Fiddling while Rome burns. The meaning: To occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect priorities during a crisis.
The source of this phrase is the supposed story that Nero played the fiddle (violin) while Rome burned, during the great fire in AD 64.
Now, you may well think that I’m attempting to make the comparison between Nero, the fifth emperor of Rome, and John Horgan, the 36th premier of B.C. … and, you would be correct.
There are two major flaws with the Nero story. Firstly, there was no such instrument as the fiddle (violin) in first-century Rome. Secondly, the story may be completely false and Nero may very well not have neglected his duty at all, as other records suggest this story merely as a rumour.
The story of Horgan is documented in dozens of breaking news stories and analysis on B.C. politics, including accumulative video coverage of media events.
Yes, there were fires in both stories. Nero didn’t need to contend with a pandemic, heat dome, and floods, let alone be in possession of science and a report warning of the impacts of such events.
By modern-day standards, Nero certainly doesn’t appear as such a bizarre character. Whereas Roman scholars differ over interpretations of events surrounding Nero’s branding, for Horgan, contemporary reports make the ‘fiddling’ story much more believable.