Nero and the Burning of Rome

Nero and the Burning of Rome (Italian: Nerone e Messalina) is a 1953 Italian epic historical drama film directed by Primo Zeglio and loosely based on real life events of Roman emperor Nero.[2][3] It was based on the novel Nerone e Messalina (c.1949) by Harry Bluhmen.[4]

Nero and the Burning of Rome
Directed byPrimo Zeglio
Screenplay by
  • Paolo Levi
  • Riccardo Testa
  • Primo Zeglio[1]
Story byEric Klaus[1]
Based onNerone e Messalina
by David Bluhmen
Edited byGiancarlo Cappelli[1]
Spettacolo Film[1]
Release date
  • 28 August 1953 (1953-08-28) (Italy)
Running time
106 minutes[1]


Although Valeria Messalina makes a brief appearance in the film, the Messalina of the film's Italian title is Nero's third wife, Statilia Messalina, who appears towards the end. The dissolute Nero has come to the imperial throne through the machinations of his mother Julia Agrippina, whom he later murders. Among his other prominent victims are his tutor Seneca the Younger and his first two wives, Claudia Octavia and Poppea Sabina. One of his mistresses, the slave girl Claudia Acte, is portrayed in the film as a Christian who introduces the emperor to their teachings and flees on learning her lover's identity. During this upheaval, Nero overturns a lamp, which leads to the burning of Rome. This he blames on the Christians and orders a general persecution, in which Acte dies. When the populace eventually rises against him, Nero takes refuge with one of his freedmen and is killed by a slave.[5]



Nero and the Burning of Rome was released in Italy on 28 August 1953.[1]

See also



  1. Kinnard & Crnkovich 2017, p. 125.
  2. Roberto Chiti; Roberto Poppi; Enrico Lancia. Dizionario del cinema italiano: I film. Gremese, 1991. ISBN 8876055487.
  3. Paolo Mereghetti. Il Mereghetti. B.C. Dalai Editore, 2010. ISBN 8860736269.
  4. Alan Goble, The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film, Bowker Saur 1999 p.45


  • Kinnard, Roy; Crnkovich, Tony (2017). Italian Sword and Sandal Films, 1908-1990. McFarland. ISBN 1476662916.
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