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Did Nero fiddle while Rome burned?

While Miriam investigated the desecration of the Torah mantle in The Deadliest Fever, Nero, in his desire for recognition as a musician, instituted a musical competition in Rome and appeared as the chief contestant. Believe it or not, that action shocked his colleagues more than the brutal murder of his own mother, Agrippina the Younger. (See my blog of October 3, 2017.)

Most scholars believe that despite his reign (54-68 CE) going well before his mother’s murder, after 59 CE, his conduct became egregious, and his standing declined accordingly. So much so that anyone connected to him was regarded with dread. For example, in The Deadliest Fever, when Miriam suggests that her friend, the pot-bellied dwarf Nathaniel ben Reuben, take Fabia to lunch, his body stiffens:

“What business could I possibly have with that harlot? Besides, she is so well connected to Nero’s magistrates—don’t ask me how—that I dare not have anything to do with her.”

Regardless, Nero is best known for fiddling while Rome burned. Is this popular myth true? Some scholars say no, that violin-like instruments did not exist until the 11th century. But others, relying on a different meaning of fiddling, disagree: If we mean accomplishing nothing in an aimless pursuit, then Nero fiddled during the fire.

You, of course, don’t have to fiddle around looking for your next book. Go to my website, click on BOOKS IN THE MYSTERY SERIES, and watch the book trailer for each Miriam bat Isaac novel. Then decide.

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