Rome Day 2: A Nero Fixation
His mouth is small and mean. To me this is the face of a bully.
At first Nero was a popular emperor, ingratiating himself with public works, but then he concentrated on extending his own private empire, with villas filled with murals
and fine sculptures.
How long it took the world for the world to regain such expertise.
On the Palatine hill he also built palaces
and baths with fountains
and veined marble pillars
connected with a tunnel
(with its own plaster moulding)
and, a recent discovery, what may be the circular remains of a revolving dining room, the Coenatio Rotunda
All of this was made possible by a fire that had burnt for days
reducing the city to ruin.
Out of these ashes came the Domus Aurea, Nero's home, which sprawled from this Palatine hill to the nearby Oppian.
Some blamed Nero for the fire, so his successors, intent on removing all trace of him, used the foundations of his lake to build a bigger monster
and new shops sprang up along the road (easy to imagine these spaces displaying yesterday's Armani)
But memories are not so easily removed; the Colosseum evokes Colossus, Nero's 30 m bronze statue
and each setting sun evokes the memory of fire
- a more benign inferno for the modern Roman.