From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Popular legend remembers Nero as a decadent libertine and a tyrant; he is known as the emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned", an early persecutor of Christians and builder of the Domus Aurea. These accounts follow the histories of Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio along with a number of early Christian writers. However, some ancient sources also indicate that Nero was quite popular with the common people during and after his reign. It may be impossible to completely separate fact from fiction concerning Nero's reign.
Nero in post-ancient culture
Nero in medieval and Renaissance literature
Usually as a stock exemplar of vice or a bad ruler
- In the Golden Legend, and its apocryphal account of his forcing Seneca the Younger's suicide, where they meet face to face on this occasion.
- In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Monk's Prologue and Tale.
- Giovanni Boccaccio's Concerning the Falls of Illustrious Men.
- Matthew Gwinn wrote a play Nero in 1603.
Nero in modern culture
Nero in music
Nero is the main character of some musical works, as the operas:
- Claudio Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642),
- Anton Rubinstein's Nero (1879),
- Arrigo Boito's Nerone (1924),
- Pietro Mascagni's Nerone (1935).