Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nero


‘…In the year of the Christian era 78, during the reign of the tyrant Nero, an opportunity occurred, when the Gauls, by the rise of an enterprising leader, were very near accomplishing their often meditated project of successful insurrection. The leader, according to Dion Cassius, named Caius Julius Vindex, was the son of a Romanized Gaul, whose father had become a Roman senator. He was descended from the line of one of the ancient kings of Aquitaine, endowed with great strength of body, and wisdom ; above all, an accomplished soldier.
Availing himself of the cruel exactions with which the tyrant then oppressed Gaul, Vindex, who was governor of Celtic Gaul, ascended the tribunal, and in an animated oration denounced the vices of Nero, his cruelties, his infamies, the death of his mother by his orders, and the crimes which to this day cling to his memory, as one of the most depraved monsters that ever existed. He called upon his hearers, not to rise in insurrection against the Roman empire, but to combine for the more limited purpose of removing Nero from the government. The people, being already greatly exasperated, took arms at this exhortation, and Vindex was soon at the head of a hundred thousand men. It is said that Nero was rather pleased than alarmed by this formidable insurrection, conceiving it would afford his treasury great wealth from the forfeited estates of the insurgents. He placed a reward of two hundred and fifty myriads of drachms upon the head of Viridex. When this was told to the daring leader, he replied, " To whomsoever will deliver to me the head of Nero, I will be contented to resign my own life in return, for having destroyed so great an enemy of the human race." But of all Vindex's reproaches, Nero was most moved by that in which the Gallic insurgent called him a wretched fiddler. Leaving the topic of his mother's death, and similar horrors, he complained bitterly to the Roman people of the aspersions thrown out against his taste and power as a musical performer; and, that the Romans might judge how little they were deserved, he introduced a voluntary or two into the oration which he delivered on that occasion…’

The history above is provided courtesy of Sir Walter Scott in the fourth series of his “Tales of a Grandfather”.  On this date, October 13th, in the year 54 A.D., Nero took the throne as emperor of Rome.

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