Larry Hurtado's Blog

Last night the UK digital channel „Yesterday” aired one programme in a series, „Ancient Rome:  Rise and Fall of an Empire” (a BBC/Discovery Channel production), this one on Nero.  The opening screens emphasized that the programme depicted real characters and events, that it drew on ancient sources, and that it had the benefit of advice from historians of the period.  The use of well-known British actors and impressive CGI special effects made for a watchable programme.  But, as an effort at a historical portrayal the programme also had some surprising features.

To cite one curious omission, in depicting the descent of Nero into tyrannical cruelty, much was made of his attack upon some of the leading figures in upper classes of Roman society, but nothing was said about Nero’s pogrom against Roman Christians.  Per the ancient reports, this exceeded in cruelty anything meted out to Roman patricians, with Christians impaled alive, daubed…

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