Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ancient poem deifies emperor Nero's wife

The back of the newly deciphered papyrus. It wasn't unusual in the ancient world for texts to be written on both sides.

A just-deciphered ancient Greek poem discovered in Egypt deifies Poppaea Sabina, the wife of the infamous Roman emperor Nero, showing her ascending to the stars.

Based on the lettering styles and other factors, scholars think the poem was written nearly 200 years after Nero died (about 1,800 years ago), leaving them puzzled as to why someone so far away from Rome would bother composing or copying it at such a late date.

In the poem, Poppaea ascends to heaven and  becomes a goddess. Theancient goddess Aphrodite says to Poppaea, "my child, stop crying and hurry up: with all their heart Zeus' stars welcome you and establish you on the moon." 

Nero was one of the most infamous rulers who ever lived. Ancient writers say that he killed his own mother, Agrippina, and his first wife Octavia. He is also said to have killed Poppaea herself with a kick to her stomach while she was pregnant. If that wasn't enough, the well-known line — "Nero fiddles while Rome burns" — is an apocryphal phrase related to a great fire that ravaged Rome for six days during his reign.

Poppaea herself is also depicted in a less-than-positive light by ancient writers. When Octavia was killed, Poppaea was said to have been presented with her head. Some sources also speculate that she was the power behind the throne that encouraged Nero to murder his mother. [Top 12 Warrior Moms in History]

via http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48771790/ns/technology_and_science-science/