Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Today In History: Burn, baby, burn.

On this day in 64 AD a fire started in the market areas of the seedy Aventine district in Rome, down near the Circus Maximus. It spread rapidly (some said unnaturally rapidly) to the northeast, leveling bucks-up townhomes and posh villas on all the best land right through the middle of the city's old-money Palatine and trendy Esquiline districts.

Emperor Nero immediately invented urban renewal, and advanced the sciences of eminent domain abuse and arson-for-profit by giant leaps, when he scarfed up all the primo land at fire sale prices and used the acreage to build a palace fitting for his imperial self. (Which is to say that it looked about three fifths Versailles, one fifth rap star, and one fifth just plain bizarre.) Then he blamed some whacky fringe cult and set some of them on fire, too.


Chas S. Clifton said...

Someone on PBS' Secrets of the Dead program went to so as to suggest that the Christians might well have started the fires.

They wanted to hasten the apocalypse or something...

Billy Beck said...

"Be it ever so crumbly
There's no place like Rome
Old Nero was the emperor
And the palace was his home

But he loved to play with matches
And for a fire yearned
So he burned Rome to ashes
And he fiddled while it burned"

(Bugs Bunny -- to the tune of "Home, Sweet Home")

Anonymous said...

And on the opposite side of the timeline circia 1969 water seems to have been involved in preventing the presidential aspirations of Edward Moore Kennedy.