You knew I'd get to this eventually.
Nero Burning ROM, a program that writes data to discs, has the Roman Colosseum in flames as its classic logo. I've always liked it; It meshes modern technology and familiar memories from classical history in a cleverly tongue-in-cheek way. But it's really a bit odd for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is the straightforward problem of chronology. The construction of the Colosseum was initiated by Nero's successor, Vespasian, between 70-72 CE. The fire so infamously linked to Nero occurred in 64 CE -- six years before the Colosseum was even begun. Nero himself never saw or conceived of the idea of the Colosseum, because he stabbed himself in the throat and died in 68 CE.
The second reason is ideology. The Colosseum, as a political idea, was built expressly in opposition of Nero and his policies. Vespasian wanted to define himself as an animal quite apart from his predecessor and this intention was most bluntly conveyed by demolishing Nero's works and replacing them with his own, often on the very same physical sites.
The Colosseum was in fact planned for the location of Nero's own palace, where he committed so many atrocities. The palace, called the Golden House, was particularly offensive not only because of its sordid history, and not only because its gross opulence offended the Roman ideals of austerity and modesty, but because it had been built on the ashes of Roman homes that had burned down during the Great Fire. Many of Roman's oldest aristocratic families had lived there, so they hated him especially for this insult.
In contrast, the Colosseum, while massive, was a public and religious building. It embodied piety and civic duty, both virtues deeply at odds with the self-interest and hubris Nero flaunted during his life. It not only paid service to the gods, but it symbolically returned the land to the people.
posted at 11:45:38 am
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.
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