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Delusions of Grandeur

Fleeing Rome, Nero sought refuge in his villa in Antium, just outside the city. As his enemies closed in, he accepted the counsel of his faithful servants and prepared himself for suicide. Supervising the construction of his own funeral pyre -- and still convinced of his gifts as an actor and singer -- Nero uttered through his tears: "Qualis artifex pereo!" (What an artist the world is losing!)

[He stabbed himself in the throat with the assistance of his scribe Epaphroditus.]

[Though Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned (the instrument had not yet been invented), he was widely loathed. The author of the Revelation of St. John refered to "the beast" by the number 666 because he knew that he could be punished for referring to him in a hostile manner as the emperor Nero.]

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