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Martiria is an epic/doom metal rock band formed back in the '80s and re-founded (after a long pause) in 2002. Seven album published (last one R-Evolution, with ex Black Sabbath Vinny Appice - 2014).

The band was formed back in the '80s. At the beginning the band was very much oriented towards Doom/Metal sounds such as: early Candlemass and Black Sabbath. After releasing just a few demos and featuring various musicians, in 1998 the members of the group decide to take a break for a while in order to experience different projects. (continue)

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Burn, baby, burn
(Magnum Incendium Romae)
(Menarini - Capelli)
from the album "Roma S.P.Q.R."

Lucius Domitius Aenobarbus Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus become the youngest (till then) Roman emperor in year fifty four, when he was just sixteen years old. Before taking his own lifeon1 the 9th of June 68, he managed to murder his own mother, Agrippina, his step brother and magister miltum Britannicus, his preceptor, the philosopher Seneca, the poet Lucan, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and several hundreds of Christians, all executed in very ingenious and horribly peculiar ways. Possibly, he also ordered to start the Great Fire of Rome, both because he was disgusted by the old, dirty roads of the oldest quarters and because he thought it would have been amusing to see his own city burn under his feet, as king Priamus did during the sack of Troy. Apparently, his last words, whispered with broken voice (since he killed himself stabbing his own throat but, in the end, he lacked the courage to do it properly) were: “What an artist dies with me…”.


« Sequitur clades, forte an dolo principis incertum (nam utrumque auctores prodidere)2 »

Publius Cornelius Tacitus




Nero at Baiae, Jan Styka (1858-1925)

« Urbem Romam incendit, ut spectaculi eius imaginem cerneret,quali olim Troia capta arserat.»3

Eutropius (Breviarium ab Urbe condita, vii.14)

Ante diem XV Kalendas Augustas,
anno DCCCXVII a.U.c...

Please give me the inspiration
For just one last great song4!
They think I'm crazy, well...
they aren't wrong.

'cause I'm crazy 'bout you
Rome the brave, the only one.
Can't you see what you have done?
Burn for me!

Burn, baby, burn!
Tonight you will burn for me,
naked at my feet.

Could an artist look for more?
This show will never die.
The moon is full, under a
burning sky5.

What I cannot take, I burn.
What I cannot bend, I crash.
Streets and temples old and worn6,
burn to ash.

Slave, quick, bring me more wine.
Emperor means all is mine,
Souls, bodies and destinies.
I decide who lives and dies.

What a night to play7!
Ilium falls away,
Climax and pathos,
free extras at will.
Pain for real.

What a night to play
Ilium falls away
I sing, you pay8.

Burn, baby, burn!
Just, they scream a bit too much.
They lack my artist touch.

Burn baby burn!
Gardens and shrines I dream
Over your ruins9.

This Christians can be
a bit annoying to me
they are useful, though,
lamps for the night,
cheap dog food.

Of course it wasn't me,
or you'd have seen!
Strong, theatrical,
a true artist job.
Nero’s seal.

Now, philosopher, 11
you say I'm crazy
and it might be true...
But you should try to live
as I do.

(Menarini - Capelli 2012)

Robert, Hubert - Incendie à Rome
Robert Hubert (1733-1808) Incendie à Rome



Petronius: [in his dying letter to Nero]

To Nero: Emperor of Rome, Master of the World, Divine Pontiff. I know that my death will be a disappointment to you, since you wished to render me this service yourself. To be born in your reign is a miscalculation; but to die in it is a joy. I can forgive you for murdering your wife and your mother, for burning our beloved Rome, for befouling our fair country with the stench of your crimes. But one thing I cannot forgive - the boredom of having to listen to your verses, your second-rate songs, your mediocre performances. Adhere to your special gifts, Nero - murder and arson, betrayal and terror. Mutilate your subjects if you must; but with my last breath I beg you - do not mutilate the arts. Fare well, but compose no more music. Brutalize the people, but do not bore them, as you have bored to death your friend, the late Gaius Petronius.

Petronius: [after seeing Rome consumed by flames] Now indeed, Nero has his place in history.

From "Quo vadis" screenplay (1951)
Dir. Mervyn LeRoy
Based on the novel "Quo Vadis"
by  Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916)



(1) Nero killed himself when a courier arrived to his villa with a report that the Senate had declared him a public enemy and that it was their intention to execute him by beating him to death. This was the result of the civil war following the riot of Hispanic provinces, riot due - in part - to the insane taxation imposed by the emperor in order to raise funds to build his megalomaniac palace, the Domus Aurea.
(2) « A disaster followed, and it's not known if it was due to unpredictable causes / or to the emperors will (since historians / explained it in both ways) »
(3)“He ordered to burn the whole city, in order to have the pleasure to see how a burning city looks, like the defeated city of Troy”.
(4) Nero enjoyed singing the lyre and composing poems. He even composed songs that were performed by other entertainers throughout the empire. In 64 A.D., Nero himself began singing in public in Neapolis (encouraged by senate and his inner circle of friends) and he also sang at the second quinquennial Neronia in 65. None knows exactly how good were his works, surely, had they been even terrible, none would have been so stupid to say it to him...
(5) The fire started the 19th of July 64 AD, on the 16th the moon was full, the scene must have been actually impressive and terrific.
) Suetonius (Svetonio) wrote that Nero was feeling “almost offended” by the old quarters of Rome, poor, dirty and with small twisted alleys” ("nam quasi offensus deformitate veterum aedificorum etangustiis flexurisque vicorum, incendit urbem")
(7) Nero was in Antium at the time but he rushed to the city as soon as he recived the news. It was said by Suetonius (Svetonio) and Cassius Dio (Cassiodoro) that Nero sang the "Sack of Ilium" (The fall of Troy) in stage costume while the city burned, that’s possible because the fire lasted six whole days and was followed by minor fires in the following week. Also, the emperor had said several times that it would have been “marvellous” to see a whole city burn, exactly as old king Priam of Troy did. Anyway, Tacitus also says that Nero playing his lyre and singing while the city burned was only rumour. … Who knows?
He was deposed mainly after the riot of the Spanish provinces, starved by the heavy taxation he imposed them.
It is uncertain who or what actually caused the fire — whether accident or arson. According to Tacitus, some in the population held Nero responsible, as soon after he built himself a huge house in the centre of Rome called the "Golden House". To be honest, he tried to help survivors lowering grain price and sending soldiers to help and distribute food (at his own expenses), but this didn’t help too much and people kept thinking he was the responsible, and that he was ordering them to leave dangerous houses not to save them but to sack the good still left there. To diffuse blame, Nero targeted the Christians (who were hated by Romans – Tacitus writes: “a most mischievous superstition (...) broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but, even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular” - and also often talking of ancient prophecies about the “end of times” that had to take place into flames). There were Christians who confessed to the crime, but it became known that Christians were forced to confess by means of torture, and the passage is unclear as to what the Christians confessed to — being arsonists or Christians. Svetonius and Cassius Dio favour Nero as the arsonist with an insane desire to destroy the city as his motive, or to rebuild Rome in a new style more to his liking (in fact, the new city had spaced houses, built in brick and faced by porticoes, with easy access to water and wide roads instead of tortuous, dirty alleys and old buildings). However, major accidental fires were common in ancient Rome. In fact, Rome burned again under Vitellius in 69 and under Titus in 80. On the other side, Tacitus says that there were strange people in town, trying to stop people from extinguishing the fire, often using force: ("nec quisquam defendere audebat, crebris multorum minis restinguere prohibentium, et quia alii palam facies iaciebant atque esse sibi auctorem vociferabantur, sive ut raptus licentius exercerent seu iussu"). Fact is that, over the ruins, Nero built his marvellous and enormous palace complex: the Domus Aurea.
(10) As above stated, Nero blamed the Christians for the Great File of Rome and settled the first persecution. Tacitus described the event like this: “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [or Chrestians] by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus (…) Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of all sorts was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”. According to tradition, also Saint Peter and Saint Paul were executed by Nero’s order in this occasion.

"Nero’s Torches" (1876) by Henryk Hector Siemiradzki (1843-1902)

A curiosity: the historian Gerhard Baudy, (following the thesis of Carlo Pascal and Leon Herrman), suggested the rather weird theory that the fire was actually started by Christians (?!), in order to realize an Egyptian apocalyptic profecy stating that: “The great cruel city will fall when Sirius will rise under the Canis Major star”.

(11) The “philosopher” is Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca; ca. 4 BC – 65 AD not to be confused with his father Lucius or Marcus Annaeus Seneca known as Seneca the Elder and Seneca the Rhetorician ca. 54 BC – ca. 39 AD) that was Nero’s preceptor, tutor and advisor till the emperor ordered him to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy against the emperor. Historians think that, probably, he was innocent...
(12) May I say something about Nero? He wasn’t much more than the corrupted product of a corrupted society... A sixteen years old boy that become, suddenly, the ruler of the world and realized he couldn’t trust anyone, including (or especially) his own mother. Getting crazy was a cheap solution, indeed, but how many options did he have? (Not to talk about the lead in the water pipes, but that’s another story, and we will talk about it another time…)


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