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The Telegraph

How Roman ‘cancel culture’ meant Nero’s reputation was fiddled after his death

Nero’s infamous status is to be rehabilitated by the British Museum as curators reveal how the emperor was traduced by “cancel culture” within the Roman Empire. Known for being the emperor who fiddled whereas Rome burned, Nero’s brutal reign between 54 and 68 AD included persecuting Christians and matricide, the killing of his mom. His statues have been rapidly destroyed within the aftermath of his overthrow and subsequent suicide on the age of 30, and up to date portrayals paint him as a corrupt and incestuous assassin. But British Museum curators say Nero was as an alternative one of many first victims of “cancel culture”, with causes behind his downfall largely out of his management. Monuments toppled following his management have been described because the 1st-century equal of “statue wars”. A brand new exhibition on the museum will search to restore the status of Rome’s fifth emperor by presenting him as a populist adored by the widespread folks however disparaged by the patrician propaganda of a “tiny elite”. Roman statue wars Dr Thorsten Opper, Ancient Rome curator on the British Museum, informed The Telegraph: “It’s weird how topical it has suddenly become in the last few years. Cancel culture and statue wars, that all resonates so much. “Statue wars is perhaps most appropriate, what we saw with Colston’s statue in Bristol and various monuments in the US. “As soon as Nero was dead there were jubilant people in the street toppling his statues, destroying them, chiseling out his name from official records. “Even if you look at the sources, they are so shockingly partisan and biased. It’s as if someone tried to write a biography of Joe Biden based on Donald Trump’s tweets.” After Nero’s demise, writers like Tacitus and Suetonius unfold the parable that Nero began the Great Fire of Rome and performed the lyre whereas the town burned, all so as to construct an even bigger palace, then blamed the blaze on the Christians. It was additionally written that the ruler who got here to energy on the age of 16 kicked his second spouse to demise whereas she was pregnant, raped the scared Vestal Virgins, and dedicated incest. But more moderen analysis exhibits Nero was standard with the plebeians however vilified by later dynasties securing their place, and writers entertaining a Roman elite scandalised by Nero’s standard attraction. Dr Opper stated: “The writers have a tiny readership. It’s a tiny elite, it’s less than the ‘one per cent’.” History written by misogynists While Nero did have his mom and one in every of his wives killed, consistent with different emperors, curators on the British Museum will present him as a “victim” of societal adjustments he couldn’t management and which led to his downfall. Statues that survived destruction, in addition to graffiti written in reward of the emperor, shall be used to inform the complete story of this reign, which noticed the revolt of Britons beneath Boudica. While scrutinising the propaganda of historical chroniclers, the British Museum can even sort out their behavior of portraying ladies, like Nero’s murdered mom Agrippina, as scheming king-makers Dr Opper stated it was “shocking how misogynistic the sources are”, including: “It has an impact on how little positive is remembered about these women.” Their tales and people of the widespread folks throughout the Roman Empire, significantly in Britain, shall be informed with greater than 200 objects, lots of which shall be displayed within the UK for the primary time. Nero: The Man Behind the Myth opens on May 17 and runs till October 24.

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