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Nero Sings

According to Suetonius, Nero's greatest ambition after becoming emperor was to sing in public. Having taken lessons, he made his debut in Naples. Though the event was well-attended, an earthquake shook the theater during the performance and much of the audience fled in fear as Nero pressed on.

The offended emperor quickly took measures to ensure that no such misfortune would befall him again. At later performances, he had the gates locked and ordered sentries to stop people from leaving. Women gave birth in the stands. Men, tired of listening and dutifully applauding, furtively leaped over the walls. Some clever citizens even tricked the guards into letting them leave -- by pretending to be ill or dead and having others take them out.

[As other anecdotes attest, Nero also fancied himself a remarkable actor and athlete.]

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