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The Flames of Rome: A Novel Hardcover – January 31, 1991
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A spectacular work of history and a sweeping story. (Christian Observer 2004-06-03)
A splendid work. . . objective, interesting, and thought provoking. (Norman Vincent Peale 2004-06-03)
Different religious persuasions will enjoy this unique book. The approach is reverent and not debunking. (Los Angeles Times 2004-06-03)
Fact-filled, interesting, and successful. . . splendid research. This book is beautiful. (Christian Century 2004-06-03)
Fascinating. . . brings a new perspective to a story we have known all our lives. (Redbook 2004-06-03)
For the supremely pivotal event of the Resurrection, Paul Maier's book lends fresh and scholarly support. (Billy Graham 2004-06-03)
In The Flames of Rome, Paul Maier has accomplished a tremendously challenging project, and he has done so with wonderful clarity and accuracy. (Christian Library Journal 2004-06-03)
The author is at home in the vast literature of his subject. (New York Times Book Review 2004-06-03)
Tremendously worthwhile. . . intensely enlightening and interesting. . . a wonderful book. (Christian Herald 2004-06-03)
Vivid style and keen insights make this book a delight and a genuine educational experience. (Moody Magazine 2004-06-03)
About the Author
Paul L. Maier is the former Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History (retired) at Western Michigan University and an award-winning author whose expertise in first-century studies and extensive travels in the Middle East and Asia Minor provide historical authenticity and compelling drama to his writing. His other writings include the ECPA Gold Medallion Award-winning volume Josephus: The Essential Writings, as well as The Flames of Rome, and the best-selling novel, A Skeleton in God’s Closet.
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The PRAETORIAN GVARD, the so-called protectors of the Roman Emperor and his family, plays such a pivotal role in Roman history. Possibly responsible for murdering TIBERIVS, certainly responsible for killing CALIGVLA, and involved in conspiracies to assassinate and depose the emperors that they swore to protect. It is the case with Nero himself.
In Paul L. Maier's THE FLAMES OF ROME, you come to learn about the reign of Emperor CLAVDIVS to the end of the reign of NERO. It is a very easy and entertaining read. Even more, you learn about the founding of Christianity in Rome as it spread throughout the Roman Empire. Speaking of which, some of the most enjoyable parts in the novel are the trials of Christians. Romans had many questions for them: Were they Jews? A sect of Judaism? Were they conspirators? Did they burn Rome?
GREAT FIRE OF ROME
NERO certainly did not burn Rome. In fact, he stood to lose the most from its destruction, politically and personally. Even more, he behaved admirably in his attempt to quench the fire. He also paid for the rebuilding of Rome after the devastation.
Nevertheless, NERO needed --politically needed-- a culprit. While building his grand palace (DOMVS AVREA), rumors were circulating that he caused the great fire of Rome. Thus, he had to blame someone, although the fire was an accident. His target: Christians. They were weird ("love thy enemy") anyway. NERO, mixing entertainment and slaughter, made games out of punishing Christians by fixing them to poles in clothes with inflammables and setting them afire. Many Christians were crucified, thrown to dogs and lions.
NERO'S persecution of the Christians was so brutal that it generated sympathy for them.
NERO supposedly possessed a "celestial voice" --he would protect it with a scarf-- and believed himself quite the artist. In fact, at his death, he is reported to have said, "QVALIS ARTIFEX PEREO!" (WHAT AN ARTIST DIES IN ME!).
NERO is presented in a very convincing way in the novel. NERO was constantly being manipulated - by his mother, by advisors, and so forth. He could not trust anyone, and you could see why someone like that would rely on his PRAETORIAN COMMANDER, TIGELLINVS.
Although his reign started out well enough, probably the doing of SENECA, power and even independence would corrupt NERO. You can confidently reach a conclusion that NERO was never suitable for the job as Princeps. He probably would have much preferred writing poetry, playing his lyre, and performing as an actor.
Much (much) more could be said about NERO, but you will have to read the novel. It is worth it.
If you want to learn about Roman history in an entertaining and accessible way, then I highly recommend this novel. You will find yourself doing your own research. The notes at the end of the novel are useful to link the events of the novel with a historical basis.
Five stars are warranted for the author's creativity and scholarship.