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Nero, the populist who (not) burned Rome

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Forget the braggart Donald Trump, however, already forgotten by the radar of the mediars; the disheveled and bungler Boris Johnson, or the comic-politician Beppe Grillo. They are all epigones: the first true populist in history was Nero. Hated by the elites, who did everything to denigrate him and consign him to history as a devil, but praised by the plebs, the boy emperor, who ascended the throne at the age of 17, is the embodiment of the motto “Bread and circuses”, The great historical truth to rule over masses of the ignorant. Two thousand years later, the most controversial emperor in the history of Roma lands in London.

The Lord of Evil

Embodiment of absolute evil, Nero was delivered to posterity as an evil person, persecutor of Christians, hysterical and harmful emperor. But none of this is true, or is only partially true or has been exaggerated. But as the historian already knew Tito Livio, of the generation preceding Nero, history is always written by the winners. And in ancient Rome the winner for centuries was SPQR, the Senate. And since the senators had never liked the birth of the empire, which took away their power, they coexisted, enduring them, with those emperors who flattered them, Augusto. While they conspired, they despised and denigrated everyone else. Using modern language it could be said that Nero is the victim of an ancient hate campaign; a target of the elite, a politician crushed by the propaganda machine.

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Nero “sets fire to” London

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Nero burns Rome, but London reopens

After nearly six months of endless closure, museums reopen in London from mid-May. It is an exceptional event and the British Museum, the country’s most important cultural institution has decided to welcome visitors back with a tribute to Nero. Yet another demonstration of the great fascination that the British have for classical culture and for Italy. No people love Roman history like the British, not even the Italians themselves. “We are happy to reopen the doors of the museum with the Roman emperor Nero” began the director-dean Neil MacGregor, for twenty years now at the helm of the British Museum. “Nero the man behind the myth”(Nero, the man behind the myth), who debuts on May 27 and closes the October 24, is an excellent and original historical reconstruction that combines British rigor with the great Italian heritage.

From Britain to Hollywood

We are around 50 after Christ, which in reality for ancient Rome is almost the year 800 from its foundation. The empire, created a few decades earlier by Augustus, is at its maximum power: the emperor Claudio he indicated the young man as his heir Lucio Domizio Enobarbus, for all Nero. He is a gifted boy, he has the best educator of the time, Seneca (the greatest philosopher in all the history of Rome), but it is too difficult a task for a teenager to manage: the new emperor, 17 years old and very dominated by his ambitious mother, finds himself at the head of an empire, fresh from the recent annexation of the province Britannia on the part of the putative father, already shaken by strong tensions, so much so that they then resulted in revolts, such as that of Regina Budicca which he plundered Londinium, and those of Set off (Persians), Asia.

On the inside, the plebs of Rome are a mass of idlers who create problems of public order. Outside, the tribes of barbarians are starting to worry. Under Nero appear the first signs of decline, military, moral and social, which will lead, centuries later, to the implosion of the empire. Nero was the last descendant of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the one that created the empire and with the incendiary madman ends, even if the Roman empire will last for another four hundred years, after Nero there have been no more emperors in the dynastic line, heirs to the throne handed down by a people, since the successive emperors were mostly only military men who seized power, except for the yellow or the Antonini. L’Roman Empire, in its own way, ends with Nero. It is a fascinating thesis that emerges from the exhibition: the exhibition choice is fresh and quick with a concept structure. There controversial figure of Nero is told through 200 pieces, many of them unpublished because they come from recent excavations and just as many exhibited for the first time in the United Kingdom, thanks to the support of the sponsor Bp, the English oil company, and many Italian museums (theNational Archaeological of Naples and Venice).

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