fire of Rome" opens at the beginning of A.D. 64 and follows the events in Rome and nearby as they unfold in the seven months leading up to the great fire. As the year progresses we learn that the infamous young emperor Nero, who was twenty-six at the time of the fire, is celebrating a decade in power. Yet the palace is far from complacent, and the streets of Rome are simmering with talk of revolt. Dando-Collins introduces the fascinating cavalcade of historical characters who were in Rome during the first seven months of A.D. 64, and played a part in the great drama. Apart from Nero himself, these will include the notorious freedman Vatinius the dwarf; Agricola the young quaestor, leaving his pregnant wife as he set off for overseas; Pliny the Elder, workaholic author; Vespasian, former general, just returned from Africa where he was pelted with turnips; Vespasian's respected brother Sabinus, the City Prefect; young poet Lucan, nephew of Seneca, working on the masterwork he will never finish; Acte, Nero's longtime mistress, and alleged Christian convert; Petronius, Nero's arbiter of good taste; and Tigellinus, ambitious Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, who will be one of those suspected of being behind the fire. It's a pot-boiler of political intrigue and social drama. Using ancient sources, as well as modern archaeology, Dando-Collins describes the fire itself, and its the aftermath, as Nero personally directed relief efforts and reconstruction. "The Great Fire of Rome" is an unforgettable human drama which brings ancient Rome and the momentous events of 64 AD to scorching more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 162.56 x 228.6 x 27.94mm | 612.35g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • Da Capo Press Inc
  • Cambridge, MA, United States
  • English
  • 8 pages b/w photos
  • 0306818906
  • 9780306818905
  • 496,902

About Stephen Dando-Collins

Stephen Dando-Collins is an Australian-born historian, editor, and author. He has written a number of highly acclaimed nonfiction books, including Caesar's Legion, Tycoon's War, and Standing Bear Is a Person. He lives in more

Review quote

"Publishers Weekly," 7/26/10"Dando-Collins vividly recreates one of history's most famous events...Dando-Collins energetically recreates the days leading up to the fire, the conflagration itself, and the subsequent decline of Nero's fortunes."WTVF (CBS, Nashville), 9/7/10 "Did Nero really set fire to Rome in 64AD? More than just a convenient slam against a failed emperor, this book solves the historical puzzle and is interesting reading.""Internet Review of Books, "September 2010"Dando-Collins manages the narrative skillfully, burying his transitions so that the story flows as easily and inevitably as the Tiber. The cruelty and violence are appalling but fascinating, and they help keep the pages turning...He writes with admirable enthusiasm and a good grasp of the things that interest him most, military affairs, plots, and power plays...Enjoy it!" "Washington"" Times"," "9/17"Dando-Collins takes readers inside ancient Rome and its political intrigues that unfold alongside a momentous human drama." "Asbury Park"" Press"," "9/19"This book explores that fateful (for Rome, at least) night of July 19 in the year 64, when a blaze began beneath the Circus Maximus--ancient Rome's version of Madison Square Garden."," "9/22"Nero and the "Great Fire of Rome" is a tale that begs to be told; it is a heck of a good story...It is entertaining. It moves quickly and delivers its main points well." "The Lone Star," September 2010"[A] totally interesting book...You will learn the many secrets and the scandals that surround this most mysterious of historical event.", 9/30/10"Very well-written and very well-paced...What Dando-Collins does so well, in addition to re-creating the sense of Rome 2,000 years ago, is explain both the confluence of events leading to the fire and the later circumstances that led to the besmirching of Nero's name...A clearheaded, intelligent look at what sort of man the last Caesar seems really to have been, and how the devastating fire for which he was wrongly blamed led to the ruin of his rule and reputation.", October 2010"Heavily researched" "Library Journal," 10/08/10"Surprisingly little nonfiction exists for a general audience about the Great Fire of Rome...Dando-Collins fills this gap with an exciting, novelistic account of the fire that remains solidly grounded in the primary source literature...This book will appeal to general Roman history buffs and students with its fast pacing and dramatic content. Recommended." "Italian America," Fall 2010"Expos[es] the secrets and scandals surrounding this infamous historical event and separat[es] truth from legend."" Kingman Daily Miner," 10/8/10"A page-turner and an insightful eye-opener to ancient Roman history...Brilliantly written and highly recommended." "San Francisco Book Review" website, 11/4/10"Dando-Collins presents another side to the story...[His] hypotheses are well-researched...The language is refreshing, simple, and not overly academic...The book retains intrigue as Dando-Collins moves from the underlying turmoil that led up to the fire to the slow dethroning of Nero. Overall, it is an easy, entertaining read." "Midwest"" Book Review, "November 2010"A fine addition to any history collection focusing on the time of antiquity." "Military Heritage, "January 2011"Dando-Collins gives us an entirely different view of the events that led to the cataclysmic inferno that engulfed Rome on the evening of July 19, AD 64...[His] account of Nero's brief life, the conspiracy that was concocted against him, and the great fire that consumed 70 percent of the Eternal City is intriguing." "Asbury Park"" Press," 1/16/11"Dando-Collins' chronicle of Nero's career is presented in the context of the dynamics of the empire as well as the lives of ordinary people in Rome in the first century. For most readers, it will shed new and interesting light on the man and the era." "Reference & Research Book News," February 2011"An excellent corrective to myth and a good introduction to first-century Roman history." Collected Miscellany, 4/25/11"Dando-Collins does a superb job of describing the various plots to overthrow Nero and how he reacted to each threat...A fascinating look at ancient Rome and the power politics of the last days of the Caesar dynasty. Dando-Collins captures the scheming and back-stabbing among the power elite...A must-read for anyone interested in the politics of Rome.", 6/14/11"A rather good story, well told...An interesting read and the style will appeal to many readers who may be reluctant to persevere with more 'academic' treatises."Curled Up with a Good Book, 7/4/11 "A vivid portrait of ancient Rome that is sure to fascinate readers and anyone with an interest in history...Roman civilization comes to life throughout...Skilled writing...Well-researched."show more