It was a steamy summer night in the city of Rome. The wind picked up, bringing some relief, but before the night was over a large portion of the city was engulfed in flames. It started in the poorest part of town, where the merchants set up their wares each day. It didn’t take long for the fire to spread through the wooden marketplace. With encouragement from the wind, it spread quickly and destroyed almost 70% of Rome.
Rumors spread that the emperor, Nero, was responsible for the disaster. Did he actually give the order or start the fire himself? Was it true that he sat on the balcony of his palace, fiddling away as the city was consumed? It was reported that Nero hated the ugliness which had infected the majesty of his town and dreamed of creating a more beautiful Rome – with his name attached to it.
Nero needed someone to blame and the perfect scapegoat would be the Christians. Their beliefs were infiltrating Rome like the wildfire that spread that night. In order to satisfy the rumors about him, the Christians were taken to the amphitheater and fed to the lions.
There was no truth to the fact that Nero fiddled while his city burned. In fact, he sent his troops to assist in dousing the flames. He also invited the victims to take refuge in his palace. He was not playing a fiddle as is often depicted – he was known for his talent on the lyre – the fiddle had not even yet been invented. There was truth in the fact that Christians would now become the object of even greater persecution.
So the media doesn’t always get it right. Some things never change!