Amongst the remaining vegetables, wandering lonely as a cloud, I found myself engaged in a vigorous debate around whether one of Henry VIII's many crimes was writing the incredibly soppy song Greensleeves as a prelude to seducing Anne Boleyn. Then I returned to that old favorite question about whether Nero played on his lyre when in the latter part of July AD 64 Rome burned. Naturally during the six days of conflagration some citizens of Rome engaged in the traditional looting. A few historians of the time claimed that of the looters some did their best to hinder attempts by good citizens to discourage progress of the flames and it was looters to blame for the extent of the fire, nothing to do with Nero's devious plan to improve the balcony view from one of his many palaces and at the same time find a reason to commence a pogrom against a minority religious sect.
My own view on these two subjects has drifted over the years. On the one hand it
came as a shock to me that Henry VIII had the time or the heart to do stuff like
write songs and on the other hand I just kind of assumed that Henry VIII stole
the song from some wandering minstrel and no one in their right mind would
accuse him of plagiarism. With Respect to Nero, for a long while I was of the
opinion that despite Nero's less than savory reputation burning two thirds of
his own city down was an act of such stupidity there was no way it had anything
to do with balcony views or finding a reason to throw Christians at Lions.
Recently, very recently, I have come to believe that Henry VIII might well have
written Greensleeves and Nero could well have played the lyre while his toadies
set fire to and then looted Rome.