The Rehabilitation of Nero

Peter Ustinov as Nero in Quo Vadis

It took two millennia for Nero

To go from zero to hero

The simple truth is that history

Is writ by whoever won victory

-

Vespasian drove Nero to suicide

That, historians have not denied

So he painted him in a bad light

Making Romans think he was all right

-

When Rome burnt Nero was out of town

So he could not have been around

Therefore not guilty of the fiddling

Charge that his enemies have been peddling

-

When the fire finally died out

There was much misery about

And Nero’s efforts were tireless

To comfort and rehouse the homeless

-

He opened the spared granary stores

For the hungry and soothed their sores

To rebuilt the city that was burnt

He left not a single stone unturned

-

Nero did not kick Poppaea

When pregnant in the urethra

The poor thing just had a miscarriage

His enemies lied to ruin his image

-

His wife’s death made him disconsolate

Living he couldn’t contemplate

Begging Zeus for a quick quietus

Until he minded the slave Sporus

-

Though a man he looked like his late wife

As if she had come back to life

Perhaps he can soften my sorrow

Thought he, and put an end to my woe

-

He ordered him to be castrated

And to his chamber relocated

He renamed the slave Poppaea

Henceforth every night he fucked with her

-

That he ordered his own mamma killed

Is a rumour as yet unstilled

Whether this charge is fair or unfair

This poet will leave it in the air

Prizewinning playwright. Mathematician. Teacher. Professional Siesta addict.