Nero played the fiddle while Roman intellectuals burned…

Discussion in 'SHH Community Forum' started by Man-Thing, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. Man-Thing

    Man-Thing Registered

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    “Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned”

    I suppose there is no other greater display of the dark side of man than those words depicted in this phrase. Think of it, the Emperor of the most powerful empire ever to exist upon the Earth, watched carelessly as his empire crumbled to the ground. To make matters worse, he decides this would be a good time to hone his music skills (or perhaps to delight in the image of the carnage with some soothing notes of the violin?). I think it is safe to assume that most people are like me. When they picture this event in mind, they more than likely see Nero frolicking about in a graceful manner as he slides the bow across the strings. I picture his facial expressions with an arrogant smirk of evil delight.

    To my knowledge, this is just an allegory to depict the Roman Emperor Nero in the image he was best known for, and that being evil. I don’t think the facts are true, and I’m not even sure Nero was the emperor while Rome burned (upon further thought, I’m almost certain it was him, he later blamed the Christians, but not that it matters either way.) However it stacks up, this is one of the most classic phrases found in the English Language through literature. To me, and I would say many of my English speaking peers, it ranks right up there with the likes of “I think, therefore I am” or “Ask not what Your Country can do for you, but ask but ask ‘what can I do for My Country”. I think it is agreeable that the phrase “Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned” is in a way a beautiful thing. What other phrase can you think of that can describe the horrors of mankind more eloquently? I can’t think of any.

    With all this being said, I would like to draw attention to another aspect of this phrase. I’m not talking about the words or any meaning found in it, but the one who coined it. Let us suppose for an instant that the author did in fact witness the event he described. Let’s imagine for a moment that upon realizing that Rome was engulfed in flames he makes a dash to safety. During his flight from terror, he sees Nero’s balcony and witnesses the emperor playing his fiddle.

    Upon reflecting upon the phrase and the beauty of it, isn’t it logical that the author was awestruck by it? I mean it’s obvious he felt moved to coin it, or report it. Have you ever been in wonder of something that is startling? I have, and I can say that upon reflecting on it, it was as if nothing else in the world mattered. I’m sure anyone who is reading this can relate what ever the situation, whether it be a thing of beauty or horror.

    This is where I take issue with the author (remembering I’m still speaking hypothetically). It is the fact that he actually noticed Nero. I will guarantee that if I were in his shoes, I would not have noticed some evil dictator playing a fiddle. I would have automatically refused to allow my psyche to be awestruck. My main concern would have been my family’s safety and my safety. I would not stop to make a reflection.

    Today, I believe this is a problem still. There are too many people who pride themselves upon being intellectually superior to their fellow man. Upon their conquest to obtain a greater sophistication, reputation, understanding etc., they totally overlook the finer things, which are more important. If left unattended, the finer things will eventually blow up in your face and may be your own burnt empire.

    People are so quick to point out intellectual accomplishments by thinking men. They point to their legacies as if they are an immortal aspect of that person. In a way they are, but consider this. Do you think Hemmingway, would choose a more simply life upon hindsight? I think so, the same can be said of great intellectuals like Neitczhe who latter became insane.

    My whole point is this… If you can’t enjoy a movie because you feel the need to take a pen and paper with you into a theater to pen a review, something is wrong. If you can’t stop over analyzing even the simplest things, you have a problem and that problem is yourself. More specifically pride. In your quest for knowledge, you have let life pass you by. I’m not saying to dumb down, I’m saying to chill out. There’s not a race to gobble up the most knowledge. If you have a plan to fix even the smallest inconveniences of society, and get furious when they aren’t implemented you should really get a hobby that is less straining.

    Of course, I suppose I could be over analyzing the situation. :( :mad:

    With all that is said, have a Happy Holiday.
     
  2. JLBats

    JLBats The boney king of nowhere

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    A wise post, and one I find myself agreeing with more and more. Living is easy with eyes closed.
     
  3. Addendum

    Addendum Registered

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    Interesting post although there is one minor discrepancy- the fiddle didn't exist in 64 C.E. It first appeared in northern Italy in the early 16th century.

    From Dio Cassius' Roman History Epitome 62:18:1
     
  4. Mr Sparkle

    Mr Sparkle Registered

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    is the message of the main post "don't think so much"? or what? :confused:
     
  5. maxwell's demon

    maxwell's demon Registered

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    the only thing i'd take issue with is that, as i understood it, the fiddling was supposed to show not Nero's "evil-ness" but his madness.
    Wasn't he supposed to have advanced syphilis or something at the time?
     
  6. Mr Sparkle

    Mr Sparkle Registered

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    yes.

    Nero was insane, and he has always been a metaphor for Madness not insanity


    EDIT: I MEANT MADNESS.....NOT EVIL


    I was distracted.......by work, not porn, work!




    I work in porn.
     
  7. maxwell's demon

    maxwell's demon Registered

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    madness....not...insanity?


    .....................:::::::::::::::::>>>>>>>>((((((((((((((((((((((((
     
  8. jaguarr

    jaguarr Be Your Own Hero

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    Well....that's just....crazy! :eek:

    I've always thought of the fiddle allegory as being more of an illustration of Nero's slipping grip on sanity than of his evil stature. Other than that, a good read, Man-Thing. Did you write that? :up:

    jag
     
  9. bored

    bored One Sexy Lemur

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    it's an interesting concept, that the coiner may have actually seen nero 'playing the fiddle' (boy, does that sound wrong when phrased like that or what?) as rome burned. i don't know when it first appeared, so i couldn't say. i don't see it as likely, but it is certainly something to wonder about.
     
  10. JLBats

    JLBats The boney king of nowhere

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    As well, Nero wasn't actually in the city when it burned, so your comments about the man stopping to see Nero while letting his wife and kids rot is a bit inaccurate. The Nero line was likely thought up afterwards.
     
  11. Abaddon

    Abaddon Watching

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    I've always assumed the phrase was used to describe Nero's selfishness and apathy towards his nation.:confused:
     
  12. bored

    bored One Sexy Lemur

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    *reads over it again* i highly doubt that, for various reasons (including historical ones pointed out already) this person suddenly thought of the phrase upon seeing nero play the fiddle as rome burned, neglecting to get his family out of the city because he was so moved by the beauty of something that popped in his head, which, when you think about it, probably wouldn't actually come across as so brilliant to someone immediately after thinking of it. it would be more of an observation, which could take on more meaning later on, but would probably just piss them off at the time, and rightly so.
     
  13. Immortalfire

    Immortalfire The Iron Mod

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    He also never fiddled. Said instrument didn't exist at the time.
     
  14. Danalys

    Danalys Sol Invictus

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    i imagine the phrase would have come about as a summation of a story doing the rounds. simplifying things to the crux often impress it seems.

    i would disagree with the idea that things can be over analysed. there can however be bad reactions to the conclusions of the analysis.
     
  15. maxwell's demon

    maxwell's demon Registered

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    yeah, i was thinking that too. It made me think of this one part of the "homebody's" soliloquy from Homebody/Kabul. She's talking about how its only after that meaning gets bestowed, and then it makes us all go "oh...THAT's what that was all about"

    at the time the fictional witness was probably like this, a few minutes AFTER
    having just seen Nero: " waitaminnit. was that that **** Nero? playing FIDDLE?
    ...damn, where the hell is my family in this fire?"

    and then after his family was safe he was recounting it to them and some other
    surviving friends one night: "and then guess what? while i was searching for everyone
    i saw that ******....and he was playing his ****ing FIDDLE!" And everyone would reply: "what an ***holius!"

    And then three years later, when their homes had been rebuilt and their life was
    getting back to normal (elsewhere), the guy is sitting their one night with some
    other friends as he contemplates that day "...and i'll never forget seeing Nero.
    Rome was burning and nero FIDDLED. I'll never forget that sight.
    Nero fiddled as Rome burned" (enter light bulb, stage left) "...nero FIDDLED as rome burned...."


    That all said. I still think Man-Thing has a valid point, which as i see is this: Oftentimes these pieces of irony, these crafted moments that are created by slowly stripping away all other modes of human experience, do little to transmit or broadcast the larger tragedy of those days.
    (That is, unless one is sensitive enough to pick up the subtle, tragic 'index' contained within the grain of said irony).
     
  16. Man-Thing

    Man-Thing Registered

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    and another thing, why couldn't anyone talk about the actual thread's subject, and nitpick over discrepincies like "the fiddle wasn't invented yet".
    well duh...:rolleyes:

    sorry, I kinda like the subject of the thread and the initial post, so it kinda urked me to see it desolve into about when a fiddle was invented.

    glad I found it though.
     
  17. AlteredEgo

    AlteredEgo Hello...

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    Reminds me of that poem by Walt Whitman, When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer. there is another one similar, but i cant remember the title right now.
     
  18. Man-Thing

    Man-Thing Registered

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    Yeah, your probably right (if these events actually happened), but that's not my intended point. My point is that if in your quest to be literary/articulate/knowledgeable/scientific ect causes you to lose the things in which you hold dear, then nothing is gained to you personally. The only thing that can be gained would be a legacy, but if in your quest the things you lose the most valuable thing in your life (your family/friends) legacy doesn't mean anything.

    Isn't it ironic, under these circustances that most scientists/authors/statisticians ect. do what they do to benefit mankind, but often they lose the relationships of the mankind in which they should cherish moreso than any other?
     
  19. Addendum

    Addendum Registered

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    "Never follow somebody else's path; it doesn't work the same way twice for anyone...the path follows you and rolls up behind you as you walk, forcing the next person to find their own way." - J. Michael Straczynski
     
  20. Man-Thing

    Man-Thing Registered

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    and what are you implying by that? Are you saying that all advice/direction is bad?
     
  21. Danalys

    Danalys Sol Invictus

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    what kind of tune he's ment to play in the story would be important. more specifically the emotional significance of the tune. could he be mourning rome.
     
  22. Man-Thing

    Man-Thing Registered

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    based on the implications of it being used in literarture, it is intended to show his apathetic evil nature. The song is a moot point, but I think he played Iron Man by Black Sabbath.
     
  23. Danalys

    Danalys Sol Invictus

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    lol. literature is open to interpretation. i haven't read it in context to interprete it tho. i was just throwing ideas out.
     
  24. AlteredEgo

    AlteredEgo Hello...

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    ive always thought it was smoke on the water :o
     
  25. Danalys

    Danalys Sol Invictus

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    that could be badass on a fiddle or terrible. anyone play the violin and want to try it?

    anyway can some one give me a summery of the story. how does the fire start etc. excuse my ignorance.
     

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