Masterpieces of Latin Literature: Terence: Lucretius: Catullus: Virgil: Horace: Tibullus: Propertius: Ovid: Petronius: Martial: Juvenal: Cicero: Caesar: Livy: Tacitus: Pliny the Younger: Apuleius; with Biographical Sketches and Notes

By Gordon Jennings Laing | Go to book overview

THE GREAT FIRE AT ROME1

( Annales, XV., 38-44.)

A DREADFUL calamity followed a short time afterwards, by some ascribed to chance, by others to the execrable wickedness of Nero. There is authority of historians on both sides, and which preponderates it is not easy to determine. It is, however, certain, that of all the disasters that ever befell the city of Rome from fire, this was the worst, the most violent and the most destructive. The flames broke out in that part of the circus which adjoins on one side the Palatine hill, and on the other the Caelian. It caught a number of shops stored with combustible goods, and gathering force from the winds spread with rapidity from one end of the circus to the other. Neither the thick walls of houses, nor the inclosure of temples, nor any other building could check the rapid progress of the flames. A dreadful conflagration followed. The level parts of the city were destroyed. The fire reached the higher buildings, and again laying hold of lower places spread with a degree of velocity that nothing could resist. The form of the streets, long and narrow, with frequent windings and no regular opening, contributed to increase the mischief. The shrieks and lamentations of women, the infirmities of age, and the weakness of the young and tender added misery to the dreadful scene. Some endeavored to provide for themselves, others to save their friends, in one part dragging along the lame and impotent, in another waiting to receive the tardy, or expecting relief themselves. They hurried,

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1
64 A. D.

-424-

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Masterpieces of Latin Literature: Terence: Lucretius: Catullus: Virgil: Horace: Tibullus: Propertius: Ovid: Petronius: Martial: Juvenal: Cicero: Caesar: Livy: Tacitus: Pliny the Younger: Apuleius; with Biographical Sketches and Notes
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