The Destruction of Rome

I mentioned before that the best work I have seen about the destruction of Rome in the time of Nero is Quo Vadis by Heinrich Sienckiwcz. At that time I said you have to read his account of the fire, that there was no way to summarize it; and that is true.

But I just noticed one very effective device he uses that gives the modern reader some idea of the horror of that experience: as the fire spreads, more and more wild beasts break out of the “vivaria” where they are kept, so there are elephants and lions among the desperate crowds of people seeking safety.

He follows one crowd, fleeing wild animals and collapsing buildings, down one of Rome’s avenues until they meet up with another desperate crowd, pursued by wild beasts and by the conflagration, coming from the opposite direction! AIEEE!