chapter  10
19 Pages

What an Artist Dies With Me'

That Nero escaped more and more into a world of fantasy from the time of the second Neronia is a conclusion difficult to resist, even allowing for malicious distortion in our sources. There had always been a tendency for the theatre to invade his life, as when a collapsible boat used on stage showed him how to murder his mother, or when a podium reminiscent of architectonic stage decor was used to adorn a nymphaeum ofhis first palace (fig. 12).1 Insulated from facts by flatterers, more and more convinced ofhis musical talents, Nero made of the trip to Greece a physical demonstration of his mental withdrawal from the tensions and compromises demanded by political life in Rome. From his belief in real competition, which led him to fear his judges and bribe or slander his rivals, to his neglect of Helius' warnings about disaffection at home, a crescendo of illusion was rising to a climax in his paralysis after news came ofVindex' rebellion, his subsequent address to his body of advisers on the subject of water-organs, and his final panic after the defeat of the rebel.