The Man Who Loved the Stage | God's World News

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The Man Who Loved the Stage
Time Machine
Posted: November 01, 2023
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    This statue of the Roman emperor Nero stands on the waterfront in Anzio, Italy. (Helen Cook/CC BY-SA 2.0)
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    Nero’s face decorates a gold Roman coin. (Public domain)
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    This 1785 painting depicts the Great Fire of Rome. (Public domain)
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    Ancient stories claim that Nero “fiddled while Rome burned.” (Public domain)
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Nero had the same interests as other Italian teens in A.D. 54. He liked the theater, music, and horse races. But unlike his peers, Nero became emperor at 17.

He had a promising start. He lowered taxes for the poor. He allowed slaves to sue unjust owners. He built a new marketplace and public baths. He held contests for drama and athletics. The poor people cheered.

The upper class howled. Their taxes paid for these projects. Nero’s frequent performances as a poet, lyre player, and actor disgusted the wealthy. Only the lowly took such roles.

Nero craved center stage. He and his mother, Agrippina, appeared on Roman coins together at first. Later coins show him alone. Agrippina taught Nero the brutal way to power. She poisoned Nero’s adopted father so her son could be king. But to avoid sharing his throne, Nero arranged for his own mother’s death.

A great fire broke out in A.D. 64. It burned more than 70 percent of Rome. Legend says that Nero started the fire and “fiddled” while Rome burned. He seemed to show little concern and blamed Christians for the blaze. The Apostles Peter and Paul died as martyrs in Rome near that time.

Nero started building a lavish palace after the fire. Taxpayers protested. The Senate ordered Nero to suffer a slave’s death. That meant flogging and crucifixion. Nero escaped and killed himself.

Nero was on the world stage a short while. He spent most of his life cruelly protecting his power.

God entered the world stage as Jesus. He died the death of a slave to save His people—from their sins. And His disciples lived and died to tell others that good news of a humble King and Savior.