Viva of Laurie Lefebvre

Laurie Lefebvre defended on November the 6th, 2009, at the University Charles de Gaulle-Lille 3 a thesis entitled :

La Genèse de la légende de Néron, ou la naissance d’un monstre dans la littérature latine et grecque des premiers siècles


Alain DEREMETZ (directeur, Lille 3), Janine DESMULLIEZ (directrice, Lille 3), Olivier DEVILLERS (Bordeaux 3), Charles GUITTARD (Paris 10), Christine HOËT-VAN CAUWENBERGHE (Lille 3), Paul Marius MARTIN (Montpellier 3)


Today, Nero stands for us as a real monster – he rather belongs to legend than to history. This work sets out to demonstrate how the legend was built, and how Nero’s life was rewritten and his memory reconstructed by Latin and Greek authors from the first centuries of our time. In order to portrait Nero as a monster and a tyrant, and thus impose this image on the reader, pagan and Christian authors alike made use of every material at their disposal. They took up topoi from rhetoric and philosophical theories on tyrants, they recalled the tradition of political invective from the end of the Republic, and they linked Nero with other historical or mythological monsters. Moreover, authors adapted Nero’s figure to the rules of the literary genre in which they wanted to depict him. Annalistic history, Christian historical works, monographs, biographies, epitomes… all theses genres imposed writing rules authors had to abide by. Reading authors from ancient times, Nero appears to be more than just a tyrant – he is the tyrant par excellence, a reference for future emperors to be judged. The name of Nero even became a common noun synonymous of pessimus princeps. Nero was no longer a historical character but rather a symbolic one, whose very nature evolved to match the background and ideology of the time.

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