Great Fire of Rome
How It Started
Late in the night, on 18th July AD64, a small fire began to take hold in a group of shops near Circus Maximus in
the city of Rome. Before long the densely populated city was alight. The fire roared through the winding lanes
of the city, eating up the wooden apartment buildings and leaving nothing in its wake. The fire would burn for
six days before it was put under control. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before it was reignited and for another
three days the Romans fought to save what was left of their city. By the time the fire was totally extinquished,
over two thirds of the city was destroyed.
Rumours Spread Faster Than The Fire
Following the fire, rumours spread about the whereabouts of the absent Emperor Nero. People wanted to know where
Rome's leader was whilst their city burned. One particular rumour that spread suggested that Nero had been watching
the devastation from the safety of his villa on the Quirinal Hill. Another even suggested that Nero himself was
behind the lighting of the fires, so he could make room for his planned new palace.
Persecution of Christians
In response to these rumours, Nero suggested that maybe the Christians were behind the firestorm. This rumour,
strongly supported by an already suspicious and hostile public , would be the catalyst for the Persecution of
Christians throughout the Roman Empire. The persecution was both unforgiving and violent, with many Christians
being murdered, crucified and then fed to the lions.
Following the fire, Nero played a huge role in the rebuilding the city and making sure that his much desired
Domus Aurea palace, would be built. The lake below the palace, would eventually become the site of
the Colosseum . Nero would also become the first Emperor to establish fire codes for the city.