Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned

On Saturday afternoon, I decided I felt more like writing (this) while having a coffee in town (apparently the average noise level in a coffee shop is quite inducive to writing), rather than at home, so after wandering around a bit (I had to finish the album I was listening to, of course), I settled on a branch of Caffè Nero.

While queuing, I began thinking about the fact that I’m going to visit Rome next month. I’d always assumed the chain was named after the Roman emperor Nero, and considered that even though they seemed to use a lot of Ancient-Roman style design in their décor, the coffee shop probably doesn’t offer an authentic Ancient-Roman experience. And then I got to thinking about the famous myth that Nero sang and played the fiddle while the Great Fire of Rome raged around him (he probably didn’t: it’s more than likely propoganda spread by the Flavian dynasty that succeeded him).

And then I thought: why do we sometimes call a violin a fiddle? Continue reading