Roman emperor Nero is not remembered in a very positive light. There’s that whole thing with him murdering his mother, the bit about him killing his first wife, all that other stuff about murdering Christians and Jews, and, oh yeah, a bunch of connections between himself and the Biblical Antichrist. This guy was totally playing fiddle covers of Dave Matthews Band while Rome burned, wasn’t he?
If that wasn’t a nasty enough legacy already, the Spanish art project Césares de Roma has modeled a lifelike Nero based on busts and descriptions of the emperor. The result is a work that that will forever couple Nero’s name with the fact that he apparently looked like a complete goddamned weiner.
The chin-strapped nerd emperor was brought to our attention via tweets from writer Josh Fruhlinger, who not only highlights how fucking miserable-looking Nero might have been, but also where his striking hair color could have come from. In a particularly revealing aside, he also points out how even Nero’s propaganda was unflattering. Even Trump’s got that part down.
As the images have spread, we’ve been able to hear from other commentators who remind us that one of the great things about revisiting history is the way it shows us how the past echoes through to our modern day. Nero may have lived in a time very unlike our own, but, with the benefit of this model, the internet can imagine him as (a terrible) modern person from the (terrible) modern internet.
Luckily, centuries having passed since Nero’s reign, we no longer have to worry about being burned alive for loudly proclaiming him a cross between the worst kid you knew in junior high and a shaved orangutan. Time allows us to enjoy jokes about “fiery redheads” free of fear, even as the Césares de Roma project continues its efforts through models of even more frighteningly despotic ancient emperors.
Not content with what they’ve already wrought, the studio’s Facebook page says Caligula is up next. Apparently its artists will not rest until they’ve completed the entire run of famously brutal, brutally dweebish-looking Roman emperors.
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