Roman city fires

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In ancient times there were always dangerous fires in Rome , smaller fires were the order of the day. The biggest fire, which largely destroyed Rome and which is one of the factors that triggered the first persecution of Christians , occurred in July 64 AD during the reign of Emperor Nero .

The great fire during the invasion of the Gauls in 390/87 BC Chr.

As this ater ("black day"), the Romans remained for centuries the conquest by the Gauls on July 18, 390 (or 389 or 387) BC. In memory. A large part of the city was burned down.

More fires before the turning point

  • In a fire in 213 BC Chr. The burned Forum Boarium and the Forum down Holitorium.
  • If there are two fires in the 2nd / 1st Century BC Chr. On the Caelius alone was the Statue of Claudia Quinta spared († after 204 v. Chr.), Which is then dedicated to the temple of the Magna Mater.
  • After a major fire in 23 BC Chr. Formed Marcus Egnatius Rufus v in the 22nd A private fire brigade of 600 slaves. After his execution in 19 BC Augustus took over this facility.
  • In the year 6 BC Chr. Occurred, another major fire, Augustus led the fire department to organize new and more extensive.

The fire in 27 AD

Shortly after the collapse of the amphitheater near Fidenae , there was a great fire in the year 27, when “a huge fire caused more than usual damage in Rome, in which the whole Caelic mountain burned down.” The people initially put the accidents on the since the absence of Tiberius from Rome implemented in the year 26 , but the emperor provided for adequate compensation for the damage and thus regained the confidence of his citizens. The Senate thanked Tiberius and an application was made to name the Caelius "Augustan mountain", "because in the middle of the fire all around the image of Tiberius in the house of Senator Junius (= Marcus Junius Silanus?) Remained intact."

The fire in 36 AD

In 36 there was a serious conflagration, with the Circus Maximus and part of the Aventine burning down. Also the home of Claudius burned down. A commission made up of four grandchildren-in-law of Emperor Tiberius, to which Publius Petronius was called in, was set up to assess the damage caused by the fire .

Great fire of Rome in AD 64

The most famous Roman city fire is the fire of 64 AD , in which three of the 14 city districts of Rome were completely destroyed, only a few half-burned rubble remained in seven districts and only four districts remained intact. The fire was blamed very early on Nero , who diverted this suspicion to the Christians and thus initiated the first persecution of Christians .

Further fires up to the 4th century AD

Despite the extensive fire prevention and containment measures, there were repeated city fires in Rome even after the year 64.

  • In 69 a major fire raged on the Capitol .
  • Even during the reign of Titus in 80 there was a fire on the Capitol and the Field of Mars .
  • In 192 another large city fire devastated large parts of the city.
  • The Roman Forum caught fire in the fire of 283 .


  • Paul Werner: De incendiis urbis Romae aetate Imperatorum . R. Noske. Leipzig 1906, (Leipzig, Univ., Phil. Diss., 1906).
  • Anne Daguet-Gagey: Les opera publica à Rome. (180-305 ap. J.-C.) . Institut d'Études Augustiniennes, Paris 1997, ISBN 2-85121-168-4 , ( Collection des études Augustiniennes - Série antiquité 156).
  • Kurt Wallat : Sequitur clades. The vigiles in ancient Rome . A bilingual text collection. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2004, ISBN 3-631-52473-0 , ( Studies on Classical Philology 146).

See also


  1. Titus Livius 6, 1, 11.
  2. Livy 5, 41.10-42.5.
  3. a b Tacitus , Annalen 4, 64, 3.
  4. ^ Tacitus, Annalen 4, 64, 1.
  5. a b Tacitus, Annalen 6, 45 (51).
  6. ^ Suetonius, Claudius 6.
  7. Tacitus ann. 15, 40.