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Nero’s dining room revolved day and night

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Nero's rotating dining room
Nero's rotating dining room

Suetonius mentions in his “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars” that the so-called The Golden House of Nero had a special dining room, which moved according to day and night, like the blue vault.

The aforementioned Villa of Nero, also called Domus Aurea, was a Roman palace emperor Nero located between the hills of Palatine and Esquiline hill. Construction works were started in 64 CE and were conducted until 68 CE. They were interrupted after the emperor’s death. It was in the “Golden House” that Neron spent his last day of life in 68 CE.

According to the latest research, the dining room was located in a rotunda, named coenatio rotunda, on the Palatine side1. The room was on a round, slowly rotating platform with a wooden floor. The platform was set in continuous rotation by slaves to keep up with day and night. Under the dome there was a ceiling that, when the mechanism was turned on, made the revelers feel as if they were below the heavens. What’s more, perfume was sprayed on people eating food and huge amounts of rose petals were dropped. This is how Suetonius describes the dining room:

In the rest of the house all parts were overlaid with gold and adorned with gems and mother-of‑pearl. There were dining-rooms with fretted ceils of ivory, whose panels could turn and shower down flowers and were fitted with pipes for sprinkling the guests with perfumes. The main banquet hall was circular and constantly revolved day and night, like the heavens.

Suetonius, Nero, VI 31

Reconstruction of the Nero dining room mechanism.
Francoise Villedieu and Edikom

Visualization of the Nero dining room

  1. Znaleźli obrotową jadalnię Nerona?, "Kopalnia wiedzy", 29 September 2009
  • Suetonius, Nero

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