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10 Historical Misconceptions


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Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned

When asked who fiddled while Rome burned, the answer "Nero" will get you a zero. Legend has it that in A.D. 64, mad Emperor Nero started a fire near the imperial palace and then climbed to the top of the Tower of Maecenas where he played his fiddle, sang arias, and watched Rome flame out. But according to Tacitus, a historian of the time, Nero was 30 miles away, at his villa in Antium, when the fire broke out.

Nero wasn't exactly a nice guy -- he took his own mother as his mistress, then had her put to death. Despite this, historians believe that the fire was set by Nero's political enemies, who were right in thinking that it would be blamed on him. Actually, Nero was a hero, attempting to extinguish the blaze, finding food and shelter for the homeless, and overseeing the design of the new city.


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